Father’s Day is a great time for backyard barbeques, going to a ball game or even watching the U.S. Open. It’s a way for many to recognize their dad.
While Jackie Seawell will be celebrating the special occasion this weekend, the co-owner of Houndslake Golf Club won’t be doing it in any of the typical ways. Rather, the patriarch of the storied Aiken golfing family will be in Florida, where he’s being honored as Golfweek magazine’s Father of the Year.
“I don’t know how I was selected, but each year Golfweek picks a person to be Father of the Year,” explained the 71-year-old Seawell, who has received many prestigious honors for his work as a golf instructor and professional. “This is the best award I’ve ever gotten. It’s something special.”
Among the many honors the Master PGA professional has received are being inducted into the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame as well as being the 2010 recipient of the Hitchcock-Whitney Award, presented by the Palmetto Amateur Committee and the Board of Governors of the Palmetto Golf Club to an individual who has made significant contributions to golf in the Aiken area.
But Seawell said this honor holds a special place for him because it isn’t just a reflection of his achievements. He said this award reflects all of the successes of his family – especially his sons Jay, Daniel and David who have all had significant moments involving golf.
“It’s not just recognizing me: it’s recognizing my whole family,” said Seawell, who pointed out that his daughter Julie is also a good golfer, while none of it would be possible without his wife Claire. “I want to include my wife. We’ve been married for 47 years and been together for 50. We’ve dated since I was at South Carolina,” where Seawell was a two-time All-ACC player during the 1960s.
Seawell is being honored at the Golfweek Father & Son Open at Reunion Resort near Orlando, Fla. He’s being joined by a several family members, including a contingent of 11 grandchildren. His sons Jay and Daniel won’t be in attendance, only because the honor was only recently announced.
Instead, the two sons will be working together at a golf camp at the University of Alabama. That’s where Jay is the golf coach and just led the team to a national title. Following that run to an NCAA championship, Jay coached the U.S. Palmer Cup team to a victory. He has just returned to host his camp at the Jerry Pate Golf Center, where Daniel will be assisting.
“We went to Atlanta and supported Jay,” Seawell said of taking in the NCAA championship in person before detailing the lengths Jay went to pursue a career in coaching the sport his father instilled in him. “Jay wanted to coach since he was 13 years old. He had his mother volunteer at the Y so he could coach the teams. His first job was at Anderson, where he was paid $9,000 and lived in a one-room dorm along with his wife and young daughter. He was chasing his dream.”
That’s what David did as well. He spent several years playing professionally on the PGA and Nike tours before returning to Aiken. Now he has a good job in real estate at Woodside Plantation, where Seawell worked for a decade. He continues to remain active in what he called, “the golf business.” He and Daniel recently combined efforts and bought Houndslake, where they are trying to restore it as one of premier facilities in the area.
“Daniel took my place at Sage Valley as Director of Golf. He had a wonderful job at Sage Valley, which is a special place,” Seawell said. “But then Houndslake came open. I told him it’s going to be tough and a lot of work. But he showed up at my door and we’re back at it again.”
In addition to owning and operating Houndslake, where he’s also teaching the game, Seawell’s remaining active as the coach for several of the top juniors in the Palmetto State. He serves as the personal instructor for former North Augusta star Matt NeSmith, who just completed his freshman season at the University of South Carolina where he was the SEC’s co-Freshman of the Year. Another pupil of Seawell’s is Carson Young, a recent grad of Pendleton High School who’s on his way to Clemson having just won the prestigious Junior Invitational at Sage Valley as well as medalist honors at the Southern Cross at Palmetto golf Club.
“My summer is spent with the young folks,” said Seawell, who’s taking a little time to be with his family and celebrate Father’s Day about the best way possible. “This means everything to me. It’s special to me.”
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.