Interview: Jack Nicklaus PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

 

Jack Nicklaus is the greatest Champion our game has ever seen,

he knew how to take a tough loss with grace and he knew how

to console and respect his challengers after they were defeated

by him. When he walks into a room you feel it, it's a strong

presence. Much like Arnie, Jack William Nicklaus is the sports hero

to so many . . . and he carries it well. He knows how important he

is to those and doesn't shun that responsibility.


Nicklaus was on hand as the honorary Captain of the American

Team of Mid & Senior Amateurs at the opening ceremonies for

1st Annual Concession Cup on Tuesday, April 29th 2014. It was

an honor to sit down with the Golden Bear for a brief Q&A about

the Concession Cup, Amateur Golf, Course design, and the Ryder

Cup at his course in Scotland, at Gleneagles.




LinksNation: It's been 45 years since the actual Concession putt was

given to Tony Jacklin at Royal Birkdale in the 1969 Ryder Cup, can

you look back to it's origins and today . . .


Jack Nicklaus: I didn't think it was a big deal, it was just a short putt.

Tony (Jacklin) thought it was a big deal, and the golf world did too I

guess - to me it was just the right thing to do at the time, now they

have a golf course here called the Concession named after that event.

Tony's done a great job here with the theme and Ryder Cup memorabilia,

now to have an amateur event with Tony and I as honorary captains is

very special. Hopefully it will be a great event and the players will enjoy

the golf course.


LN: These are some of the best Mid Ams and Senior Amateurs in the

world, there should be some high quality golf, your thoughts . . .


JN: You'll see some good golf, no question about it. People will enjoy

seeing them play.


photo by Scott Baker

Vinny Giles, Jack, Tony Jacklin & Garth McGimpsey Tuesday at the

Concession Cup press conference




LN: This is quite the stage for many of these players, as you stated

in the press conference - Amateur golf is where it all began for you.


JN: Some of these players are former Walker Cup players and some

have not played in an international competition before, those players

will see it as a new experience and I think will enjoy it. The ones who

have, will enjoy a renewing of that experience, two years from now it

will be played in Great Britain and back over here in another two years,

being played on a bi- annual basis. It's kinda neat much like the Walker

Cup - that's the thing that launched my career, because of the Walker

Cup, I played in the Masters, I got into the British Amateur, the U.S

Open that year. I got into all kinds of things because of the Walker Cup.




photo by Jason Bruno

The gorgeous par-5 seventh at Jack Nicklaus' Concession Club



LN: When Tony (Jacklin) pitched you the plan and concept to build

this course, was there a plan for this course to become a champion-

ship type venue for an event such as this?


JN: Yes. He wanted to have a championship course, that's what

Kevin Davis (The original owner) wanted when we first started.

He wanted to have a strong golf course if we were going to have

an international competition, with the golf course being suitable

to handle that. I think the golf course might be a little too difficult

for its membership at times, it will certainly test the best players

in the world.


LN: How has your design philosophy changed or evolved over the

years?


JN: It changes everyday, it depends on what I'm doing. To tell you

what my design philosophy is anymore, I'm never sure. It all depends,

alot of people say it depends what side of the bed I get out of in the

morning.


LN: I've noticed in recent years, the green complexes you've designed

have become much more challenging, your thoughts . . .


JN: Now I've gone the other way, I've gone from flat greens, to smaller

greens, to larger greens, to rolling greens to difficult greens to mild

greens - I'm in a mild green state right now. That's the side of the bed

I got up on this morning.


LN: Has that been influenced by developers or members ?


JN: Depends on what you're trying to accomplish, depends on who

you're designing the golf course for and what they're trying to

accomplish, what they really want and what the property is - that

determines what you have to do.


LN: I've talked some with John Sanford (A mutual friend of Nicklaus

and I & an accomplished course designer himself working with the

Nicklaus design team on Trump's new course in NYC) regarding the

Ferry Point project, can you expound on that?


Trump Golf Links Ferry Point



JN: It's been 10 years in the making or 12 years I suppose, certainly

hope that we got it pretty close to right . . . since it's taken a while

doing it. It's for the city of New York, it's right at the Whitestone

Bridge in the Bronx, you're looking at the New York/Manhattan skyline.

Since Donald Trump took it over, he's actually got the thing to the

finish line, he's done a very good job of doing that. The golf course is

strong. I think the city of New York has 17 public golf courses, (the

process has been going on) thru the last term of Guiliani and the last

3 of Mayor Bloomberg. They said they had enough courses that the

average person can play, they wanted a golf course where they could

host a World Championship event. They could hold a Championship

event on this golf course . . . they could hold a U.S Open, or PGA

Championship or anything else they want to hold there. It's an old

dump site that we covered with sand. There aren't any trees on the

interior part of the golf course, there's alot on the outside of the golf

course, but the interior is basically sand. We moved the sand around

and created a links style course which seems to fit there very well, it's

on the water . . . the wind will be a great factor there.



Jack congratulates Tom Watson at Pebble Beach in 1982



LN: I know you're close friends with Tom Watson, what will he bring

to the Ryder Cup team this year that maybe the past few captains

haven't?


JN: I don't really know from a tangible standpoint, but from an

intangible standpoint - Tom is a great winner, Tom's won 5 British

Opens, Tom is loved in Scotland . . . the players will all look up to

him, and respect him. So there are many intangibles there, tangibly

you're still going to have to play golf. The players that will play golf

well will win, it's on my golf course at Gleneagles - the golf course is

a strong course. If the weather is good, they'll shoot some good

scores on it, if the weather is bad they'll struggle on the golf course

- like they would on many Scottish courses in the weather. It will be

a great event and I think Tom will do a great job as captain.


 



Special thanks to Tom Sprouse and Jane Dally.