Jack Nicklaus

From Ohio History Central
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Jack Nicklaus, August 1970

Jack Nicklaus was born on January 21, 1940, in Columbus, Ohio. He began playing golf at ten years of age and quickly became a dominant player, winning six Ohio State Junior titles. He won his first major tournament, the Ohio Open, in 1956. In 1959 and 1961, he won the U.S. Amateur title. Nicklaus also won the National Collegiate Athletics Association title in 1961, while playing for The Ohio State University. Between 1959 and 1961, Nicklaus won twenty-nine of the thirty amateur tournaments that he entered.

In 1962, Nicklaus embarked upon his career as a professional golfer. He quickly emerged as a dominant player on the professional circuit, winning the U.S. Open, one of golf’s most prized tournaments, in 1962. Over the course of his career, Nicklaus won four U.S. Opens (1962, 1967, 1972, 1980), three British Opens (1966, 1970, and 1978), five PGA Championships (1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, and 1980), and six Masters titles (1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, and 1986). These four tournaments are the most important ones in professional golf. Besides these eighteen victories, Nicklaus won an additional eighty-two professional tournaments, including ten on the Champions Tour.

Over the course of his career, Nicklaus established numerous records. Among his more important feats were winning the most Masters, U.S. Opens, and PGA Championships, winning more major championships (twenty) than any other player in history up to that point, and the longest record of winning at least one tournament per year (seventeen). Nicklaus also received numerous honors and awards, including being named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year in 1978. Over one dozen magazines or newspapers named Nicklaus golf’s greatest player of the twentieth century. As a professional, Nicklaus won more than 8.75 million dollars, not counting his earnings from numerous product endorsements.

Besides playing golf professionally, Nicklaus emerged as one of golf’s greatest course designers. He has designed more than two hundred courses. Among his more prominent designs are Muirfield Village, Shoal Creek, and Castle Pines.

In 2005, Nicklaus essentially retired from professional golf, although he did not rule out playing in selected tournaments. He currently lives in North Palm Beach, Florida.

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