Monday, April 22, 2013

Great Swings That Were Slept On: Peter Jacobsen


One of the things I have been doing for 2013 Pro Golf Synopsis is looking at players from the past and their metrics. The problem is that the ShotLink data only goes back to 2001 and with a lot of metrics...only back to 2004-2007.

However, as Ron Jaworski says 'statistics are not about certainty, they are about probability.'

And in this case, Jaworski may have been the best driver of the ball in the 80's.

His ballstriking dipped in the 90's a bit, but it was still in the top-20th percentile until 1996. In fact, he was likely a top-5 driver of the ball in 1995; when he was 41 years old.

As he neared the Champions Tour, he had a resurgence in his driving as he my metrics have him near the top-10th percentile at the ages of 48 and 49 years old.

Unfortunately, little has been made about Jacobsen's swing. Probably since he was sort of the 'clown prince' on Tour with varying endorsements and didn't always play a full-time schedule.

He recorded 7 Tour wins, but 'only' made it to two Ryder Cups; both 10 years apart from each other. He also never played that great in the Majors outside of the PGA Championship.

Here are the only swings I could find of Jacobsen on YouTube. I'm guessing the first one was filmed recently. The second one was probably around 2002-2005 ish.

From what I recall, Jacobsen did have issues with his putting. Strokes Gained - Putting only goes back to 2004. Looking at other metrics like Putts Per Round and Putts per GIR, his metrics are not overly bad; although those metrics are very faulty at best.


When examining Jacobsen's game I believe he was likely an elite driver of the ball who hit it very long with very accuracy. Since we do not have the precision metric available (Avg. Distance to Edge of Fairway); he may have had issues with precision and that may have prevented him from being more successful.

He seems like a very average putter and while his swing looked great and he drove it extremely well, I tend to believe that his iron play was not nearly as good. I don't think he was a poor iron player, but probably very average, particularly from the Danger Zone.

Hunter Mahan's game is very similar except that I believe Jacobsen likely generated more clubhead speed for that time as he was ranked higher in distance rankings.

I think Mahan may not have the ability to have the success Jacobsen had when he reaches his 40's because Jacobsen still had plenty of distance off the tee. However, Mahan will likely be more focused on golf as I don't think he has the endorsement potential that Jacobsen has had.

If anybody has any other pictures or video of Jacobsen's swing, I would love to see it. Just e-mail me at

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