Jack Nicklaus Visits Dallas Athletic Club

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2019

010By Tom Ward

On May 5th legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus returned to DAC, (Dallas
Athletic Club) the site where he won his first PGA Championship in
1963, and later re-designed both championship Blue and Gold courses.
Nicklaus was guest of the Club to help celebrate their 100th
centennial celebration.

When I arrived Nicklaus had just finished touring the front nine
of the DAC Blue course and was speaking to a few of the club members
on one of the greens. As Nicklaus got into a golf cart to drive around
the back nine I tagged along with three other media members in another
golf cart. As we drove around the course Nicklaus would periodically
stop his cart and talk about some of the things he did on a particular
hole offering some keen insights.

When the tour ended Nicklaus spoke again to a larger group of
members and media surrounding the 18th green. Someone asked him how he
got the nickname the Golden Bear? Jack recalled,
“Back in 1961, my manager Mark McCormack went to Australia and
there was a fellow named Don Lawrence with a Melbourne newspaper there
who wrote an article about me. In the story he called me a cuddly
golden bear because I was large and blond. The first contract I had
was with Revere sportswear out of Boston for shirts. They wanted me to
have an emblem for the shirts. Then I remember that article about me
being a golden bear. Ironically, the high school I went to back in
back in Ohio was the Upper Arlington Golden Bears. I told them I’ve
been a golden bear all my life why in the world don’t I just stay with
it. We ended up using it and its worked quite well for me.”

Nicklaus spoke about an alternative he offered to the USGA (United
States Golf Association) which he thought was reasonable about the
changes in golf balls. He stated,
“I’m restoring a golf course in the upper part of the northern
U.S. that’s only 5,900 yards. They don’t have any more
land. Why don’t we build a great course with the land we have and have
a golf ball that fits the course. For that particular course that
would be about a 70% golf ball. So we could design a 50%, 60% ,70%,
80%, 90% and 100% golf ball. The USGA really loved the idea. I think
manufacturers would like it because they could come to a course like
yours at DAC and play an 80% golf ball which is about what the ball
was in 1995. This golf course was designed for a ball in that era and
not for the era of today. So you could go into the shop and know that
this is an 80% golf course. You decide you really want to challenge yourself so you                                                                 take a 70% golf ball to play with that day. That would automatically make it a tougher
golf course for you. A guy who isn’t as good a golfer and needs the
distance could use a 100% golf ball. I don’t know what will happen
with all of this, but I think at some point we will do it as it just
takes time.”

Nicklaus added, “What would DAC have to do to hold a another major
PGA championship here again? Well, you would have to add another 1,000
yards to it. You’re not going to do that because you don’t have the
land or the money. I think we should use common sense and be practical
about what we are doing.”

During a private press conference with just the media Nicklaus
held court in the shade speaking to reporters on a number of subjects.
He was asked how he prepared for major championships? Nicklaus
replied,
“Preparation. You’ve got to spend the time and effort to prepare.
While everyone else is worried about the rough and the speed of the
greens and course conditions I got all of that out of the way the week
before. I was ready to play when the tournament started. All I had to
worry about was my golf game and a lot of the other guys weren’t ready
to play yet.”

One of media members asked Nicklaus a question that got a funny
response from the legend. The question was, do you enjoy watching
Tiger Woods chase your records? Nicklaus chuckled and said,
“Do I enjoy watching him chase my records? No, I’ve enjoyed the
last 8 years a lot more. Nobody ever wants their records broken, but
I’ve told Tiger I want you to remain healthy to have a fair chance. He
has certainly created a huge spark back into the game winning the
Masters. I think he’s swinging better than he has ever swung before.”

Do you think he will reach your mark of 18 major championships?
Also, Is there a difference today at that level of competing in your
40’s then when you were in your 40’s? Nicklaus said,
“I think today’s a lot easier because of equipment that allows
you to do that. I think Tiger’s going to be well into his 50’s
competing at a high level. Plus, the physical conditioning that the
guys do today is better as I never did any of that stuff. Will he
break my record? He’s certainly closer to it than he was a few weeks
ago. That remains to be seen. If his body holds together and he
doesn’t have any issues I would say his chances of breaking my record
are very good. I’ll be watching very closely. If he breaks it I’ll be
fine as I have no problem with it. I would want to be the first one to
congratulate him. I think my record is a pretty good one that could
have been even better if I had someone pushing me. I will say that
Tiger is a pretty talented guy.”
Tom Ward can be contacted at www.teetimewithtom.com

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