Rain or shine through 12 tournament homes, Naples' Nancy Jackson has been there at the Chubb Classic
By Jeff Babineau
NAPLES, Fla. – There is a Hall of Fame-caliber superstar at this week’s Chubb Classic presented by SERVPRO that isn’t named Langer, Furyk or Els. Her name is Nancy Jackson, and she has been volunteering at the Chubb Classic for each of the tournament’s 35 years in Naples.
Thirty-five years. Furyk and Els were teens when she began. As the tournament bounced across the city to 12 different tournament venues in Naples, when a new tournament started, Jackson has been there. No other volunteer at the Chubb can claim that.
Jackson, who is 76, also volunteers at the other two professional golf events in town, the LPGA’s CME Group Tour Championship and the QBE Shootout, a team event that is staged late in the year. She gets a shirt at each tournament she works, which has caused a bit of a problem: She has run out of closet space.
“I’ve had to get rid of a few,” Jackson said. “But I still have a lot of them.”
At this week’s Chubb Classic, Jackson is serving in the volunteer tent, greeting the 700 tournament volunteers as they arrive, helping them get the correct sizes on uniforms, and handing out lunch vouchers. Through the years, she has been a greens reporter, a laser operator tracking driving distances (“It was kind of fun to see how long the drives were,” she said), collected caddie bibs off the 18th green, worked in the TV room checking scores and has delivered lunches to volunteers spread out over the golf course. All of that and many other jobs, too.
“The very first year they asked me to be a walking marshal, I got Lee Trevino and got to walk 18 holes with him,” she said, recollecting some of her favorite memories. And then I met Arnold Palmer a couple of times. Jack Nicklaus played once when it was at TwinEagles. He’s played in the tournament. One of the nicest men I met was Gene Littler. Such a gentleman. So nice. And Al Geiberger, of course, Gary Player, who has been here lots of times. He hasn’t aged at all.
“I wish some of them were still around. That first year was 35 years ago, and they were at least 50 then!”
When the then-Senior PGA (now PGA Tour Champions) tournament first arrived in Naples in 1988, Jackson was working full-time in Pelican Bay, whose golf course was host of the inaugural event. She wasn’t a golfer, but nonetheless answered an ad in the newspaper seeking tournament volunteers. Every year since, for 35 years now, she has worked the tournament, rain or shine.
At 76, Jackson works a full-time job. December will mark Jackson’s 30th year working at Glenview, a retirement community in Pelican Bay. (“I guess you can say longevity is in my blood,” she said). She decided to take up golf at age 50, and plays socially on the weekends.
“I thought, I need to do this. All my friends are out playing golf and I’m sitting at home,” Jackson said. “I’m just an occasional golfer, weekends maybe. I just enjoy the companionship and being out on the course. I’m not in it to be a scratch golfer or anything.”
How long does Jackson want to keep volunteering?
“It seems like I started yesterday,” she said. “I’ve told them, right now my goal is 40 (years). I have so many good friends I’ve made doing this, and I’ll continue as long as I’m able.”