Thursday, July 16: Nicklaus, wife Barbara and eldest son Jackie, 36, take part in an all-day meeting to design the clubhouse for the Bear's Club, a project only a few miles from Nicklaus's home. The three Nicklauses and more than a dozen consultants and company officials crowd around a 15-foot-long conference table scattered with plans and drawings. Nicklaus is at the center of the dialogue. At one point he offers, "The thing I don't like about a men's locker room is a bunch of naked men walking around. I like areas for privacy."
Like his brother Steve, Jackie isn't worried about what the future holds for his father. "After [this week's] Senior Open," he says, "he's going to look into everything to fix his hip—injections, coatings, exercise. He has always been leery about surgery, but I know he wants to keep playing and competing. My guess is he's going to go with the hip replacement."
Back in the office after going home for lunch, Nicklaus says he hasn't seen any of the first round of the British Open. "Who's leading?" he asks. Told Tiger Woods is tied for first, Nicklaus cocks an eye and says, "Is he really?"
Nicklaus is more interested in the results of the Golden Bear tour event taking place in West Palm Beach. His youngest son, 24-year-old Michael, a first-year pro, had started 68-69 to make the cut for the first time in 16 tries on the tour and is playing the final round today. Hearing that Michael finished with a 73 to tie for seventh and win $3,776, Nicklaus is proud. "That's wonderful," he says. "Anything under 80 would've been acceptable. He was in unknown territory."
Friday, July 17: The only Nicklaus who seems to be missing the British Open is Barbara. When Jack invites the clubhouse architects home for lunch, Barbara turns on the TV to watch the tournament. "That was always our trip," she says. "We left the kids at home. Sure I miss it." Barbara's streak of consecutive British Opens was almost as impressive as Jack's. Since 1962 she had missed only one, in '73, when Michael was born.
The Nicklaus home at Lost Tree, where Jack and Barbara have lived since 1970, is family headquarters. All five of the Nicklauses' children, including their only daughter, Nan, 33, live within a 10-minute drive. The place can get a little crazy when their eight grandchildren, ages two through eight, visit. Four of the kids belong to Jackie and his wife, Barbara, and the other four to Nan and her husband, Bill O'Leary. Both Barbara and Nan are expecting in January. To the grandkids, Barbara and Jack are Mimi and Granpa.
At 5 p.m., trying to clear his desk before the weekend and the upcoming Senior Open, Nicklaus returns to the office. As he's saying goodbye for the weekend, Scott Tolley, Nicklaus's director of communications, tells the boss that the 36-hole leader at Birkdale is Brian Watts and that a 17-year-old amateur, Justin Rose, is a stroke back. "That got his attention for a second," Tolley says later. "But for just a second."
Saturday, July 18: Although he hangs around the house until 10:30 a.m., Nicklaus hardly glances at the TV. By the time Jim McKay airs his tribute to the man who has won more majors than any golfer in history, Nicklaus is well into his round with Michael at the Lost Tree course. In a spirited match, the father beats the son. "If Jack could be paired with his sons during tournaments and play them for a milk shake, he'd still be winning," says Barbara. "He won't let the boys beat him."
That night Jack and Barbara and Nan and Bill take Michael and his fiancée, Traci Vance, out to celebrate Michael's 25th birthday. "I knew Watts was leading," Nicklaus says the next day, "but I don't remember anyone talking about it at dinner."
Sunday, July 19: Playing with three club pros—Jim Curran, Brian Peaper and Eric Veilleux—Nicklaus birdies the 18th hole at Loxahatchee to win two fat-free yogurt shakes. "I only collected on one," he says. "Next time I play those guys, it will be with house money." He's pleased because he walked without pain and hit the ball reasonably well. Is he ready for the Senior Open? "I'm decent," he says. "Am I prepared? No. I can't get prepared anymore."