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memorial honoree

Barbara Nicklaus named 2025 Memorial Tournament honoree


Ben Jared

DUBLIN, Ohio — Barbara Nicklaus, who carved a distinctive and endearing niche in golf both as the “guiding force” behind her husband, Jack Nicklaus, and as a tireless supporter of charitable causes, has been chosen as the honoree for the 2025 edition of the Memorial Tournament, officials announced Sunday.

Often referred to as the “First Lady of Golf,” after receiving the inaugural PGA of America First Lady of Golf Award in 1998, Barbara Nicklaus has been an instrumental figure in the success of her husband throughout his Hall of Fame playing career and in the establishment of Muirfield Village Golf Club and the Memorial Tournament. She is the 84th individual chosen by the tournament’s Captains Club to be honored at the signature invitational event Jack Nicklaus started in 1976.

“Everybody has thought that this golf tournament was about Jack Nicklaus. Yes, Jack Nicklaus has been a big part of it, but Jack Nicklaus has always been a team and partnership with Barbara Nicklaus,” said the Golden Bear, who won 73 PGA Tour titles and a record 18 major championships. “Barbara Nicklaus has been the First Lady of Golf. She has received numerous awards for what she has meant to the game of golf. And the Captains Club felt it only fitting at the 50th playing of the Memorial Tournament that Barbara is the one who should be honored.

“I am so delighted and so happy, and I’m so proud of her,” Nicklaus added. “She's done so much for so many, and for 50 years here at Muirfield Village Golf Club she has contributed so much and has had very little recognition. It's been hogged by her husband. So to have this happen, I mean, when it happened the other day, the tears just ran down my face.”

Born Feb. 28, 1940, in Columbus, Ohio, the former Barbara Jean Bash is the daughter of the late Stanley and Helen Bash of Clintonville, Ohio. After graduating from North High School in Columbus in 1957, she attended Ohio State University to study nursing. She met Jack Nicklaus during their first week on campus, and they were married July 23, 1960.

Barbara was there every step of the way as a constant source of support as Jack compiled one of the greatest records in golf history. He went on to enjoy a successful second career as a celebrated golf course designer.


Barbara and Jack Nicklaus at the 1970 Open Championship at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland.

R&A Championships

Meanwhile, Barbara Nicklaus also devoted herself to helping others. In addition to serving as chair of the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, Barbara joined with Jack and the PGA Tour to start Play Yellow, which has raised more than $130 million for the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals. In addition, the Memorial has raised more than $52 million for charitable causes in central Ohio and elsewhere. She also was instrumental with a handful of other tour spouses in the creation of the PGA Tour Wives Association in 1988, another fundraising initiative.

“This honor is so incredibly special to me, and I can’t thank the Captains Club enough for thinking of me,” Barbara Nicklaus said. “When the Captains Club gathered for their annual meeting and our longtime friend Charlie Mechem called in to relay the news, I was overcome with emotion and, honestly, speechless. The Memorial Tournament has held such a special place in our family’s life. It’s been wonderful to walk side-by-side with Jack and to watch his dream become our reality over the years. Looking back at the list of those who have been honored since 1976, I can’t express how humbled I am to join this elite group that I have looked up to and respected for so long.”

Because of her many philanthropic efforts as well as her contributions to the game, Barbara Nicklaus has received numerous accolades, most notably two of the highest honors in the game—the USGA’s Bob Jones Award in 2015 and the 2019 PGA of America Distinguished Service Award. Jack received those awards in 1975 and 2000, respectively.

The Nicklauses twice have been named Family of the Year in the world of golf. Jack and Barbara have five children—Jack II, Steve, Nan, Gary and Michael—as well as 24 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Barbara Nicklaus will be honored during a ceremony at Muirfield Village next year on the eve of the first round of what will be the 50th playing of the Memorial Tournament. Jack Nicklaus was the honoree in 2000.

1990 PGA Tour Ambassador of Golf Award
1995-96 Captain of Muirfield Village Golf Club
1998 PGA of America First Lady of Golf (inaugural recipient)
2000 Winnie Palmer Award, presented by the Met Golf Writers Association (inaugural recipient)
2007 African American Golfers Hall of Fame Humanitarian Award
2015 USGA Bob Jones Award
2019 PGA of America Distinguished Service Award
2021 Florida Women’s Hall of Fame
2022 Governor’s Medal of Freedom, the highest honor in the State of Florida
2025 the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday Honoree