When you look at the resumes of each and every professional golfer who has ever stepped on to the PGA Tour, one stands out above the rest. Of course, I am speaking about Jack Nicklaus. The man is the prolific major winner of all time and is top three in overall PGA Tour victories. Here in this article we will take a trip down memory lane and take a look at the storied and iconic career of “The Golden Bear” and all he did for the sport of golf.
Nicklaus got his start in professional golfing at the ripe age of 21 years old, near the end of 1961. And in a very short span of time he went from tour newcomer, to one of the biggest promising stars on tour. Not only did his success begin almost instantly on the course (his first professional win was actually a U.S Open victory over Arnold Palmer, which is considered the beginning of their rivalry), but his success also continued off the course. Because he had become a star so soon after turning pro, he began earning a significant amount of money off the links, due to sponsorships. Golf began to gain popularity during the early 60’s (mainly due to the big three of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus) and thus there were many more sponsorships available to players.
Over the next half decade or so, Nicklaus continued him dominance on the course. 1966 was a huge year for Nicklaus as he did not only win his second Masters in a row (becoming the first ever to do so), but he also won the Open Championship that year, which completed his career slam, which basically means winning each major championship (he is only one of five men to ever complete the feat).
But in the late 60’s, Nicklaus had a career downturn and many thought his days of dominating were gone. He stopped winning and put on a decent amount of weight and didn’t look or play like the Jack Nicklaus people knew and loved. Thankfully, this only lasted for a few years and after shedding the weight and getting his life back on track. Nicklaus continued his winning ways. He finally retired from golf in 2005 as the likely greatest of all time.
Throughout the entirety of his career, Nicklaus won 18 majors (more than anyone else) and is third on the all-time wins list (behind Sam Snead and Tiger Woods), even though he played in much less tournaments than them and played a selective schedule. Not only that, Nicklaus had an astonishing 19 second place finishes at the Majors and with any luck or good breaks his majors win number could easily be double the second place golfer. Nicklaus’s love for golf also spills off the field as he does a ton of charity work, golf course design work and also a prolific book writer.
He truly is among the best of all time and we truly may never see another like him.