124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Jack Nicklaus didn't have his swing speed tested until he was 58 -- and it was still really, really fast

January 15, 2015

Jack Nicklaus never worked with launch monitors and TrackMans during his time on the PGA Tour. But when the 18-time major champ finally had his swing tested as a senior, Nicklaus showed why he had always been one of the pro game's biggest bombers.

"First time I ever had my swing speed checked was '98. I was 58, and I was out at either Titleist or Callaway . . . and I was 118 miles an hour," Nicklaus said during a Wednesday conference call ahead of the release of a new documentary about his life. "And I said, 'Wow, that's pretty good, I guess.' They said, 'Yeah, there's only one other guy on the Senior Tour, Jim Dent, was 118.' That's the only comparison I ever had. We never had any of that stuff."


Jack Nicklaus tees off at the 1998 Masters.

Wait, a minute. A 118 mph swing speed? At 58?! Wow. That's especially impressive when you consider Tiger Woods' average swing speed at age 38 only clocked in at 115 mph. Jack's feat would be like Michael Jordan still pulling off dunks from the free-throw line at 58.

But again, Nicklaus wasn't aware of his swing speed or his launch angle with a 5-iron. He and his contemporaries weren't as into numbers as today's players, who often rely on statistical analysis to determine what areas of their games they can improve.

"Nobody ever kept stats," Nicklaus said. "I knew to win the Masters you had to be around, hit at least 75 percent of the greens, and most of the other golf tournaments I sort of looked at the same way. As it relates to putting, I never really paid any attention to that because that was really a product of how many greens you hit, and they didn't keep all the other stats."

Not that Nicklaus minded the lack of information.

"I don't think it makes a tinker's ton," he said. "It depends what score you shoot at the end and whether you win or lose."

Tough to argue with a man who did OK in that regard.