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December 4, 2013

Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus, II

MIKE SCANLAN:  As most of you know, headlining next week's field will be a pair of Jacks, World Golf Hall of Famer and 18‑time major winner, Mr.Jack Nicklaus, and his son, the president of Nicklaus Design, Mr.Jack Nicklaus II.
We'll start today with a few questions from me.  Jack, you're a veteran of the PNC Father‑Son Challenge.  You won it with your son Gary back in 1999.  What do you enjoy the most about teeing it up at this event?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, you know, I don't tee it up very much anymore, Mike, and to be able to have the opportunity to play with your son in an event that's a competition is something that‑‑ it's the only thing I play in, so it's obviously something that I want to do.
MIKE SCANLAN:  And Jack II, can we get a similar thought from you on what makes the Father‑Son so special, particularly as a son playing in the event?
JACK NICKLAUS II:  I've had the opportunity to play I guess maybe four times in the event with my dad, and yeah, it's always fun to play with your dad in a competition.  I'm hopefully even going to have one of my kids caddie for me, so we'll have three generations of Nicklauses out there on the golf course.  It's special to be able to be out there with my dad and just be part of a fun competition.
MIKE SCANLAN:  Jack, you've admitted to not playing much competitive golf, but certainly you stay very active and relevant in the game with Nicklaus Design under Jackie's leadership.  You've got 50 courses under development in 22 countries.  You've got numerous and significant corporate relationships still throughout the game of golf.  But I know importantly last month you launched the Nicklaus golf ball, which I understand you're going to put into play next week at the Father‑Son; is that correct?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Yeah, we're going to use it.  It's a new ball.  I like the ball a lot.  I've played it a couple of times here in the couple times I've played, and it goes nicely, it plays nicely, and we're going to put it into play and let her go.
MIKE SCANLAN:  Are you guys confident you can play the same ball in a scramble?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, I would think so.  I think we both‑‑ Jack will hit it about 320, I'll hit it about 220, and we'll walk up to his and hit it, and if he doesn't hit it in the fairway, we'll be playing mine with a longer club.
MIKE SCANLAN:  Jack, you pursued a pro career before leaving for Nicklaus Design.  I know you have your amateur status back, but do you still get the itch to play golf competitively, and how do you think your game will hold up next week?
JACK NICKLAUS II:  I do get the itch to want to play golf.  I really am not playing that much at all.  Following my kids' sports really has taken precedence over myself playing golf.  I've really enjoyed that.
But yeah, I love to play.  I've been hitting balls a few times in this last week.  I haven't played a whole lot.  How my game will hold up under competition, I would have to say maybe a little suspect, but you never know.  It's a scramble format, which allows some leeway for some missed shots and actually some shots where you can be a little bit more aggressive at times, too.  I'm just looking forward to it.  It'll be fun.

Q.  Mr.Nicklaus, good morning.  With the debut of the ball this week, what would ultimately be kind of the outcome you hope to see from the ball in terms of sales and maybe what the amateur golfer learns about the golf ball and getting involved with the process of ball selection and ball fitting?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Okay.  I always felt like recently the golf ball selection for the average golfer to walk into a store or a pro shop or whatever it might be to buy a golf ball has been a confusing thing.  I walk into a store, I wouldn't have any idea what golf ball to buy, and I have a little bit more knowledge than most people.
But I walk in and I see all these different balls and all these different things, and all the things that they say about them, and how do you pick this one because of this, this one is soft, this one is long, this one has high flight, this one has low flight.  I don't really know.  So I always felt like it's not the arrow, it's the Indian, so I sort of feel like let's find out what the Indian does, and if the Indian can hit the ball‑‑ if the Indian plays from the‑‑ let's go back to say just a golfer.
If they don't know their swing speed‑‑ most people understand their swing speed‑‑ about 10 percent of them understand their swing speed, but they do know what tee they play from.  So we just tried to make it simple, and we did a black ball, a blue ball and a white ball.  The black ball is supposed to be for the back tees or for the good player from the members' tees, the blue ball is basically a person who is an average golfer that wants good distance playing from the members' tees, and the white ball is one for a slower swing speed, a senior player or a woman.
Now, you walk in and you say, okay, the clerk there says, what tee do you play, you know what tee you play, you know what ball to buy.  That first of all was one of the elements in what we tried to accomplish, to simplify that process.
Secondly, we thought there should be a charity component that has never been involved in that.  Charity has been involved in golf for so long for the Tour.  It's the main thing for the Tour.  Why in the world shouldn't the golf ball be the same thing?  There's a margin in golf balls, and of course in our case with kids, we've always been interested in kids, and particularly kids' healthcare; why shouldn't we donate something from every ball we sell, which we do, and we give the opportunity ‑‑ the main place we're selling this golf ball is over the internet at Nicklaus.com.  You go on there and you have an opportunity to buy a golf ball that is basically the same price a pro would buy a golf ball in a shop.  Let's say the black ball, which is the urethane ball, which is 32 bucks a dozen, which they'll sell probably in the mid 50s, you can buy it for 32 bucks a dozen.  We'll ask you if you'd like, and you don't have to, but if you'd like to make a donation to children's charities for the lower price that you get on a quality golf ball.
We've been very surprised and very pleased that over 80 percent of the people that have bought golf balls over the internet have sent a donation with it, which really adds a charity element that I think has been the backbone of golf for so long.
That's sort of what we're trying to do.  We're trying to‑‑ we did it to fill out a brand.  We feel like the golf ball was a very‑‑ people need it if they want to play golf, obviously, and we needed to be part of it.  That's why we're there.
Certainly the playability of that golf ball will be important to that golfer, and I think that what we've done, at least at most of our golf courses, at Nicklaus golf courses where we sell them, also, besides Nicklaus.com, we have people put them on the range to test it and see if they like it and what they want.  Right now people like the three balls and the tests that we're doing, and we're getting some very positive results.  We're very encouraged.  We're young in the game, but certainly we're not being bashful about it.

Q.  My question is for Mr.Nicklaus.  Can you describe how competitive this Father‑Son Challenge can get?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, I think it can get very competitive.  Jackie and I are hoping to be competitive.  Neither one of us are playing a lot of golf, but there's a lot of young major championship winners that are playing with a young son, and those guys still hit the ball a long way as well as their sons hit it a long way, and my son Jack still hits the ball a long way, but the old man doesn't hit it so far anymore.
For us to be competitive, I've got to rely on Jack being able to put the ball in play and get it out there a fair distance where we can all hit a reasonable iron, then it's a matter of who's going to make the putts.
Over the last few years I think that there's been some very, very good scores and very competitive golf played in the Father‑Son, and it's always been fun.  I know my son Gary and I played last year ‑ I've sort of alternated between Jack and Gary ‑ and we had a middle stretch of the second round where we didn't make‑‑ I don't know, I think we were 1‑under par for a 9‑hole stretch, which cost us having a chance to win the tournament.  I don't know what we lost by, three shots or something like that, but we were competitive.
Certainly Jack and I hope to be the same thing this coming tournament, and we hope to be able to do our best.
But I know all the other fathers are very proud to be playing with their sons and the sons are very proud to be playing with their fathers, and it's a good time for some of us old guys to get together, and it's a good time for the sons to get together with the other sons and sort of get to know each other and sort of bond like the fathers have for years.

Q.  I had a question for Jackie.  Do you recall, if ever, the first time you beat your dad in a casual round?
JACK NICKLAUS II:  I remember several times with a putt one way or the other.  I had a putt to beat him or dad had a putt to miss or whatever.  He seemed to always make it, I seemed to always miss it.  Honestly, I don't know if I recall the first time I beat him.  It doesn't happen very often.  It still doesn't happen very often.  He's still‑‑ you shoot your age now.  Every time I talk to Dad‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS:  And maybe even higher.
JACK NICKLAUS II:  I can't answer your question because I don't recall the one time.

Q.  Jack, can you help him out?
JACK NICKLAUS:  I don't think I can.  Jackie has beat me so many times that‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS II:  He only remembers the victories.
JACK NICKLAUS:  I know that he's right about if I've had a 30‑foot putt to keep one of them from beating me, I've probably made it.  And the reason for that is that I've never‑‑ I've always felt like I don't want to ever give them anything.  If they're going to beat me, they've got to beat me, and I think when you do that, then they feel like they've really earned it, and that's good.  That's how you get better and that's how you do things.
But Jack has beat me a lot.  All the boys have beat me a lot.

Q.  Jack, you've been known throughout your career for making so many clutch putts, and we've seen that from a couple of other players over time, Watson and Tiger.  I'm curious, why is it, or what's the makeup of someone who makes so many big putts?  Is it practice?  Is it something innate?  Basically why were you able to make so many big putts in your career?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Because I had to.  I mean, that's sort of the way I look at it.  I get up over a putt, and I say, this putt means something.  I need to make it.  And I just sort of will it into the hole.  I don't know whether my stroke changes that much, but I remember the last tournament I played at St. Andrews, I needed to try to will some balls into the hole, and I couldn't get them in the hole.  That's why I didn't make the cut.  Then I got to the last hole, and it didn't make any difference because I knew I was going to miss the cut, and all of a sudden there was no question in my mind that I was going to make that putt.  The hole was going to move to wherever I hit it.
But you know, I don't know what the mental makeup is, but when you're sharp and when you're competitive, when you're into the middle of something and you have to make it, that's sort of the thing that Tiger and Watson and Arnold and Gary, the guys used to do, Trevino, they always used to make putts when they had to make putts.  That's how they got to have their name known.
If you miss all those putts that you're supposed to make, no one will ever hear of you.

Q.  Jack, when you play in the Father‑Son, what's the makeup of your bag?  Driver, 3‑wood, 5‑wood?  You don't have a 7‑wood, do you?
JACK NICKLAUS:  I couldn't find one.  And 9 and 11, too.  (Laughing.)
My makeup has been pretty much the same.  When I was playing on Tour, I was a driver, 3‑wood, 1‑iron through 9, pitching wedge, sand wedge, putter.  Now I've actually got a driver, a 3‑wood, and I've got a 4‑wood and a 5‑wood.  I'm not a big hybrid guy, although I'm playing with one right now, and I took out the 2‑iron, and that's pretty much where I am.  I'm usually a 3‑iron through 9‑iron, pitching wedge and sand wedge.  I don't know if that's 14 or 15, but it'll be 14 when I tee it up.
But it depends on the golf course, and it depends on the shots that I think I'm going to play into the green.  I used to even go to Augusta when I carried a 1‑iron a lot, and sometimes I'd always put in maybe a 4‑ or 5‑wood, simply because you needed some elevations to stop it on the greens and some of the lies you played.
I always had a variance, depending on where I was playing.

Q.  What are you guys' most memorable experience on the golf course together as playing, not caddying but as playing?  Does one stick out?
JACK NICKLAUS II:  You took me out of my leg jerk response, which would have been the '86 Masters, but you eliminated caddying.  I won the '85 North‑South.  Dad was with me every round, which was particularly special to me.
JACK NICKLAUS:  I'd say the '85 North‑South where I was watching Jack, and he'd probably say the '86 Masters where he was caddying for me.  As far as playing together, it's going to be next week.

Q.  How much is Arnold going to be missed or Mr.Palmer going to be missed?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Arnold and I have played every time at the Father‑Son together, and we've had a lot of fun.  I think there's probably a certain time when you just say, hey, I've had enough.  I think AP has probably said that.  Yeah, he'll be missed.  We always enjoyed playing together.  We always enjoyed competing.  We always had fun.
We'll have him there in our minds and our thoughts.  But I'd rather have him out on the golf course.  He always liked to take a shot at me and I always liked to take a shot at him.
JACK NICKLAUS II:  The fans will miss him.

Q.  Jack, your alma mater and obviously your grandson's school are on a collision course here in college football, and I saw some comments you had.  What's that whole experience going to be like in the coming months, watching that unfold and possibly seeing those two teams meet?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, they both have obviously got to win this weekend.  I'm a Buckeye.  I've been a Buckeye all my life.  I'm a big Ohio State fan.  I've watched ‑‑ not live, but I've watched every Ohio State game on replay this year.  I've taped them all.  And I'm a big fan, I'm a big Braxton Miller fan and Carlos Hyde.  They've got a great team, and I enjoy watching them.
Unfortunately they haven't played a particularly tough schedule this year, and that's not their fault, but the Big 10 hasn't been as strong as it can be.  I've been to all 12 of the Florida State games.  I've loved watching Nick.  The team has really played as a team this year.  I thought they've really done a great job.  I think they were a bunch of individuals last year, and this year they're really a team.  Not that they weren't a team last year, but they're just a real team this year, and Jameis Winston has done a great job.  Obviously I want Ohio State to play well, but I'm obviously going to root for my grandson.  I want my grandson and his team to play well, and I'd like to see them win by 42‑41; how's that?

Q.  So you were in the Swamp last weekend?
JACK NICKLAUS:  I was there.  You're darned right I was there.  Nick made some nice catches and Kelvin Benjamin made some nice catches.  Florida State dominated the game pretty well, and I know that Florida is down a little bit right now, but they'll come back.  After the game I asked Nick, what did you guys expect out of Florida?  He said, well, we didn't expect as good a team as we played.  They were the best team we played all year.  They were tough.  That's what that rivalry is all about.  Florida always gets up for Florida State and Florida State always gets up for Florida.
MIKE SCANLAN:  Jack and Jackie, we want to thank you guys for helping us out.  We look forward to seeing you next week at the PNC Father‑Son Challenge, and good luck dusting the clubs off and getting your game ready.
JACK NICKLAUS:  We're both heading for the golf course right now.  It's a beautiful day down here in North Palm Beach and we're ready to go hit a few balls, and I'll let you know how I'm creaking tomorrow, how my back and legs feel tomorrow.
MIKE SCANLAN:  We'll see you next week.

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