No worries if you missed part 3
it is right here
Farewell My Birdy
At 2005 British Open, a 65-year-old Jack Nicklaus walking with a bit of a hitch thanks to an artificial hip, gave it one more go at the old course at St. Andrews. There could not be a more appropriate place for Nicklaus to wave farewell to competitive golf than in Scotland's golf mecca. This was the same stage that twice ended three year major championship droughts for Nicklaus, first in 1970 and then again in 1978. And so on the second day of the tournament there was a palpable sense of destiny in the air at St Andrews as Nicklaus strode to meet his ball which lay 15-feet from the 18th cup on a slight downhill slope.
"I knew that hole would move wherever I hit it," Nicklaus commented afterward.
"I aimed six inches left of the hole, played a six-inch break, hit it and the ball was going along and every other putt going that way missed the hole, but this one gobbled it in. It was like Pac-Man."
Draining the putt wasn't enough to make the cut and play on the next day. So as far as the tournament was concerned the putt was of no consequence, but it did give him a final 72 on the round, good enough for even par which is a mighty fine way to cap off a legendary career.
The Parade of Honors
The PGA's Lifetime Achievement Award is just another in a long string of similar honors Nicklaus has been receiving in increasing frequency in the past couple decades. Such recognition can be bittersweet for most athletes, a sign that while they may be legends of the game their greatest contributions to their sport and to this world are well behind them. Nicklaus is an exception. He's still making golf history. As beautifully as he once shaped the flight-path of a golf ball from left-to-right, he has extended his legend with a vibrant second career helming one of the most sought after golf design firms in the world. It's been over 30 years since he unveiled Oakville, Ontario's Glen Abbey, his first solo design masterpiece. Over 300 other courses have since opened up to the delight of golfers in 30 countries and dozens more are on the drawing board. Nicklaus course designs fetch up to $2.5 million per course and Golf Digest estimates his yearly income (not including investment returns) at $20.9 million, a real testament to not only his fairway contouring aptitude but also Nicklaus' staying power. And while his entrepreneurial rival Arnie still makes more bread, the gap between the two has been closing fast in recent years. At this late stage in the game when both have private jets and museums named in their honour, there really is no more residual envy left over from their playing days though you can bet Arnie is a tad jealous of the greater acclaim and higher price tag Nicklaus' fairway contouring designs receives over his own. Outside of golf course architecture Nicklaus' other business interests include Nicklaus equipment, Nicklaus Apparel, and Nicklaus Academies.
Tiger Woods already has 13 major championships in the bag and should surpass Jack's magic 18-major mark in a few years time. No matter how many of Jack's records disappear into the ether of sports history, his sprawling fairway footprint assures that his legacy as an architect and ambassador of the game will one day share even marquee space with his athletic achievements. Jack didn't just play the game better than anybody else in his generation, he also has proved himself to be one of the game's most dedicated stewards, working to assure that the future of golf will continue to be golden.
Part 5, just a fun little play on you don't know Jack that'll gives fans some tasty trivia morsels will be posted this afternoon
This Story First Ran in the June 2008 issue of the Bay Street Bull
Copyright © Mike Dojc, 2008