80 things for Jack’s 80th
Our tribute to the Golden Bear as he celebrates his 80th birthday
January 21, 2020
By Ben Everill, Sean Martin, Mike McAllister and Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Our tribute to the Golden Bear as he celebrates his 80th birthday
It’s Jan. 21, 2020, and that means Jack Nicklaus turns 80 today.
While celebrations of the Golden Bear should not be limited to milestone birthdays, it’s worth carving out a few moments to reflect on his remarkable career – certainly the best player of his generation, arguably the greatest of all time.
Here are 80 things you may or may not know about Nicklaus, including a few words of wisdom from the man himself. Feel free to sing “Happy Birthday” to Jack as you scroll through some of his achievements.
1. At age 10, he carded a 51 for the first nine holes he played.
2. Won five consecutive Ohio State Junior Championships from 1952-56.
3. His instructor, Jack Grout, was once an assistant pro in Fort Worth, Texas, at Glen Garden, where he played with Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan.
4. Over 600 professional golf tournaments have been staged on more than 90 Nicklaus-designed courses.
5. Made his PGA TOUR debut at the 1958 U.S. Open at Southern Hills, finishing T41 with a score of 24 over.
6. In 1961, he became the first player to win the U.S. Amateur and NCAA Championship in the same season.
7. Won the inaugural THE PLAYERS Championship in 1974 at Atlanta Country Club.
8. Won three of the first five PLAYERS Championships. Remains the tournament's only three-time winner.
9. Holds the record for longest span between U.S. Open victories (18 years, 1962-1980).
10. Twice set the U.S. Open scoring record, shooting 275 at Baltusrol in 1967 and then breaking it with a 272 at the same course 13 years later.
11. Is the only player to win two U.S. Opens while holding at least a share of the lead after every round (1972, 1980).
12. Holds the record for most top-10 finishes in U.S. Open history (18).
13. His 73 PGA TOUR victories are third all-time, behind only Tiger Woods and Sam Snead, who both have 82. Oh, and perhaps you heard that his 18 major wins are the most of any professional golfer.
14. Won a PGA TOUR event in 17 consecutive seasons (1962-78), tied with Arnold Palmer for most all-time.
15. Longest winning streak was three consecutive tournaments (1975 Doral-Eastern Open, Sea Pines Heritage, Masters).
16. Holds the record for most Masters (6) won and shares the record for most PGA Championships (5) and U.S. Opens (4).
17. Won 30 times in his 20s, second only to Tiger Woods (46).
18. Won 38 times in his 30s, trailing only Arnold Palmer (42) and Ben Hogan (43).
19. The first player to win the career Grand Slam three times. Tiger Woods is the only other player to accomplish that feat.
20. Is the youngest player since 1934 to win three majors. Won his third major, the 1963 PGA, at the age of 23 years, 6 months, 1 day.
21. Named Sports Illustrated's Best Individual Male Athlete of the 20th Century.
22. Was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
23. Won 105 times worldwide, including six Australian Opens.
24. Played in a record 154 consecutive major championships for which he was eligible from the 1957 U.S. Open to the 1998 U.S. Open.
25. Won 10 of the 12 times that he held at least a share of the 54-hole lead in a major championship.
26. Was given the Golden Bear nickname by Australian sportswriter Don Lawrence in the early 1960s.
27. According to the Jack Nicklaus Museum in Columbus, Ohio, a young Nicklaus once played 61 holes in a single day.
28. Was 13 years old when he broke 70 for the first time (at his home course, Scioto Country Club).
29. Won the Ohio Open at age 16, shooting 64-72 on the final day to become the youngest winner in the tournament's history. After playing the second round in the morning, he flew to an exhibition match with Sam Snead in the afternoon before returning to play the final 36 holes the next day. In that exhibition match, Nicklaus shot 72 to Snead’s 68.
30. Quote from his instructor, Jack Grout:
31. Growing up, he played football (quarterback), baseball (catcher), basketball and tennis in addition to golf. How did he end up focusing on golf? “A process of elimination,” Nicklaus said.
32. As a 17-year-old freshman at Ohio State, he met his future wife Barbara, who was also a freshman.
33. To make ends meet after leaving college, he sold insurance (making $12,000 a year) and worked for a local clothing company, playing golf with the manufacturer’s customers (making another $12,000 annually).
34. Played most of his career with three pennies in his pocket -- one to mark his ball, one as a backup and one in case his playing partner needed one.
35. Never broke 60 on the PGA TOUR but shot a course-record 59 at The Breakers in 1973 while playing the American Cancer Society's Palm Beach Golf Classic.
36. Once went six years and 105 starts -- from November 1970 to September 1976 -- without missing a cut. It's the third-longest streak in TOUR history.
37. Won his sixth Australian Open in 1978 despite topping his opening tee shot. Was sore from catching a 1,358-pound marlin earlier in the week.
38. Was named an Honorary Doctor of Law by the University of St. Andrews in July of 1984.
39. Played his 10,000th hole in a major during the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional. It was the 10th hole and he parred it with an 8-foot putt. He was 57 years old and battling arthritis in his hip.
40. Eight of his 10 wins on PGA TOUR Champions were in major championships.
41. Had a TOUR-record 18 multiple-win seasons, including 17 in a row (1962-78).
42. "If there is one thing I learned during my years as a professional, it is that the only constant thing about golf is its inconstancy." -- Jack Nicklaus
43. Won the 1960 World Amateur Team Championship at Merion by 13 strokes. "You could have fired a cannon between my legs as I stood over a 3-foot putt that week and I would have stroked it right in the heart without missing a beat," he said.
44. A plaque honoring Nicklaus' six Masters titles was unveiled at Augusta National in 1998. He finished T6 later that week at age 58, beating defending champion Tiger Woods.
45. Was the youngest winner in Masters history when he won in 1963 at age 23 (record since surpassed).
46. More Masters achievements: Nicklaus finished under par in 22 Masters, five more than any other player in tournament history. His 506 birdies are the most in Masters history, as is his 37 cuts made, and his 71.98 scoring average is the lowest in Masters history among players with at least 100 rounds played. He’s also the oldest player to finish in the top 10 at the Masters (T6 in 1998 at age 58).
47. Nicklaus' playing partner at the 1998 Masters, Ernie Els, said, "Jack was winking at me the whole time. Every time he made a putt he winked at me."
48. He earned his first check as a pro at the 1962 Los Angeles. He won $33.33 for finishing T50.
49. Bobby Jones famously said, "He plays a game with which I am not familiar," after Nicklaus won the 1965 Masters by nine and set the tournament scoring record.
50. Nicklaus had a love affair with Pebble Beach, winning the 1961 U.S. Amateur, 1972 U.S. Open and three Pebble Beach Pro-Ams. He was also in the hunt in 1982 until his good friend Tom Watson chipped in from off the 17th green in 1982. "If I had one round left to play, I would choose to play at Pebble Beach," Nicklaus said.
51. His three PLAYERS victories came at three different courses: Atlanta Country Club, Inverarry Golf & Country Club and Sawgrass Country Club (THE PLAYERS moved to TPC Sawgrass in 1982.)
52. He won the 1978 PLAYERS at Sawgrass Country Club with a 9-over 289, matching the highest winning score in tournament history. "I'm not sure if I won it or whether I was the only one to survive it," he said.
53. "Whether one likes it or not, luck is an enormous factor at every level of golf. Even when the breaks have been against me, I have tried to accept them as part of the game's challenge and charm, because I believe it would be a pretty dull affair if it were entirely predictable." -- Jack Nicklaus
54. "Confidence is the most important single factor in this game, and no matter how great your natural talent, there is only one way to obtain and sustain it: work," – Jack Nicklaus
55. Picked July 23, 1960 as wedding date because it was the Saturday of the PGA Championship for which, as an amateur, Nicklaus was ineligible. Spent part of his honeymoon playing Winged Foot and Pine Valley.
56. His Nicklaus Design company has developed over 400 courses in over 45 countries and 40 states.
57. Nicklaus has had numerous lifestyle products under his name and Golden Bear nickname. These include men's and women's apparel, accessories, headwear, restaurants, beverages, beverageware, win, home furnishings and ice cream.
58. "Don't be too proud to take lessons. I'm not." - Jack Nicklaus
59. The Jack Nicklaus Museum is located at The Ohio State University sports complex in Jack's hometown of Columbus, Ohio. It is a 12,000 square-foot educational and historical facility with over 2000 pieces on display.
60. Nicklaus went 2-1-1 as a captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup team and 1-1 as the Captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
61. Nicklaus played in six Ryder Cups, winning five and tying another. From 28 matches he had a 17-8-3 record.
62. "It takes hundreds of good golf shots to gain confidence, but only one bad one to lose it." -- Jack Nicklaus
63. Opened his signature course Muirfield Village in 1974 and hosts The Memorial Tournament Presented by Nationwide there each year. The course has also hosted the Presidents Cup, the Ryder Cup, the U.S. Amateur, the Solheim Cup and the U.S. Junior Amateur.
64. Nicklaus built Muirfield Village on the same grounds he and his dad used to hunt on. “Never shot much,” Nicklaus said, “but we hunted it. An occasional rabbit we’d scare or something like that. I think we thought we were going to scare some pheasant, but we didn’t scare many of those.”
65. Served as Presidents Cup captain four times (1998, 2003, 2005 and 2007), the most in the event's history.
66. Birdied the 18th at St. Andrews at the 2005 Open Championship to close out his major championship career
67. Won his very first start on PGA TOUR Champions at the 1990 Tradition, a senior major.
68. Conceded a putt of some three feet to Tony Jacklin to halve the 18th hole, the match, and the 1969 Ryder Cup.
69. Was gracious in defeat (66-65) as he lost to Tom Watson (65-65) at the 1977 "Duel in the Sun" Open Championship at Turnberry. After it was over, Nicklaus put his arm over Watson’s shoulder and told him, “I gave you my best shot, but it wasn’t good enough.”
70. Showed yet more sportsmanship as he and opposing captain Gary Player agreed to end the 2003 Presidents Cup in South Africa in a tie. "Everybody's comfortable that this is the most unbelievable event the game has ever seen," Nicklaus told then-PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem in explaining their agreement. "We should share the Cup."
71. Proposed in 1977 to bring all of continental Europe into the Ryder Cup, opening the door for Spain’s Seve Ballesteros, among others.
72. Along with Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Gary Player, helped launch the wildly successful Skins Game in 1983.
73. Named Arnold Palmer as the Memorial Tournament honoree in 1993 "while he can still play, while his fans can enjoy it."
74. Hosts a well-attended tournament called The Jake to honor his late grandson, who tragically passed away in an accident at 17 months old.
75. He loves dogs; Gerald Ford once gave him a golden retriever puppy born to presidential pooch Liberty.
76. He appeared on a five-pound note in Great Britain.
77. Asked why he developed his own wine label, he said, "Because it's fun to walk into a restaurant and order your own wine!"
78. Is gracious with his time, always willing to help out younger players. But he won’t impose on them. “I don’t go out and seek this,” Nicklaus said recently. “I’m always available. I might have some knowledge, you might call it wisdom, that you can impart to the kids that might help them. It’s very honoring to me that people would want to hear from an 80-year-old. You never listen to your dad, why would you listen to your great-grandfather? It’s very nice and I enjoy it.”
79. Nicklaus and wife Barbara established the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation in 2004, continuing a pledge they made as new parents in the 1960s to help children in need after almost losing their daughter Nan to pneumonia. Have helped raise millions for Childrens Hospitals.
80. Asked what he usually gets for his birthday, Nicklaus replied: “Love. It’s all I need.”