I don’t run in the same circles as Jack Nicklaus. Shocker, I know. Any connection between me and the Bear comes mostly through covering the Memorial Tournament for more than a quarter century, reading books written by and about the Upper Arlington native and knowing people who know him.
Given such limited interaction, my view of golf’s greatest champion amounts to a small facet on the gemstone of a sports legend who has been gracious, even when the occasional unfavorable story, among the dozens of flattering ones, makes the Bear bristle.
On that topic, the Jack I know makes his point and moves on. He may not agree with alternate points of view or totally understand why an illuminating fact had to be included in an otherwise positive story, but he holds no grudge against the author who wrote it.
That is not to suggest Nicklaus spares the needle when an opportunity arises, but ask almost anyone who has felt the sting of his wit and they say his verbal jabs land harmlessly when understanding that he teases those he likes.
But don’t take my word for it. Instead listen to those who know Nicklaus better than me, not only as a golfer but as a friend, father and 83-year-old humanitarian who has helped raise hundreds of millions for children’s hospitals in Columbus and Florida, where he lives.
What follows is a collection of anecdotes, insights and personal stories supplied by close friends and acquaintances who know Nicklaus better than most. And in one case, better than anyone. Comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.