Jeff Adams worked for 40-plus years in golf at the LPGA and PGA TOUR, as well as on several contract assignments in the industry. He now serves in a volunteer capacity as the vice president of tournaments for Jacksonville Area Golf Association (JAGA).
Can you please briefly tell us about your background?
I was raised in Westchester County, New York, in a great town called Chappaqua, which is where the Clintons now live. I graduated from the University of Florida in 1976 with a degree in broadcasting and covered their great golf teams of the mid-70s. Ironically, I introduced myself to then LPGA Commissioner Ray Volpe at the November 1975 LPGA tournament at Selva Marina Country Club in Jacksonville, which led to me being hired. From Gainesville, I went straight to New York City — with a pit stop along the way in Augusta to watch my first Masters — to begin a career in public relations and communications. I spent 10 years with the LPGA in New York and Houston. After several years doing contract work, I came to Ponte Vedra Beach and the PGA Tour in 1998 and retired at the end of 2015. It was 40-plus wonderful years in which I was lucky enough to combine my avocation and vocation and work on every major golf tour in the U.S., as well as with all the international tours.
What’s your favorite moment from your career?
I’d have to say it was from my LPGA years. I was the on-site media person in 1978 when Nancy Lopez captured golf headlines all over the world, winning five tournaments in a row and gaining the LPGA attention it had never experienced before. Media outlets from all over the country traveled to meet Nancy, who was terrific. The ironic thing was the streak came to an end in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the week she met her future husband, Tim Melton, a local TV sports anchor. I was honored to be invited to their wedding. Generally speaking, it was a young guy’s dream to work with golf icons such as Sarazen, Berg, Wright, Whitworth, Rankin, Palmer, Nicklaus, Floyd, Watson and today’s stars like Woods and Mickelson.
What role do you provide at JAGA?
I joined JAGA right after retiring. At the end of the first year, they asked me if I was interested in becoming an officer, which I was happy to do. As VP-Tournaments, I work with other directors to organize the annual tournament schedule, about 10 events, and run them. It’s been very enjoyable. I tell people that in the last two-plus years I’ve been to 20 or 25 courses in North Florida I hadn’t stepped foot on during the previous 18 years working for the PGA Tour.
Can you please tell us more about the organization?
JAGA was established in 1954 and is focused on three things: tournaments, scholarships and volunteerism. It is a nonprofit made up of about 100 volunteers who represent the 40 or so JAGA member clubs in Northeast Florida. It is to local golf what the U.S.G.A. is to golf in the U.S. Our mission is to promote golf and related activities. Of particularly emphasis and pride is the $1.75 million JAGA has generated since 1974 for college-bound kids. Twenty-seven area students currently receive scholarships.
We understand you met your wife in Ponte Vedra. What’s the story there?
I was practicing at TPC Sawgrass one hot June afternoon in 2000 in advance of a trip to Scotland. This attractive young lady shows up with four bags of balls and sets up shop near me. I’m figuring with four bags a guy’s going to follow any minute. Turns out that guy was me. We got married two years later. She’s made me a very lucky and happy man.
What do you enjoy most about living in Ponte Vedra?
We like that it provides the warmth and pleasures of Florida but maintains its Southern feel despite the influx of Yankees like me and Lori. We’ve made a lot of friends here. Being close to UF is a nice bonus. We also like the opportunities to get involved in things. One example is the JUNIOR PLAYERS Championship. Lori and I have hosted a junior golfer all 11 years. Believe it or not, Brooks Koepka was our first. The next year it was C.T. Pan. Lori and I had to laugh this past May when we noticed Brooks’ playing partner when he double-eagled the 16th at THE PLAYERS was C.T.
Other than golf, what do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy following politics and being informed. I also really enjoy listening to “my music,” including the Beatles, Allman Brothers, Gregg Allman, James Taylor, Alan Jackson and great single hits from our youth. In addition, I enjoy reading about the Civil War and rock stars and keeping up with the many friends I’ve been lucky to make all over the country. Our cats Wink and Buster are our kids. We adopted them last July 4 at Katz 4 Keeps.