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Jack and the wig: the full story

January 21, 2011

What were the circumstances behind the now-famous photo of Jack Nicklaus wearing a blonde wig and dancing with Arnold Palmer years ago at the Bob Hope Classic.


The combination of time and wine have left some of the details fuzzy, but Nicklaus pieced the story together as a guest on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" on Thursday. According to the Golden Bear, the two rivals were competing in the tournament by day and enjoying the Palm Springs scene by night.  At one restaurant, he and Palmer were leaving the bathroom when they inadvertently separated a woman from her hair.

"We brushed by this gal and she must have been mortified because she had a wig on, and we brushed by her and it fell off onto the floor," Nicklaus told hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias. "I picked it up and put it on my head...and then we went out and danced."

As author Mark Shaw writes in his book, "Jack Nicklaus: Golf's Greatest Champion," the scene was a marked departure from the 18-time major champion's buttoned-down reputation.

"To Nickalus's watchers, that episode was astounding. Jack could let himself go on occasion, but to do so in a public arena was unthinkable. And the image of Nicklaus and Palmer waltzing, arm in arm, seemed surreal."

*-- Sam Weinman

The full Nicklaus interview can be viewed below. He discusses the wig incident at roughly the three-minute mark. *