"Part of it, early on, was my fault," Nicklaus said. "I was too direct, too frank. I have never been the most tactful guy in the world. But part of it, too, is that some guys don't know what they're talking about. The year I beat Arnold in the Open playoff , I had a short shot over a bunker to the 18th green. But a terrible lie. The ball looked like it had been stepped on. All I needed was a bogey to win, so to be safe I punched up short of the bunker. The guy on television said, 'Nicklaus has just hit the worst shot of the tournament!' He didn't know. When I won by three strokes, another commentator asked, 'Did you choke on that shot, Jack?'
"I could get pretty snappy. Just spit things out. I'm still that way. I get a burn on and I have to get it out. Barbara will be mad two weeks. The silent treatment. 'Barbara,' I tell her, 'let's get this thing out in the open,' and when we do, it's over. I never want anybody to doubt where I stand. But I don't always get it across right away."
"Yeah, like with your telephone voice."
Jack grinned. "Nobody told me until recently how short I am on the phone. Especially in the morning. I really teed off old Herb Wind [the co-author of Nicklaus' book, The Greatest Game of All]. He has that very crisp, proper way of talking, and he called and said, 'Hello, Jack, this is Herbert...Warren...Wind.' I said, 'Big deal.' I was kidding, but he didn't know it. Herb's a great guy, actually. He never called me Fat Jack in any of his stories."
"Golden Bear, that never bothered you?" asked Halloran.
"Don Lawrence in Australia started that. Then there was Blob-O and Whaleman, but most of it was good-natured. It depended on the frame of reference. If it came out, 'Fat Jack and his gallery of two or three,' sure, I knew what they were saying. I blew up at Jack Gallagher [of The Houston Post] one time. He had given me one of those zingers, and I said, 'All right, you, come here and feel this leg.' I had 29-inch thighs then but they were hard as rock."
Maybe what Nicklaus should have been, said Halloran, was a tell-it-all kind of open-faced sandwich like Gary Player. Never keep anything inside and say, "I owe it to raisins and push-ups."
"That Gary," laughed Nicklaus. "He talks about exercise and diet. We were rooming and practicing together at Baltusrol in 1967, and he'd been making those speeches and having his weights shipped from place to place. I'd like to know what that cost him. One morning I got up and did my exercises, showered and got ready to go to the course. When we were driving out it dawned on me. I said, 'What happened to you, Gary? You ate at least six pancakes for breakfast, and I sure didn't see you lifting any weights.' 'Oh,' he said with that surprised look. 'I forgot.' "
"Player won't admit you're better than he is," said Halloran. " Trevino says, 'Nicklaus is the greatest.' I asked Gary if he agreed. He said, 'No, Bob, I do not.' "