To mark the sixtieth anniversary of Jack Nicklaus’ Open Championship debut, Michael Catling visited the Golden Bear’s workplace in North Palm Seaside to replicate on a few of his finest (and worst) Open reminiscences – and listen to why he’s acquired a particular ceremony to attend at St Andrews…

At the moment’s Golfer’s 2022 Main protection is dropped at you in affiliation with TaylorMade.

The Nicklaus Household Workplace is a hive of exercise. It’s simply gone 9am and conferences are already happening. Telephones are being answered. Coffees are being made. However as soon as Jack Nicklaus walks in, everybody stops. Even his personal son. He appears oblivious to the aura that he generates, and but he instructions it due to the legacy he has left on the sport.

As we comply with him into the far workplace, our eyes are instantly drawn to a bronze statue tucked behind his door. The pose is iconic, capturing his ‘leaping Jack’ pose on the sixteenth inexperienced on the 1975 Masters.

On the wall, there are seven Royal Financial institution of Scotland £5 notes bearing his face which had been printed in 2005 to rejoice his profession at The Open. Subsequent to them is a commemorative set of MacGregor irons and persimmon woods which helped him full the profession Grand Slam between 1962 and 1966. 

In every single place you look, there’s a piece of memorabilia (and an compulsory Golden Bear) rigorously positioned between footage of his spouse, Barbara, in addition to their 5 youngsters, 22 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

On his desk, there’s a smaller sculpture of his full swing sequence with what seems to be a damaged membership. It’s the one factor that appears misplaced. 

Jack Nicklaus doesn’t normally give one-on-one interviews, which makes our 90 minutes with him much more treasured. There aren’t any minders, brokers or sponsor obligations. Nothing is off limits. Not even the prospect of the LIV Golf Collection.

RELATED: Every little thing you might want to find out about LIV Golf

“It appears that evidently it’s not in regards to the sport of golf, however in regards to the cash,” he says. “I’m not wild about it.”

Nicklaus has by no means been afraid to talk his thoughts. His opinions carry weight due to what he’s achieved within the sport. Based mostly on Majors alone, Nicklaus is essentially the most adorned participant of all time. He gained 18 occasions and completed runner-up one other 19 occasions. There have been additionally 56 prime fives and 73 prime 10s so as to add to the combo.

Jack Nicklaus was presented with a £5 note bearing his face

Slender it down from 1962, when he gained his first Main on the US Open, via to his final on the 1986 Masters and he had a win ratio of 19 p.c in Main Championships. It’s a frankly absurd statistic which takes even the nice man unexpectedly. “Say that once more,” he says, elevating his eyebrows in shock. It’s a uncommon second of uncertainty as there’s not a lot Jack doesn’t find out about the sport or his sport.

The Golden Bear can nonetheless recall photographs he hit over half a century in the past. He can inform you which membership he hit. What the lie was like. And which path the wind was blowing when he got here from one again with three to play to win the Claret Jug at St Andrews in 1978.

RELATED: Gap-by-hole information to The Previous Course

He likes to cite Bobby Jones, who famously mentioned, “No golfer’s profession is full till he’s gained at St Andrews,” the anointed Dwelling of Golf. Nicklaus gained there twice after which retired to a standing ovation in entrance of report crowds in 2005. He hasn’t been again since.

“I wasn’t going to return both,” he admits. “I had mentioned my goodbyes. I didn’t need to return. Peter Dawson had requested me the final time in 2015 and I mentioned no. However now the city is making me an honorary citizen of St Andrews this 12 months, and I couldn’t flip that down.” 

Jack Nicklaus retired at the 2005 Open at St Andrews

He gained’t be taking part in within the R&A’s Celebration of Champions exhibition, however he can be staying in the identical place, simply outdoors St Andrews, the place he celebrated within the gardens after his victory in 1978. He has at all times been a stickler for custom and routine.

Yearly, he would arrive every week earlier than The Open so he might slot in a metropolis break along with his spouse and daughter, Nan. “The women loved it. The British Open was at all times my daughter’s journey. We’d head off on the weekend in between the week of apply. We’d go to London or Paris or Munich or another place. It was type of enjoyable to do.”

He doesn’t have many regrets, however not making the minimize throughout his St Andrews swansong on the age of 65 nonetheless rankles with him. He got here near doing so, however rounds of 75 and 72 meant he missed the weekend by two.

“I believe Tom (Watson) was extra sentimental than I used to be. He didn’t cease crying on the bridge. Or my son, Steve. I keep in mind telling him, ‘You might want to discover ways to look completely satisfied whenever you’re crying’!

RELATED: Rory – “I’d love The Open to be at St Andrews yearly”

“I simply didn’t need to finish my profession on that Friday, it was so disappointing. I couldn’t make a putt to save lots of my life. As soon as I three-putted from the entrance edge on 17, I wasn’t ready to make the minimize. Understanding the putt on 18 meant nothing, I knew there was no manner on the earth it wasn’t going to go in. Irrespective of the place I hit it, the outlet would transfer in entrance of it.

“It was nonetheless a pleasant approach to exit, making your final putt. I began my Main Championship profession after I was 17 years previous on the 1957 US Open at Inverness in Ohio by holing a 35-foot putt. So, my first putt and my last putt went in. Not many individuals have carried out that.”

Jack Nicklaus poses at his family office in Florida

Virtually the entire trophies Nicklaus gained – replicas or in any other case – can now be discovered within the Jack Nicklaus Museum, which he implores us to go to in his hometown of Ohio. “It’s a few two-hour deal,” he says, with out a trace of hyperbole.

There are greater than 2,000 objects on show, together with quite a few golf equipment, scorecards and a Masters Inexperienced Jacket. The museum chronicles every decade of his life, beginning with the Nineteen Forties, and consists of standalone galleries for every of the 4 Majors, in addition to the Memorial Match, his household life and course design.

He’s nonetheless including to them even now. This month he’ll comply with Bobby Jones in being made an honorary citizen of St Andrews with a civic ceremony, adopted by a public reception on Previous Road. There are numerous different commitments earlier than then, together with internet hosting the Memorial Match on the PGA Tour for the forty seventh time.

RELATED: The Previous Course – 600 years within the making

He nonetheless watches the PGA Tour each time he can, although you sense he won’t ever perceive gamers who’re in rivalry and select to disregard leaderboards. “They’re loopy!” he says, shaking his head. He’s equally dismissive about how far the ball goes and scoffs on the suggestion that St Andrews might be rendered out of date by Bryson et al come July.

Jack Nicklaus chats to Today's Golfer Features Editor Michael Catling.

“That gained’t occur. There have at all times been a variety of holes at St Andrews which you’ll be able to, in principle, overpower, however I don’t suppose St Andrews has ever yielded itself to extreme energy…”

He stops to think about the record of winners earlier than acknowledging that all of them hit the ball a good distance. Himself included. If something, he was chargeable for one of the iconic photographs at St Andrews, in 1970, when he famously eliminated his yellow jumper so he might open his shoulders extra on the 18th tee. That tee shot was so lengthy that it went 360 yards and thru the inexperienced, establishing a birdie end to safe a play-off victory over Doug Sanders. 

He smiles on the reminder earlier than dropping his prepare of thought. He doesn’t need to focus an excessive amount of on what occurred a day earlier, however extra of out of respect for Sanders than his personal shortcomings. Most individuals keep in mind the putt Sanders missed from 30 inches to take the match right into a play-off, however Nicklaus nonetheless vents over his personal efficiency, which included two three-putts over the past three holes.

“I used to be by no means that nice across the greens. My weak point was bodily. I couldn’t practise placing and chipping. My again was injected in 9 completely different locations by the point I used to be 19. I believe that’s why I’m 4 inches shorter than I used to be…”

RELATED: Which programs will host The Open subsequent?

His top appears to hassle him greater than his defeats ever did on the golf course. His angle was at all times one in all his best belongings. “If I acquired beat,” he says, “it was as a result of someone performed higher.” There have been by no means any excuses.

“Bobby Jones had a lean spell from 14 to 21 and he informed me in a cabin at Augusta that he didn’t turn out to be a golfer till he stopped working house to his trainer and discovered the right way to be chargeable for his personal sport. Jack Grout taught me the identical manner. To take accountability.

“Once I was on the golf course and I didn’t like one thing in my swing, I’d go forward and proper it in the midst of competitors. I did that on quite a few events and it served me effectively. Within the sport of golf, you’ll be able to solely management one individual and that’s your self.

“Dropping by no means bothered me and I by no means apprehensive an excessive amount of about it. It was similar to, ‘OK, let’s go to subsequent week’. That was in all probability one in all my best strengths, having the ability to lose gracefully and deal with it mentally. I believe that was essential.”

Tom Watson famously got the better of Jack Nicklaus in the Duel in the Sun

Of the various shut calls he had, few stick within the thoughts fairly like 1977 when Tom Watson – the person he cites as his hardest competitor – acquired the higher of him at Turnberry within the legendary ‘Duel within the Solar’.

RELATED: Tom Watson – the trendy sport’s best Open champion

“I by no means keep in mind as a lot after I lose,” he says, mischievously. “I keep in mind the pitch at 17 which I hit up shut, however I missed a five-foot putt. Then Tom hit it stiff at 18 and I holed an extended putt after hitting out of the bushes. That was an excellent putt, but it surely was the one probability I had. He was too shut. I’d have cherished to have seen his putt a little bit bit longer (laughs). However I look again on it fondly actually. It was a aggressive match which I get pleasure from, win or lose. Clearly I choose to win, but it surely stays a particular a part of each of our careers.”

Nicklaus has lengthy since settled into the function of household man and elder statesman. His personal golf sport is sort of non-existent these days. He nonetheless participates within the ceremonial tee shot on the Masters, however solely out of respect for what it stands for. “I can barely hit it previous my very own shadow,” he says. “My physique doesn’t let me.” 

He’s imagined to be winding down now and but he nonetheless visits the workplace most days to examine in on his charitable initiatives and his vastly profitable course design enterprise.

RELATED: Ivor Robson: My life because the voice of The Open

His fingerprints may be seen on virtually 320 course designs worldwide, although few are extra well-known than Muirfield Village Golf Membership. The course itself was modelled on Augusta Nationwide but it surely’s no coincidence that it shares the identical title because the course the place he gained the primary of three Claret Jugs in 1966. It was additionally the place the place his love affair with hyperlinks golf started.

Jack Nicklaus has worked his magic in Scotland, designed the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles.

Nicklaus was 19 when he made his first journey abroad to play at Muirfield within the 1959 Walker Cup. It left an enduring impression. In The Best Sport of All, his first biography, he revealed that “after Muirfield, I had a deeper confidence in my potential to supply an excellent golf shot after I needed to… and extra confidence, too, about my capability to perform beneath strain”. 

Nicklaus gained each matches that week and stayed on to make his first and solely look within the British Newbie, dropping 4&3 within the quarter-finals at Royal St George’s. It stays one in all solely two programs on The Open rota, alongside Royal Troon, the place he by no means completed first or second.

“I didn’t realise that,” he says, earlier than the competitor in him factors out that he did win the Royal St George’s Grand Problem Cup as an beginner.

Nonetheless, he needed to wait till 1962 earlier than he was eligible to play in The Open Championship, by which era he was already a Main winner and a significant star after beating hometown hero Arnold Palmer within the US Open at Oakmont earlier that summer time.

“Wanting again now, I used to be a 22-year-old with blinkers on,” recollects Nicklaus. “It didn’t matter that I used to be up in opposition to some bloke known as Palmer who lived simply subsequent door (laughs). I had completed second and fourth within the two earlier US Opens so I used to be like, ‘This one is mine’.”

Jack Nicklaus has helped design over 400 golf courses worldwide

The rewards had been plentiful. He made the quilt of Time journal and arrived for the beginning of The Open at Royal Troon with a big-bucks endorsement deal to play Slazenger golf equipment in Europe.

Every little thing was going nice till he used the irons for the primary time in a apply spherical and began spraying every thing proper. They had been so ill-fitting that he spent a lot of the week within the professional store, attempting to tweak something and every thing. It didn’t work. 

RELATED: Britain’s Greatest Hyperlinks Golf Programs

He adopted a gap spherical 80 with a 72, 74 and 79 to complete in a tie for thirty fourth, an unlimited 29 strokes behind Palmer’s successful complete. His recompense was all of £55. “I don’t keep in mind a lot about my opening spherical besides I made a ten on No.11,” he says, shrugging. “I acquired into the gorse and couldn’t get out.”

It took one other 4 makes an attempt earlier than he lastly acquired his palms on the Claret Jug. There was an agonising defeat at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1963 when he bogeyed the final two holes to lose by a shot – “I gave that away,” he declares – after which he acquired on the improper facet of the draw at St Andrews a 12 months later.

By the point he returned to Muirfield because the Masters champion in 1966, Nicklaus was beginning to subject questions on whether or not he had the self-discipline to play hyperlinks golf. It might show to be a seminal second.

“Muirfield was supposedly a golf course that wouldn’t swimsuit my sport,” he remembers. “The tough was knee-high, proper on the sting of the fairways, and I solely hit my driver 17 occasions. I keep in mind the final one went too far into the bunker on 14 and I made bogey. That just about value me the event… ”

Jack Nicklaus completed the career grand slam at the 1966 Open

A final-round 70 was nonetheless adequate to ship the profession Grand Slam, becoming a member of an iconic record of champions – Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Gary Participant – who had gained all 4 Majors. Not that it meant a lot to him on the time. “I by no means even considered it; it was by no means a topic then.”

Of better significance, he says, was how he relied extra on his course administration than his prodigious size off the tee. It might be a stretch to say he cracked hyperlinks golf that week, however his report and consistency thereafter was extraordinary. Over the following 15 years, Nicklaus by no means completed outdoors the highest six in any Open Championship, a run that resulted in 1982. The one shock is that he didn’t win greater than three.

RELATED: How can I get tickets to The Open?

“I performed effectively there just about each time, other than Troon after I first began out and Birkdale three years later. However each different time I used to be at all times in rivalry. I had seven seconds at The Open. I might have gained a number of of these. I don’t have a variety of regrets, however I in all probability threw away a pair. I in all probability wasn’t as centered on a few of them as I might have been.

“Had I recognized a fella named Eldrick Woods was coming alongside, I may need carried out extra. However I believe that will have been on the expense of what has been the core of my life, which is my household. Golf has at all times been only a sport for me. It was by no means my precedence; my household was.”

Nicklaus is 82 now, however he stays each bit as insightful and related because the youthful males who repeatedly see his counsel. Per week in the past he was at The Bear’s Membership in Florida with Rory McIlroy for over half an hour. It’s a type of mentorship which he clearly enjoys.

Jack Nicklaus is widely considered to be the greatest golfer of all time

“I converse to Rory as a lot as anyone,” admits Nicklaus. “I converse to Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth fairly a bit. Dustin Johnson as effectively. One of many first gamers who got here to me asking for recommendation was Trevor Immelman. He requested me the right way to play Augusta, I informed him and he went away and gained it. After that, Charl Schwartzel got here to me, requested me the identical factor and he gained.

“It’s humorous as a result of Patrick Cantlay requested me the right way to play my Muirfield and he’s gained twice, so possibly I’ve helped a few of them. It amazes me that they need to take heed to me, however I get flattered by that. And it retains me present.”

Nicklaus is aware of it gained’t be lengthy till all of the previous comparisons and what-if questions begin up once more round Tiger’s newest comeback. He has a “tendency to doubt” whether or not he’ll even have the ability to win once more, however he would by no means be so silly as to write down him off utterly. “By no means rely out Tiger,” he says with the warning of a person with a report to lose.  

As for the talk about who’s the best golfer of all time, Nicklaus doesn’t care to invest. He says it’s not essential, however the wry smile suggests in any other case. “That’s for the individuals to find out. I believe my report speaks for itself…”

RELATED: Who’s taking part in within the a hundred and fiftieth Open?

Jack Nicklaus with Today's Golfer Features Editor Michael Catling.

JACK NICKLAUS’ TAKE ON…

Residing as much as his personal excessive requirements 

“I believe I underachieved all my life. I believe that’s why I acquired higher. I believe that should you really feel you’re overachieving, or getting extra out than what you need to get, then you definately cease working. I at all times wished to climb a mountain. I at all times wished to get higher so I simply tried to not consider something about what I’d learn or what I’d hear and even what I believed.”

His three favorite photographs

“They had been all hit with a 1-iron. In 1967 at Baltusrol within the US Open’s final spherical, I had 238 yards left on the ultimate gap. It was uphill, into the wind, and I hit a 1-iron over the bunker and onto the inexperienced. I then made the putt to interrupt Hogan’s US Open scoring report. Then, in ’72 at Pebble Seaside (once more within the US Open), I used to be on the seventeenth and needed to get fairly inventive as a result of I wasn’t certain whether or not I might attain and get it over the entrance bunker. I ended up hitting the pin.

The ultimate one was in ’75 at Augusta within the final spherical. I used to be within the centre of the green and I had 242 yards off a type of little humps. I didn’t make the putt, however I hit it to inside 12ft or one thing like that.”

The photographs he’d wish to have again

“Trevino’s chip on the seventeenth at Muirfield in ’72 and Watson’s chip on 17 at Pebble Seaside in 1982.”

Tiger Woods has 15 major wins, Jack Nicklaus has 18.

That fella named Eldrick Woods

“He’s in all probability essentially the most devoted and decided younger man I’ve ever met. He’s acquired an unbelievable talent degree and work ethic. Tiger’s weak point, although he had the size, was accuracy off the tee. He aimed on the world and missed it, however he acquired up and down from unbelievable locations.”

RELATED: Open legends: Tiger Woods

The Concession on the Ryder Cup

“I knew if (Tony) Jacklin and I tied the final gap we might retain the (1969) Ryder Cup. I additionally knew Jacklin was the British Open champion and I’m fairly huge on sentiment and never desirous to destroy one thing or somebody. Tony had been an excellent pal and you may think about how the press would have murdered him if he’d have missed that putt. I didn’t need that to occur. All my workforce members thought it was the appropriate factor to do.

All of the Ryder Cup captains I’ve requested about it since have mentioned they hope their man would do the identical. The one man who didn’t prefer it was my captain, Sam Snead. Sam was a man who wished to bury everyone, however that was not my persona. I cherished Sam, however he couldn’t stand to lose. He at all times wished and needed to win.”

Six-time Masters winner Jack Nicklaus holds countless records at Augusta.

JACK NICKLAUS’ CAREER IN NUMBERS

3 Open victories – 1966, 1970 and 1978.
4 Consecutive years successful a Main Championship – 1970-73.
6 Inexperienced Jackets – 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975 and 1986.
7 Runner-up finishes in The Open Championship.
8 Main Championship victories when trailing after 54 holes.
9 US Open (4) and PGA Championship (5) titles.
13 Longest streak of prime 10s in Majors (1973 Masters-1976 US Open).
16 High-five finishes in The Open, together with 11 consecutively.
19 Runner-up finishes in Main Championships.
26 Age when he accomplished the profession Grand Slam.
39 Consecutive cuts made in Main Championships.
73 High 10 finishes in Main Championships.
164 Begins in Main Championships, a report.
£5,250 Jack’s winner’s cheque on the 1970 Open Championship.

READ NEXT: The 40 moments that outlined The Open

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.