Jack Nicklaus

In His Own Words: Competition

Jun 7, 2010

Naturally it is nice to be widely known for worthwhile achievements, but it forces you to do many things which you don't like to do and these things take up time you want for other things. Public appearances are a headache. I hold mine down to a minimum. I just don't like speechmaking and that sort of thing. It's all so new to me now. I suppose that's why I rebel against it. I hope, if I continue to play well, I will learn to like it.
[Golf, 1959]

I have noticed that I usually play better near the end of a tournament. Everything seems to fall in place after I play a few rounds.
[Golf Digest, 1962]

As an amateur, I played nothing but good courses, with good greens and dependable grasses. But as a pro, you have to play all kinds of courses -- many of them awful. I had to find different clubs, learn a lot of new shots. I had to change my putter. I've always used one with a very light blade; it was fine for the fast greens I played on as an amateur. But as a pro, I had to be ready for any kind of green. At San Diego, I had to learn how to play frozen greens. At the Bing Crosby national, I had to play with the rain coming at me sideways. Amateurs wouldn't have considered playing under such conditions.
[Time, May 1962]

If you mean am I going to give up golf, no, or cry, no. I may go home and cry, but no one will see me. Honestly, I don't know how I feel. I feel very little, really.
[Greensboro Daily News, 1963, after missing the cut as defending champ in the 1963 U.S. Open]

The difference in golf today and 15 years ago, is that we don't care so much how we look as how we score.
[New York Times Magazine, 1963]

On Saturday I played Pebble Beach (during the Crosby)... it was just about the worst round I have played since turning pro. If I hadn't putted well the 77 I finally got might have been an 85. It made me sick... Understandably, I missed the cut. After I finished the round I went back to the room and watched (Bobby) Nichols and Jacky Cupit give Phil Rogers and myself a 4-and-3 licking on the filmed CBS Golf Classic. That is the miracle of television. You can see yourself play lousy golf in California and New Jersey the same day.
[Sports Illustrated, 1964]

There is also a mental problem that is quite common among touring pros and easy to understand. When you get a bunch under par you still want to play your same bold game. That is what you tell yourself. But you also tell yourself that what the hell, all you need is to par in for a 66, which is a great round, so you do not take too many chances. You decide to stay on the safe side of boldness. As you might suspect, it is hard to be bold and not bold at the same time.
[Sports Illustrated, 1964]

I've seen a lot of guys with superb physical equipment leave the tour. Many of the names wouldn't mean much to you today. Some of the players just became demoralized, I guess, because they never won a tournament or never finished very high. After a while, if you don't win anything, you don't think you ever will -- or what's worse, that you can.
[Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, 1966]

When I first came out here (on tour), I was excited and golf was fun. I worked as hard as anybody and enjoyed it. But I guess I had too much success early. I got bored. I had three sloppy years when I didn't want to practice. I won money, sure. But I didn't win a major championship. I certainly wasn't having any fun. Then, when Dad died, it made me think. He lived just to watch me play golf. It was the only thing he got any fun out of. I felt like I'd let him down. So I went back to work and golf became fun again.
[The Sporting News, 1972]

I read the papers just like everyone else. [Johnny Miller] has shot some fantastic scores. But I think it's good for me and good for the game to have someone playing well. It's probably good for you to have someone beating your brains out once in a while.
[Golf World, 1975 Masters game story]

I'm a better player than I've ever been before, a much better player than I was in 1972.
[Golf World, 1975 U.S. Open preview]

One of the reasons I like Pebble so much is that when I've played it well I've usually been rewarded with a good score. And when I've shot a good round, there weren't 20 other guys coming in with low scores, too.
[Golf Digest, 1977]

[Frank Deford: It is a verity in the game that the putting touch is the first casualty of middle age.]
There is no logical reason for that. But putting is the least manly thing in golf, and therefore, when a player gets older and he does not win as much, he blames it on his putting. He does not want to admit that his power may be leaving him.
[Sports Illustrated, 1978]

What is too old? I've been around and playing this game on a national basis since I was 13. If you believe that everyone can play and compete for only so long, then I'm very old. But 39 in golf is not old. [Ben] Hogan -- good gracious, he didn't play well until he was 40. Lee Trevino got a late start. No, I'm not too old. I kid around a lot and say, 'I'm getting too old for this game.' I don't really believe that. If I did, I wouldn't say it.
[Sports Illustrated, 1979]

Subscribe to Golf Digest
Subscribe today