What they said: Jack NicklausFebruary 29, 2012
PGA TOUR staff
SCOTT TOLLEY: Good evening, my name is Scott Tolley, I'm Vice President of Corporation Communications for the Nicklaus Companies. Wanted to kick this off for you today.
We are a culture that celebrates milestones, and since this year marks the 50th anniversary of Jack's first major championship, the 1962 U.S. Open victory at Oakmont.
I would like to mention a few others that hit a little closer to him. It was 41 years ago today that Jack won the second of his five PGA Championship titles, doing so right down the street at PGA National golf club, what is now known as BallenIsles.
Forty years ago this week, Jack played in the first Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic, the forerunner to what is known today as The Honda Classic, finishing one shot behind Tom Weiskopf.
Jack went on to win the event in 1976, 1977 and 1978 including a five shot record win in 1977.
After several stops since 1972 this year marks the 10th playing of the Honda Classic in Palm Beach County, and it was five years ago this week when the Honda was played for the first time at PGA National Resort and Spa on the Jack Nicklaus re designed Champion Course.
Jack, thanks to the support of Honda, the longest running title sponsor on the PGA TOUR, the event seems to have found a permanent home. It appears last year's record crowds will be easily topped thanks to this year's marquee field, and area charities such as the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, the primary beneficiary, are the better for it.
Jack, before we open it to questions, can you talk a little about what The Honda Classic has become to the South Florida community and Palm Beach County golf fans.
JACK NICKLAUS: You said that just as I wrote it, didn't you. Pretty good. That was pretty good, wasn't it. (Laughter).
Let's just sort of back up here a little bit. Honda, of course, originally Inverrary so on, and down in Fort Lauderdale; and it went from Inverrary to Eagle Trace to Heron Bay. And then they wanted to bring it up here.
And Fred Millsaps, who was one of the sort of guys that were involved in the tournament down there, had been a friend of mine for a long time and was a friend of mine when we were involved. He came to me and he said, Jack, we are thinking about moving the tournament up to the Palm Beach area. And we have always been involved with children's charities, and we want to make sure we continue that, but we don't know what's in the Palm Beach area. We figured you would know more about that than I do.
I said, I don't really know that much about it, Fred. We are always felt like, and Barbara particularly, and Fred was in love with Barbara, which anybody that has any common sense always is, and they said, Barbara, what do you think?
And she looked around and she says, you know, we grew up here with five kids and had to take our kids to either Miami or Orlando if you had a kid that was sick. Or maybe Fort Lauderdale. And we said, there's really nothing between Joe DiMaggio and Fort Lauderdale and Arnold Palmer in Orlando.
She said, I would love to be able to see where we would bring children's healthcare to this area where people there's nothing worse than having a sick child, and many of you have probably been in that situation do I see Craig here? Craig's been through that, a lot. There's nothing worse than having to be here and have to go to Miami and for most people, it's not going down for a day because your child is sick. It's going down the day before and staying the day after. So it takes half your week to do that.
Anyway, Barbara has always been interested in that, and I said, well, Barbara, if you want to do that, go for it. So that's when we started our Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, and the Honda became the starter of that. We were the prime beneficiary, but we had to work our way into it. They had a lot of charities they were involved in, and we are still working our way into it, which is okay. And Honda sponsors, I don't know how many different charities the Honda gave money to last year, but there were quite a few. And they did a very nice job of it.
They gave a very nice piece to the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation. Now, what happened from that? We started the Foundation, and we had sort of a false start at St. Mary's, and you know, it was very difficult to raise money for a for profit hospital, which is owned by Tenet. So didn't turn out the way we wanted it, and we pulled out of that situation.
About a year or so later we made an arrangement with Miami Children's Hospital. And Miami Children's Hospital wants to come and move into our area and move around the state. So we opened the first Miami Children's Nicklaus Health Care Center near Palms West Hospital, about two years ago now. How long has that been open, two years? It's been open just about two years. Like one day a week they would bring up a sub specialist from Miami children's I'm getting around to his question but it's a nice story for those who are interested in it, and if not, we've only wasted a few minutes.
Anyway. It's about a 1,700 square foot facility; and somebody that can do a craniofacial might come up one day a week or orthopaedics might come up one day a week, or somebody with, whatever, these subspecialists that come up and they come up once every two days. And it started being successful to where this they were coming up that much, we would be counting six months ahead as far as appointments. So they had to start coming more and more and more, so that facility was very, very successful.
We are now just getting ready to open, it's in the remodeling stage, the Legacy place over here which is not very far from here, right down PGA, 23,000 square foot facility, which is called Miami Children's Nicklaus Outpatient Center. Now we will be able to do more than just have these specialists. We'll have 24 hour emergency and all kind of things around. Barbara can explain it better than I.
Anyway, this facility opened, and ultimately will probably will be doing another one of those or maybe another hospital. So all of this happened because of the Honda and because of Honda coming here, and bringing this care to kids in our area. We've had, I don't know how many thousand kids we've had that have been affected by what has happened because of the Honda.
So we are very, very pleased with, that happy with it, and the continuation of the Honda has allowed us to be and we obviously have other fund raisers. We have what we call our Jake, which is a Pro Am we had yesterday which is in memory honoring the grandson that we lost six years ago. We raised 1.4 million yesterday. We were blessed to do that. What a wonderful day to have that kind of money going for these kids.
And we do two or three events a year like that, Lost Tree Pro Am has done it; Honda does it. And we have taken an outreach on it and now we are co recipient at the Memorial Tournament with the Nationwide Children's Hospital.
We do not bring any money out of Columbus; we leave all of the money in Columbus. But we filter it through us, because what I want to do is have people know that we are a foundation that is willing to go out to other places. If we can go to Indianapolis or go to Long Island or go to Iowa or whatever it might be, somebody who needs help, and we can help them, that's what we want to do. That's what our goal is, to be sort of help on a national basis, to be able to help kids and help them with healthcare around the country.
So this is a very big event for us, and it's started it all for us. The Honda people have been fantastic. Kenny Kennerly has done a great job, and is to answer your question, that is what happened.
SCOTT TOLLEY: Let's open it up to questions. Anyone?
JACK NICKLAUS: I must have answered them all.
Q. There's been a lot of talk, discussion lately about guys using long putters, belly putters, putters that anchor under your chin. What's your thought on those, should they be allowed? Is it okay? The USGA said they might take a look at it going forward.
JACK NICKLAUS: Still got to knock it in the hole. That's the only way I look at it. I thought, you know, when they outlawed between the leg, the Bob Duden putter, 40 years ago or something, how many people are going to put that way? They didn't think it looked golf like. Sam figured it out, he went this way (indicating motion from the side) with it, rather than this way (indicating croquet style motion, between the legs).
I'm not offended by it. I always feel like the game is a game that is a very difficult game to start with. You try to figure out, how do you get the ball in the hole. As long as you're using a legal stroke and a legal club what you're saying, is the club legal. I mean, how many majors have been won with these putters? I guess Keegan uses one. Is he the only one that's ever won a major with that? So I guess it's just been a rampage that's won so many tournaments with it; a flood on the market. (Laughing).
I'm surprised they didn't ban that big putter I used in the Masters in '86. We sold a lot of them. (Laughter) I don't have an issue one way or the other with it. I don't think people have asked me the question. I just don't see the big deal about it.
Q. Similar thought, there's been some chatter about whether there should be a set of rules for TOUR players and a set of rules for civilians. I guess there kind of is right now with the grooves deal. It sort of applies to them but not to all of them.
JACK NICKLAUS: It's not the question, there's a different set of rules. The ball just allows there to be a different game.
Q. Do you think that there should be a different set of rules, bifurcation comes up, maybe smaller club heads on the PGA TOUR, fewer clubs??
JACK NICKLAUS: It's just like you said, they have eliminated the square groove issue. It's only grandfathered in for a generation, what, 18 years or something like that, is that what it is? I mean, come on, that's ridiculous. How long does it take to wear a set of clubs down? I think I'm the only guy still playing with the same clubs I played with 18 years ago.
But I think that the USGA and the R&A would like to have one set of rules. I think that's what the game should be played with, one set of rules. I think it's better. We have always had and I don't know what the right word is in the rule book, is it the appendix. That has local rules that are put in. We have always had extra rules.
Q. PGA TOUR could do whatever they want.
JACK NICKLAUS: They could do whatever they want as far as local rules. And you know, that's okay. They do it every week.
So they are not really playing by the same rules anyway. But to go a long way away, that the amateurs play with one set of clubs, and play with the others permanently, I don't think is the right way to do it.
As much as I would like to see the golf ball adjusted, I would hate to see them have two golf balls. I think it's right to play with one.
You know, it's a difficult question to answer, because we have a game that and you keep going back, and everybody always says when they play, was the right time to play, but the game is just a different game today. There's nothing wrong with the game today. It's just a different game than I played.
And when I played, if I would play with an amateur at his club, and we both played from the back tees, I might out hit him 15 or 20 yards. It wasn't a big deal. You play with him today, the guys out hitting 100 yards. It's not even close to a contest. They are playing with the same equipment. Something's different. And whether it's the golf ball or the club or a combination; the only issue that I have always had with this thing is that the TOUR is a showcase of the game, and the TOUR should be the example of how the game should be played for the average golfer. And when the average golfer cannot relate to the game that the TOUR guy is playing, how can you say it's the same game.
Now, people want to come out and watch it, because it's exciting because they can't do it. But what I always thought was the excitement was being able to come out and play this game that on any given day, if I were an amateur, I could go out and do what Tiger does or do what Phil does. They can't do that.
Q. Can't relate.
JACK NICKLAUS: Can't relate. And that's the issue that I have always had. And is the game today a great game? Absolutely it's a great game. It's just a different game. And so I don't want to try to put down the game today. I think the game is great. You've got more good, young players in the game today than we have ever had seen for a long, long time. I think the game is very healthy from a tournament standpoint. It's great.
But there's some reason why we are losing people in the game, too. Why are we losing people in the game? We've lost 23 percent of the women and 36 percent of the kids since 2006. You've heard these statistics before. And there's a reason why we are losing them.
I mean, the TOUR is the showcase. The TOUR has got to be the place that helps us correct that. The game, the people out there that are dropping out of the game are the people that are paying these guys to play. That's the public. So we don't want to be running the public out of the game. We want to keep the public in the game.
And the Play Golf Forward, playing different things to I've been fiddling around with a variety of things; I'm a little far out with that, but that's okay. It's an idea of trying to keep people in the game with the 12 holes, bigger holes, all that kind of stuff. We are not trying to change the game. The game is a great game.
But you get a lady who doesn't play very much and you get a 10 year old kid, they need some success to stay in the game. They need to have success. And so how do we get some success? How do we help them feel good about themselves and what they are doing. I think that's the thing that equipment has done is changed that a little bit.
What are the three biggest things we have? The game takes too long, the game is too hard and it's too expensive. Those are the three major things. I'm trying to talk Tim and I talked to him about a year ago and he sort of pooh poohed me about the 12 hole golf. And he came back to me at the Masters last year and he says, you know, we are going to do more with this 12 hole golf. I'm going to do something with it. Hasn't done anything yet, but he has it in his head. And he likes it for First Tee because they have two sixes, and makes a lot less time for First Tee.
I said, Tim, what would be the difference we have to legitimize, if you are going to have people play 12 hole golf, you have to play golf in 2 1/2 hours. Every other sport is played in less than three hours. If we can do that, why can't we play a tournament where we play six 12 hole rounds? You just play a round and a half a day. You score it differently is all. You wake up in the morning and you see where you've shot a 46 and a 23 and you shot 69 for the day as total number of strokes. It's just how you score it, legitimize it, to get people to think about the game in a different way.
I hope he'll do it. He doesn't have to change a darn thing he's doing. Am I answering what you're asking me? I mean, I can continue on this for 45 hours if you want, you know that. (Laughter).
Q. Earlier this week Keegan Bradley said he would like to have dinner with you so you could tell him how to play Augusta National.
JACK NICKLAUS: Keegan came to me and asked if he could sit down and talk to me, yes.
Q. And a lot of other players have said they talked to you before they played their first Masters. What do you tell them and
JACK NICKLAUS: I'll be darned if I know.
Q. Did you do anything differently to get ready to play your first couple of Masters??
JACK NICKLAUS: Sure. Well, why do I want to tell you? Why do I want to tell all the guys? I didn't do it much different than anything else. I think Shed was asking me a few minutes ago when I played at Oakmont, did I go by Oakmont or why did I go by Oakmont before I went over to play at the Thunderbird which was week before the U.S. Open in 1962. I said, because that's what I always did. He says, what do you mean?
I says, well, I was an amateur. I always went to Augusta a week ahead of time. I always went into the U.S. Open site a week ahead of time. I did that when I was an amateur. Did that all my life; the U.S. Amateur, same thing. That's the way I prepared.
You know, he'll ask me questions about what he wants to talk about. And I don't know what I'll tell him. I mean, I'll make up something. (Laughter). It will sound good. I've had some success. I have a young gal, matter of fact I'm going to play golf with her on Thursday, Jessica Korda, who won the tournament down in Australia. She came by with her father about six weeks ago and came and picked my brain and so forth and so on, and goes off and wins a golf tournament. Huh? And Rory did, and Immelman came to me before he won the Masters, and Schwartzel. I mean, I had several of these kids; McIlroy. I'm sitting there, I said, what am I telling hem? Maybe I'd better write this down. (Laughter).
But I think that people learn from somebody who has done it. And there's many different ways to do it. And I think that the thing that I try to impress upon these kids is that each one is an individual and everybody does things differently. But you've got to figure out who you are, what you are, why you are, and how do you do things.
And you've got to learn how to do that your way and how do you play within yourself; how do you get it in your brain that when you come down the stretch, you're not going to worry about whether there's if I'm with Keegan Bradley or whether it's McIlroy or Woods or Schwartzel or whatever names are on the board, you never worry about that. Just like I never worried about whether it was Palmer or Player. I had to worry about me. I'm the only guy that I can control. So you have to figure out, how do you do that. And everybody is going to be different how they do that.
So I've got to get into their head to find out what they are thinking, so I can tell them what I think they ought to how they can do it. I didn't think I would ever be a psyche coach, I'm telling you, no idea. (Laughter) But it's actually kind of fun to see these kids come and try to be able to help them and see them have some success.
Q. Can I get your thoughts about moving the tee up on 18 here, and the way that may even affect players if they go through the Bear Trap??
JACK NICKLAUS: What are they doing? They going to play both tees?
Q. Going to play the front tee.
JACK NICKLAUS: All week?
Q. Fifty yards shorter to they can reach it in two.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, that's where we played it from. We only put a tee back there because it looked like there should be a tee back there. The tee was never played that far forward.
They are playing it where we always played it from, but they hit it 50 yards further, so they take half of the hole out of play. They still reach the hole from the back tee. Why do they want to go clear up there? I mean, I could see maybe half the tournament up, half the tournament back. It's just like I could see 17 play down front and up top. Same thing.
Or I could see I suppose I could see 6 played from the back and up a couple of tees. Have a variety within the golf course. I think that's good. But I mean, nobody's mentioned to me what they are doing.
Q. Do you think moving it up 50 yards, does it add to the drama coming down the stretch??
JACK NICKLAUS: No. Yes. I don't know. (Laughter) let me finish.
Coming down the stretch, I think that you want to have that hole where it could be reached under the right conditions. I think most of them can reach it from that back tee. But will they try; that's the question.
Now, maybe they will want to tee it in between that someplace. Maybe we can suspend one in the air somehow and hold it up with air or something, I don't know. (Indicating tee in suspension). But the tee historically has always been played from where they are playing it. It's just another tee.
Q. As you know, scores of TOUR players live up here now, but when you first moved up here, I think you were one of the first??
JACK NICKLAUS: And Carter Dickson lived up here.
Q. Did guys look at you like, oh, that Nicklaus, he's crazy, moving way up in the wild??
JACK NICKLAUS: When I first came, most of the guys were club pros and they had a winter job or they had a summer job where they went to their course, wherever ever it might be; and they came to Florida occasionally to play a little bit of golf before they went out on TOUR. Guys were not basing down here. There were a few, not very many, but most were club pros to start with or some form of club pro. That's obviously not the case today.
And so when I came down, I wasn't a club pro, and my father and I shared a house, we shared a house in Pompano in '61, and then we bought a house in Fort Lauderdale, bought it together. But Coral Ridge was the closest golf course, which was 45 minutes. If I wanted to play golf, I said, this is ridiculous.
So I came up in 1963 and came to Lost Tree and played the Pro Am at Lost Tree in '63, which was the first year for it. And I enjoyed it and came back in '64 and played it again. And saw John "Blue" Hoight from Memphis he said, get Lloyd to build you a house up here. He said, we'll get you a good deal on it, why don't you come up here and play.
So started thinking about it, and said, well, we are not far from the airport, fishing was far better up here, a big reason why we came up here, and you know, it wasn't crowded. So I came up here and there weren't much, Finsterwald was involved in the Pro Am and Cary Middlecoff lived at Lost Tree, so there were a few guys around.
But really, I still didn't come for the next 20, 25 years. I'm one of the few that has been here the whole time, and Greg came here who else lives up here?
Q. Nick Price.
JACK NICKLAUS: Nick didn't come until later.
Q. Tiger Woods has moved
JACK NICKLAUS: Tiger's down here now? He bought a small place somewhere.
Q. Double wide.
JACK NICKLAUS: No, it's bigger than that. (Laughter) but a lot of guys and frankly, I think they went to Orlando for convenience of travel. But I think most of them now have their own travel.
And I think that they went to a place where there's not as much congestion and better golf courses and had some of their buddies come to play and some tournaments are in the area. I loved basing out here when we were at Inverrary and at Doral.
I just hired a helicopter for the week. A delight to stay at home. A little more expensive to do that, but how many times a year when you're playing 30 tournaments a year can you stay at home. It's kind of nice.
Q. With Gary Player joining you and Arnold as Honorary Starters in the Masters and reuniting the big three, what is your feeling about that and have you enjoyed being an Honorary Starter??
JACK NICKLAUS: It serves my game very well right now, one shot. (Laughter) Or my game serves it well; either way.
I think that when we talked about it, obviously it was Billy Payne's call what happened. He asked me to do it, and said let Arnold has his time, I'm not quite ready yet and finally he says, I'd like to have you do it this year, are you ready and I said, that's fine, I'm not playing anymore. That's when I joined.
And then he wanted to let me have a couple of years before Gary came in and I think it's nice that Gary is here. We'll have a good time, we'll play in the Par 3 together. They figure out a way to capture us every year, and they do. It's okay. We have a good time.
Q. You never would consider playing a hole or two, the three of you??
JACK NICKLAUS: Would I? That would take a long time. As far as we hit it now? Can you imagine, hit it up to the bottom of the hill, hit it up to the top and 3 wood on? (Laughter) in fact, I think I'm going to Augusta next week.
But I don't play much golf anymore. This time of year, I play a little bit more because we have all of the charity Pro Ams that are around this time of year, and so I played yesterday and then I played last Monday, the week before that Lost Tree and next week playing at Ernie's thing. Playing Seminole. But I'm certainly no threat.
What I thought would have been a really nice event, and I've always thought that is on Tuesday when all of the old guys come in, is to have all of the old guys go play a little thing on Tuesday at Augusta, or even play it Wednesday afternoon, somehow, have the 15 guys or 20 guys that are former Masters Champions play nine holes or something. That would be nice. The people would love that. That would be fun and I would enjoy doing that. But I want to do it with them.
The problem I have is getting in and getting out. I'm not playing the Pro Am here this year and I'm not going to play the Pro Am at the Memorial Tournament, either. I just don't think I need to clutter up the golf course with my golf game at this point in time. I know it brings some people on to the property and so forth. But they are there coming to see Jack Nicklaus the whole round and they are and that's okay. I've played my golf. So it's fine.
Q. Of the three majors
JACK NICKLAUS: Incidentally, I saw you last week. I was proud of you. I saw you on the golf course. I said, "i saw a press guy on the golf course, I'm very proud."
Q. (Moans, groans and cat calls from members of the media in audience).
JACK NICKLAUS: I know there's more out there than there used to be.
Q. I was just looking for a hot dog. Seeing the U.S. Open the way its set up, the links golf, and Augusta National, which do you think would be the hardest for a young kid to take a lead into the final round, pretty decent lead into the final round??
JACK NICKLAUS: Taking a lead into the last round.
Q. Trying to win his first major.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I'm not so sure. I think you ought to include the PGA in that, because the PGA you don't have the weather usually. The weather at the PGA is fairly benign. So to take a lead in the PGA Championship, you're not going to have a weather issue usually that's going to cause something to be different; whereas the Masters, you can have a perfect Saturday and a gale on Sunday. U.S. Open can have similar because it's coming out of spring and of course the British Open, you never know what you're going to have.
Frankly, if I had the lead, I would welcome the bad weather day. Because the bad weather day, really, if you're behind, it's really difficult to shoot a good score. And generally speaking if your golf game is pretty good, you can figure some way to hack it around if you have a lead somehow, because nobody is going to come up with that. PGA would be difficult.
Q. Did you ever lose a lead, blow a lead on the last day in a major??
JACK NICKLAUS: Sure. I think I led, what, 12 times, won ten of them. So I must have done it twice. I don't remember where they were. Lytham?
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, I was tied at Turnberry.
Q. Tied with Charles Coody at Augusta.
JACK NICKLAUS: Those two. And the other one was Turnberry? I don't remember Lytham.
Q. What about '77 at Augusta, didn't you make a bogey late and Tom birdied behind you??
JACK NICKLAUS: '77? We were tied going I was on 18 and he was on 17 and we were tied. I'm sitting in the middle of the fairway, 156 yards to the hole, and I heard this yell go up, and pin was the front left, and that was the only time in my playing career that I couldn't re gather myself and change my thought pattern.
And I changed my thought pattern, and I shouldn't have. I had a 6 iron in my hand, planning to play it by the hole to the right and have it coming back and have that 15 foot putt right of the hole to win the golf tournament. I tried to stuff it in, hit it fat, hit in the bunker and let Watson play the last hole any way he wanted, which was really stupid. (Laughter) It was. I mean, here I am, 37 years old and I still make a dumb mistake like that.
So it's one of the few that I can turn around and kick myself for what I did.
Q. How much do you think it helped you, the fact that you had won a major so quickly? Because we are coming off a Masters where Rory was
JACK NICKLAUS: You're talking about McIlroy and his career? Fantastic for him. He's going to win a lot of majors. What a nice player. And you've got, Keegan, basically, a little bit older, but he just started playing. What a nice career he's going to have; what a nice player he is. Charl, he has not followed it up much yet, but he's a really nice player.
Of course, he won a little bit before he came here. You've got guys now that have won majors, and it's not the question who is the best player who has not won a major. These guys have all won majors now and they are going to win more.
That's why I say, you've got a really, really good group of young players.
Q. How did Fergie look on TV??
JACK NICKLAUS: He was kind of looking (shifting back and forth).
Q. What were you doing watching TV? That's my question.
JACK NICKLAUS: I happened to just walk by and I saw you. I don't know who was even playing. Honest to God, I don't know who was playing, but I did see you. (Laughter).
Q. I like Jack ripping on Fergie??
JACK NICKLAUS: I wasn't ripping on him. I was complimenting him. I was ripping on you, Alex. (Laughter).
Q. I wanted to know how disappointed you are that it's taken so long for the Olympic Committee to make a decision in Rio, and also, is there a point where it's going to harm what you'll be able to do or whoever is going to be able to do a design down there??
JACK NICKLAUS: I wish I could comment on that properly. But you know, we are NDA on it, and I can't really say I know what's happened down there. At least I think I know what's happened, and I don't think it's fair for me to comment on that.
But they have their own issues, and I think they will make the announcement of whatever designer gets it, they will make that announcement I think I don't know that they will make it March 6 or not, because I don't know whether they will get their issues settled before March 6 or not that they can do it. But once they get their issues settled, I think that they can figure out what they will do. I think they have got plenty of time.
They are all right. I know Tim's upset about it, and I know that he's worried about whether the Olympics will be able to put the right foot forward or not. But as far as construction of the golf course, I don't think it's a big issue. It's a decent piece of property, it's all sand. I mean, it's a year, max, start to finish. So that's not a big deal. It's just when you start. They still have a fair amount of time, is my opinion, is what I'm saying.
Q. Even to put on a tournament the year before??
JACK NICKLAUS: Sure. I think they have plenty of time, now. Now, if they let it go another year, then you've got an issue. But I think if they let it go another month or two, it's not going to be a big deal.
SCOTT TOLLEY: Jack, thank you for your time.