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Not true really. Weiskopf and Crenshaw have only been signed by Jack's partner, Putnam Pierman, the man who has primarily built the empire. Pierman, a 38-year-old Columbus businessman, has difficulty describing his role in the business complex. He is Jack's partner and close buddy—but what else?
David Sherman, the ex- Wall Street lawyer, says with affection that Pierman is "in charge of thinking big." Ken Bow-den, the ex-London editor who jokes that his own role is to draw up ways to turn "internal use situations" into something "external," says Pierman is a "genius conceptionalist, if that's a word." Bill Sansing, the ex-advertising guy from Texas, says Pierman is a "partnership relationship input specialist." Tom Peterson, the ex-Indiana banker who has been running Golden Bear, Inc., says Pierman is "a lot of trouble, most of the time." And Jerry Halperin, the present Detroit tax adviser, does not say anything. He is usually locked in a closet dwelling on foundations and "accountable opportunities tax-wise," meaning shelters. Anyhow, Weiskopf and Crenshaw belong to Nicklaus' "people," not Jack personally.
"It isn't a sensitive subject with me," said Nicklaus. "It's something Put is doing on his own. If Tom or Ben want my advice, I'll give it, like a friend. But I'll never make one nickel from anything they do. The beauty of our setup is these guys can work for me, with me, or on their own. And our deals are mostly long term, and good for both sides."
Although Jack's pals or associates throw around a lot of commerce talk and although they obviously know what they all are doing, they are rowdily different from the other agents or managers one sees around with briefcases, darting for planes. The "Nicklaus Mafia," as the group is being called, is decidedly in favor of combining fun with business.
At the Ohio Kings Island Open, for example, it was hard to miss them, whether you were wandering around the Kings Island Inn, where their hospitality suite was the best bar in the neighborhood, or at the International restaurant in the nearby Disney-type park that overlooks a fake Eiffel Tower and a boulevard of water fountains.
One evening the Nicklaus Mafia entertained Johnny Bench with a delectable ex-Miss Kansas, plus some assorted attorneys and gentlemen of letters. Jack kept busy drawing on scraps of paper great golf holes he has designed in Japan, Spain, Florida and Ohio. And pouring wine. More wine.
"I'm about 15 years old when it comes to business," Jack said. "But Pierman is giving me a college education."
"Wrong," said Pierman. "You're 12."
On another evening the guest of honor was somebody named Zenya Hamada, a Japanese gentleman who enjoys giving away money. He has given Jack a considerable amount of it for designing two 36-hole courses in Japan. Hamada wanted one 18 to be a close replica of the Old Course at St. Andrews, and Jack has tried. Hamada was so grateful that Jack agreed to simply sort of copy the Old Course design that he gave Nicklaus a diamond wristwatch, on top of all the money, and he went to Scotland and gave the township of St. Andrews $250,000 it did not ask for.