Trevor Immelman has a deal with his son, Jacob: He’ll keep filling Jacob’s gas tank, but only if Jacob, when asked if he’s ever beaten his major-winning dad on the golf course, says he always loses by a shot.
Come next fall, those fuel demands will increase.
That’s because Jacob Immelman, a 17-year-old senior at Lake Highland Prep in Orlando, Florida, will make the eight-hour trek north to play his college golf after signing with Clemson on Wednesday, the first day of the week-long early signing period.
“It’s always been the dream to go there,” Jacob said over the phone Wednesday evening.
Jacob has been a Clemson fan practically since birth. While Trevor, a native South African, didn’t attend college – he turned pro in 1999 as the reigning U.S. Amateur Public Links champ – his best friend was a kicker on Clemson’s football team, and he later became a diehard Tigers fan after developing a friendship with current Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney, who became the Tigers’ interim head coach in 2008, the same year that Trevor won the Masters.
When Jacob was about 3 years old, he attended his first Clemson football game. The fondest memory of his Tigers fandom? Attending the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship in Tampa, Florida, where Hunter Renfrow caught a game-winning touchdown with a second on the clock to clinch Swinney’s first national title.
“Hopefully, I can make a lot more memories over the next four years,” Jacob said.
Jacob is one of three signees for Clemson head coach Jordan Byrd. Colin Salema of Matthews, North Carolina, is the headliner, a winner of last year’s North and South Junior and No. 25 in GolfChannel.com’s Class of 2024 rankings. Another North Carolina native, Rich Wills, is the third incoming freshman.
“We are excited to have him join our program,” Byrd said. “Jacob is realizing how good he can be at this game and all his hard work is paying off. He possesses great technique with great flow to his swing and game. He is also a fantastic student and will raise the bar in this area of our team as well.”
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Trevor said he’s noticed Jacob’s game improve significantly in the past 18 months. Prior to that, Jacob, like his dad as a teenager, lacked size and power, and often it was difficult to maintain the proper positioning throughout his swing. But Jacob experienced a growth spurt early last year, and as he got stronger, added distance followed.
“And the technique started to fall in place,” Trevor added. “So, really from that moment it was him trying to figure out, OK, do I want to make the sacrifices to try and chase this? Do I want to dedicate the time and give this a go? And he’s done that. We both understand that he’s not a finished product yet,” Trevor says, “but he still has about a year or so before he enrolls, and we look forward to seeing how he matures.”
Byrd offered Jacob back in July, and Jacob wasted no time in accepting. He took his official visit last weekend, watching the Tigers upset Notre Dame on the gridiron and catching up with Swinney at last Friday’s practice.
Since Jacob committed, Swinney has been greeting Jacob with a “What’s up, Tiger?”
“When I go there, it’s just got a such a great vibe that it gives off,” Jacob said of Clemson. “The golf program has that same feeling. … Just all-around great people.”
Trevor admits there are times when he thinks back on his teenage years and shakes his head at the ignorance of his decision to eschew college. Now a 43-year-old father of two, he appreciates the opportunity for Jacob to both further his golf career and get a degree in the process.
“I’m a huge fan of the college system,” Trevor said. “College golf has become like another level of professional golf with the advent of PGA Tour U and the great coverage that the Golf Channel does. These guys really do get to come up through the ranks and prepare so well for the PGA Tour now.”
Jacob still has plenty of room for growth in this game, both physically and mentally, if he’s to someday play at the highest professional levels like his dad did. He’s currently ranked in the 800s overall in both the Golfweek/Sagarin and AJGA rankings. But having grown up on the PGA Tour, he’s already armed with first-hand knowledge that most college golf recruits don’t have coming out of high school. Even fewer can take advice from a dad with a green jacket.
With the weather getting nicer in Central Florida, and Trevor not scheduled to resume his lead analyst role for CBS until the Farmers next year, there will be ample father-son time on the golf course these next few months.
Just don’t expect any stories of Jacob beating his old man.
He likes his gas money.