Jim Jamieson was one of the best golfers to ever come out of the Quad-Cities area and a fellow pro had no doubts as to what Jamieson could have done on the PGA Tour had things panned out a little differently.
“If he had made it on the Tour, he would have been a real star,” said Jim Hasley, who worked with Jamieson when they were both young golfers in the Quad-Cities.
It didn't quite work out that way for Jamieson, who grew up in Moline and was an all-state golfer for the Maroons. With one PGA Tour victory, he showed flashes of brilliance in an era when Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Gary Player were the marquee players.
Jamieson, who won the 1972 Western Open, contended at some of golf's biggest events against the best in the game when he was in his prime. He passed away Wednesday in his adopted home state of West Virginia. The Vietnam war veteran was 75.
“He was vibrant. People loved him,” said Hasley, the long-time local teaching professional. “He always smiled and waved at people. Even when he got successful, he recognized people and his hometown friends in the crowd. Not many people do that — they keep their eyes right down the middle and don't want any distractions. He was gregarious.”
Jamieson was also a behind-the-scenes mover of the success of what is now the John Deere Classic. Hasley said that Jamieson was a guy on Tour at the time who talked up the Quad-Cities and helped recruit players for a fledgling event. That 1971 satellite tournament at Crow Valley Country Club proved to be the start of a budding relationship with the PGA Tour that blossomed into the JDC and the building of the PGA Tour's TPC Deere Run golf facility.
Another local with as many ties to the game as Jamieson said that the former PGA Tour pro was still proud of his roots.
“Whenever he saw me, he wouldn't yell 'Hey, Tony,' he would always yell 'Hey, Maroons,'” said Tony Navarro, a veteran PGA Tour caddie from the Quad-Cities. “As soon as I heard that, I knew exactly who it was.”
Navarro said Jamieson was always interested in happenings in the Quad-Cities above and beyond the PGA Tour event.
“He would always ask about the basketball back here,” Navarro said of the former standout Moline basketball player. “And Wharton Field House.”
Born in Michigan, Jamieson's family moved to Moline when he was 2. He became enamored with the game of golf and was a two-time prep all-stater for the Maroons. He went on to help Oklahoma State win an NCAA team title in 1963 when he finished tied for 44th individually. The 1967 Illinois State Amateur winner earned his PGA Tour card in 1969.
It seemed as if 1972 was his breakout season. After logging three top 10 finishes in his first 10 events that season, he went on to finish tied for fifth in the Masters.
Later that year, he came back to Illinois and won the Western Open — then played at Sunset Ridge Country Club in suburban Chicago.
The following two seasons, Jamieson recorded four more top-10 finishes. In 1973, he was again in contention at the Masters, finishing tied for third as Nicklaus won with a closing round 66. He also pushed Player to the limit in the 1972 PGA Championship, finishing tied for second with Tommy Aaron, two strokes out of the lead.
In an interview done in 2012 when Jamieson was inducted into the Quad-Cities Sports Hall of Fame, Jamieson was introspective as to his close calls at the Masters, including a 3-over finish in his final three holes of the 1972 event.
“What happened was I didn’t have enough killer instinct,” he said. “(Raymond) Floyd and Nicklaus knew how to win. They weren’t thinking about the money and the contracts.”
Hasley recalled Jamieson being one of the original long-hitters in the game “because he was such a good athlete,” Hasley stated.
A broken right hand in 1977 prematurely ended Jamieson's Tour career, but he remained active in the sport he loved. He not only was a teaching professional, but owned courses and opened the Jim Jamieson School of Golf at The Resort at Glade Springs in West Virginia. He later became the first women's golf coach at NCAA Div. II. University of Charlotte.
The affable Jamieson, according to Navarro, was having health issues of late. According to a story in the Quad-City Times, he underwent open-heart and back surgery in 2010 as the result of a staph infection.
“I was a big fan of his growing up in Moline,” said Navarro. “About 10 years ago, Jimmy and I became quite friendly and would exchange emails, texts and would spend time together when our paths crossed. … He was a special guy to me and a person I looked up to.”
In 2012, Jamieson said: “Golf has really been good to me. I have no regrets.”