Jack Nicklaus is the greatest golfer ever (pending the day Tiger Woods calls it a wrap), and the Jack Nicklaus Museum, which opened last week in Nicklaus's hometown of Columbus, Ohio, befits such a player. The museum (www.nicklausmuseum.org), which is on the Ohio State campus by the new basketball arena, may not be a perfect 10, but it's 10 times better than the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., where Sam Snead's lunch pail and Nancy Lopez's Barbie doll pass for star attractions. The Nicklaus Museum is everything the antiseptic World Golf Hall isn't. The museum is teeming with personal artifacts and offers video highlights in practically every one of the 20 display rooms.
The museum succeeds because most of Nicklaus's career was captured on film, so each room of the museum is a case of goose bumps waiting to break out. Plus there is a family-scrapbook quality to the exhibits. There are his baby shoes; a crudely crayoned Mother's Day card drawn by Jack the toddler; the note Nicklaus scribbled and left on his parents' refrigerator door when he was 10: "Gone to the club—Jack"; and his basketball letter sweaters from Arlington High.
Each major championship, plus the 1959 and '61 U.S. Amateurs, has its own room complete with video and trophies, magazines, badges, photos and clubs. A wonderfully done 18-minute film on Nicklaus and his career is shown 23 times a day in the 100-seat theater at the museum. For a hoot, check out the endorsement room—anybody remember Jack Nicklaus Rent-a-Car and the commercials Nicklaus shot in Japan, with Jack attempting to spit out a few words of Japanese?
Admission costs $9, but you won't get out of the gift shop that cheaply. A mounted, autographed flag from one of the 2000 majors—that was the last year Nicklaus played all four—goes for $750. That's pricey, but a visit to his museum is priceless.