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Jack William Nicklaus (born January 21, 1940), nicknamed The Golden Bear, is an American retired professional golfer. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest golfers of all time. He won 117 professional tournaments in his career. Over a quarter-century, he won a record 18 major championships, three more than second-placed Tiger Woods. Nicklaus focused on the major championships—Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship—and played a selective schedule of regular PGA Tour events. He competed in 164 major tournaments, more than any other player, and finished with 73 PGA Tour victories, third behind Sam Snead (82) and Woods (82).
Nicklaus won the U.S. Amateur in 1959 and 1961 and finished second in the 1960 U.S. Open, two shots behind Arnold Palmer. Nicklaus turned professional at age 21 toward the end of 1961. He earned his first professional victory at the 1962 U.S. Open, defeating Palmer by three shots in a next-day 18-hole playoff and launching a rivalry between golf superstars. In 1966, Nicklaus became the first player to win the Masters Tournament two years running; he also won The Open Championship, becoming at age 26 the youngest player to win all four golf majors. He won another Open Championship in 1970.
Between 1971 and 1980, he won nine more major championships, overtook Bobby Jones's record of 13 majors, and became the first player to complete double and triple career grand slams. He won the 1986 Masters, his 18th and final major championship at age 46, the tournament's oldest winner. Nicklaus joined the Senior PGA Tour (now known as the PGA Tour Champions) when he became eligible in January 1990, and by April 1996 had won 10 tournaments, including eight major championships despite playing a very limited schedule. He continued to play at least some of the four regular Tour majors until 2005 when he made his final appearances at the Masters Tournament and The Open Championship.
Today Nicklaus heads one of the world's largest golf course design companies. Among his courses is Harbour Town Golf Links. He is a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Nicklaus runs an event on the PGA Tour, the Memorial Tournament.
Nicklaus's books vary from instructional to autobiographical, with his Golf My Way considered one of the best instructional golf books of all time; the video of the same name is the best-selling golf instructional to date.
PGA Tour career
Nicklaus officially turned professional in late 1961 and began his career on the PGA Tour the following year. He had previously debated the idea of remaining an amateur in order to further emulate his idol, Bobby Jones. However, Nicklaus realized that in order to be regarded as the best, he would have to compete in greater frequency against the best. Shortly after turning professional, Nicklaus's future agent, Mark McCormack, was interviewed by Melbourne Age writer Don Lawrence, who inquired about the American golf scene. When McCormack described Nicklaus, Lawrence referred to the "large, strong, and blond" player as "the Golden Bear", a nickname that would become synonymous with Nicklaus throughout his professional life. However, another possible origination of the name derives from the high school that Nicklaus attended in Upper Arlington, Ohio, which uses the mascot the Golden Bears for its sports teams. As mentioned above, Nicklaus played on several Golden Bears athletic teams, including captaining its 1956 state-champion golf squad, suggesting that McCormack may have adopted the name through Nicklaus's high school affiliation. Regardless, by 1963, the nickname had stuck.
Nicklaus's meteoric rise to fame immediately after turning professional enabled opportunities for him to earn significant endorsement income. These business opportunities were facilitated by Mark McCormack, who also managed Palmer and Gary Player. Golf was growing rapidly in popularity and media coverage during the early 1960s, led by the performances of these three star players. This association was the start of the agency that became known as International Management Group, and IMG, after building a base in golf management, eventually expanded into other sports. The Palmer-Nicklaus-Player rivalry developed into the so-called "Big Three" of Golf. In the early 1960s, McCormack set up a series of televised golf matches around the world among the three stars, known as Big Three Golf. In the early 1970s, Nicklaus left IMG to set up his own management agency, Golden Bear Inc. Nicklaus also signed a contract with Eastern Airlines. He could be seen on TV saying, "If you play golf, Eastern is your airline."
Golf course design
Main article: Nicklaus Design
Nicklaus devotes much of his time to golf course design and operates one of the largest golf design practices in the world. In the mid-1960s, Pete Dye initially requested Nicklaus's opinion in the architecture process of The Golf Club in suburban Columbus, Ohio, and the input increased from that point forward. Nicklaus considered golf course design another facet of the game that kept him involved and offered a challenge. His first design, Harbour Town Golf Links, co-credited with Dye, was opened for play in 1969. The nine-hole, par-3 golf course of Cheeca Resort & Spa was also designed by Nicklaus in the 1960s. A subsequent early, yet more prominent design was Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, OH which opened in 1974 and has hosted the Memorial Tournament since its inception in 1976. This course has also hosted the 1987 Ryder Cup, the 1998 Solheim Cup matches and the 2013 President's Cup. For the first few years, all of his projects were co-designs with either Pete Dye or Desmond Muirhead, who were two of the leading golf course architects of that era.
His first solo design, Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ontario, opened for play in 1976. This course served as the host site for the Canadian Open for many years, the first being in 1977. The oldest golf club in the U.S, Saint Andrew's Golf Club in New York, was redesigned by Nicklaus in 1983. In 2000, the King & Bear opened in St. Augustine, Florida, as a joint collaboration between Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. In 2006, the Concession Golf Club opened in Sarasota, Florida, as a joint collaboration between Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, to commemorate their historic Ryder Cup singles match in 1969.
Nicklaus is in partnership with his four sons and his son-in-law through their company, Nicklaus Design. The company had 299 courses open for play at the end of 2005, which was nearly 1% of all the courses in the world (In 2005 Golf Digest calculated that there were nearly 32,000 golf courses in the world, approximately half of them in the United States.). While the majority of Nicklaus-designed courses are located in the United States, the company has designed golf courses in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and Mexico. For 2009, Nicklaus Design had 12 courses in Golf Digest's "75 Best Golf Resorts in North America". Past and present Senior Design Associates with Nicklaus Design include Chris Cochran, Chet Williams and Dave Heatwole.
- Chapelco Golf & Resort
- Golfclub Gut Altentann
- The Australian Golf Club
- Brunei Golf
- Mission Hills Golf Club
- Spring City Golf & Lake Resort - Mountain course
- Punta Espada Golf Club
- Paris International Golf Club
- Gleneagles Golf Club
- London Golf Club - The Heritage
- Mount Juliet Golf Club
- Hokkaido Classic Golf Club
- Japan Memorial Golf Club
- Michlifen Golf & Country Club
- Samanah Country Club
- El Dorado Golf & Beach Club
- Vista Vallarta Club de Golf
- Quivira Golf Club
- Monte Rei Golf & Country Club
- Raevo Golf & Country Club
- Ullna Golf Club
- Valhalla Golf Club
- The Club at Cordillera
- Grand Cypress Orlando Golf Club
- Mayacama Golf Club
- Desert Mountain Golf Club - Geronimo course
- Dove Canyon Golf Club
- Potomac Shores Golf Club
- Simola Golf
- Steyn City Golf
- St Francis Links
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