You just have to watch this 58-second video. You’ve just gotta love it.
It’s a great way to celebrate today’s 75th birthday of the man who arguably is the greatest sportsman of our lifetimes, Jack Nicklaus.
Has there ever been an athlete in any sport who remains not just revered, but still so relevant, so much an integral part of the the current scene in his sport, as Nicklaus remains today?
His advice is still sought. His insights are still invaluable. His ongoing creation of great courses is a blessing. His charitable work is still center-stage. And, of course, his records are still being chased.
Watch him, in your mind’s eye, as he concedes the Ryder-Cup-tying putt to Tony Jacklin in 1969. See him leave “Bear Tracks” across the 16th green at Augusta in 1975. Remember him birdieing the final five holes at his personal playground, Inverrary — two of them with chip-ins — to leave poor Grier Jones bereft in 1978. Re-wind the mental pictures of him losing with uncommon grace — to Trevino at Merion in 1971, to Watson at Turnberry (despite a 35-foot birdie putt for Jack at the final hole) in 1977 and at Pebble Beach in 1982, and, in one few remember, to Tom Weiskopf at the 1995 U.S. Senior Open at Congressional.
Nicklaus saved the Ryder Cup by suggesting that Europe be included. He brought wisdom to the only thriller of a Presidents’ Cup by agreeing with Gary Player on the Tie in the Twilight in South Africa. He played a game with which Bobby Jones wasn’t familiar. He put his family first while competing on such a limited schedule that Chi Chi Rodriguez called him not a legend in his own time, but “a legend in his spare time.” He outlasted Aoki at Baltusrol while normally staid golfing crowds started chanting “Jack is back.” And, of course, he charged at Augusta with his son on the bag.
Somehow, winning follows Nicklaus even at one remove. A year ago, with his grandson as a star tight end for Florida State, the Seminoles won the national championship. This year, his alma mater, Ohio State, won it all. He loves Ohio State, and it loves him. During the course of many decades, only four non-band members had ever “dotted the ‘i'” in its band’s signature halftime show. He was the fifth.
May the Golden Bear continue to dot golf’s eye for many years to come.
Happy Birthday, Jack Nicklaus.