June 01, 2006

Is Jack really done for good? No more Golden Bear?: The decision to skip The Memorial has many in the golf world thinking Jack Nicklaus is really serious about this retirement thing. Even though he hasn't said his playing days are 100 percent over, the Golden Bear has no plans to play in any tour event again and has said he's perfectly OK with not playing competitively at this stage in his life.

posted by donnnnychris to golf at 07:24 AM - 23 comments

I haven't done anything, all I've done is sit around and eat and get fat, that's all, said Nicklaus with a chuckle. I'm enjoying my work. I'm absolutely loving what I'm doing." Although most of us see golf as recreation, it was Jack's job. He loved his job, but now he's ready for other things. Most of us will want to retire at some point also. Although it's hard to accept Jack not playing anymore, it would be selfish to expect it. Good for Jack!

posted by Bill Lumbergh at 07:54 AM on June 01, 2006

Remember, Jack and family are still designing some of the best golf courses in the world. Nice little hobby to keep him busy during his retirement years. Also not a bad supplement to his retirement income.

posted by bobrolloff at 08:24 AM on June 01, 2006

I could list superlatives all day long about Jack's career, but instead I will say only that Jack has never displayed anything but class throughout his career, and I am sure he will make a graceful transition from player to Ambassador of The Game. I'd still take him to make that six foot, left to right slider for all the beans.

posted by mjkredliner at 08:48 AM on June 01, 2006

My dream is to retire and do pretty much nothing but play golf. I can understand that golf was Jack's "job" and that I too would not want to do my job for the rest of my life, but I have a hard time believing that Jack will never play again. I am all for him taking it easy and not playing competively again, but I would still love to be on a course in the future and be able to The Bear out there playing a nice relaxing game with some friends or family members. Although he has made more than I will ever make, I would still offer to buy him a beer in the Club House afterwards. God Speed Bear!

posted by grabofsky74 at 08:58 AM on June 01, 2006

Jack Nicklaus has been at the top of the golfing world since sometime in the Cenozoic Era. He's designed more courses than anyone this side of -- well, maybe anyone. He is the prototype of the athlete-slash-businessman who built a massive fortune by investing in the business end of his sport. Not only is he (for my money, pace Tiger and his future) the greatest golfer who ever lived, but his knowledge of what people want and what he's able to deliver has been unerringly spot-on. I'd put him among the top half-dozen most significant sporting figures of the 20th century. But if he says he's done, I believe him.

posted by chicobangs at 09:55 AM on June 01, 2006

The great duels between Jack and Arnie will be remembered forever. Both great class acts!

posted by orlando32 at 11:04 AM on June 01, 2006

Top six, really???? Worldwide?

posted by everett at 11:50 AM on June 01, 2006

Top six, really???? Worldwide? This whole "top x# of sporting figures in the 20th century" could be a really interesting thread in itself. But, specific to Jack - I have to go along with chico on this. I honestly believe Golf wouldn't be where it is today, thus Tiger wouldn't be able to have the impact and import he does, if it weren't for what Jack brought to the table for multiple decades, causing its explosion 40 years ago or so. Golf would still be around, but I don't think nearly as mainstream worldwide. I've at times not been a huge Nicklaus fan, but it's hard to think of too many people that have had more impact in sports, and with such an overwhelmingly positive nature (I'm not saying NONE, just not very many others). I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Jack, at least as "ambassador" as someone worded it - but Take Care, nonetheless.

posted by littleLebowski at 12:51 PM on June 01, 2006

The guy loves the game, but doesn't see the need to continue the constant practice and preparation necessary to compete in PGA events. Good for him. He's definitely earned the right to sit back and promote the game, and the courses he builds, in a different way. It would be nice if he could go out and play enjoyable, friendly rounds with family and aquaintences without the hoopla. Lets hope he's allowed to do so.

posted by dyams at 01:32 PM on June 01, 2006

Muhammad Ali. Billy Jean King. Babe Ruth. Jackie Robinson. Hank Aaron. Wayne Gretzky. Jesse Owens. Michael Jordan. Magic Johnson. Secretariat. Joe Namath. Mark Spitz. Nadia Comaneci. Top 6 is a tough list to make, but whether Jack cracks it or not certainly shouldn't alter the perception that he has been tremendously significant to golf and sport in general. It is so hard, at any stage, to acknowledge gracefully that you can't do physically what you used to be able to do so well, and he also deserves great accolades for that.

posted by BullpenPro at 01:37 PM on June 01, 2006

Sorry. I was being glib. I didn't mean to derail the thread.

posted by chicobangs at 02:04 PM on June 01, 2006

"Chico, Chico, Chico, you don't even - you're so glib,"

posted by everett at 02:12 PM on June 01, 2006

Naw - that's a good derail. Nope. Not in my top six. Golf wouldn't be anywhere near the list. I like it - but it's not nearly as inspiring as other sports. You know - one's where you actually sweat. Actually Nichlaus would have to be considered somewhere in the top twenty given the popularity of the sport - but if that were the only criteria, I'd have to start looking at race car drivers like Aryton Senna as closely. Also - no horses. Horses aren't athletes. They're horses. No matter how many mouth-breathers write them letters. So off the top of my noggin I'd have to go with: Ali Pele Jackie Robinson The Babe Gretzky (no one other than a Canadian would pick Gretzky over Jordan - but I think Gretzky was clearly the more impressive figure) Babe Didrickson

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:41 PM on June 01, 2006

I like your list Weedy. I'd replace The Babe and Didrickson with Jim Brown and Jordan.

posted by bperk at 02:50 PM on June 01, 2006

Jim Thorpe would have to be included in my list.

posted by mjkredliner at 03:16 PM on June 01, 2006

Muhammed Ali Pele Jesse Owens Babe Ruth Red Rum (Edit: I just saw Weedy's no-horses rule, but too bad!) Roger Bannister Maradona

posted by afx237vi at 04:48 PM on June 01, 2006

For those of you who credit Jack for the golf explosion 40 years ago this is slightly off base. The reason golf started to succeed on TV and took off the way it did was Arnold Palmer in the late 1950s. Jack added to the attraction when he came along because of the rivarly that him and Palmer had going. Pretty much every golf history book and golf historian agrees that Arnold was the reason for the golf explosion and that he was the beginning of the big money that we see today. And grabofsky74, the thread never said Jack would never play golf again at all. It just said he wasn't going to play competitively. As for the top six most significant athletes (God, I love where this thread took off, thanks Chico), I'd have to go with: Ali Jackie Robinson Babe Ruth Wayne Gretzky Tiger Woods Billie Jean King You might be saying, "the last three?" Well, all three athletes, Gretzky, Woods and King, spearheaded incredible expansions of their sports. Gretzky is the sole reason we have hockey in San Jose, Phoenix, Florida, Texas, etc...Woods made golf cool again (and believe me, when I was in high school and college in the late 80s and early 90s, golf was anything but cool. Now every kid wants to be Tiger)...and King was the driving force behind Title IX and the entire women's movement in not just tennis but all of sports. I'd say that qualifies as influential. The other three speak for themselves I think.

posted by donnnnychris at 05:28 PM on June 01, 2006

Gretz and Billie Jean King I have no problem with whatsoever. But -- see, this is what I mean, donnnnnny. Tiger's been great, and by the end of his career he'll merit mention, but Jack was at the very top of his sport for half a century. Arnold Palmer was extremely popular to golf fans, but Jack appealed widely to the rest of the sporting world. Golf wouldn't be half the sport it is, especially in North America, without Jack Nicklaus. One more thing abut him: he was the first athlete to be a real financial success as an entrepreneur. Before him, some athletes may have made out okay, but he was a visonary who invested heavily in the development of his sport, and it made him very rich. We take that for granted now, but 40 years ago, such a concept was crazy talk.

posted by chicobangs at 10:12 PM on June 01, 2006

Chico...ummm, Arnold seems to have done pretty well in the financial relm and, along with his agent McCormack (the first name eludes me), Palmer spearheaded the concept as an athlete as a product. So to say Jack was first in that department is not right. Arnold was the first to sell himself based on his status as an athlete, at least aggressively (remember, athletes had been pitching stuff since sports had been invented). Jack has done amazing things in business but there was also a time in the mid-1980s when he was struggling financially. He outlined his struggles in his book "My Way." He wasn't broke but he had some significant struggles. As for your assessment that Arnold did only well with just golf fans, well, that's completely off base. Arnold was one of the pre-eminent sports stars of the 50s and ushered in the TV era that embraced sports during that time. Jack merely jumped along for the ride in that area. I don't deny Nicklaus' greatness as a golfer, he's the best of all time, but as a person who changed the landscape? No way. And at the top of the game for a half century? Try just over a quarter century (1960-1986). Don't overestimate his dominance. It was amazing but not even close to 50 years. Jack has done incredible things with his course building and he won more significant titles than any golfer in history, but he didn't fundamentally change the sport or how it operated like Arnold did, or for that matter, Tiger. Woods took the game out of the country club and to the masses, where it had never been before. Purses on the PGA Tour increased ten-fold in the first part of his career and it was totally due to his appeal on TV and as a spokesman for the game. And like I said before, Tiger made it cool to play golf for everyone, from the farmlands to the inner cities. Simply put, he changed the perception of the sport for the masses. Every major golf writer, historian and all the players that I've heard interviewed from the PGA Tour say the same thing: Tiger made golf into a major sport capable of competing with the biggies (football, baseball, basketball). He also made it possible to have near million dollar first-place purses on a weekly basis. How you can discount that is beyond me.

posted by donnnnychris at 05:27 AM on June 02, 2006

donnnny, chico , I appreciate your debate of Palmer vs. Nicklaus, but you both should look at it from a different angle. I live in California now, but for a few years, I lived on Hilton Head Island in S.C., otherwise known as golf island. I'd never heard of the place before I moved out there, but on the other coast it's a major tourist destination and a golfer's heaven. Courses everywhere. Anyway, Palmer is beloved out there. He won the first Heritage Golf Tournament, which put him back on track after a lengthy slump. Guess who was a consultant on the design of the course (Harbour Town Golf Links)? Nicklaus. The course, in turn, had an effect on American golf architecture. And the tournament, the course -- all of it, helped golf take a quantam leap forward. Not just making the island one of the premier golfing spots, but helping to nurture the idea of building homes around golf courses. So, you see, Nicklaus did not "jump along for the ride," he helped lay the tracks. I'd say that makes it a tie as to whom was the more influential golfer.

posted by forrestv at 05:44 PM on June 02, 2006

Harbour Town is a Pete Dye course, sure Nicklaus consulted, but this was in 1970, when Jack had barely gotten his feet wet in golf course design. And, Harbour Town, with it's small greens and railroad tie buttresses is actually the anti-Nicklaus design, his courses usually have large greens and favor faders of the ball. I think Pete Dye was the one more influential in all you itemize. He is probably the biggest designer of high rent resort courses in history, and had started long before Nicklaus came along.

posted by mjkredliner at 12:06 AM on June 05, 2006

mjkredliner, your assessment of Jack's courses is off a little bit. I did a story when I was a newspaper sportswriter on a new course he was opening up back in 1998 so I researched his basic philosophy on course design. He prefers large landings areas for the tee shots (which do play to the fade, as you said) but he doesn't like large greens. He prefers small greens because, in his own words (I interviewed him), golf should be about iron play. The large fairways he gives the golfer allow for several places to drive the ball so that there are different options on how to attack the green. Just thought I'd let you know.

posted by donnnnychris at 01:48 AM on June 05, 2006

Oh, no doubt it was Pete Dye. I wrote enough Heritage stories to have that pounded into my brain. But Nicklaus came up too. And he played a part in it. I guess maybe I was just influenced by all those old-time golfers on Hilton Head Island. Palmer is beloved, but Nicklaus is respected. Which is better, I don't know.

posted by forrestv at 05:29 PM on June 05, 2006

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