When Jack Nicklaus talks golf, it pays to listen
Updated: Feb 23
The golf world will be full of Jack Nicklaus tributes today as he celebrates his 80th birthday. And rightly so. The greatest player golf has ever seen has had a huge influence on the game. Summing up his contribution in a short blog post is almost impossible. Instead, let me treat you to some of the best quotes the 18-time major winner has uttered over the years.
“It's a wonderful game. It's a game I love. I think that the game needs to be played in that spirit.”
“The first thing I learned was to swing hard and never mind where the ball went.”
“If there is one thing I have learned during my years as a professional, it is that the only thing constant about golf is its inconstancy.”
“I don’t think I can ever be another Arnold Palmer. No one could. He can hitch up his pants or yank on his glove and people start ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’. When I hitch up mine, nobody notices.”
“Augusta National is a young man’s golf course, and you really need a young man’s nerves to play it.”
"Change the frigging golf ball! The golf ball goes so far. Augusta National is about the only place, the only golf course in the world that financially can afford to make the changes that they have to make to keep up with the golf ball."
“I do a lot of humming out on the course. I tend to stick to one song. I shot a 66 to ‘Moon River.’”
“I didn’t think you could miss it, but I wasn’t going to give you the chance.” After conceding that Ryder Cup putt to Tony Jacklin.
“The guys I’ll never understand are the self-confessed non-competitors – the golfers who pick up $100,000 plus a year without ever winning a tournament, and go around telling the world how happy they are to finish ninth every week.”
“Any golfer worth his salt has to cross the sea and try to win the British Open.”
“Any time a golfer hits a ball perfectly straight with a big club it is, in my view, a fluke.”
“Nobody ever plays golf shots like they want to – if you hit three shots that are perfect during a round, that's pretty good.”
“Nobody's ever mastered the game. Even as much as Hogan practiced, as much as he worked at it and as good as he was, he didn't master the game.”
“I've always measured my life differently. I never measured it on Tour wins. I measured it on major wins.”
“I was one of the lucky guys that I got a gal (his wife Barbara) that understood what I had to do and what I had to do with my life.”
“I've always enjoyed just coming over and playing here (in Scotland) because it's a different kind of game. People in our country don't understand the game, the way the game started and was played here. It's been a great part of my life”
“A very, very great majority of the game and the players in the game today have a sense of the right thing to do, and what is the right thing. If they don't, then maybe they need to learn that.”
“The Old Course to me is a very special place just because of what it is, where it is, how it sits here and how it relates to the history of the game of golf. That's what's special. I suppose if you took St. Andrews and put it somewhere else it would just be another golf course.”
“We need to keep bringing people into the game. The game struggles from the standpoint of keeping people in the game, because it's such a difficult game.”
Happy 80th birthday Mr Nicklaus.