Jack William Nicklaus who was on born January 21, 1940 is widely regarded as the greatest professional golfer of all time. His records in major championships have earned him the nickname “The Golden Bear”. Jack Nicklaus has accumulated an astounding record of 18 professional majors in a PGA Tour career that lasted 25 years, (1962 to 1986). Later, when on the Champions Tour, (which is the senior version of the PGA Tour) he won 8 of that tour’s major championships between 1990 and 1996. It is only a reflection to Jack Nicklaus’s golf brilliance that both records still stand today.
Jack did not limit himself to only activities on the golf course but has also taken part in many off-course activities, that include golf course design, golf instruction book writing, and running his own tournament on the PGA Tour,(aptly named the Memorial Tournament). In conjunction with Arnold Palmer and Gary Player (who are known collectively as the “Big Three”), he is credited with turning golf into the major spectator sport. While Palmer is credited with bringing golf into the television era, it was the developing Nicklaus-Palmer-Player rivalry that drove subsequent interest.
Jack Nicklaus was born in Columbus, Ohio. He grew up in the suburb of Upper Arlington, and attended Upper Arlington High School. This is where he earned his nickname “The Golden Bear”, as that was the school’s mascot. After overcoming a mild case of polio as a child, he then took up golf at the age of ten, where he shot 51 for his first nine holes. At 13, he then broke 70. He showed early golf genuis when he won the first of five straight Ohio State Junior titles at the age of twelve. He then went on to win the Ohio State Open in 1956 at age 16, while competing against professionals. At the 1960 U.S. Open, he shot a 282, finishing second by two strokes to Arnold Palmer, who won the tournament with a final round 65. Even today this score remains the lowest ever made by an amateur player in the U.S. Open. He went on to represent the United States, against Great Britain and Ireland, on winning Walker Cup teams in both 1959 and 1961, winning both of his matches in each contest. He was also a member of the victorious 1960 U.S. Eisenhower Trophy team, winning the unofficial individual title with a four-round score of 269,(another record which still stands). It is understandable when Nicklaus was named the world’s top amateur golfer by Golf Digest magazine for three straight years, in 1959-1961.
In 1962 Nicklaus began his professional career. His first professional win came in the same year, when he defeated the heavily favored Arnold Palmer at Oakmont for the 1962 U.S. Open. Before the end of the year Nicklaus had picked up two more wins, with those being the Seattle Open and the Portland Open back-to-back. He finished 1962 with over $60,000 in prize-money, which placed him third on the tour money list. He was then named Rookie of the Year. What was to follow was a career filled with wins on every level and almost every major golf course in the world. The highlight of Jack Nicklaus career being known as the Career Slam in 1978 when he won all four majors three times. Until Tiger Woods, no other golfer had won every major more than once.
Jack and his wife, Barbara have 5 children and 20 grandchildren. They stay busy with charity work including major work and donations for children’s hospitals. He counts among his highest honors the following awards:
• 1985 Golf Family of the Year presented by National Golf Foundation
• 1992 Family of the Year presented by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association
• 1999 Father of the Year Award presented by Minority Golf Association of America.