ObituaryJanuary 13, 2018

Broadcaster Keith Jackson dies; he was an avid golfer who at 80 broke his age at Los Angeles Country Club North

Ida Mae Astute

Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)KEITH JACKSON

Keith Jackson, a broadcasting legend, was an avid golfer, who at 80 was breaking his age on the exceedingly difficult North Course at Los Angeles Country Club, where he was a member.

“My wife and I play about three days a week and I play with a bunch of buddies over there that I call the mafia,” he told me in 2009. “Why? Because two days after I turned 80 I shot 78 and lost $70.

“I played the renowned North Course there for years. But now I'm a senior citizen on a fixed income with limited ability, so I play the South Course.”

Jackson, 89, died on Friday night. He was a fixture at ABC Sports and was best known for broadcasting college football, though he also called PGA Tour events for the network for a time. Two of his trademark calls were "whoa Nellie," and "the big uglies," as he called down linemen.

He was introduced golf as a boy growing up in Carrollton, Ga. “Several people were growing up at that time in the golf business,” he said on a Callaway Live episode. “Doug Sanders was just up the road. Louise Suggs and her family owned the golf course there in a little town [Lithia Springs] halfway between Carrollton and Atlanta.” Jackson said he used a first baseman’s mitt to shag practice balls there.

At his best, he said, he was probably a four handicap. In 2009, he still was a strong player, with an index of 10.8. He played in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic that year. “I played eight days in a row, including four in the Bob Hope,” he said. “I'm 80 years old, with artificial knees. That’s hard.”

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Jackson, given his television credentials, was surprised that Los Angeles CC even allowed him to become a member.

“I have no idea how I got in, considering its history of excluding those from the entertainment industry,” he said. “We were members at Bel-Air Country Club, when Howard Lester, Jay McMahon and Manny Sheridan asked me if I'd like to join the Los Angeles Country Club. It is a great facility. ‘Of course,’ I said. That was 1980.

“We belong to Shoal Creek, down in Birmingham, Ala. Hall Thompson, who founded Shoal Creek, is a good old friend. I have a great fondness for him and respect him highly. All of a sudden at Thompson Cottage there’s a Jackson Suite and we became members.”