77 facts about Jack Nicklaus on his 77th birthday


1. He was born in Columbus, Ohio.

2. His father, Charlie Nicklaus, played football for Ohio State University and later played semi-professionally under an assumed name.

3. Although his father went by Charlie, that was his middle name. His first name was actually Louis.

4. As a 13-year-old, Charlie Nicklaus saw Bobby Jones win the 1926 U.S. Open at Scioto Country Club, where the family would later have a membership.

5. He took up golf at age 10, and shot 51 for the first nine holes he ever played.

6. He first broke 70 at age 13.

7. When he was 13, he had a mild case of polio.

8. His nickname, the Golden Bear, comes from the mascot at his high school, Upper Arlington HS.

9. He ran the 100- and 220-yard dashes as a seventh- and eighth-grader. He ran the 100 in 11 seconds flat.

10. In his senior year of high school, he was an honorable mention All-Ohio selection in basketball as a shooting guard.

Jack Nicklaus during a practice round for the 1959 Walker Cup. (Getty)

11. He lost in the first round of his first U.S. Amateur, in 1955.

12. He first won a tournament against pros in the 1956 Ohio Open.

13. While trying to join a fraternity at Ohio State, he had to eat goldfish.

14. He missed the cut by 10 shots in his first U.S. Open, in 1957.

15. He dropped out of Ohio State after he made the 1959 U.S. Walker Cup team.

16. He lost in the quarterfinals of his only British Amateur, in 1959.

17. He missed the cut by one shot in his first Masters, in 1959.

18. He defeated future PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman in the final of the 1959 Trans-Mississippi Amateur.

19. On his way to winning the 1959 U.S. Amateur, he defeated Bobby Jones' son, Bob Jones III, in the first round.

20. He played on the winning U.S. Walker Cup squad in 1959.

Jack and Barbara Nicklaus during the early years of their marriage. (Getty)

21. On the final day of the 1960 U.S. Open, he was paired with Ben Hogan. Hogan later said Nicklaus should have won the championship by 10 shots.

22. A month after the 1960 U.S. Open, he married Barbara Bash, whom he had met during his first week at Ohio State.

23. He played golf on the morning of his wedding.

24. He picked his wedding date - July 23, 1960 - because it fell during the PGA Championship, for which he was ineligible.

25. On his honeymoon, he played Pine Valley, but unwittingly brought his wife to the all-male club.

26. He began counting the clubs in his bag before every round after his partner in the 1960 Americas' Cup, Deane Beman, was found to have 15 clubs in his bag.

27. In 1961 he won the NCAA Championship and the U.S. Amateur, becoming the first player to win both titles in the same year.

28. He didn't begin pacing off his approach-shot distances until the 1961 U.S. Amateur, when Deane Beman suggested doing it.

29. Early in his career, he sold insurance.

30. He had a rule that he would never be away from home for more than two weeks at a time.

Jack Nicklaus with Arnold Palmer during their 1962 U.S. Open playoff. (Getty)

31. His first money earned as a pro was $75 for giving a speech to an optical company in Columbus.

32. He played in his first PGA event in the 1958 Rubber City Open Invitational at Firestone Country Club. He was one stroke off the lead after 36 holes, but finished 12th.

33. His first check as a pro in a tournament was $33.33 for tying for 50th in the 1962 Los Angeles Open.

34. As a rookie pro he signed with MacGregor Golf to play their clubs. Experimented with an extra-stiff shaft in his driver, but decided to stick with stiff.

35. He credited much of his success as a rookie to a putter given to him by George Low, a Wizard 600.

36. His first PGA Tour win was the 1962 U.S. Open, in which he beat local favorite Arnold Palmer in a playoff at Oakmont.

37. He first saw Arnold Palmer at the 1954 Ohio State Amateur when he was 14.

38. He first played with Palmer in an exhibition match at Athens Country Club in Ohio in 1958.

39. He beat fellow "Big Three" members Palmer and Gary Player in 1962 in the first playing of the World Series of Golf.

40. He tried to return to Ohio State in 1962 to get his degree, but was ordered to withdraw by the dean of the College of Commerce.

Jack Nicklaus with one of his later private jets. (Getty)

41. He used to smoke on the golf course, but quit after seeing himself in a highlights video smoking while putting. He eventually quit altogether.

42. He first met Bobby Jones at the 1955 U.S. Amateur in Virginia.

43. Despite being one of the game's best putters, he considered practicing putting to be "a chore."

44. His longest recorded drive was 341 yards, 17 inches, hit in a long-driving contest before the 1963 PGA Championship.

45. He bought his first private plane in 1964, a twin-engine Aero Commander 680 FL.

46. He took flying lessons, but ultimately decidded that, unlike Arnold Palmer, he would leave the piloting to someone else.

47. In the final round of the 1964 Masters, with Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts watching, he shanked his tee shot at the par-3 12th hole.

48. He topped the 1964 money list by earning $83.13 more than Arnold Palmer.

49. In 1966 he became the first player to successfully defend a Masters title.

50. He was so emotional about winning the Memorial Tournament for the first time in 1977 that he seriously considered retiring. His wife talked him out of it.

Jack Nicklaus in the 1967 U.S. Open at Baltusrol (Getty)

51. He fainted at the first sight of his first three children after they were born.

52. He began his course architecture career working with Pete Dye.

53. He didn't play in the Ryder Cup until 1969 because he was not a Class A member of the PGA of America until 

54. Although the Masters is the major he has most enjoyed playing in, he ranks it fourth among the majors because it is not a "championship."

55. He won the 1967 U.S. Open at Baltusrol using a borrowed putter with a head that had been spray-painted white to eliminate glare. It was known as "White Fang."

56. He compiled 73 PGA Tour victories.

57. He finished second, including ties, 58 times.

58. Worldwide, he won 105 times.

59. He made 20 hole-in-one in competition.

60. He won eight majors on the senior tour.

Jack Nicklaus with the claret jug after winning The Open in 1966. (Getty)

61. Officially, he won $5,690,863 on the PGA Tour.

62. The most money he won in any year on the PGA Tour was $316,911, in 1972.

63. The most money he won in any year on the senior tour was $538,800, in 1995.

64. The most tournaments he won in any year was seven, which he did in 1972 and '73.

65. His lowest stroke average in any year was 69.81, in 1973.

66. He held the outright lead after 54 holes in major eight times and won all eight.

67. In his 18 major championship wins, he held or shared the lead after 54 holes 10 times and came from behind to win eight times.

68. He is one of five players - along with Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan Gary Player and Tiger Woods - to have won the career Grand Slam.

69. He and Tiger Woods are the only players to have won the career Grand Slam three times over.

70. He is the oldest first-round leader in the Masters, having shared the lead with a 67 in 1993 at age 53.

Jack Nicklaus giving his victory speech after winning the 1986 Masters. (Getty)

71. In 163 rounds in the Masters, he averaged 71.98 strokes. That is a record for players with at least 100 rounds played.

62. He holds the record for most Masters wins, 6.

73. He shares the record for most U.S. Open wins (4) with Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan.

74. He has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

75. He shot a 59 during an unofficial event in 1973, the American Cancer Society's Palm Beach Golf Classic, played at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla.

76. He holds the record for most runner-up finishes in majors, 19.

77. He holds the record for most majors won, 18.