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Flashback Jack: Jack Nicklaus shares memories of his younger self

January 21, 2020

Before he was The Bear, he was nearly a pharmacist in Ohio. In this week’s Flashback Jack, we celebrate Nicklaus’s 80th birthday as he reflects on his youth and upon the twists and turns that shaped his golf life.

Jack the Pharmacist

As preposterous as it sounds, Nicklaus felt he was approaching the end of his professional career while in the midst of winning two U.S. Amateur championships as a student at Ohio State. Unsure of his professional prospects, he’d decided it was his goal to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Pharmacist.

“At 18 years old, I didn’t know I was going to be a golfer at 18 years old,” Nicklaus said. “I was in college and having a good time and met the girl I was going to marry. My dad was a Pharmacist so that’s what I went to…he talked me out of that and told me I should golf.”

It’s easy today to point to 18 major reasons why Jack’s eventual decision to spurn his dad’s line of work was probably a smart one, but at the time, he had little more than an amateur golf career and a dream (even if that Amateur golf career included going nose-to-nose with Arnold Palmer in the 1960 U.S. Open).

Jack the Designer

Jack Nicklaus’s career as a player is inextricably connected to his career as an architect, largely because the “second act” of Jack’s career actually began while the first act of his career was still underway. Life as a designer for The Bear began in 1965, when Pete Dye invited Nicklaus to serve as a consultant on his design of The Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio.

From there, we laid witness to Jack’s design mastery, from domestic gems like Harbour Town and Muirfield, to international expansions in Asia, Australia and Europe. Nicklaus’s evolution has taken shape over the course of his life as an architect and designer, but it was a journey that began in his 30s.

“I think as you go into your 30s you realize there’s more to accomplish in your life than just growing older,” he said.

Now heading into his 80s, the golf world can only hope that this decade will treat Jack as well as his previous decades have treated them.

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