In Celebration of the Alabama – NW Florida PGA’s 50th Anniversary
By: Hayden Lewis, PGA
Mountain Brook, AL (February 12, 2019) – Growing up the son of a teacher and a coach, Jeff Jordan played a multitude of sports. While he loved competing and being active, baseball was the sport that caught his attention early on. During his time playing baseball Jeff recalls how his dad was always a weekend golfer as well. One weekend when Jeff was eight years old his father took him to a local golf course outside of Atlanta where they met a PGA Professional named Dave Ayers. Ayers would help guide Jeff early on in learning about the game and its fundamentals.
Jeff continued to play baseball, however, soon fell behind and was not able to keep up on a competitive level. When Jeff was 13 his dad suggested they take the whole summer to play competitive golf, and give the sport a try instead of baseball… the rest is history. “Golf actually didn’t grab me the way it grabs other people,” says Jordan. “I really don’t remember much between the ages of 8 and 13…I just remember that feeling of hitting a ball and something good happening, and I just knew I wanted to keep experiencing that feeling.”
Most will agree, whether you have a five minute or five hour conversation with Jeff Jordan, you’re left feeling inspired and motivated – to be better than you were the day before. A PGA Member for nearly twenty years, Jeff shows the utmost class, respect and professionalism to everyone he encounters. Early in his career he found himself passionate about competing and being involved in tournament play. Jeff soon realized he was meant for a different purpose in the industry. This is where we pick up the conversation with Jeff at Mountain Brook Club in Birmingham where he currently serves as the Director of Golf – or as some may refer to him as the People’s Pro.
How do you think your story has impacted the way you look at the golf industry today?
JJ: It gave me a sense of purpose. It gave me something that I looked forward to coming home from school – something that had my attention early on. Because of this and because I was thatkid, it helps me embrace my kids here at [Mountain Brook] Club. I want to give them a similar experience and at the end of the day I don’t really care whether they go play in college or professionally. The way I see it, I want to help them get whatever they want out of golf. I think it’s easy for me to see it that way because for a large period of time I didn’t know what I wanted out of golf.
Do you feel your purpose has evolved over time or do you think you were always meant to be a golf professional?
JJ: I think it certainly changes. I was never meant to be a golf professional – at least not in this type of capacity, but here we are [laughs].
How does the Section’s 50thAnniversary resonate with you personally?
JJ: To me the 50thAnniversary is just a number – but that’s too easy an answer. When I reflect about it I think about all of the things that I enjoy about being a PGA Professional in our Section. For example, the friendships I have made, the camaraderie and meeting people; all of this had to be put together and a group of people had to initiate this. Now I, and others like myself, get to enjoy the fruit of what this group planted fifty years ago! I think it’s really easy to disregard the number, and I am guilty of that sometimes – I look at it as me getting to enjoy what goes on in year fifty because a lot of folks put together something lasting in year one, and I’m certainly grateful for that.
What do you find to be most captivating or exciting about the golf industry today?
JJ: The overview of the golf industry, as posed at this year’s PGA Show, is really energetic in my opinion. I think the industry and the sport itself is in a really exciting spot. With that said, I don’t think we need to keep rolling out groundbreaking or earth shattering ideas – maybe I’m just turning in to an old man, but I think it still all boils down to the people. The industry really relies on the people who are involved in it on a day-to-day basis. For example, our Section has a great batch of golf professionals – head pros, assistants and instructors. Ultimately, it’s these individuals who make the industry what it is. I think it’s very easy to overlook this part and saturate the industry with the “things” like equipment, technology and the stuff, which are all a good things. However, at the same time, you don’t want to lose sight of the people and the connections that make our industry unique. I still think there is nothing better than a handshake, a smile and an engaging question – you really can’t replace that with all the gadgets and equipment.
In your opinion, what is the most important attribute a PGA Professional can have?
JJ: Personality. Again, I think it goes back to the people and those relationships you form with them. If you can give people a reason to want to be around you it creates an opportunity for them to know you on a deeper level, or in other words, show them how you can stand out. I’ve always told my assistants whether it’s in life or a job interview – don’t be forgettable.
How do you define success in your life whether personally or professionally?
JJ: The way I internally define success is I ask myself the question: How did I treat the people I was around today? People are going to remember how you treated them or how you made them feel. If I run in to a person and their thought is, “Man I’m really glad I ran in to Jeff today,” that’s all the success I need. On the flip side, that’s also the one that’s going to bother me the most when I do mess it up. At home, it’s no different – it’s important for me as a father and a husband to create the same dynamic with my family. You don’t know how your interaction with someone will affect that person, and it’s important I don’t forget the magnitude a casual exchange can really hold.
What inspires you?
JJ: Hard work. It still inspires me to see people work hard – and not just in golf, but in anything. To see people so motivated to work hard and actually love what they do inspires me because I’m not always like that. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found myself needing more of a kick to really get after something, but when I find that groove it’s the best feeling in the world. I also find failure to be a big motivator – nothing drives me more than being aware of what I did wrong and wanting to try again until I get it right.
If you weren’t a golf professional what do you think you would be?
JJ: I think I would be a teacher and a football coach because I saw my dad do it for thirty years, and I know he really enjoyed it. One of the things about what I get to do on a daily basis is I enjoy being the golf coach. I’ve always been infatuated with learning about how to get the best out of students in anything. That’s the one thing that I really love about my job is figuring out how to connect with a student and seeing them have their own version of success. I think that would have been really fun to do on a daily basis as a teacher.
ABOUT THE ALABAMA – NW FLORIDA PGA’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
The Alabama – NW Florida PGA Board and Staff is excited to commemorate the Section’s 50th Anniversary with the PGA of America! In celebration of this year, the Section is launching a campaign focused on highlighting PGA Professionals and Associates who are driving the game forward in the state of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The campaign will be headlined by a series of articles and interviews centered around PGA Professionals and Associates who are willing to share their “golf testimony” – or in other words – answering the question, “What does the game of golf mean to you personally?”