The Loop

From celebrities to ice cream, 19 underrated moments of Jack Nicklaus’ career

January 21, 2020

Minas Panagiotakis

Jack Nicklaus’ career accomplishments are the stuff of legend, most notably winning 18 major championships and claiming more green jackets than most men own jackets of any color. Then there are his highlights. The 1-iron off the flagstick at Pebble Beach’s 17th hole in 1972. The “YES SIR!” birdie putt on Augusta National’s 17th in 1986. The, well, you get the point. He's got a lot of highlights just from 17th holes through the years.

But because of all those legendary things, there are many more parts of the Golden Bear's illustrious career and life that are often overlooked. Less famous putts holed, less prestigious prizes won and other sweet memories—particularly, those involving ice cream. As Jack celebrates his 80th birthday, here's a look at 19 of his most underrated moments.

1. Won the 1963 PGA Championship long-drive contest with a poke of 341(!) yards, a record that stood for 20 years. To this day, Jack still uses the money clip he won.

2. Won 1961 Big Ten title by 16 shots while at Ohio State. Too bad Twitter wasn’t around for that.

3. Returned to Ohio State in 2006 to dot the “i” during halftime of a football game.

4. Witnessed the Miami Miracle while watching grandson Nick O’Leary play football for the Dolphins.

Pretty cool.

5. Danced cheek-to-cheek with Arnold Palmer—while wearing a wig.

Pretty … interesting.

6. Took a photo with James freakin' Bond.

7. Sparred with Muhammad Ali on a golf course.

8. Coached Kid Rock to a hole-in-one.

9. Made his own ace at the 2015 Masters Par 3 Contest.

Three years later, one of his grandkids made one at the same event. Think the man with six green jackets has good vibes around this place? That being said …

10. Handled getting stopped by security on Magnolia Lane with pure class.

If ever there was a time to pull the “Do you know who I am?” routine, this was it and yet Jack refrained.

11. Made three consecutive eight-footers on the final three holes—two to tie the hole and one to win what was at the time a whopping $240,000—of the 1984 Skins Game.

1983 Skins Game

Paul Popper/Popperfoto

12. Also made the greatest putt in golf history many years later. In Johnny Miller’s grill.

How?! Forget all the majors, this is the most amazing highlight of Jack's career.

13. Offered the most options ever at a Masters Champions Dinner in 1987:

14. Still offers the most-talked-about dessert on the PGA Tour at his annual tournament.


15. Speaking of which, Jack created his own line of ice cream and gained 20 pounds.

Can’t blame him. That stuff is good.

16. Upon turning 50, he won five of his first eight majors on the senior tour—and did pretty good the next few years as well.


17. At 58(!), he finished T-6(!) at 1998 Masters, beating defending champ Tiger Woods(!) by two shots.

Jack Nicklaus Completes The US Masters

Phil Sheldon/Popperfoto

18. Much more recently, Jack won a charity event with this chip in.

19. And at 79, claimed the National Pro-Scratch Invitational with this incredible walk-off winning putt.

Apparently, if you're born with the clutch gene, it never leaves no matter how old your are. Happy 80th birthday, Jack. Here’s to many more memorable moments—and many more milkshakes.