Jun. 16—Jackie Seawell, who taught multiple generations of Aikenites how to play golf while serving three different area clubs, died Monday. He was 79.
A native of Anderson, he served as head golf professional at Ramsgate Country Club in Mauldin and Cobb's Glen in Anderson. Seawell came to Aiken in the late 1980s to serve as head golf professional at Woodside Country Club. He also served as director of golf at Sage Valley Golf Club and was most recently involved with the game as an owner of Houndslake Country Club. He and his wife, Claire, were married for 55 years.
"He's recognized all over South Carolina as being one of the top golf teaching pros in South Carolina, and his legacy is just unbelievable," said Pat Cunning, a former Aiken City Council member now largely known as president of Aiken-Woodside Realty.
"The kids he's raised — he and Claire — are just wonderful people, and the grandkids. He's got a great legacy, and we're going to miss him."
Seawell's pool of admirers among professional golfers include Matt NeSmith, whose route to success was by way of North Augusta High School and the University of South Carolina.
"He was my swing coach from the time I was probably 13 until I went to college," NeSmith recalled. "He was one of the most kind-hearted people I have ever met in my golfing career, for sure, and he was extremely knowledgeable."
Seawell also was the patriarch of one of South Carolina's most prominent golf families. He was a four-year letterman on the golf team at the University of South Carolina and also served as captain. In 1964, he won the South Carolina Intercollegiate as an individual and led his team to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
His three sons have all been involved with the game, and all three followed Seawell as golfers at USC. His oldest son, Jay, is currently the head golf coach at the University of Alabama. Daniel is head pro and a co-owner of Houndslake, and David played professionally and was on the PGA Tour for one year.
Other surviving family members include a daughter, Julie Allen; and 11 grandchildren.
"He was always true to his word, and he was such a gentleman on every front," Cunning recalled. "He and Claire were such a great team. They were just lovely together, and it was just a privilege to get to know Jackie Seawell. He was a true gentleman."
Seawell taught some of the best golfers to emerge from the Aiken area, including three-time PGA Tour winner Kevin Kisner. "I always remember Jackie Seawell taking us to tournaments, helping us on the range and spending all day with us," Kisner once told the Aiken Standard. "Guys like this are what make the game so special."
"He was a significant contributor to the golfing community in a number of locations, but particularly in Aiken, where he had a major impact on many young golfers ... teaching them the basic skills of the game, but also in teaching them the important aspects of honesty, integrity and respect," said Joe Spencer, one of the Aiken-Augusta area's top proponents of youth golf.
"He was just a wonderful role model for individuals," Spencer added. "He was quiet but effective in the manner in which he worked with people, and he was highly respected."
The men's golf coach at USC Aiken, Michael Carlisle, made similar comments. "Jackie Seawell was the kindest man I believe I ever knew in my life. He was always looking to help people, especially young people — kids who were interested in golf. He was just an outstanding example of what you should be and what you should do and how you conduct your life.
Among the many awards Seawell received were the following: South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame, T.L. Hanna High School Athletics Hall of Fame, Thomas Hitchcock & William C. Whitney Palmetto Golf Club Award, GolfWeek "Father of the Year" Award, the University of South Carolina Department of Athletics Extraordinary Contributions Award and honorary captain of the South Carolina PGA Palmetto Cup Team.
Plans are for the family to receive friends from noon to 1:30 p.m. Friday from noon to 1:30 p.m. at McDougald Funeral Home in Anderson. The funeral service will follow there at 2 p.m. There will also be a local memorial service at 2 p.m. Saturdayat St. John's United Methodist Church in downtown Aiken.