the start," he recalls, "Jack could hit the daylights out of a golf
ball, and pretty straight, too."
broke 70 when he was 13, qualified for his first National Amateur at 15 (he
hasn't missed one since), won the Ohio Open at 16 and the National Jaycee title
One of his worst
but most memorable rounds was in a celebrity tournament in 1954 in which he
played with Patty Berg. Obviously sick, he insisted on finishing. The next day
he came down with nonparalytic polio. His younger sister Marilyn, then 11, the
only other Nicklaus child, was afflicted, too.
In his early
years Nicklaus practiced golf constantly. He might just as well have become a
football or baseball player if he could have found other boys who would
practice those sports as much as he wanted to. "They just wouldn't work at
the games," he says. "In golf I was on my own. I could practice and
play all I wanted, and that meant all day every day."
But by the time
he got to college he found he could get his game at its competitive peak with
only four days of practice, and he stopped being a golfing machine. He got good
grades (B average) in the prepharmacy course of study he took, reveled in
football weekends—he hasn't missed an OSU home game since he was 5—and began
dating Barbara Bash, the tall, attractive blonde he married last July 23.
At college he
became a good, albeit overbold, bridge player. He took on such fraternity
duties as being chairman of Hell Week, and last year found a new love,
catch a thing," he says. "I don't understand it. I'm as good a
fisherman as most people, but I don't catch fish."
His travel to
golf tournaments, including last year's trip to England with the U.S. Walker
Cup team, has lengthened his stay at college. He still needs six quarters to
graduate and hasn't yet decided whether to pursue his pharmacy education or add
more business courses to his curriculum and not become a pharmacist after
A scene with
But his travel
has been educational, and not without its amusing moments, too. He tells of
sharing a hotel room with his friend, fidgety little Deane Beman, the 1959
British Amateur champion. "Deane is always tinkering around with his
game," says Jack. "Early one morning I hear this funny tap, tap, tap by
my bed. It's Beman taking little swings with a golf club and muttering, 'I've
got it, I've got it.' "