Jack and Charlie Nicklaus at the 1963 Masters. (Getty Images) Getty Images

Know Jack: Charlie and Helen Nicklaus

By Mercer BaggsApril 10, 2017, 11:00 am

The story of how Charlie Nicklaus met Helen Schoener is not an uncommon one. They went on a blind date, it was love at first sight. Romantic, but not unique to love stories.

But then Helen moved from Columbus, Ohio to live with her aunt in Baltimore, Md. Helen had a scarring childhood and adolescence. She lost all of her family and moved to the East Coast because she had no kin alive at home.

But Charlie – and now this is where the romance really kicks in – wasn’t about to let that be the end of their relationship. He mailed Helen a letter asking her to marry him – along with an engagement ring inside.

“He said, 'I will always provide for you and you will never want for anything,'” their daughter, Marilyn, says. “He couldn’t live without her.”

Charlie not only took care of Helen, but her aunt and her aunt’s adopted children, as they all moved to Columbus.

Charlie was a pharmacist. One brother was also a pharmacist. Another brother was a dentist. Their father, Louis, was a boilermaker [Helen’s father, too, worked on the railroads.]

Louis took the boys with him to work one day, where it was, conservatively, in excess of 120 degrees.

I don’t want this life for you, he told them.

And the boys listened well.

Charlie and Helen married in 1937 and had an apartment above Charlie’s tiny drugstore on Chittenden Avenue and High Street, near the Ohio State University campus.

They had two kids. Son Jack was born in 1940. Marilyn in 1943.

Charlie had attended OSU and played various sports, including football, basketball and baseball. He encouraged his kids to be multi-talented as well.

He was the athletic one, the outgoing one, the life of the party.

“[Charlie] was one of the people who never met a stranger,” Jack’s wife, Barbara, says. “I mean, everybody loved Charlie Nicklaus.”


Jack and Helen Nicklaus before the 1957 senior prom (Nicklaus Family Archives)

Jack: A collection of Nicklaus stories


Helen was more reserved, more of a homebody. The loss of her family affected her life forever.

“She was scared of everything,” Jack says.

“She was always afraid of loss,” says Marilyn. “She was always afraid she was going to lose her kids or her husband.”

Jack would acquire traits from both – aggressiveness from his father, caution from his mother. It is evident in the way he played golf, shooting 65 when he needed to and shooting 73 when that was good enough.

When Jack was about 7, Charlie severely hurt his ankle playing volleyball. Jack had to help carry him into the house that day. It took a while to get a proper diagnosis and the ankle never fully healed. A doctor suggested he take up an activity that would allow him to walk, since he no longer had proper lateral movement, and get some exercise.

He decided on golf.

Charlie hadn’t played in 15 years, but it was the best option to follow doctor’s orders. And he got to spend time with his son, who carried his bag.

According to Marilyn, a man walked into his drugstore one day and asked where he could find a dentist. Charlie directed him a couple of blocks away, and a few weeks later the man returned and the two got to talking. The man said he was a member at Scioto Country Club and Charlie mentioned that he’d love to play out there.

The man put Charlie’s name up for membership, Charlie was accepted, the family moved out that way in the winter of ’49, and Scioto pro Jack Grout took notice of Jack Nicklaus in ’50. History's chain of events.

Jack and Charlie were inseparable, best friends. He was always by his son’s side during tournaments. Helen would try but she just couldn’t stand to watch Jack if he was playing poorly. She'd shield herself behind trees and look away.

Helen – along with Marilyn and Barbara, and, of course, Charlie – attended the 1957 Masters, Jack’s first time playing the tournament. She and Marilyn wouldn’t return until 1986, on a whim.

Charlie, however, was at all the big events. He had his gang of friends and they made the Masters a boys’ trips.

In the late-‘60s Charlie began to slip into that retirement phase. He and Helen got a house down in Florida, near Jack and his family. Charlie would take the boat out, fish and play with his young grandkids.

And then, in 1969, it was thought Charlie had hepatitis. Jack was just getting back from Harbour Town, his first course design, after Thanksgiving when a doctor hold him it was pancreatic cancer. Charlie had 6-12 weeks to live.

They thought it best not to tell Charlie immediately, to let him enjoy life for as long as he could. This form of cancer is nearly unbeaten.

Christmas 1969, the Nicklauses all gathered together. Jack and his family flew in from Florida.

“I can remember it was snowing,” Marilyn says. “My mom was frantic. She was so worried that something was gonna happen to that plane. My dad was upstairs, ill in bed, and she went up to him and she was just worrying and fretting. He said, ‘Sis [for Sissy, his nickname for Helen], don’t worry. The runways are all heated. They’ll be fine. She bought it and calmed down.”

It was a memorable evening, for many reasons. Ohio State head football coach Woody Hayes unexpectedly came by the house that night to chat. And that was the last time Charlie ever ate a meal.

"The only thing he could keep down was Gatorade. So that kind of kept him alive, the electrolytes,” Jack says. “Died Feb. 19.”

He was 56.

“Dad taught me the right way. He taught me how to be a good sport, how to make sure that if you lose it’s not the end of the world,” Jack says. “Your word is your bond. And you got to deal with what you’re dealt."

Forty-seven years later, Jack is asked how much he thinks of his dad.

“Every day,” he says. “Never missed a day.”

Jack was going through a majorless drought, by his terms, when his father died. He hadn’t won one since 1967.

“I sort of looked at that and said, you know, my dad sort of lived through me and he enjoyed what I did. I don’t think I gave him a fair shake,” Jack says. “I wouldn’t say I was motivated by my dad’s death, by any means, but I certainly felt like you’re only here for a short period of time and you really need to give your best, and I did not think I gave my best during ’68, ’69. So I sort of focused myself back to playing.”

Jack got in shape. He won two majors in 1970, another in ’71 and two more in ’72. He won eight during the decade.

“I think every single tournament he won after his dad died was for his dad,” Barbara says.

Helen lived until she was 90, dying in August, 2000. In ’85, not sure how many more opportunities she would have, she told Jack she wanted to attend the Masters a final time. He said, let’s make it the next one.

Helen was there to witness her 46-year-old son win his sixth green jacket.

“That week was special. I think my mom being there was in Jack’s mind,” Marilyn says. “It was meant to be.”

Marilyn likes to say, it’s not what’s taught, it’s what’s caught. And she and Jack caught lots of love, which, in turn, has spread to their families.

Right after Charlie got out of pharmacy school, he had a sales job with Johnson and Johnson. He was offered a promotion to Chicago but didn’t take it. He wanted to raise his family in Columbus. Knowing the denial would end his career, he focused on using his degree.

“It was always about family,” Marilyn says. “Family was always first.”

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.