Even before he was old enough to drive a car, it was evident that Jack Nicklaus (also known as The Golden Bear) was destined to become a golf legend. At the age of 13, this son of a Columbus, Ohio pharmacist broke 70 while playing 18 holes.He won the 1956 Ohio Open while only 16 and the US Amateur twice, in 1959 and 1961 – and in 1960 open, he came in second only to Arnold Palmer. In the same year, Nicklaus was part of the team which won the Eisenhower Trophy, scoring a still-standing 269 four round score.
By the close of 1961, Jack turned pro, and in 1962, he played and won in one of his first major championship-The US Open. Beating Arnold Palmer, an achievement in itself, gave Nicklaus notice by fans and in 1966, he won the Masters Tournament for two consecutive years. He won the Open Championship as well in 1966, however, failed to win another until the Open Championship title again in 1970. During the years 1971-1980, he won nine major titles and overtook Bobby Jones’s record of thirteen titles. At 46 years of age, Jack won his 18th major championship, which was also his last, at the 1986 Masters Tournament he was the oldest winner of this event. My friend over at roofing Lilburn GA remembers this event very well since his dad was at this masters!
He joined the Senior PGA Tour in 1990, where he racked up ten wins by 1996 – eight of which were major tournament wins. He made his last Senior PGA tournament appearances in 2005. However, he has stayed active in the sport, writing on the subject, designing courses and even holding his own PGA tournament, the Memorial tournament. Hi runs one of the world’s leading golf course design firms and has written autobiographical titles as well as instructional works on playing the Nicklaus way.
Perhaps Nicklaus’ popularity came with golf’s popularity when he beat Arnold Palmer in 1962 at Oakmont in the US Open. With the emergence of television, Jack’s charisma, good looks, and true rivalry with Palmer attracted many viewers to golf-something they hadn’t seen before on TV. He won an unheard of prize money of $60,000 in 1962 and reached third place on the tour’s money list, and named Rookie of the Year. In 1963, one of his best years, he won the Masters and the PGA Championship.Nicklaus was always known as a record setter, having set a record for lowest score in the last 36 holes during the1964 British Open and a 1965 Masters-winning 271. This record stood until 1997 when Tiger Woods broke it.
In 1974, Jack Nicklaus became one of the first inductees to the World Golf Hall of Fame which he followed up on the next year by winning his 5th Masters Tournament and 4th PGA championship, as well as being named Athlete of the Year by ABC’s Wide World of Sports. It would be impossible for anyone but The Golden Bear himself, but Nicklaus took his 6th and final Masters Title in 1986.