A few years ago, I traveled with Jack Bacot to the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida. As we walked through the convention center, Jack was wearing a smartly cut gray suit with a white shirt and silver tie. His wavy salt-and-pepper hair was in full, buoyant glory, and his black cap-toe shoes were shined to an onyx-like gleam. He looked decidedly out of place among the golf pros and industry executives in their no-iron khaki pants and billowing golf shirts.
Basically Jack looked like he always does: like a guy who is quite comfortable to be where he is but probably has somewhere more important to go afterwards. I followed Jack to a large room on the second floor of the building where the Golf Writers Association of America was holding its annual meeting. As we walked in, all heads turned in our direction. Soon we were surrounded by dozens of golf writers who were eager to shake Jack’s hand and find out what he’d been up to for the past several years. It was like walking into a Vegas lounge with Dean Martin. Jack was the coolest guy in the room, but he was also the most modest. Despite having not seen many of these people in close to a decade, he knew almost everyone’s name, and instead of talking about himself he asked questions: “How are your kids? What are you working on? Playing much golf?” But Jack wasn’t holding court, he was nourishing relationships, and it was one-hundred percent authentic. After an hour or so of catching up, Jack grabbed me by the shoulder and said, “C’mon Tingle-Ting (a nickname he refuses to stop calling me), let’s go find the bar.”
In my memory, that afternoon in Orlando was a lesson in charisma. But I have many similar Jack Bacot stories. Since meeting Jack eight years ago, when he was the editor-in-chief of this magazine, I have come to know him as one of the most thoughtful, generous, caring, and loyal friends a person can have. He is also one of the most charming. If I am ever in a room full of strangers and want to disappear I need only stand next to Jack. It’s as if his magnetism renders me invisible. Of course he would argue this point and be downright embarrassed at the suggestion. But that is part of Jack’s charm. His humility is genuine. Walking down Greenville’s Main Street after a business event, I told Jack I was envious of his social skills and ability to work a room. He laughed and said, “The truth is, at those kind of things, I am just as uncomfortable as you are.”
Jack Bacot came to Greenville in 2007 by way of Charlotte, then Charleston, where he’d spent years embedded in the publishing industry with stints as a senior editor with Garden & Gun magazine and editor-in-chief of Golf Business, the publication of the National Golf Course Owner’s Association. Jack was also deeply involved in custom publishing, working as editor for the NFL San Francisco 49ers GameDay magazine, Charleston Place magazine, GolfStyles Carolina, and Golf Product News, hence his strong connection to the golf industry. In Greenville, Jack became editor-in-chief of G, a local lifestyle magazine that, despite a dedicated readership, folded in 2010 under the pressures of print journalism’s razor-thin margins. Shortly after, Jack and Mark Johnston, publisher and president of Community Journals, launched TOWN magazine. As its founding editor-in-chief, Jack launched a bold aesthetic. He placed a premium on design, photography, and illustration, and gave wide berth to a hand-picked team of local and regional freelance writers and authors.
Jack left TOWN in 2012 to launch Tempus, a luxury lifestyle magazine for private-jet owners. As editor-in-chief of Tempus, as well as vice president of marketing for Tempus’ parent company, Tempus Jets, Jack created an award-winning quarterly publication featuring writers such as Walter Isaacson and Winston Groom. The magazine, headquartered in a tiny office in downtown Greenville, could be found on the lacquered tables of private jets as well as in the lounges of private airports all over the world.
In the spring of 2016, Jack stepped away from the turbulent world of private aviation, and a few months later accepted a unique and compelling challenge: bring a stylish, contemporary vibe to a 100-year-old accounting firm. Working as chief marketing officer for Elliott Davis, a Greenville-based firm with offices throughout the Southeast, Jack has launched yet another magazine, Braintrust, which fuses business, travel, art, and innovation. Rick Davis, CEO of Elliott Davis, describes it as cross between the Harvard Business Journal and Garden & Gun.
Over the years, I’ve asked Jack multiple times about his secret to success, and he always gives me the same answer: attitude. One recent evening, over cocktails, I questioned Jack as to how someone goes from magazine editor to CMO of a top accounting firm. Jack put down his bourbon and ginger, and spread his arms wide, palms up. “I’m always open to new things,” he said. “And I’m always positive. If you coast through life with a good attitude, then good things will happen.” This positivity is another part of Jack’s infectious spirit. He’s the kind of guy, who at 62 and after multiple surgeries, buys an electric motorcycle. (Although it should be noted that Leigh, Jack’s wife and physician with Woodward Medical Center, only allows him to ride it on streets with a speed limit of 35 mph.) Seeing Jack cruising on that bike, his tailored suit flapping in the wind and his tie flailing behind him like the tail of a kite, it’s hard not to be a bit jealous of his enthusiasm, and the quiet confidence of a guy who is nothing short of a class act.