Jack Nicklaus Bio And Facts

Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus is a retired professional golfer who played as one of the world’s best for over forty years. He made his professional debut in 1961 after stellar performances as an amateur. Nicklaus began playing on the senior tours starting in 1990 at the age of 50 and played for another 10 years. He golfed in his final U.S. Open in 2000, the same year as Tiger Woods’ famous showing at Pebble Beach. Jack Nicklaus officially retired from golf in 2005.

Nicklaus is one of the most decorated athletes ever. He has received a Presidential Medal of Freedom, Sports Illustrated named him Individual Male Athlete of the 20th Century, and ESPN has called him one of the 10 best athletes of all time. During his career, he tallied 117 wins, including a record-setting 18 majors. He married Barbara Bash in 1960, and they have five children. Nicklaus currently resides in North Palm Beach, Florida.

  • Birthday: January 21, 1940 (21-01-1940)
  • Education: Ohio State University
  • Net Worth: $320 million
  • Occupation: Professional Golfer
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Years Active: 1961-1989, 1990-2000 (Senior)
  • Career Wins: 117
  • Nicknames: “The Golden Bear”

Golf Career

From an early age, Nicklaus was a star on the course. He took up golf at 10 years old, and by age 12 he had won five Ohio State Junior titles. He won 22 U.S. titles as an amateur. He debated going professional for a long time, as he strongly desired to retain his “amateur” status. In 1961, he decided to make the jump.

Nicklaus had an immediate impact on the game, being named “Rookie of the Year” in 1962, winning his first Masters and PGA Championship titles in 1963, and ranking first in money winnings in 1964. From there, the success kept coming. “The Golden Bear” won his final Masters in 1986, becoming the oldest golfer ever to do so in the process. In 1988, Nicklaus became the first player to break the $5 million career winnings mark.

In 1990, he became eligible to play in the seniors’ category. He won his first-ever seniors’ tournament and concluded his career in the most fitting way imaginable: passing the torch to the next all-time great golfer, Tiger Woods. At the Pebble Beach U.S. Open in 2000, he completed his final U.S. Open hours before Tiger Woods would step up to the first tee to begin his “Perfection at Pebble.” Nicklaus continued to play in tournaments sporadically until 2005, when he made his official retirement from the sport of professional golf.

Titles and Awards

Nicklaus’ plethora of titles and awards separates him from the other great golfers in history. His sheer number of accolades make him truly one of a kind. He played in a record 154 consecutive major championships, from his first-ever in 1957 as an amateur in the U.S. Open until his last in 1998. He won 73 times on the PGA Tour, placed second in 58, took first place in 117 professional tournaments worldwide, made 21 hole-in-ones, and earned over $5 million in winnings alone on the PGA Tour.

In majors, he finished in the top ten an astonishing 73 times, taking first in 18 of them, a simply mind-boggling number. He also has the most Masters wins of anybody in history, with 6.

He has been awarded a Congressional Gold Medal and a Presidential Medal of Freedom and won the Lincoln Medal in 2018.

Personal Life

In addition to his golf accolades, Jack Nicklaus is also well-known for his work as a philanthropist. He and his wife founded the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation in 2004, which has already raised over $100 million for pediatric care programs and facilities.

He attended Ohio State University from 1957 to 1961, where he met and married his wife, Barbara. Though he initially planned to become a pharmacist like his father, he switched tracks once his golf talents became apparent. He ended up being a few credits shy of graduating but was granted a degree in 1972. He and Barbara had their first child, Jack Jr., shortly before Nicklaus decided to go professional to better support his family. Barbara and Jack have a total of five children and a number of grandchildren.

Fun Facts

  • Jack Nicklaus had originally planned to become a pharmacist, following in his parents’ footsteps. However, his talent in golf changed his plans.
  • Ohio State University houses the Jack Nicklaus Museum.
  • Jack Nicklaus owns his own group of businesses, Nicklaus Companies, which includes a golf course design business.
  • Nicklaus is an ESPY lifetime achievement recipient.
  • Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player were considered the “Big Three” of golf during their eras.
  • At a practice round for the 2016 Masters, Nicklaus shot below his age (scored 72 at 76 years old), which is an incredibly hard feat in golf.


Why did Jack Nicklaus not want to go pro at first?

One of Jack’s idols growing up was Bobby Jones, who was famed for being an incredible amateur golfer. As such, Nicklaus was reluctant to turn professional. To go pro would mean giving up his goal of emulating one of his role models. He understood, however, that to support his family and truly become the best, he would need to devote the time and energy that only a professional golfer can manage.

Is Jack Nicklaus the greatest of all time?

The greatest golfer of all time is frequently debated. Some believe Arnold Palmer is the best, while others are fans of Tiger Woods. From an objective statistical standpoint, it is impossible to believe that anybody is as good as Nicklaus was. 117 professional tournament wins, six Masters wins, a 40-year career. The accolades make him objectively the best to ever play, simply put.

When did Jack Nicklaus begin to play golf?

Jack Nicklaus began golfing at the age of ten years old and quickly became very good. He won the Ohio Open, his first competitive golf tournament, in 1956 and won 29 out of the 30 tournaments he entered as an amateur. When he was 14, he met one of his role models, golfing star Arnold Palmer, and by age 16, he had qualified for his first U.S. Amateur.

What does Jack Nicklaus do now?

Though Nicklaus has retired from professional golf, he is still very active in the golfing community. He has a long tradition of shaking the hand of the Memorial Tournament winner, for example. He also appears on television to provide commentary on major tournaments, owns a golf course design company, and has collaborated with club designers on occasion.