That verbal attack recently unleashed on me by Leo Fraser, the secretary of the Professional Golfers Association, was, on the whole, inaccurate. Fraser did spell my name correctly—Jack Nicklaus. He even had my age right—28. And he signed his own name properly—Leo Fraser. The rest of his cutting statement, though, was a personal assault.
Fraser asserted that 1) I have brought a bad attitude to the negotiations between the PGA and the touring pros; 2) I have "mouthed" the clich�s control and veto power when, he says, I have known full well that both are distortions of fact (they certainly are not); and 3) I have disseminated "false information designed to mislead the public." It seems to me he wants to make this dispute look more like a personality clash between the 5,800 members of the PGA and one Jack Nicklaus than a basic difference in philosophy between the PGA and the touring pros. I deny Fraser's charges and wish to present an accurate picture of the situation.
Two weeks ago Arnold Palmer flew to Washington to address the Executive Committee of the PGA and offer his solution to the dispute. Basically, Arnold proposed a separate, self-governed, self-controlled section for the touring pros under the umbrella of the PGA. This was almost identical to the proposal made to the PGA by the players over the last few months. We suggested a separate section with a board of seven men—three touring pros, two PGA officers and two businessmen—who would govern the tour. To get a decisive 4 to 3 vote in any matter, the players would have to convince one of four men that they were right. If we could not do that, we were dead wrong.
Arnold went to Washington strictly as an individual—not as an official representative of the players. He went there, however, with the approval of Sam Gates—the legal counsel for our new players' organization, American Professional Golfers, Inc. About that time, speaking as the vice-president-elect of the APG, I said we would continue to carry the organization and business of the APG forward.
Right after that, Fraser stated that I had attempted to undermine Arnold's efforts to repair the dispute. Fraser was dead wrong. Arnold confirmed this fact publicly, and he also said he was disappointed that the PGA had decided to involve personalities again. Arnold told me what he planned to propose—and I told him I hoped he would be successful. My own approach, as well as that of all the touring pros, to this dispute always has been that we should try to resolve it within the PGA framework.
Nevertheless, according to Fraser, this was "typical of my attitude" at the negotiating tables. When Fraser talks about "my attitude," I think he is referring to something I said at the PGA championship in July.
There were only 56 touring pros in the starting field of 168 players at San Antonio. One day a writer asked me about this ratio, and I said, "It's absurd and unfortunate." Only a third of the players at the PGA were regular tour competitors—or, in other words, the best players in the world. The PGA's antiquated qualifying system prevented top players such as Bob Murphy, Lee Elder and Deane Beman from playing at San Antonio. As a member of the Tournament Committee, I spoke out against the system. I had nothing to gain for myself; I was exempt from qualifying for the PGA tournament. I wanted a proper tour representation at the pros' own championship. The PGA should be the No. 1 tournament in golf because it is our own championship. It cannot be No. 1, though, when many top players—the tour players—cannot tee the ball up.
If all this reflects my typical attitude, well, that's fine. It means I have been performing on behalf of the other 205 tour pros who elected me in the first place, the fellows who earn $5,000 a year as well as the $100,000 guys. The attitude I take to the negotiating table is their attitude.
Throughout this long dispute, we—all the touring pros who have formed the new APG—have used the terms "control" and "veto power" to describe the principal difference between the positions of the PGA and the touring pros. Simply, the PGA officers can control the operations of the four with their use and their threatened use of the veto, whereby they can overturn any decisions made by the Tournament Committee.
Fraser said I "mouth" those words as "clich�s." He said, "Nicklaus knows the tour players have had full control over the tournament schedule, approval of courses and sponsors, purse sizes and distribution, conditions of play, their own field staff and television contracts." Let me set the record straight again.