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Golden Bear is Still the Benchmark

Setting the standards that others can't match... Jack Nicklaus

Posted Aug 10, 2010 by Legends

Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus

Golf was shaped by the vision and exploits of a few men but, for most, the greatest of all time is the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus - the winner of most major championships with 18 victories at golf's most prestigious tournaments.

It wasn't just the amount of victories at these events but the fact he challenged at the top of a competitive sport against the likes of greats Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and later Tom Watson and Seve Ballesteros for 25 years before leading the way off the course with the release of books and computer games - many things that are copied by modern day players such as Tiger Woods.

He competed in 100 majors from 1962 to 1986, and his record in them was second to none. Alongside 18 victories, he finished second 18 times, third four times, fourth once and he also still holds the record for most top 10 finishes in the four majors with 73 in 39 years (1960-1998)!

It was this longevity and winning mental attitude, as well as a monster drive (he drove 341 yards, 17 inches during the 1963 PGA Championship, a record that stood for over 20 years) that propelled Nicklaus to the forefront of the sport and has allowed him to hold the record for most majors - a record that still stands today.

Following his final major victory at the 1986 Masters, author Ken Bowden wrote: "There have been prettier swingers of the club than Jack Nicklaus. There may have been better ball-strikers than Jack Nicklaus. There have definitely been better short-game exponents than Jack Nicklaus. Other golfers have putted as well as Jack Nicklaus. There may have been golfers as dedicated and fiercely competitive as Jack Nicklaus. But no individual has been able to develop, combine and sustain all of the complex physical skills and the immense mental and emotional resources the game demands at its highest level as well as Jack Nicklaus has for as long as he has."

And this victory also prompted golf historian and writer Herbert Warren Wind to note that this triumph was "nothing less than the most important accomplishment in golf since Bobby Jones' Grand Slam in 1930".

The Golden Bear announced his retirement and played his final competitive tournament in 2005 to end the most illustrious career in the history of the sport.

However, Nicklaus has brought more to the game than just major championship victories.

He has been involved in golf course design since the mid-1960s when Pete Dye requested his opinion in the architecture process of The Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio in the States. He saw this as another challenge and designed his first course - the Harbour Town Golf Links - which opened in 1969. He has also been involved with the design of Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio; Glen Abbey Golf Course, Oakville, Ontario; The King and Bear, St. Augustine, Florida (a collaboration with Arnold Palmer); and the Concession Golf Club, Sarasota, Florida (a collaboration with Tony Jacklin).

His company Nicklaus Design, which sees him work with his four sons and son-in-law, had 299 courses open for play by the end of 2005.

He has also brought out many golf instruction books, his latest the 2009 release 'Putting My Way' which he wrote with Ken Bowden as well as the Jack Nicklaus Golf computer game series which ran between 1988 and 1998. All in all, the Golden Bear has lead from the front since turning pro and his vision both on and off the golf course are evident today as the likes of Tiger Woods follow in his footsteps. A true sporting legend.

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