Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

Friday, March 4, 2011

Jack Nicklaus, Great Champion

I ran across the article today on Golf.com titled “Golf has never had a greater champion than Jack Nicklaus” by Michael Bamberger. Ironically enough, I just got back from a business trip to Columbus, Ohio. While driving through Columbus last night, I passed the Jack Nicklaus Museum on the campus of Ohio State University. As most golf fans know, Jack grew up near Columbus and played his college golf at Ohio State University. As I was passing the museum, I told myself that I really need to stop in there one of these days and check out all the cool stuff inside. I can only imagine there are tons of great photos, trophies, clubs, etc.

Anyhow, to the real story at hand, which is: what makes a great champion?

When I think of professional golf and great champions in the modern era, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the first two who come to mind. I realize there are many others; Hogan, Snead, and Watson, just to name a few. However, since Arnold grew up less than thirty minutes from my hometown and Jack only about four hours away, I guess they stand out a little more to me than the others. In addition, since the dawn of golf on TV, these two gentlemen have defined the sport and dominated the coverage. Jack was, and still is, a great champion on so many levels. Below are a few thoughts as to why I believe he was one of the greatest champions to ever play the game.

• Other players claim that Jack was gracious in defeat. If you were fortunate enough to beat him, he would shake your hand, look you in the eye and congratulate you.

• Greg Norman said he learned how to lose from Jack. What he meant from that, I believe, is that Jack knew how to lose with grace and Greg learned that. Remember the embrace with Faldo at the 96 Masters? That loss had to sting, yet, Norman handled it like a champ.

• Nicklaus inspired millions of players around the world by his play as well as his book “Golf My Way”. Vijay Singh credits that book for making him the player he eventually became. For a guy who won more tournaments in his 40’s than any other player, that speaks volumes.

• Who can forget the 86 Masters, when Jack won the tournament with a back nine charge shooting six under thirty to take the title for the sixth time at age 46. Only a GREAT champion has the nerve to do that.

• Jack has fielded endless questions since Tiger was 18 years old about Tiger breaking his record. Jack has never avoided the questioning and in all of the interviews I have ever seen, he has never avoided the questions, always giving a sincere answer.

• When Jack was playing the tour full time, he always told his wife Barbara that he would never be away from home for more than two weeks in a row unless the family traveled with him. It’s sometimes hard to believe that the greatest champion of all time has that kind of commitment to his wife and kids, prioritizing them above golf.

I wanted to end with a bang and that last one describes Jack as a great champion. Perhaps, Tiger can learn something from Jack in the family department. Oops, too late. Tiger has already three putted that one.

Read more: http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,2056523,00.html#ixzz1FaDX7800


1 comment:

  1. I know today we have Tiger and Phil, but I would have loved to have grown up watching Jack. He played before all of this new technology.