Profile: Tom Jamieson
by Dennis Keenon
OK, class, it's time for a quiz. The category is sports, and will our mystery guest athlete sign in, please?
He owns victories over sports icons Arthur Ashe and Sam Snead. And has a split decision with legendary tennis/golf hustler Bobby Riggs.
He opened the prototypical sports medicine clinic in Michigan more than 25 years ago.
And he was one of only two Michigan amateur golfers to qualify for the 1996 U.S. Senior Open.
Who is he?
Meet Dr. Tom Jamieson, D.O., of Lansing, who in his college days was one of the top amateur tennis players in the United States and who once defeated Arthur Ashe in an exhibition match AFTER Ashe had won the U.S. Open tennis championship.
In later years, after exchanging ground strokes for putting strokes, Jamieson bested Sam Snead in a charity golf match at the Lansing Country Club, 70 to 71.
And then came his charity golf and tennis matches with Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon tennis champion turned golf hustler. Jamieson defeated Riggs, 6-1, 6-0, in a no-handicap tennis exhibition, but lost to Riggs in a second match when he gave Riggs the doubles alleys. In their golf exhibition, Jamieson defeated Riggs, despite giving up seven shots a side.
Not a bad record for a guy who grew up in Lansing playing tennis and who didn't take up golf seriously until after he had attended medical school in Chicago and had returned to the Capitol City to establish his practice.
"I played a lot of tennis as a kid and really liked the sport," said Jamieson, who played No. 2 singles as a freshman and sophomore at Michigan State University and rose to No. 1 as a junior and senior for the Spartans.
Jamieson competed on the U.S. Junior Davis Cup team, playing in matches all over the country, but after medical school found that competing at that level in tennis involved too much time and travel.
"I really enjoy competition and discovered that golf was a good outlet to satisfy that need," Jamieson said.
He started playing golf with buddies Ron English and Lynn Janson, now top Michigan professionals, and took to the game quickly.
"I never had lessons, but playing with guys like Ron and Lynn really helped," Jamieson said. "They would give me tips and ideas on the course, and I picked up a lot by just observing them."
Jamieson said the eye-hand coordination and mental toughness required to play competitive tennis served him well in learning the golf game.
He thinks golf is more demanding than tennis in at least one respect. "There seems to be more of a variety of things to learn in golf," Jamieson said. "You have 14 different clubs that you must learn how to hit a variety of shots with. Just think of the different shots that golf demands from 50 yards in to the green. Plus, you must learn how to play in all kinds of weather -- wind, rain and cold."
Within three years after taking up golf, he started competing in tournaments. The first time he qualified for the Michigan Amateur, he made the Sweet 16. Today, at age 54, Jamieson continues to relish competition, whether it be playing in a best-ball tournament with a buddy or his son Tom Jr. or in the Michigan Amateur or Michigan Open.
Last year, he qualified with a 71 at Travis Pointe in Saline to play in the U.S. Senior Open at Canterbury Country Club, Cleveland, in August. He missed the cut at Canterbury, shooting 80-79.
In Thursday's opening round at Canterbury, Jamieson hit the first 10 greens in regulation and was one over standing on the 11th tee. "I looked up at the scoreboard, and Jack Nicklaus was four over playing two groups in front of me." Jamieson said. But Jamieson's tee ball at the par 3 11th found some gnarly rough just off the green "and just like that I had a six." He also triple bogeyed the par 5 16th on his way to an opening round 80.
Still, he counts competing at Canterbury as one of his greatest thrills in golf.
"We were treated royally, and the pros were just great," said Jamieson, recalling practice rounds he played with Hale Irwin, Isao Aoki, Miller Barber, Tony Jacklin and Larry Rinker. "It was a tremendous thrill for me just being there, and the pros made me feel like I belonged.
"Gary Player was hitting practice balls next to me, and he showed me the exercises he was doing to strengthen his back. He knew I was a doctor and wanted to know why these exercises were helping him."
The good doctor has been prescribing doses of sound nutritional and health advice at his Total Health Care Center and Sports Medicine Clinic in Lansing for the past two and a half decades.
"I practice holistic medicine, emphasizing prevention through nutrition and exercise," Jamieson said. "Nutrition is one of the keys to becoming healthy. I've had a full-time nutritionist on staff since I opened my clinic.
"The other key is exercise. For golfers, that means stretching to improve flexibility, working out with lighter weights and aerobic exercise."
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