No single person has changed the face of the sport more than Jack Nicklaus—the player, the designer, the philanthropist and the good-will ambassador.
On March 24, 2015, the Golden Bear received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor the United States Congress can bestow on a civilian. In November 2005, the Golden Bear was honored by President Bush at the White House with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the Office of the President can award any U.S. civilian. At the end of 2005, Jack was unanimously named by Golf World Magazine as its “Newsmaker of the Year 2005,” punctuating a year in which he played his final British Open, his final Masters Tournament, and led the United States to a thrilling victory in The Presidents Cup. He was also named “Individual Male Athlete of the Century” by Sports Illustrated, and one of the “10 Greatest Athletes of the Century” by ESPN.
Jack’s competitive career spanned five decades, and his legend has been built with 120 professional tournament victories worldwide and a record 18 professional major-championship titles (six Masters, five PGA Championships, four U.S. Opens, three British Opens). He is one of only five golfers who have won all four of golf’s modern majors, an achievement often referred to as the career “Grand Slam.” Jack remains the only player to have completed the career Grand Slam on both the regular and senior tours. His eight majors on the senior circuit, now called the Champions Tour, remains a record.
Jack is a five-time winner of the PGA Player of the Year Award, was the PGA Tour’s leading money-winner eight times and runner-up six times. He played on six Ryder Cup teams, captained two other Ryder Cup teams, and served as U.S. captain for the 1998, 2003, 2005, and 2007 Presidents Cup teams—going unbeaten in his final three captaincies.
Jack was named GOLF Magazine’s “Architect of the Year” in 2014, Golf World’s “Architect of the Year” in 1993, and in 1999, Golf Digest named him the world’s leading active designer.
Jack has been involved in the design of more than 290 courses open for play worldwide, and his thriving business, Nicklaus Design, more than 385 courses open for play around the world. Nicklaus Design courses are represented in 39 countries, 39 states, and no fewer than 125 Nicklaus Design courses have hosted over 816 professional tournaments worldwide or significant national amateur championships.
Since 1962, Jack has added the moniker of “businessman” to his lengthy résumé. He is co-chairman of the privately held Nicklaus Companies. For a record six consecutive years (2004–09), chairman of the privately held Nicklaus Companies. For a record six consecutive years (2004–09 ), Golf Inc. magazine ranked Jack “The Most Powerful Person in Golf,” due to his impact on various aspects of the industry through his course design work, marketing and licensing business, his ambassadorial role in promoting and growing the game worldwide, and his involvement on a national and global level with various charitable causes.
Jack and his wife, Barbara, are the guiding light for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which supports numerous pediatric health-care services in South Florida, as well as nationally, and has raised more than $33 million in just 10 years.