COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jack Nicklaus took his first swings with a golf club at Scioto CC when he was just 10 years old. More than 60 years later, the club is commemorating the occasion by marking the ground where the greatest major championship performer got his start.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday (Oct. 2) officials of Scioto CC plan to unveil a plaque on the south end of the club's driving range that tells a little of the story of Nicklaus' introduction to the game. Nicklaus, 73, who will be in his hometown next week as the unofficial host of the Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village GC, is expected to attend the dedication.
Winner of 18 professional major championships among 73 PGA Tour titles and two U.S. Amateur crowns, Nicklaus first began playing golf at Scioto in 1950 as a companion to his father, Charlie, who was rehabilitating an ankle injury. That summer, he began taking lessons in a junior clinic offered by the club's new head golf professional Jack Grout.
The bronze plaque reads, in part: "In 1950 Jack Nicklaus hit his first golf shot from this location under the watchful eye of Jack Grout, beginning what would become the greatest career in golf history."
Greg Wolf, Scioto general manager, said that Nicklaus earlier this year helped pick out the location where the plaque is located. Wolf added that longtime Scioto member E. John Bishop and his son, Stuart, were the driving force behind the idea. The elder Bishop, who died last winter at age 93, authored the words on the plaque.
"Mr Bishop always had great appreciation for the history of this club, and this was something he really wanted to see happen," Wolf said. "He also wanted to honor Jack Grout. It's a nice thing that we probably needed to do sooner."
The Nicklaus Plaque dedication is the latest gesture the club has made to recognize its special relationship with the Golden Bear. Photos of a young Nicklaus and other pieces of memorabilia are scattered throughout Scioto's remodeled clubhouse, and Nicklaus in 2008 joined forces with fellow course designer Dr. Michael Hurdzan in a renovation of the layout originally rendered by Donald Ross. Nicklaus will serve as the honorary chairman when Scioto hosts the 2016 U.S. Senior Open, scheduled in conjunction with the club's centennial anniversary.
"This is where I grew up, this where my roots are," Nicklaus said in 2008. "Scioto is where I played all my golf as a youngster. It's always going to be a very special place to me. I am proud to have grown up here."