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From Tour Pros' Sons to Future Tigers

12/19/23 CGS Staff

If you followed the recent PNC Championship, you were treated to a fun and heartwarming tournament in which a current or former tour pro was paired with either their son, daughter, or parent, competing as a team in a best-ball format. It is inevitable that many offspring of professional golfers become involved in the game, as they are surrounded by the game since birth. Some play recreationally, and others fall in love with the game just like their parent did years before. Two talented sons of well-known professional golfers will be hitting the NCAA circuit in the next two years Clemson University has made recruiting headlines recently with the signing of 2024 grad Jacob Immelman, son of 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman, and the verbal commitment of 2025 grad Jackson Byrd, son of 5-time PGA Tour winner Jonathan Byrd. Jacob and Jackson, both talented golfers, will be forging their own path in the ACC and starting their own golfing legacy. They graciously answered some questions about their experiences growing up as a tour pro's son, their history with golf and other sports, things they have learned along the way, and their relationship with their father.

CGC: At what age did you become interested in golf, and at what age was your first tournament?

Jackson: I started playing in tournaments when I was around 8 years old but, but by growing up around the game I’d had golf clubs around since I was born.

Jacob: I've been surrounded by golf my whole life, so I started hitting balls around the age of 2. I really started to get into it and wanted to get better when I was around 11. My first tournament was when I was 11.

CGC: Have you played other sports competitively, and if so, which ones?

Jackson: I played a ton of sports growing up like basketball, baseball, and soccer and then played basketball in middle school. After 7th grade I decided I wanted to commit to golf, and from then on it’s just been golf.

Jacob: I played some basketball and flag football when I was around 7 years old, but I was really into tennis until I was about 12. I actually played in some tennis tournaments before I got into golf.

CGC: Since your dad has experience at all levels of golf, did he have a different philosophy than other parents when it came to you playing in tournaments? For example, did he hold you back from competing too much to soon or did he let you determine when and where to play?

Jackson: One thing he made sure to do was never too push too hard on playing and he never made it that serious. Junior golf shouldn’t be a job; it should be a learning experience and you should enjoy it. He made sure to let me know that early on. He also had me play a lot of local tournaments early and once I began to win those consistently, I moved on to some bigger events.

Jacob: My Dad never really pushed me to play tournaments and always let me decide how much or how little I wanted to play. I guess that would be a different philosophy because I feel like so many parents push their kids to play in every single tournament they can. He also has a different outlook when breaking down my tournament rounds. It's less score-driven and more of: did I accomplish my goals for that round or not?

CGC: Has your dad been your coach throughout your golf career?

Jackson: He definitely helps with my golf swing. He has the same instructor that I do, so he always likes to be in the know with what I’m working on, but doesn’t like giving me too many swing tips.

Jacob: My Dad has been my coach for my entire golfing career, but I have started to work with Chris Como a bit over the past couple of months, which I have really enjoyed.

CGC: What is the best piece of advice your dad has given you about the mental side of the game, tournament prep, or course management?

Jackson: His best advice is "your identity is not dependent on your golf score". If you shoot 65 or 80 that shouldn’t affect how you treat yourself or other people, and to always keep a positive mind frame even though it’s very hard to do.

Jacob: Most of the great advice he has given me is about the mental side and course management. From a young age, he has always told me if I am going to play conservatively, play conservatively aggressively. Meaning, I still need to commit to every shot and go through my routine properly, even if I'm laying up or not going at the pin. I would say that I am pretty emotional on the course, in the sense that I overreact to some shots that are not even that bad, so that is some mental stuff we have worked on.

CGC: Have you felt higher expectations and pressure from other people because your dad has played on tour?

Jackson: Not really, no. I view having a dad that has done what I want to do in the game of golf as a big advantage just because of the knowledge he has and because we are really similar people, his advice usually resonates well with me.

Jacob: I would say that there are more expectations when your dad has won the Masters. I can almost guarantee in every round of tournament golf, one of the kids I am paired with will ask me if my dad is Trevor Immelman and ask questions about him or the Masters.

CGC: What is best experience you've had at a tournament watching your dad play?

Jackson: I would say his Web.Com Tour Championship win a few years back at Atlantic Beach in Jacksonville. He had to finish top-4 on the event to keep his card and had missed the cut in his last three events. He just felt awful about his game, but shot -24 under and won the golf tournament and my whole family was there to see it. It was pretty awesome. (CGC: We love this answer!!)

Jacob: I wish I could say watching him win the 2008 Masters, but I was too young to remember. I would say watching his final round at the 2019 Masters was my best memory of watching him play tournament golf in person. It was his last round he's played in the Masters and he played really well which was cool to see. We also got to watch Tiger win which was amazing.

CGC: What have learned by watching him play tournament golf?

Jackson: I’ve learned that it’s all about your misses, as cliche as it sounds, all your players miss very small. And they all are very patient and deliberate with everything they do. Everything is a process related even down to how they breathe throughout the round.

Jacob: Watching him prepare for a shot and be 100% committed is something that I learn when watching him play tournaments. It's never just 'pull out a club and hit'. He's always coming up with a plan and having a target in mind and knows exactly what shot he's trying to hit.

CGC: You've probably gotten to play some fantastic courses with your dad. What are your top 2 favorites?

Jackson: My favorite would be Cypress Point in California and second favorite would be The Bear’s Club in Jupiter.

Jacob: I have gotten to play some amazing courses in my life, especially over the past year. I would have to go with Augusta National and The Old Course. I think those two are hard to beat. (CGC: Yes we're jealous)

CGC: Other than your dad, who are your top-2 favorite touring pros and why?

Jackson: I’d say Scottie Scheffler and Tiger Woods. Scottie is just a very nice guy along with being the best in the world right now, and Tiger is the best to ever do it.

Jacob: Right now I would have to say Tom Kim and Min Woo Lee. I got to meet and spend time with Tom at the President's Cup and he's a really nice guy. I also really enjoy watching him play. I also really enjoy watching Min Woo play. He plays such exciting golf and hits the ball a mile.

Thank you to Jackson and Jacob for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish them the best of luck as they finish their junior careers and transition to college golf!