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Jack Nicklaus
Winner of 18 professional major championships and arguably the greatest golfer of all time, Jack was a deep thinker and the first to bring a scientific approach to the game, with yardage charts and course management.

What others have said of Jack Nicklaus...

God said to Faldo, as He once said to Nicklaus, "You will have the skills like no other." Then he whispered to Ballesteros, as he whispered to Palmer, "But they will love you more."
 - Tom Callahan

The great Jack Nicklaus summed things up neatly during a charity match on the Old Course at St. Andrews where he and I were playing against Ben Crenshaw and Glen Campbell. I asked him what he considered to be the most important factor to overcome in the game of golf. His reply, "It's an unfair game."
 - Sean Connery

Around a clubhouse they'll tell you even God has to practise his putting. In fact, even Nicklaus does.
 - Jim Murray

So how did Nicklaus win so much? Because he could finish a hole better than anyone else. As a player he's the greatest of all time but as a golfer I can't even put him in the first fifty.
 - Wild Bill Mehlhorn

Nicklaus plays a kind of golf with which I am not familiar.
 - Bobby Jones (Jack's lifelong idol)

If I had to have someone putt a 20-footer for everything I own - my house, my cars, my family - I'd want Nicklaus to putt for me.
 - Dave Hill

Nobody ever heard Jack Nicklaus say "I don't know" about anything.
 - Johnny Miller

The only equivalent plunge from genius I could think of was Ernest Hemmingway's tragic loss of ability to write. Hemmingway got up one morning and shot himself. Nicklaus got up the next morning and shot 66.
 - Ian Woolridge (after Nicklaus shot 83 in the first round of the 1981 British Open and following that up with a 66)

I don't know. I've never been anyone else's son.
 - Gary Nicklaus (asked if it was difficult being Jack's son)

The real key to Jack's [Nicklaus] success was his fantastic ability to score. His drives sometimes went into the rough, but he could plow the ball out of the tallest grass and get it on the green; bad lies simply didn't affect him as they did the others. Jack also got tremendous height with his one-iron and two-iron, which meant that he could stop them better than his rivals.
 - Gardner Dickinson

[Jack Nicklaus] was the first to bring in course management. He could go to a course and tell you within one stroke what was going to win. He used to set his sights on that because he could shoot it. He was the only player I know who, if he decided he wanted to win a tournament, could go out and do it. No one will ever be as popular as Arnold Palmer and no one will ever come close to Jack as a player.
 - Lee Trevino

Some things cannont possibly happen, because they are both too improbable and too perfect. The U.S. hockey team cannot beat the Russians in the 1980 Olympics. Jack Nicklaus cannot shoot 65 to win the Masters at age forty-six. Nothing else comes immediately to mind.
 - Thomas Boswell

... and Jack's own views on the game

Professional golf is the only sport where, if you win 20 percent of the time, you're the best.

It takes hundreds of good golf shots to gain confidence, but only one bad one to lose it.

The US Open flag eliminates a lot of players. Some players just weren't meant to win the US Open. Quite often, they know it.

A perfectly straight shot with a big club is a fluke.

Golf is not, and never has been, a fair game.

The older you get the stronger the wind gets... and it's always in your face.

That "I don't give a darn" attitude is probably why I've shot so many good final rounds over the years when I started the day a few shots behind with nothing to lose. . . and maybe that's why I've shot so many bad last rounds when I was ahead and knew I couldn't afford a mistake.

When the British Open is in Scotland, there's something special about it. And when it's at St. Andrews, it's even greater.

If there is one thing I have learned during my years as a professional, it is that the only thing constant about golf is its inconstancy.

Golf is a better game played downhill.

I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head. It's like a color movie. First I 'see' where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes and I 'see' the ball going there: its path, trajectory, and shape, even its behavior on landing. Then there is this sort of fadeout, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images to reality.

Keeping the head still is golf's one universal, unarguable fundamental.

When you lip out several putts in a row, you should never think that means that you're putting well. When you're putting well, the only question is what part of the hole it's going to fall in, not if it's going in.

Augusta National is a young man's golf course, and you really need a young man's nerves to play on it.

Tee the ball high. Through the years of experience I have found that air offers less resistance than dirt.

If you want to hit it farther, hit it better.

Reporter: Jack, you really know your way around a course. What's your secret?
Nicklaus: The holes are numbered

I think I fail a bit less than everyone else.

When I want a long ball, I spin my hips faster.

There are interesting times. The game is more fun when you are experimenting. One day yuor great, the next day scatterlog. But your learning. No that's not right. I probably have forgotten more about golf than I will ever learn. What you do is remember some of the things you thought you would never forget.
(during one of his slumps)

If you're going to be a player people will remember, you have to win the Open at St. Andrews.

I always look to see what Arnold [Palmer] shot; it's a habit. We will always compete against each other.

Arnold's [Palmer] place in history will be as the man who took golf from being a game for the few to a sport for the masses. He was the catalyst who made that happen.

I guess that's why they call it Hell.
(after taking 4 shots to get out of Hell Bunker during the first round of the 1995 British Open at St. Andrews)

I've had a lot of majors where I didn't play well until the last round. Keep yourself in contention; that's the name of the game. I usually ended up shooting a good round and all of a sudden, somehow, I won.

Who in the world remembers who won the 1975 Westchester Classic or the 1978 Western Open? Basically, the majors are the only comparison over time . . . played on the same courses for generations. All the best players are always there.

If you'd asked me at 30 where I'd be during the Masters when I was 46, I'd have pictured myself on a boat fishing, smoking a cigar, drinking a mint julep and watching it on television.
(after winning the 1986 Masters at age 46)

For years, I never thought I needed a short game. Finally I just decided to do something about it. I needed to get up and down from tough spots on the par-5s for my birdies. So I went to Phil [Rogers]. He's the best. For the last couple weeks, Phil has been staying at my house and we've been practicing in the evening.

I couldn't care less who I'm paired with. There's nobody I've ever played better or worse with, thank goodness. You don't want any factor to be outside your control. What if Arnie's Army had bothered me? What id I'd said, "Oh geez, I'm paired with Palmer," I'd never had beaten him.

Golf is a nice game, but that's all. It's never going to be an exciting game to watch on TV. It's not a circus and never will be one. The audience for golf is not going to change significantly. It's always going to be people who play it, understand it, and love it.

There's more to be learned here [St. Andrews] about course design than anywhere. Collection bunkers, false fronts, bump shots. The fundamentals of design became fundamental because of what's here. And it happened accidentally. Or maybe accidentally on purpose.

 

 






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