Jack Nicklaus chokes up dedicating 2025 Memorial to wife, Barbara

A picture of Jack Nicklaus crying with an image of him and his wife Barbara.

Jack Nicklaus broke down on the Memorial broadcast Sunday.

CBS Sports/Getty Images

Each year, Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament nominates a person, living or dead, to honor at that year’s event for their contributions to the game, and 2025’s honoree is perhaps the most meaningful one yet to the tournament host.

Even more meaningful than Nicklaus himself.

During his annual visit to the CBS broadcast booth during the final round of the 2024 Memorial Tournament, Nicklaus was given the stage by Jim Nantz to announce the honoree for next year’s Memorial Tournament, the 50th edition of the event.

Nicklaus immediately started choking up.

“I can’t get it out, Jim,” he said before finding some strength to get out the name.

“It’s Barbara Nicklaus.”

The production crew behind the booth cameras started applauding and cheering, a rarity in the television business, but warranted given the announcement.

Both Nantz and Trevor Immeleman offered their praise.

“Barbara has meant so much to this tournament,” Jack said. “Everybody has honored Jack Nicklaus, but Barbara Nicklaus has been right there through everything that’s happened. And the captains felt like that for the 50th running of the Memorial, that it was fitting that Barbara be the honoree.

“I broke down and cried the other night and I’m crying again now.”

Since Nicklaus founded the tournament in 1976, a “Captains Club” selects at least one individual to honor for each year’s tournament. According to the Memorial’s website, this was Nicklaus’ idea to honor “perpetuating achievements of the game’s greatest individuals.”

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Members of the Captains Club include former PGA Tour pros like fellow Masters honorary starters Tom Watson and Gary Player, major players in the golf world like Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley and former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, and even Barbara herself.

This year’s honorees were LPGA legend Juli Inkster and golf-course architect Tom Weiskopf.

Barbara will become one of the few honorees who did not play professional or elite amateur golf.

Nantz pointed out the serendipity that Jack was the honoree at the 25th Memorial in 2000 and Barbara will be the honoree at the 50th.

“There is no tournament without Barbara. There is no Jack Nickluas—” Nantz began to say before Jack interrupted.

“She’s been honored by so many people,” Jack said. “By the USGA. By the PGA of America. Ambassador to golf. So many things, but not here at Muirfield. And she’s been behind the scenes for everything that happens. It was a very emotional choice for me.”

Nantz noted that the Nicklauses will celebrate their 64th wedding anniversary next month. That makes Barbara’s selection for next year even more fitting as they will celebrate 65 years of marriage in July 2025.

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.

 

 

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