Nicklaus was born Jan. 21, 1940, in Columbus, Ohio. His father, Charlie, was a pharmacist who introduced his son to sports and remained his greatest friend and supporter. While growing up at the Scioto C.C. under the tutelage of Jack Grout, Nicklaus came to idolize Bobby Jones, whose 13 major championships became the reference point for his own career.
As an amateur, Nicklaus was clearly a prodigy. He won the 1956 Ohio State Open at age 16. Three years later, he defeated Charlie Coe, 1 up, in an epic final round in the U.S. Amateur and won it again at Pebble Beach in 1961. In between, he tied for second at the 1960 U.S. Open and shot an astounding 269 at Merion in the World Amateur Team Championship.
By the time Nicklaus came on the pro scene in 1962, he was a stout, crewcut dynamo of 215 pounds who was about to change the game. With a mighty upright swing that allowed him to hit the ball high and generally with a slight fade, Nicklaus became the longest controlled driver in the game’s history, as well as the most devastating long-iron player. His technique and strength also allowed him to escape from high grass with more power and control than his rivals.
Along with a reliable putting touch that was particularly consistent inside of six feet, Nicklaus’ arsenal was designed to conquer the narrow fairways, deep rough and firm, fast greens that characterize major championships. By 1967, he had won seven of them. Between 1970 and 1975, leaner and more fashionably coiffed, he won seven more.
On the PGA TOUR, Nicklaus led the money list eight times, twice while playing only 16 events. Between 1962 and 1979, he finished in the top 10 in 243 of the 357 official events he played in, a rate of 68 percent.
For all his physical gifts, it was Nicklaus’ ability to concentrate and gather himself for decisive moments that most separated him. This was never more evident than in his most fulfilling triumph, the 1986 Masters, where, at the age of 46, Nicklaus put together a final-round 65 that included a 30 on the back nine to win by one.
Through it all, Nicklaus completed the ultimate champion’s profile by being a gracious loser. He finished second 19 times in majors, but always gave credit to the winner. Win or lose, Jack Nicklaus was the greatest.
- Masters Tournament Champion: 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986
- U.S. Open Champion: 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980
- Open Championship Champion: 1966, 1970, 1978
- PGA Championship Champion: 1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980
- THE PLAYERS Championship Champion: 1974, 1976, 1978
- The Tradition Champion: 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996
- Senior Tournament Players Championship Champion: 1990
- PGA Seniors’ Championship Champion: 1991
- U.S. Senior Open Champion: 1991, 1993
PGA Tour Wins
- 1962: Seattle World’s Fair, Portland Open Invitational
- 1963: Palm Springs Golf Classic, Tournament of Champions, Sahara Invitational
- 1964: Portland Open Invitational, Tournament of Champions, Phoenix Open Invitational, Whitemarsh Open Invitational
- 1965: Portland Open Invitational, Memphis Open Invitational, Thunderbird Classic, Philadelphia Golf Classic
- 1966: Sahara Invitational
- 1967: Sahara Invitational, Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, Western Open, Westchester Classic
- 1968: Western Open, American Golf Classic
- 1969: Sahara Invitational, Kaiser International Open Invitational, Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational
- 1970: Byron Nelson Golf Classic, National Four-ball Championship (with Arnold Palmer)
- 1971: Tournament of Champions, Byron Nelson Golf Classic, National Team Championship (with Arnold Palmer), Walt Disney World Open Invitational
- 1972: Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, Doral-Eastern Open, Westchester Classic, U.S. Professional Match Play Championship, Walt Disney World Open Invitational
- 1973: Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, New Orleans Open, Tournament of Champions, Atlanta Classic, Ohio Kings Island Open, Walt Disney World Golf Classic
- 1974: Hawaiian Open
- 1975: Doral-Eastern Open, Sea Pines Heritage Classic, World Open Golf Championship
- 1976: World Series of Golf
- 1977: Jackie Gleason-Inverrary Classic, Tournament of Champions, Memorial Tournament
- 1978: Jackie Gleason-Inverrary Classic, IVB-Philadelphia Golf Classic
- 1982: Colonial National Invitation
- 1984: Memorial Tournament
Champions Tour Wins
- 1994: Mercedes Championship
- 1996: GTE Suncoast Classic