10 Minutes with… Rob Jackson, Mizuno

The new head of golf for the newly formed Mizuno Golf EMEA tells us about Seve, the biggest issue facing golf at the moment and his dream dinner party guests.

What’s your favourite golf course? 

I guess it has to be something I’ve played, so it has to be Burnham and Berrow in Somerset as that’s where I was brought up playing golf. It’s a links golf course and there’s just something about links golf that I find very special.

What’s the best shot you’ve ever played?

It has to be a five wood when we were playing Sheringham Golf Club. I was up on the right hand bank with a little bit of heavy rough and hit this high ball, an impossible shot really, onto the green. I think it was at the fourth hole at Sheringham and my friends always tell me that was the most amazing shot they have seen me do. I’ve hit a few bad ones, but I’ve got good memories of that one.

Who’s your favourite ever golfer and why? 

It’s got to be Seve; he was so charismatic and played the game with so much flair. I remember watching that final round at Lytham when it was delayed to the Monday and it was him and Nick Price going head to head and whatever Price threw at him he answered. That up and down on 18 was tremendous. He’s very sadly missed.

What one thing would you change about the golf industry? 

I personally think that there is too much product out there. There’s not enough forecasting ability and too much overbite and over-purchasing. People are buying too much and then dumping it and then doing it again. I think this is a concern and something that all of us could smarten up on and do a bit better. That’s key from a retail point of view, because if you push too much product into the channels it’s not good for the future and if purchasing was more controlled it would be a healthier industry.

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

I’ve been with Mizuno for 16 years and I’ve enjoyed everything about it. I’ve been in sales, marketing and I’ve just moved into this new role as the group has been restructured so I’m head of golf EMEA, so we’ve all gone to one division. I’m excited, as for a long time Mizuno has been a little bit handcuffed in the way we were set up. We were set up in the late 1970s and we’ve always worked as separate units and divisions, but now we’re going to be one big division. I have always loved golf, so to be working for Mizuno for whom I bought my first set of clubs, the PP9, is a dream come true. It’s a great industry and quite a tight industry, so you get to know people quite well. To be working in the sport you love is very special.

What’s the hardest part of it? 

Even though you love the game, it does become a numbers game. It’s all about hitting sales targets and monthly and quarterly targets. I came into golf for the love of the game and I still do love it, but it has also become a bit of a spreadsheet as it is a business.

What’s the biggest issue facing golf today? 

People say participation is on the wane but golf has always been a very hard game. It’s very addictive though for those that stick with it, the issue is those that try it and then give it up because it’s not easy. The biggest issue is to keep people within the game and I think amateurs needs as much help as they can get to make the game easier and more enjoyable and keep them playing.

Who would be your dream dinner party guests – you and five other people? 

Seve would have to be there as he’s my favourite ever golfer, Sean Connery who is my favourite Bond, Helena Christensen, Mike Scott from the Waterboys and the last one would be Ayrton Senna as he was one of those guys like Seve who transcended all sports. That would be quite a good party wouldn’t it!

What’s your favourite ever film? 

12 Angry Men – I love the way he is on a jury and he turns them all around with his logic. It’s a fantastic film.

What are the most played songs on your ipod? Fisherman’s blues by the Waterboys, Neil Young’s After the Goldrush and Tumbling dice by the Rolling Stones.

If you weren’t working in golf what would you like to be doing for a living? 

Working on a boat sailing round the Bahamas, doing some big game fishing. That’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. That would be an ideal job.