My Shot: Jack Nicklaus
Continued (page 2 of 3)
Barbara and I went to see a movie the other night that was depressing. I'm sure it'll win all sorts of Academy Awards, but it wasn't my cup of tea. Why are these movies that "make you think" always depressing? I want to laugh, or more important, I want to be entertained. Give me a movie like "Something's Gotta Give" or "Anger Management" or "Caddyshack" any day.
I go to church only a few times a year. Barbara is giving me a look as I say this, but darn it, I pray every day and worship in my own way. I just never got in the habit of going. Remember, I spent the better part of my life working on Sundays.
I don't carry a cell phone, never will. Anyone ever call to give you anything?
I don't believe in luck. Not in golf, anyway. There are good bounces and bad bounces, sure, but the ball is round and so is the hole. If you find yourself in a position where you hope for luck to pull you through, you're in serious trouble.
You've got to eliminate self-doubt. Self-doubt stinks.
As you know, there's no use trying to get rid of a song that's stuck in your head. When you get to the first tee, you can only hope it's a good one. I've played very well to Harry Belafonte singing "Jamaica Farewell." And it's hard to play badly to "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head."
Lloyd Mangrum had the reputation for being one of the toughest golfers ever. I remember when I was 10 years old, I went in the locker room at Scioto to get an autograph, and there was Lloyd, playing cards, sitting there with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. He looked at me and barked, "What do you want, kid?" I was like anyone would be at the moment, and was taken aback by Lloyd's gruffness. I was only 10 at the time, but that stuck with me.
Lloyd's wife, Aleta, might have had a greater influence on my wife, Barbara, than any other person. At the 1962 Masters I was on the course and Barbara was on the veranda, bemoaning that she missed her baby. Jackie, our oldest, was only about 7 months old at the time. All of a sudden, a woman who had been knitting looked up and said, "Look here, little girl. You had Jack long before you had that baby, and you hope to have him long after that baby is gone. So grow up and be a wife." Case closed! Ten years later, Barbara saw Aleta and told her, "You'll never know what you did for my marriage." It isn't easy being the wife of a professional athlete, and Barbara has told this story to other tour wives over the years.
When I won the 1994 Mercedes Championships, I received $100,000 and a new car. On one hand, I had an endorsement deal with Lincoln-Mercury, and the class of Mercedes I won was in direct competition with a line made by the company I represented. On the other hand, Mercedes had put up a great deal of money to sponsor the event. So I traded the car, which cost $30,000, for an $85,000 model, one that didn't compete with Lincoln-Mercury. I paid the $55,000 difference. Both car companies were happy. A year later, I sold the car, which I never drove, for exactly $55,000 — there was depreciation, and I cut the guy a deal. I joke today that for what I paid flying my private plane that year, paying the taxes on the new car along with the difference in base cost, taking care of my caddie and other expenses, I came away from the 1994 Mercedes Championships $50,000 in the red. That's an exaggeration of course, but somewhere in there is a small lesson on money vs. principles.
I was against giving Casey Martin a cart. You ask, "What if he were your own son?" and my answer is, what's bigger, an individual or the game of golf? In truth, the case ended perfectly. Casey, who is a terrific young man and a friend of mine, got to pursue his dream. Meanwhile, the prohibition against carts and the status of golf as a walking game remained intact.
I have a feeling I'll be playing tennis long after I quit playing golf. Golf is much harder on me physically than tennis is.
I'm not much of a drinker at all. Today, I might have three beers over the course of a year, if that. Sure, when I was younger, I was like a lot of college kids. I tried to drink all the beer in Columbus, Ohio.
Barbara is giving me that look again.
And I could eat! At Lafayette, La., where they played the Cajun Classic in the early '60s, I'd go crazy for oysters. There's a picture of me from that period hoisting a big fork full of oysters into my mouth. I put away eight dozen oysters, went back to the hotel and changed, then went out to dinner, where I ate two dozen more oysters before the entree arrived. Yes, I could put the food away.
During Hell Week at Ohio State, for breakfast each day they made us eat a garlic bud, tie an onion around our neck and eat a few goldfish to tide us over for the day. This stayed with you all day long, as you can imagine. The heartburn alone was unbelievable. And by the way, there's not much of a taste with goldfish — just a little bitter.
Woody Hayes lived a block and a half from my dad's pharmacy. He knew I played several sports and that I especially loved football. I was a quarterback, linebacker and placekicker, and in practice could kick a field goal from 50 yards. I dreamed of playing football at Ohio State. My dad, who played some professional football and knew quite a bit about the sport, once asked Woody for advice about me. Woody said, "Football is a great game, but I know the talents of your son in golf. Keep him as far away from my game as you can." He didn't say I couldn't make the team at Ohio State. He only implied that golf was my best game and that I should focus on that. So I stuck with golf and basketball the remainder of high school.