The Loop

Ken Bowden, influential golf writer, former Golf Digest editor and noted Jack Nicklaus collaborator, dies at 86


Jim Mandeville/Nicklaus Companies

March 05, 2017

Ken Bowden, one of the most important golf writers the game has ever known, has died at 86 after a long illness.

Born in 1930 in Brooklyn to British parents, Bowden grew up first in Australia and then England, where he became a plus-handicap golfer. In 1962, he became the founding editor of Golf World UK, then returned to the United States, and from 1969-’72 served as the editorial director of Golf Digest, where he enlisted Jack Nicklaus to contribute what would become a long-running monthly instructional feature called “Jack Nicklaus’ Lesson Tee.”

Soon after, Bowden collaborated with renowned teacher John Jacobs on Practical Golf, the instruction book often cited by Butch Harmon, Jim McLean, Hank Haney and many other top teachers as foundational. Bowden, along with Dick Aultman, would also write The Masters of Golf, which offered in-depth analysis of the swings and personalities of 18 great players from Harry Vardon to Seve Ballesteros.

The highlight of Bowden’s career was collaborating on 12 books with Nicklaus, including Golf My Way, which has sold more than 2.5 million copies since 1974, and, in 1997, the Golden Bear’s second autobiography, Jack Nicklaus: My Story.

Said Nicklaus upon learning of Bowden’s passing, “Beyond writing all my instruction books, he was a terrific guy. Ken was a very good friend, a very good player, a very good writer, and a confidante.”

In his final book, a 2008 memoir titled Teeing Off, Bowden expressed pride for what he and Nicklaus achieved together, and added, “My gratitude to the game of golf, and to all those who encouraged and educated and befriended me along the way, is boundless.”