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"The Nicklaus Way of Golf -- and Life": Bob Greene in the Journal

M Man's picture
April 2, 2014 at 10:39pm

Every once in a great while, I task my friends here at ElevenWarriors with a reading assignment.  

Consider yourselves assigned.  This is required reading.  "The Nicklaus Way of Golf -- and LIfe" by Bob Greene, in what will be tomorrow's (Thursday, April 3) Wall Street Journal.  Apologies to all who find this paywalled for Journal subscribers.  Find a copy.  Borrow a log-in password.  Read this.  The ElevenEditors are going to have to front-page this somehow.

Here's a teaser:

In central Ohio when I was a boy, he was the pride of our town. You could walk around neighborhoods on weekend afternoons in summer and, from the screened-in porches, hear people in front of their television sets cheering for his shots as he competed in tournaments around the world. For profile writers over the years wanting to compose colorful stories about him, tales of his bitter and nasty feuds with other golfers, of his bombast and explosions and piques, the anecdotes just weren't there. Which may be the most telling anecdote about him of all.

When my best friend and I were 12, and Jack was seven years older, he won the United States Amateur Championship. We were writing for our mimeographed junior-high-school newspaper; his father, Charlie Nicklaus, was a local pharmacist with a listed home phone number, and for us getting an interview was as easy as calling that number and asking if Jack was there. He was. We sensed that he was thoroughly un-full of himself, and we appreciated that, in his quiet voice, he didn't talk down to us or make us feel rushed.

Those of us from that part of Ohio have long known something of which even most golf fans may be unaware: As a teenager, Jack had polio. Think of the fear that must have gripped the heart of a boy who hoped to become an athlete. He didn't use it as an excuse. It was his problem to deal with, and he did. He seldom discusses it publicly; when, 10 years ago, Golf Digest magazine asked him about it, his reply was direct and unadorned...


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Alpo's picture

Thanks M-man, I'm gonna have to find a copy of that somewhere. I was unaware Jack had polio growing up. Can't wait for it to warm up just a little bit more here in Ct so I can get out on the course!

spqr2008's picture

You can actually put the link for subscriber WSJ articles into Google's search engine after searching for something else, and it'll pull up the whole thing without that paywall.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Good on ya for that one.  Would love to read the full article when it's not pay walled, as I dont have WSJ access...


buckeyeEddie27's picture

My Dad grew up in UA on the same street Jack's sister lived on.  Right next door as a matter of fact.  So, as a kid my dad and his three brothers would keep a watchful eye for Jack to come around.  Funny story my dad tells me- From the bedroom my dad and his twin brother shared you could look down out the window and see directly into the dining room of Jack's sister's house.  During Thanksgiving they would huddle by the window and watch (see Spy) on the Nicklaus family enjoying their meal.  As kids it was a thrill for them to know that Super Star Jack Nicklaus liked mashed potatoes just like the rest of us.  Naturally after dinner a well timed game of catch would transpire in the front lawn in hopes that they could see Jack walk to his car and maybe just maybe get a word in with him.

From what my Dad has told me, Jack was always very accommodating to the boys and never turned them down for a quick chat or just a hello.  In fact, as a gift to fledgling beginning golfers he gave my Dad and his brothers a sack of shag balls for them to practice with.  Nearly fifty years later my dad still has the bag.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

+2 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

That's really cool. Thanks for sharing

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

+1 HS
zacisone's picture

When Jack played he had 3 states of being. He was either winning, on the board, or not playing that week. I have never seen anyone that good for that long of time. Nope, not even Tiger.


+2 HS
M Man's picture

Herbert Warren Wind, the greatest golf writer of our time had the best observation on Jack Nicklaus.  Herb said that for Nicklaus, being in the center of a major championship on a Sunday afternoon was like shooting baskets in the driveway.  While other golfers were crushed by the pressure, it actually focused Jack.  Jack's best golf was when he was under the gun.


+1 HS
AltaBuck's picture

Thanks M Man....enjoyed the article.

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