Born Ohio, USA, Nicklaus is considered to
be the greatest golfer
of the modern era and arguably the greatest in the game's history. Among his
countless victories are a record 18 Majors.
Nicklaus' induction into golf came from his father who was a chemist. After sustaining an ankle injury he was advised to walk a few miles every day as part of his therapy. He decided to take up golf and 10 year old Jack caddied for him. In time, Nicklaus himself took up the game and within a few years became a very competitive amateur. However, he decided to follow in his father's footsteps and became an apprentice chemist rather than turning professional.
The great Bobby Jones, who never turned professional, was the role model which shaped Nicklaus outlook on golf. In 1959, Nicklaus won his first prestigious championship, the US Amateurs. After winning the event again in 1961, he decided to turn professional. What better way to introduce himself than to win the 1962 US Open.
Back then, Arnold Palmer was king golf and had a huge following known as Arnie's Army. Nicklaus quickly realised that he could not compete with Palmer in the popularity stakes but could beat him to take the top spot in golf. That dream was realised within a few short years. Nicklaus and Palmer together with South African Gary Player dominated world golf during the 1960s and became known as the Modern Triumvirate.
Nicklaus' career is simply outstanding. He won the Open 3 times, the US Open 4 times, the PGA Championship 5 times and the Masters a record 6 times. In the US alone, he has earned over US$5m in prize money. He is still winning tournaments on the Seniors Tour. He served on 8 Ryder Cup squads and was voted US PGA Player of the Year 5 times. Among his countless awards, he was voted Golfer of the Century by American sports writers in 1986. Basically, Nicklaus has won everything in golf and has had every honour bestowed on him.
Besides golf, Nicklaus is a renowned course designer. His company, Golden Bear Inc., designs, builds and manages golf courses all over the world and has an annual turnover in excess of US$120m. His countless product endorsements have earned him another fortune. However, Nicklaus has a genuine love for golf and still competes on the Seniors Tour and other tournaments. Even in 1997, he competed in the US Open knowing that young blood would take the title (Ernie Els).
Nicklaus is the perfect ambassador for golf. His sheer professionalism and sportsmanship must surely set the standard which golfers aspire to. Who would disagree that he is indeed not the greatest golfer in the history of the game ?
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