say it's O.K. to lose if your opponent has a hot round," says Nicklaus.
"Phooey on that. I hate to lose—period. If a guy is going to shoot a 10
under par I am going to shoot an 11 under par.
me if I got a thrill out of finishing second in the Open this year [his 282 was
the lowest score ever shot by an amateur in the National Open]. It wasn't a
thrill. I didn't win. Nobody ever remembers who finished second at
interesting as Nicklaus' ability to play winning golf is his resolve to remain
an amateur in an era that tends to heap its greatest plaudits on
He was asked
about this the other day across a tuna salad sandwich in the grill of the
Scioto Country Club in Columbus, his home course. Basically shy, he didn't want
to talk about it much, just as he never cares to talk about himself. But
because he is friendly and, above all, a gentleman, he explained.
would like to be a Bobby Jones," he said, "and have enough money to
play as an amateur but still be good enough to beat the pros. For me, golf has
to be a game, not a business. It is a sport, a competition to be enjoyed. If I
can find a way to make enough money and still play topflight golf, I will
always be an amateur."
Nickiaus, who is
well acquainted with the hard life of the pros, is also well aware of what it
costs to play in the big tournaments as an amateur. His father, L. Charles
Nicklaus, a pharmacist and part owner of four Columbus drugstores, has financed
him to date. Last year's expenses were $5,000. "Dad feels that a dollar
spent on my golf was a dollar well spent," says Jack. "I agree. The
game has helped me be a better person. But pretty soon I've got to start paying
my own way. I think I can."
golf career began 10 years ago, largely because his father fractured an
Built on even
more heroic proportions than his son, the elder Nicklaus, whose only nickname
is a prosaic Charlie, was an 11-letter athlete in high school and a tennis
champion after college. But it was at volleyball that he broke his ankle, and
to golf that he turned to strengthen it.
Since he could
play only three holes at a time, he took Jack along as company. Jack liked the
game, and his father enrolled him in a group class being given by Scioto pro
Jack Grout. Mr. Nicklaus has paid his son's golf bills since then, though he is
not a particularly wealthy man. He has also encouraged his son, but not pushed
him, and has shared in the pleasures of his victories without attempting to
share the publicity as well.
"Hit the ball
as hard as you can," was Jack Grout's unusual advice to his group of
beginners back in 1950. "We'll hit it straight later."