The book on Nicklaus' teacher, Jack Grout
DUBLIN, Ohio - Dick Grout's first golf lesson occurred in 1963. He was 10 years old, and he was playing a casual round with Jack Nicklaus at La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach, Fla.
"It was on about the third or fourth hole. I had made a sizable putt," Grout recalls. "I'm just a little kid. Jack just looks at me, and then he asks me, 'What do you think about when you're putting?' Well, you know what they say - try to putt like when you're a kid and your mind isn't cluttered. I just told him I pick a line and try to knock it in. So there's Jack Nicklaus asking me about my putting. I guess you could say I gave him a little lesson."
Grout laughs at the memory. He has a lot of them when it comes to Nicklaus, given that his father was Jack Grout, who was Nicklaus' longtime teacher. The younger Grout, who is now a teaching pro himself in Greenville, S.C., was the most enthusiastic of the four Grout children when it came to golf, and through the years he often engaged his father in conversations about his career, the game and, yes, the Golden Bear.
He's finally put all that information to good use. Released this week, perhaps appropriately in conjunction with Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament, is the book, "Jack Grout - A Legacy in Golf," which Dick Grout wrote with the help of former newspaperman Bill Winter. It is available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other outlets.
"It occurred to me ... I followed dad so closely through the years. He had so much going on in his life, so many things he accomplished," Grout said. "I wanted to fill in the blanks on him and some golf history. Besides being Jack Nicklaus' teacher, he did so many other things. My dad was 40 years old when he started teaching Jack Nicklaus [in 1950]. His life didn't just begin when he got to Scioto Country Club."
Indeed, and that's why, other than a cursory mention in the introduction, Nicklaus doesn't appear until page 161 of the 270-page book. Before that, Grout takes the opportunity to bring readers another perspective on the early years of professional golf. Before he became a club pro and Nicklaus' mentor, Jack Grout was a caddie (at 12 he carried the bag of Walter Hagen in a tournament in Oklahoma) and a tour player who competed against Ben Hogan. There are many colorful stories that he gleaned from his reticent father.
Nicklaus wrote a foreword to the book. Raymond Floyd, who also benefitted from Grout's tutelage (and who this week is the Memorial Tournament honoree), penned an afterword.
"Dad was a humble guy. He just didn't talk about himself," Dick Grout said. "He was quiet, even somewhat shy, but I would pester him about things, and he would tell me these stories. There are things in this book my brother and two sisters even didn't know. I had pages of pages of stories about him, and I hope that telling his story would somehow get him the recognition he deserves."
Ultimately, that would mean consideration for the World Golf Hall of Fame. But any recognition would be a step in the right direction.
"It's astounding to me that he's not in any Hall of Fame," Grout said. "Not in the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame. Not in the South Florida Hall of Fame. Not even the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame. You start to think maybe these halls of fame aren't what they're cracked up to be.
"Long story short," Grout added, "I just wanted to fill in the blanks on my dad's life. His influence on the game is really pretty impressive and spans half a century. I doubt very many people know that."