It’s not a stretch say that Jack Nicklaus’ fingerprints can be found all over professional golf in any given week. The 18-time major champion is — next to Tiger Woods and perhaps Ben Hogan — the single-most modeled golfer ever.
Even today, some 30 years after the completion of his professional career, Nicklaus’ impact on the game is visible everywhere. Witness last weekend, when both the PGA and LPGA Tour hosted events held at Nicklaus-designed tracks.
Some 2,400 miles separated the Zozo Championship at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the Drive On Championship at Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Ga. But the two events were joined by a common bond — their designer, Jack Nicklaus.
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“That certainly was a rare but welcomed ‘double-header’ for our design team,” said Nicklaus, whose company is an affiliate of GOLF’s parent company, 8AM Golf. “Both courses — Sherwood Country Club and Great Waters at Reynolds Lake Oconee — were about 25 years old, when in recent years we did an extensive renovation, with some redesign, on both.”
The “double-header” comes as the Nicklaus Design team continues work on some higher-profile restorations (most notably at Muirfield Village Golf Club, Nicklaus’ home course). As Sherwood and Reynolds Lake Oconee shared the spotlight, Nicklaus took the moment to reflect upon his “other” lasting contribution to the sport.
“For over 50 years, I have approached course design with the primary goal of delivering what the owner or developer wants, but by and large, I focus the strategy and shot values on what is best for the members or guests who play the course every day,” he said. “I also feel that a good golf course is one that is playable, fun and fair for the average player, but when played from the back tees and with the pins in certain places, can challenge the best players in the world.”
At the Zozo, Patrick Cantlay nabbed a dramatic, come-from-behind victory over Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm. At the Drive On, Ally McDonald outlasted Danielle Kang by a single stroke for her first LPGA Tour victory.
“I believe Nicklaus Design has more than 150 courses that have hosted a professional tournament worldwide, and when you combine the events played, it’s well over 1,000,” Nicklaus said. “It’s a legacy, you might say, and we were delighted that both Sherwood and Great Waters are part of that.”