Jack Nicklaus, or “The Golden Bear,” is quite simply the greatest golfer ever to play the game. His accomplishments, level of play, and longevity are unparalleled in golf.
Jack is the greatest, and it’s not just my opinion. The Golden Bear was voted Golfer of the Century by pretty much every major sporting publication, a feat no other golfer in history has achieved, not even Tiger Woods.
But it’s not only golf where Jack has received recognition. Sports Illustrated named Jack the Greatest Individual Male Athlete in the last hundred years, and ESPN listed Jack in their Top 10 Greatest Athletes Of All-Time list. With 120 wins worldwide and sitting atop the Major Championship list with 18, it’s easy to see why Jack Nicklaus is a legend of the game.
The Golden Bear won 6 Masters Championships, 5 PGA’s, 4 U.S. Championships, and 3 British Opens.
Jack is much more than the most distinguished golfer ever. Off the course, he is renowned for his business acumen and has launched multiple thriving companies. Over his career, he has displayed an unwavering commitment to philanthropy and is also known as one of the finest golf course designers of the modern era. Jack has always put the best interests of others first and is seen as golf’s global ambassador.
Over the span of more than fifty years, Jack has donated and supported the health and wellbeing of millions of children in the U.S. and globally. Jack and his wife Barbara founded the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, and it has been a beacon of hope for so many children since its inception in 2004.
Astonishingly, Jack and Barbara’s foundation has gone on to raise more than $100 million with their success leading to the name change of the prominent Miami Children’s Hospital to the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. The medical care facility now has sixteen outpatient centers and has helped care for children all over the U.S. and kids from more than 118 countries.
Jack’s career achievements and contributions to the game have transcended golf and sport in general. In 2005 The Golden Bear was vested with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and would later be awarded the Congressional Medal in 2015, and in 2018 was awarded the Lincoln Medal. Remarkably Jack is only one of four people to achieve such an accomplishment and the only athlete to achieve the feat.
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Jack Nicklaus Links
Jack Nicklaus Early Life
The Golden Bear grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and was born in 1940 on January 21. Jack’s father, Charlie, introduced him to golf at the ripe age of ten, and within just a few years, Jack was dominating the local golfing scene, capturing an unprecedented six Ohio Junior titles
In 1956 Jack captured the Ohio Open, which was his first tournament win of real significance. Jack then went on to win the U.S. Amateur in 59’ and 61’ and, in the same year, also captured the NCAA title for Ohio State University. Astonishingly in a two-year stretch from 1959-61, Jack would win all but one of the thirty amateur events he entered.
The game of golf would never be the same, and in 1962, Jack turned pro and, in the process, tipped the golfing world on its head. It wasn’t before long, Jack was dominating the PGA Tour and won two of his 18 Majors in 1963, The Masters and PGA.
The Golden Bear sits atop the all-time lists for Major wins with 18, followed closely by Tiger Woods with 15. The Golden Bear captured the U.S. Open on four occasions in 1962, 67, 72, and 80. He won six Masters, with his first coming a year after turning pro in 1963, and subsequently winning in 65, 66, 72, 75, and 86. Jack also won the British Open on three occasions in 1966, 70, and 78, along with five PGA’s in 1963, 71, 73, 75, and 80.
Separate to this The Golden Bear has won 73 times on the PGA Tour and captured a total of 118 wins globally. Jack has 21 hole-in-ones to his name along with an impressive 58 second-place finishes. Jack topped the prize money list eight times throughout his career and had the lowest scoring average on eight occasions. Nicklaus was also a prolific international winner capturing the Australian Open six times, first in 1964 with his last title coming in 1978.
Jack’s accomplishments seem never-ending as he also held the longest streak for tournaments won in consecutive years at seventeen and has won more Masters than any other player with six.
Nicklaus has been the recipient of countless awards, including Sportsman of the Year, Golfer of the Century, 1988 Golf Magazine, PGA Player of the Year 5 times, Athlete of the Decade, and Golf Course Architect of the Year 1993. Jack also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the Congressional Gold Medal in 2015, and the Lincoln Medal in 2018.
Jack and his group have designed and developed golf courses and resorts around the world, with more than 400 currently in play. Some of Jack’s most celebrated course designs are Castle Pines, Muirfield Village, and Shoal Creek.
The Golden Bear retired from professional golf in 2005 and now resides in Florida.
Like Father Like Son
Like so many great golfers, Jack was introduced to the game by his father, Charlie, at a young age, and Jack has been quoted as saying his father was not only his mentor but his best friend.
Jack’s father, Charlie, was also an accomplished athlete and businessman and owned a number of pharmacies in Columbus, Ohio, where the Nicklaus family grew up. Charlie was a renowned amateur athlete and was a successful semi-pro football player who introduced young Jack to various sports, including golf, tennis and football.
In February 1970, Charlie passed away but up until then had been Jack’s biggest fan and supporter, traveling to most of his tournaments and childhood sporting events. Jack has fond memories of working behind the counter at his father’s pharmacies and credits a lot of it to the tenacious work ethic we know him for.
Not surprisingly, Jack wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and went on to study pharmacy at Ohio State University. At the same time, he was also successfully selling insurance before he decided to turn pro, aged 21, in November of 1961.
In a 2003 tribute to his father’s legacy and his impact on Jack and so many others, the School of Pharmacy at the Atlantic University named their new lecture hall after Charlie.
The Nicklaus Brand
The Nicklaus brand has prided itself on delivering the highest quality products across several enterprises, with its primary mission being to promote and improve every aspect of the golfing experience. The Nicklaus brand strives to achieve and mirror the moral principles that its founder displayed during his illustrious career.
With business interest across a broad-ranging spectrum, the Nicklaus brand is involved in everything from golf course and resort design to marketing, licensing, and real estate. The brand is especially known for its lifestyle clothing branded under the Golden Bear logo and its Nicklaus Design company which leads the way in golf design and architecture. To date, the Nicklaus company has designed and developed more than 400 courses globally.
To ensure the brand’s continued growth, Jack teamed up with Howard Milstein in 2007, and since then, the brand has expanded its reach globally. Milstein wanted to ingrain Nicklaus’s mission statement as ” a brand that looks forward and gives back.” This is clearly evident as the brand continues to be heavily involved in the healthcare sector, with several charities along with the distinguished Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation.
Howard Milstein is seen as a trailblazer in the golf industry, particularly as an entrepreneur. Milstein owns the iconic 8AM Golf, which serves as an umbrella company for other prominent golfing brands including, Golf Magazine, True Spec Golf, GolfLogix, and Golf.com, to name but a few. As with the Nicklaus group of companies, the brand aims to serve, promote and improve access to the game for all levels.
Named the best athlete in the modern era by Sports Illustrated, Jack has bought the same passion, commitment, and respect he had for the game to the business arena. Jack and his team continually strive for best practices and maintain the same high standards Jack held himself to during his playing career.
It’s been more than 50 years since the company was established, and with continued growth in recent years, it’s easy to see the Nicklaus brand being around for another fifty.
Jack The Designer
The Jack Nicklaus brand has designed over 400 golf courses in more than 40 countries and leads the way when it comes to course design and architecture. The company is in partnership with Jack’s four sons along with his son-in-law.
Nearly 150 of the course designs have gone on to hold PGA Tour events, with no other golf design or architecture company coming even close to matching this achievement.
Some of Jack’s most recognized designs are:
- Glenn Abbey Golf Club
- Mount Juliet G.C.
- Harbour Town G. C.
- Archasta Golf Club
- Killeen Castle
- Trump Links, Ferry Point
- PGA National C. C.
- Nicklaus Course, Pronghorn
- PGA Centenary Course
But maybe the design that has the most meaning is Jack’s redesign of Muirfield Village, which was the site of his first significant win.
Jack The Author
Jack has been a prolific author and, throughout his career, has penned instructional golf books, books on course design and methodology, philosophy, and even his very own autobiography.
With the help of his close friend and fellow author Ken Bowden, the pair published several top-selling books in the golf niche.
Maybe his most celebrated book was “Golf My Way,” which is now recognized as being one of the most seminal golf instructional books ever. The book was first published in 1974 and has seen several different reprints since. Jack has also collaborated with some of the world’s most prominent golfing publications and has regularly contributed to various golfing columns and media outlets, including Golf Digest.
Some other ‘notable works include Play Better Golf, Golf and Life, The Full Swing, and Take A Tip From Me, to name a few. Many of Jack’s books have been reprinted and published around the world, and some have even had their titles changed.
Jack Nicklaus Golf Career
- Jack turned pro in 1962 and beat Arnold Palmer to win the PGA Championship the following year.
- In 1963, Jack won the PGA, but he also captured his first Master’s title doing so back to back; he didn’t stop there; the same year, he also won the Tournament of Champions and the World Golf Cup.
- In 1964 The Golden Bear won his second Masters at Augusta National, setting an aggregate 271, a record at the time.
- 1965 Jack teamed up with Tony Lema to form the USA Team.
- In 1966 Jack played in 22 official tournaments and captured the British Open at Muirfield.
- Jack captured another U.S. Open in 1967, playing at the renowned Baltusrol. G.C. in New Jersey. He also broke Ben Hogan’s 72 hole record by one shot. Arnold and Jack paired up in the World Cup hosted in Mexico. Jack played 24 times in 1967 and took home five wins, was runner up on four occasions, and finished in the top-ten 16 times.
- In 1969 The Golden Bear played in his first Ryder Cup.
- 1970 saw Jack win the British Open held at St Andrew’s, beating Doug Sanders, and later the same year, he went on to win the World Match Play.
- The following year Jack beat Billy Casper to win the PGA Championships, and in the same year, he captured the Australian Open.
- Jack broke Walter Hagan and Bobby Jones’s scoring record by four shots during the PGA.
- Jack continued dominating the sport and, in 1972, won two more Majors, narrowly missing out on a third after Lee Trevino pipped him on the post by a single stroke.
- In 78′ The Golden Bear won the Australian Open for the final time and was named Athlete of the Year by Sports Illustrated.
- After a brief loss of form, Jack returned to the winner circle, capturing the U.S. Open by defeating Japanese superstar Isao Aoki.
- In 86′ The Golden Bear secured his 6th Master’s victory taking his major tally to 18; he birdied 6 of the final ten holes and threw in an eagle to top it off.
- Jack continued playing in the 1990s and won another Major, beating Trevino by six strokes.
- Nicklaus secured a second U.S. Senior Open in 93 and teamed up with legends of the game, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, and Arnold Palmer to help further cement the Seniors Tour.
- In 1996 Nicklaus won his 7th Senior Major and the very next year won again, taking his career Major tally to 26.
- In 2002 The Golden Bear bid farewell to the U.S. Open at the iconic Pebble Beach, and later that year was paired with Tiger and Vijay for his last PGA Championship.
- Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer of all time, retired from professional golf in 2005
A list of Jack’s Accomplishments
- 1959 – 1961 Golf digest awarded Jack “world’s best amateur golfer” three years running
- Jack appeared on the cover of Time magazine after he captured his first Major in 1962
- In 1962 he also took home the coveted Rookie of the Year award.
- Jack graduated in 1972 from Ohio State University with an Honorary Doctorate of Athletic Arts
- The World Golf Hall of fame came knocking, and in 1974, he was inducted along with his pal Arnold Palmer.
- The year 2000 saw Jack inducted as an Honorees’ Member at Memorial.
- The Vince Lombardi Award for Excellence was vested to Jack in 2001, and he became the first golfer to receive the prestigious award.
- 2005 Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President Bush
- 2006 PGA Hall of Fame inductee
- The International Golf Federation chose Jack as their Global Ambassador in 2008
- 2015 Congressional Gold Medal
- 2108 Lincoln Medal
Fun Facts About Jack
- Jack’s middle name was “William,” and he was born in Columbus on January 21, 1940
- Jack’s father, Charlie, was a renowned football player for the Buckeyes and was a qualified pharmacist.
- Jack was a scratch golfer and a tennis champion during his junior years.
- Jack excelled at basketball, baseball and tennis and grew up in the affluent area of Upper Arlington.
- There’s no doubt that, like Tiger Woods, The Golden Bear was also a junior golfing prodigy and, by 12 years old, had captured his first junior championship.
- In 1959 Jack was the youngest player in history to qualify for the National Junior Amateurs.
- At 14, Jack won the High School Championships, shooting a final round 68, and followed it up the following year when he shot 66 and qualified for the U.S. Amateur played at Scioto C.C.
- From ages 10-17, Jack won 27 tournaments in Ohio.
- In 1961 Jack graduated majoring in “pre-pharmacy” and soon joined the family business to help out financially.
- Jack won the U.S. Golf Amateur while also winning the NCAA Basketball Championships.
- Jack was named “honorable shooting guard” for Ohio State and received numerous full scholarships for basketball.
- Jack was married in 1960 to Barbara, his longtime love.
- In 1960, Jack met renowned golf architect Pete Dye and subsequently realized he had a passion and talent for design.
- Jack has been a television commentator and regular contributor to golf media outlets.
- In 2002, the Ohio State University honored Nicklaus by building a museum on campus to commemorate his accomplishments.
Jack Nicklaus Famous Quotes
- “I don’t believe in philosophies. I believe in fundamentals.”
- Golf is a game of consideration and sportsmanship; we must respect its customs and practices.
- Concentrate on remedies, not blame.
- Crises are an aspect of life. Everybody has to encounter them, and it doesn’t make any difference in the crisis.
- The pressure is what you live for. If you are going to be successful in life, you will have stress and anxiety.
- Talent isn’t as critical as the work and devotion required to become skilled.