August 4, 2005
CASTLE ROCK, COLORADO
THE MODERATOR: We're going to get started and continue with Jack Nicklaus when he joins us. This is the 20th state of the tournament with Jack Vickers, who is our founder and president. Ladies and Gentlemen, you have at it.
JACK VICKERS: I'll kind of start by saying that I know he's on his way, because I called his wife right before I came. She thought he'd be on his way. She said he was well aware of it. He had to do a little work up at the other course. I'm sure he'll be plowing in here in a minute. Thought I might save you some time. Thanks for your patience. I'll stay here as long as you want to stay. Probably would like to get rid of me first.
Q. What is, in your opinion, the state of the International as it exists today? Do you see any big changes in the future?
JACK VICKERS: Well, I think the state of the International, it's good, but let me just cut through the thing and give you my thought here. I'm not satisfied with where we are because we've tried this. I think we've been diligent and faithful in trying to do the best we can with these dates, and I think if the TOUR has to, we both agreed we thought this would be a pretty good shot.
But what happened and what really interrupted I think our pretty smooth flow was that when the sequence was taken away, remember we had the PGA, us and the World Series, boom, boom, boom, going back a ways, but it was great because it gave the foreign players a chance to come over here and spread the risk over three weeks at least. That was a real solid deal for us because we had an unusually high number of foreign exemptions, as you know, and we worked that very hard. We brought in a lot of the great foreign players that played here, as a matter of fact, for the first time. You know who they are. I don't need to waste time going into that. We've had a great contingent of foreign players.
In answer to your question, because of that lack of sequence, the weather conditions, the lightning, the size of the field, I'm not happy with that because, number one, I want to be the best at what we do, and I don't think with those things dragging on our tail that we can be the best at what we do.
I think, given a chance to be the best at what we do, we'll perform. But it's a two way street. It isn't just our problem. It's the TOUR's problem, as well. We've got to sit down and just jointly work through this.
Now you've heard my problems, to a certain degree. You haven't heard the TOUR's problems. They've got problems, too. Wayne is here tonight. I might just say, I've not been quiet about this, one of their problems is they've got too damn many tournaments. When you get in the big money and you want big time sponsors, you got to have a product that's wanted on the marketplace. When you oversupply that marketplace, then the ratings are going to go to hell.
I realize all the great stars can't play in every tournament, but there's got to be some kind of common denominator where those great players are part of the TOUR. If we're going to have a TOUR, we have to have a TOUR. If we're not going to have a TOUR, I want to know it right up front.
I feel that the players, they've got their rights to play where they want to play. I kind of look at it in several ways. I'd like to put a golf tournament on and put it on with enough class that they're going to want to be there, but I can't do it all on my own. I need help from the TOUR. I think if we get the right sequence and the right details put together, I think the players will follow.
But I do think there's got to be some there's got to be some effort on behalf of the TOUR to set some standards for the players. I just think it's too loose the way it is. Let me give you a good example of that. If you're going to put up the kind of money we're putting up, our sponsors expect the best players to be here. Maybe my number is wrong. If it's higher, okay, I'm not arguing about that, I'll go higher. But in return, I want the players here. I don't want 144 of them. That doesn't mean I'm against any of the players, because I love 'em, and I know a lot of 'em wouldn't make the cut. They're great guys, but business is business. Nobody held me by the hand in the oil and gas business. You either compete or you get pushed over in the sidelines.
I feel that this is a similar situation. I think when you get that many tournaments out there, you're just diluting and undercutting your own market. So something's got to be done there. That's not my problem, that's the TOUR's problem. We've talked about it. I've been very open about it. I don't think it's any secret. I'm not speaking out of school, nor am I representing that I'm in a battle with Mr. Finchem or the TOUR in any way, shape or form. I'm just talking cold turkey business.
We both got some things to get done and accomplished if we want a better TOUR. If we don't do something, the TOUR is going to continue to kind of slide downhill. You don't have to go back very far and look at ratings and look at what's happened so far. It's worked in one sense and a lot of the players have got a lot of tournaments. But you got to look at, and they have to look at, I don't know whether they've been educated to this fact or not, but it takes sponsors to put on tournaments. If you don't have those ratings out there, then ad companies, advertising companies, go running over to the sponsors and tell them what a lousy deal they've got. I'm out there trying to get sponsors. I've got to overcome that. It isn't easy to overcome.
In fact, you have to walk in the door assuming you're talking to intelligent people, and we are. These people aren't dummies that are sponsoring these tournaments. They understand business. They understand what the numbers mean and how they relate.
We've got some work to do, the TOUR and us. I'm going to do everything I can to be helpful. As I said, I've got to have help. I've got some ideas and thoughts how to make the tournament the best. As I said, I got to have help to do it. I can't lay all my thoughts out to the media because I don't think it would be proper in light of our partnership with the TOUR, the players and so on. I don't want to confuse anybody and have a lot of innuendos or different routes that we might go out here in front of the media for speculation. All those things take homework. You got to know where you're going when you leap, otherwise you're liable to come up with a broken ankle.
I don't know whether that answers your question.
Q. A couple of them.
JACK VICKERS: Yeah.
Q. Jack, what would be your ideal dates for this tournament?
JACK VICKERS: Well, I think a lot of that depends on, A, the sequence, where we get back in the right sequence. I'd be willing to risk or gamble a little more on the fates. If I had my druthers, when we think we have the best whether. You all live here, you all know what our situation is. I think, you know, from the last week of June through July for the most part usually we have probably our best, driest weather. I've also seen July wet. I've seen June wet. You all have, too. You never know for sure.
But we continuously have tried in August, and we seem to continuously have our problems, this being the worst we've ever had. We've never had this happen. But I've been concerned about lightning more than anything else. You got 144 players out there. Believe me, somebody's going to get killed one of these days if we don't do something about it. I'm proactive rather than reactive. It needs to be addressed and it needs attention. We've seen examples of it here, and I don't need to get into that. You know the dangers as well as I do.
Even aside from the dangers, it takes two and a half hours to turn them around. Every time we blow them off the golf course, have to turn them around, take that time, we lose our TV audience. Going on, going off TV, you lose it. You all know that. So that makes it tough on us from the TV. Again, going back to ratings, going on back to sponsorship. These are the things you got to think about.
Q. I assume you wouldn't want to go the week before the British Open or the week after, so that eliminates those two weeks?
JACK VICKERS: No, we don't want to do that. We'd have to sit down. That would be insane, in my opinion. Too tough on the players. They're just not going to play that many weeks in a row, particularly going up against a major. You got to work that out, but that can be worked out. That can be worked out.
Now, my desires might not fit with somebody else's. I've got to say who is in the way on the schedule and what he's willing to do to compete with me. I'll tell you this, I'll try my best to blow him over on the sidelines. That's my approach. I'll be competitive.
Q. Are most of the conversations you have with the savvy sponsors based mostly around Tiger Woods showing up here?
JACK VICKERS: Well, obviously he's probably the main part of the subject when you get on that track, and he hasn't played here in a while, five years I believe. That's a definite loss when you don't have him in here. I just think the TOUR's got to address some of these things. I realize that the players are the players and they've got their thoughts, wishes and ways. I'm just saying to the TOUR, "Tell me what it takes to be the best. I'll be there. I'll get Tiger." I can't do it on an on and off situation. I've got to know where I'm going.
Q. I think it's fairly common knowledge the PGA TOUR, there's going to be a major shake up with the 2007 schedule. How much conversation have you had with the PGA TOUR about that? Is there anything to this discussion about a World Championship tournament?
JACK VICKERS: Well, we're talking to the TOUR. The TOUR's got major problems, too, as you know. This is a major it's a termination of contracts, renewal of contracts. It's a big job to get all these TV contracts and networks in line with their wants and desires, then get them on a schedule. There's changes in the network industry, what they want. All this has got to be dealt with, sat down and negotiated in a straightforward manner. Tim tells me I can't get into a lot of details that it's not moving along as fast as they'd like to see it move, but he's hoping it will be towards the end of the year. That's about the answer to that. I think we've got to see how they come out with their negotiations as far as the networks.
As far as the World Tour situation is concerned, I guess Woody has gone in and came out and started a forest fire, giving other writers thoughts about that. We don't have any deals. We know nothing about that. But if you ask me would I be interested in it? Yes, I'd be interested in it depending on terms, where it was, so on, so forth. It would make more sense to us than some other venues would. First of all, it would cut the field back. It would get Tiger Woods and the best players in the world here, which would be good. I don't say that's the only way to get them here, but I think it would be a situation that we'd take a hard look at if it were presented to us.
Q. Mr. Vickers, how in depth will your discussions with the TOUR officials be this week since there will be so many in town for the tournament, including the Commissioner?
JACK VICKERS: Well, we've already met. I don't have much more I can tell you other than what I've said. I think they've got to go back and do their homework. Of course, they're being held up. They'd like to get it done sooner rather than later, too. Sooner we can get it done, the more time we have to work on sponsors and get it done. We have one potential sponsor right now that would like to do a deal with us, but he's got to know probably in October, and I don't know whether we're going to have an answer in October. I doubt that we will based on what I've heard.
Whether we can delay his decision or whether we can accelerate the TOUR's decision, I don't know. I know the TOUR is kind of handcuffed, too, because they're waiting on answers from the networks.
Q. Are you talking about a title sponsor?
JACK VICKERS: I don't know which way we'd go. We thought next go around we might go back to the title sponsorship. That's all a matter of economics, what's presented in front of us, how we can build a case around it and sell it. If you're asking me would my preference be a title sponsor? My answer would be yes, but not necessarily all encompassing. The combination of some non title sponsorships that we've had have been very satisfactory and very successful.
You just have to look at the detail and the facts when the time comes and see how it fits. Not only us, but the sponsors, the network, the TOUR, so on.
Q. Given your druthers, two options, you get to pick your date or you get a World Golf Championship designation, which is more important to you?
JACK VICKERS: Well, assuming that that date is within reasonable bounds of our season, then certainly I'd go for the World Tour. I'm not jumping up and down to get into the fall situation, and I think that's one of the issues that the TOUR is dealing with now, what's going to happen in the fall. I personally think that at least here in this city I don't like to go up against football. I think it's crazy myself. We can't compete with football, either college or pro. Here, particularly with pros, our colleges are kind of in a trough right now, but they'll be back. But the Broncos are here and they're popular whether they're winning the Super Bowl or they don't even get to the playoffs. They're still damn popular. That's a big competition. That's what people want to see at that time of the year.
Q. This is the 20th year of the tournament, 25th year of the course. Take us back to your vision when you made that turn down Happy Canyon Road and how that all has come together.
JACK VICKERS: Well, it's been a long, long trip, but it's been a beautiful trip. I can honestly say that I've enjoyed every minute of it. We've had some bumps in the road, as we all do in any of our businesses from time to time, unexpected, yet expected. I think all in all, it's turned out pretty great. If I had it to do over again, I'm sure I'd make some changes as to how I did a few things. All in all, I think it's been very successful. I'm extremely pleased with our golf course.
If probably was going to do it again, I'd probably be a little more careful about some of the housing. When I started, I wasn't going to put any housing. Then I thought, well, I'd have 20 maybe over a lot of land where people wanted more acres, that type of thing. My son and some of Jack Nicklaus' people, they thought I was crazy to sit here and leave the acreage open. I had the acreage already. Had to buy it that way. Couldn't get it any other way. So I went ahead with that. I take kind of a backseat in it. I'm involved with it with my son, but he pretty well runs that without me even getting into it. He's been pretty good at it.
I think like on 1 there, that last house that got in there, is a little tight. The guy is a real gentleman. He's going to do a lot of landscaping on it. I've got some answers to it. I think we can take the attention away from it. I might dogleg that hole a little bit, add another 30, 40, 50 yards to it. But not just for getting distance, I'm talking about aesthetics and how it's set up. Put a little dogleg in that second or third shot, make it a little more interesting. I think it would sit in there real nice.
I haven't got any thoughts about doing it right now. I'll see how they can landscape it and how things go. But I do have some outs if it's a headache or hurts the hole to the point of injuring the golf hole, then I'll do something about it.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK VICKERS: 1200 originally. Then I ended up with 5500.
Q. With the cancellation today, has there been a decision made on how to complete the tournament, reducing it to 54 holes or try to squeeze in 72?
JACK VICKERS: I don't know. I've been I went to that First Tee thing today and I'm out of the decision making process there. I don't know what the current thinking is. Kay or Wayne might know. I imagine Mother Nature is going to have quite a bit to say about that. We haven't seen the last of it.
Come on, Jack. I've lied long enough.
JACK NICKLAUS: I apologize. Up at the country club, totally forgot.
JACK VICKERS: I called your wife.
JACK NICKLAUS: Went up there and did that, forget about coming down here. I don't do that often.
JACK VICKERS: I'll listen and you can talk.
JACK NICKLAUS: What are we talking about? When I'm not playing golf, I don't ever really go to the press room.
JACK VICKERS: They've been asking me a bunch of questions about the tournament, the dates, all that. We've been through all that.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't need to get into that.
Q. What is your ideal field size if you want to reduce it?
JACK VICKERS: Well, let me put it this way: get it down to where we can manage it. I don't know whether that's 90 or a hundred. I can tell you it's for damn sure not 144. I'm not stuck on a number. I want something that works and something that's going to keep somebody from getting hurt.
Q. Mr. Nicklaus, part of the discussion was about players supporting tournaments. Some of us remember when you and Mr. Palmer and Mr. Player went out of your way to save golf tournaments that were in trouble.
JACK NICKLAUS: Don't go that far. What I tried to do is I tried to play at least one golf tournament every year that I did not normally play in. I think Arnold did, the same with Gary. We got four, five, six tournaments a year that we hadn't been playing in to support some of that. That's what you're talking about, okay?
Q. Do today's players need to look at that and say they should do that, too?
JACK NICKLAUS: I have no idea what they should do. Times have changed so much. They win as much money for finishing fifth as I did in a year. We had a lot of different things in those days. We ended up we played golf to make a name so we could go out and make a living. Today the guys can make a living playing golf. Big difference.
I don't think it's my place. It's a different generation. I don't think it's my place to tell them or even suggest what they do. I think if I were playing today, I would probably play I doubt if I'd play I might even play less than what I played when I played, and I never really played a lot.
But it isn't a money issue. The issue is that you have so many significant events, and frankly they're all significant today, even the ones that they're skipping, they're all significant events. They have so many more significant events, to try to get themselves really ready to play hard and play well, it's difficult to do it on a week to week basis. Really tough.
Q. Jack, could you talk about your relationship with this man through the years, remembering the call he gave you, what you thought when you came down Happy Canyon Road.
JACK NICKLAUS: Jack's memory is probably a lot better than mine. I have a tendency to forget what happened. But I know that Jack called me and asked me, he said he wanted to do a golf course out here, wanted me to do it. I said, of course, I want to do it. Came out. I remember the first day we walked the property. I said, "Here?" I'm a flat lander (laughter).
Anyway, we walked through the property. Didn't have any stakes out here the first time we came out here, just looked at the property. I remember grabbing on to scrub oak after scrub oak after scrub oak. Today I would say, "Have a good time." No way I would walk up these hills today.
No, we looked at it, knew it was a nice piece of property. We knew that obviously, Jack and his whole family have been a big golfing family all his life, very heavily involved in the game of golf. He wanted to do something right. I love doing things right. It's not often you get the opportunity in the game to have somebody that wants to do something well and do it right, certainly is not afraid to spend and extra dollar to get that done and to do it right. Jack certainly didn't limit us to any degree on that issue. He certainly went overboard with everything that needed to get done.
There's only a couple things that Jack and I argued about: the location of the clubhouse was one. The location of the clubhouse I had down between 8 and 8 was like the finishing hole, and 9 was like the first hole, and 18 was like the 10th, in that area. The reason I had it down there was so we wouldn't be playing downhill and then all the way back uphill, that we would start going up a little bit up, down, a little back up, try to blend going up and down.
Jack said, "No, it's Pikes Peak over there. I can't see it from there, but I can see it from here." That's why the clubhouse is here plus it's his course (laughter). I think the only thing that hampered from that was probably his driving range. I think he'll agree his driving range
JACK VICKERS: That was my fault.
JACK NICKLAUS: Probably not quite enough room for the driving range.
JACK VICKERS: If you recall, Jack tried to get me to take all the property to the right of the driving range for those condominiums, The Ridge they call it in there. In retrospect, I made a mistake there. I should have.
JACK NICKLAUS: Still the space is short.
JACK VICKERS: It is. But particularly we got away with it till the ball changed, then it really changed.
JACK NICKLAUS: It really changed. Even I could hit it up the range now. But outside of those couple little things, and I don't know how many of these ponderosas you moved.
JACK VICKERS: A lot.
JACK NICKLAUS: You moved a lot. He tried to take every tree in this golf course, rather than cutting it down, moving it. That was a lot of trees. I mean, that was a big, big effort, I want to tell you.
JACK VICKERS: We were a year, year and a half just moving trees.
JACK NICKLAUS: You were a long time moving trees, yeah. I kid him about adding tees on the golf course. He's called me on every one of them. Everything he's wanted to change on this golf course, he's called, been very respectful of what I did here, involved me in it. You know, I think done a pretty good job of having a pretty good golf course.
Q. You heard about the change he wants to make to 1.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know what you're talking about.
JACK VICKERS: Nobody knows that. You're going to get me in trouble. That isn't a change.
JACK NICKLAUS: What do you want to do at 1?
JACK VICKERS: I was telling him that house that got in there on the back of 1 got too close. He's a nice guy and he's willing to do a pretty good landscape job. I'm going to wait and see how it all turns out. I was making the comment that if push came to shove, rather than looking right at it, we could take that green back, I think I mentioned to you on the phone, we could take it down to where those wildflowers are, just move it 30 or 40 yards to the left where you're not looking at that house.
JACK NICKLAUS: We could move the house 30 or 40 yards.
JACK VICKERS: Move the house, that's right. It's in its worst look right now because it sticks out like a sore thumb. I think once you get some stone on it, it's landscaped, it will look entirely different. If it doesn't, we'll come back and address it.
JACK NICKLAUS: That's right.
Q. I know golf courses, for those who design them, are like children. Where would you rank Castle Pines among all the courses you designed? What is the best round you ever scored out here?
JACK NICKLAUS: First of all, the first question, I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole.
The second question is I don't have a clue what I best score I shot. No idea.
JACK VICKERS: I don't either.
JACK NICKLAUS: I have no idea.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK NICKLAUS: I have no clue, no idea. If I answered that question, I mean, Castle Pines is obviously one of my favorite golf courses that I've been involved with for a lot of reasons. One, I'm very proud of my friendship with Jack, very proud to have the International tournament here, the success that Castle Pines has enjoyed. Proud to be a founder and member. There's a lot of things I'm very proud of.
I've got 250 other golf courses that would be very mad at me if I said that Castle Pines is my favorite place, vice versa. Same thing if I said it about Muirfield Village or anything else. You love all your children, right? Better not have a favorite child. The other children don't like it.
Q. What tips would you give to the boys that are heading to Baltusrol next week?
JACK NICKLAUS: Baltusrol as you recall is a thinking golf course. I don't know whether they've lengthened it or not. Probably have, they've lengthened everywhere else. Baltusrol, it's a golf course. You just got to play golf shots. Length is not a real big issue at Baltusrol. Placement of the golf ball, a little bit of patience.
Q. We hear you retired, but I heard that you also are probably having a busier schedule now.
JACK NICKLAUS: I got to go back to play golf if this retirement stuff doesn't work out (laughter).
I've been busy as a hornet for the last couple of weeks. I was busy before that. I've been busy a lot. I enjoy what I do. All I can do is tell my office just because I'm not playing golf tournaments doesn't mean they can fill my schedule with more work. I decided I want to do some other things.
I have no intention to go back and play any golf. I'll go play and fathers and sons. I played a father and son Tuesday with my son Michael. I'll go play the father and son at the end of the year with Jackie. I guess I played at the Bears Club in Florida, Gary, father and son there. Three holes before we got rained out. That kind of stuff, Skins Game, I'll do that kind of stuff.
I've always held I have the ability, if I want to, the right to go back and host at Muirfield. I'm pretty sure I will not do that next year because I want to stay away from it for a year. Then if I want to go back and be a host, then I can go back and be a host. That would be it.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK NICKLAUS: Work. That's how I unwind. I enjoy my work. I've done a little bit of fishing. I got back from St. Andrews, and I think I went to two golf courses the next week. I think I spent most of it at home. I only went two places. Then the next week I went up to the Senior Open, which Barbara and I were honorary chairman. I left from there to go to Iceland. I fished Iceland from Wednesday through Sunday morning. Sunday night I ended up in Salt Lake City. Monday, played the ProAm. Monday afternoon I went to Promitory, a course I'm working on in Park City. Came back, went to dinner that night. Came back and played the event the next day.
Fishing yesterday morning. Went over to Nebraska yesterday afternoon, worked on a golf course. Came in here. Got up this morning and did the First Tee thing. Up at the country club, talking about wanting to do some work on the golf course. You were right about No. 9 and 10. Good suggestion. Tomorrow I'm going to Lake (indiscernible), South Carolina, work on a golf course, then home. Open up a golf course on Monday. Another golf course on Tuesday. Got to be at the PGA dinner on Tuesday night. Wednesday, press conference. I got a golf course in Baltimore Wednesday afternoon. Golf course in Sarasota on Thursday. Golf course in Orlando on Friday I'm going to work on.
I finish there, then I come back home for about two days I think and then I go to San Antonio, Tucson, Palm Springs, back to Moonlight Basin, Montana, Promitory again, and off into then I go fish for a few days. I'm going to do an elk hunt. On my way back, I'll stop at another golf course on my way home. I'm home for one day, then I go to I head off to (indiscernible), Namibia, Livingston, Zambia, St. Francis Bay, South Africa, St. Francis Bay to Sicily, Sicily to Faro, Portugal, Portugal to Ireland, Ireland to Moscow, Moscow back home.
Q. Are you taking Christmas off?
JACK NICKLAUS: That gets me to September 9th. I'm supposed to go to the Ohio State/Texas game on the 9th or the 10th. The rest of the time I'm going to be fishing with Gordon Gray.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK NICKLAUS: I have two. But I'm taking an extra on these trips. That will take me up to the middle of September. Then I'm going to try to find some time to do something. No, I got The Presidents Cup then. Then I think actually once October starts, I have very little after that. Most of these golf courses I'm working on, we finish up this fall. I'm trying to finish them this fall before we get to bad weather so I can get them finished. Once I finish with that, then I'll have a little bit of fun, play a little bit of tennis.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK NICKLAUS: She wonders that right now. I tell you, she might wonder that this morning. I sat there and I said, "I got to go. Got to get going." She said, "I'll go out in the parking lot with you." Gave her a kiss good bye. Waited for her. Finally I just left.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK NICKLAUS: Was that what she was talking about? That's the first time I've done that in a long time. All your fault. Your fault, too. No, I think we'll be all right.
Q. Could you talk about The Presidents Cup and being asked to captain again, the golf with The Ryder Cup, what it means to you as far as sportsmanship.
JACK NICKLAUS: The Presidents Cup in South Africa, you know how I feel about that. I think that was the greatest event I've ever been involved in, bar any event I ever won. I thought that what that did for the country of South Africa and the eyes of the world from people who were there and understood what went on. President Umbeke, when we came there, he was a little bit of a cold cucumber. He didn't understand golf, what we were doing. By the end of the week, you have never seen a more enthusiastic man for what he thought was going to happen to his country, what the goodwill was. President Bush 41 was there. It was a great event. Of course, nobody lost. Everybody was a winner. That's what was so neat about it. They played hard, great sportsmanship. It was just a great event.
In my mind, it was what it's supposed to be. It's supposed to be a goodwill event. It's really nice to win, but it doesn't make really a hoot who wins or not. It's really what it does for the game, what it did internationally. I mean, I've never been to an event, when we called the event after three holes, it got dark, that the people had their arms around each other singing going back to the clubhouse. The presentation, they were still singing. I mean, it was unbelievable. It was just something really, really neat to be involved in.
To be asked again, I told Tim when it was over, I said, "I certainly am not asking to be captain, but any time you need me, you know I'm here, any time you want me." He called me back, "Remember the offer you gave me? We want you again." I'm not going to turn anybody down. If they want me to do it, I'm delighted. I'm looking forward to it this year.
Gary is looking forward to it. Gary is a great guy to be captain on the other side. Gary has the same feelings I have. He's a good person. He believes in the sportsmanship, the way the game should be played. We'll have another great event.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK NICKLAUS: That's the way you live your life. You can live your life where you try to beat somebody's brains out, beat your chest if you want to. I'm so tired of seeing people beat their chest and do all that stuff as you see on television all the time, that drives me insane. I love seeing somebody be able to do something that they got a teammate that did something right or somebody else did something besides themselves.
Golf is a game that happens. It's a game I think the kids today in golf are just as good from that standpoint as the kids that I grew up with. That's one thing, I think you find all these kids are pretty darn good kids.
JACK VICKERS: Absolutely.
JACK NICKLAUS: Just a minute ago, Sean O'Hair who I had not met was waiting outside for me. Guess he'd been waiting a while because I forget. Bob Bubka came to me and asked me, he was still waiting out there with his family just to say hello. Here is a kid that read my book I guess before the last event he went to and won. It's nice to see a kid like that, nice to see a kid that's enthusiastic. Said of staying, "Hey, man, I did this, look at me." That was very nice.
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JACK NICKLAUS: Next week.
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JACK NICKLAUS: Uh huh. I'm not going to give you an answer to that because I don't have any answer to it.
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JACK NICKLAUS: They're all good players, yeah. I don't know what I'm going to do. I mean, I've got a very difficult situation. My guess is that I probably will not pick 11 and 12. I didn't last time. I think the American team is relatively young, so I might want some experience somewhere along the line. How that plays out over the next two weeks we'll certainly find out. As an assistant captain, I have to select somebody. I want them to what I try to do in an assistant captain is I find somebody, if I need a replacement, he becomes my replacement, if somebody gets sick, but also somebody who has probably won a major champion, like Jeff Sluman, won a PGA Championship, Jeff may someday be a captain himself. That experience for that guy is a thing. That's what I'm looking for.
I've got two weeks to make that decision. Every Monday morning I run down the latest numbers, see what happened, who did what.
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JACK NICKLAUS: It's always difficult because you always leave somebody out. If you leave out the guys that are 11th and 12th, the next two on the list, pick somebody else, but that's why they stopped it at 10, so you had the ability to do that. There's some guys that really can add to your team. I just need to figure that out. I think Gary probably has the same problem that I have. Gary probably has a greater problem than I have because I think he's got more good players to choose from than I have. The international team is deeper than the US team.
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JACK VICKERS: I think you've heard me on that before. Just to refresh your memories, we chose I chose Jack because, first of all, I thought he was going to be the greatest golfer that ever played, and I still think that. I think that means something to the prestige of the club. We've been friends, as Jack said, for a long time. I first met Jack, he probably doesn't even remember this, but Prairie Dunes, playing in Mississippi, I was a board member. The directors kept coming in there and saying, "Who is that young kid from Ohio knocking all the balls out of sight out there on the driving range?" Do you remember that?
JACK NICKLAUS: 18 year old kid.
JACK VICKERS: I think I refereed the semifinal match. Wasn't the other match with Richey Norville?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know who Richey played.
JACK VICKERS: I know I did referee one of the matches. Anyway, over the years, amateur golf and so on, I kind of got to know Jack a little bit. I think when you came out there, what were you, 16 or 17.
JACK NICKLAUS: 18.
JACK VICKERS: Anyway, bottom line, I felt like Jack had the best outlook and conception on the golf layout. He worked hard at it. He offered to work hard with me on it, and he did. He had two great guys working for him in Jay Marsh and Bob Cupp, who are pretty damn good on their own now.
JACK NICKLAUS: They're excellent.
JACK VICKERS: So I thought organizationally Jack had the best team. He had a lot of good work that he had done. Over and above everything else, I love working with him because I think we understood each other and understood the game.
I always remember doing this one. We were walking in our jeans in the dirt over on 16. We got about halfway to the green and no grass had been seeded or anything. It was all roughed out, grated out, it was all dirt. We were about halfway to the green. Jack stopped and looked at me and he said, "What do you think of this hole?" I said, "Well, you asked me, I don't think it's worth a damn." He said, "You know, I don't either. Sit down." He sat right down there in the dirt, he free formed a different hole out of that thing that I loved. That's the golf hole today.
Do you remember that?
JACK NICKLAUS: It started because we had the tee too low. Couldn't see anything.
JACK VICKERS: That's right. People to this day, they don't realize that hole is uphill, and it is.
JACK NICKLAUS: We got it to where you could see most of it. You still lose a bit of the front of the green.
JACK VICKERS: A little bit. It's a controversial hole. I had a couple of brothers, my brother Bobby passed away, and Jimmy threatened several times to take a plow out there when I was out of town and plow it up. I said, "Nobody's touching that damn green." It has been a controversial green. But I think it is a challenging hole. If you hit it in the right place there, you're going to be a winner. If you don't, you're in deep trouble.
JACK NICKLAUS: I like the hole.
JACK VICKERS: I like the hole, too.
JACK NICKLAUS: It is controversial. Sometimes controversy's good.
JACK VICKERS: Absolutely.
JACK NICKLAUS: On that particular hole, you play the right shot, you got two ways, you can carry it in or turn it in, whichever way you want to do it. You have the collection bunker that's there to say, "Hey."
JACK VICKERS: We had another piece of the same story later after we opened up, we played it for years. I called Jack one day and said, "Next time you're coming west, I'd love for you to stop in. I'm catching hell about the 16th hole." So he did. We went out there, the back tee. I don't know, there were 10, 15 guys that went with us. Jack says, "Throw five balls out here." That pin was in that left position over the back of the collection bunker. I always remember it because he put those I don't know whether you hit a 3 iron or what it was, but he was putting them sky high. They were all circling the hole, about 10 feet around the hole. He turned around to everybody and said, "There's nothing wrong with this hole."
We did later as a result of that put four feet of retainer in the back. I thought it was a nice exercise to go out and watch.
JACK NICKLAUS: It was kind of funny. In those days, when I was able to play while I'm doing designing, I could go out and I could hit a golf ball, a 1 iron through this roof up here. Now I can't even get a 1 iron under these chairs. It's amazing how you change and how your perspective changes to what you can do and what you can't do. I never really to me, a guy says, "I can't hit that shot." I say, "Learn, I did. Other people had to learn."
If you can't play that golf shot, find another way, give you another way to play that hole. I gave them another way to play that hole. Bring it from the right and let the slope carry into the hole.
I learned that you try to get people, if they can't play a certain way, give them another way to play it or a way to bail out, a way to get around this golf course. I do that with all the golf courses I do. That part hasn't changed. It's fun to do it that way. I remember that exercise, it was fun. I don't remember what I hit either. Probably a 4 iron. 3 irons sometimes tend to be too much. Now it's a 4 wood, maybe 3 wood.
Haven't put a new tee in there, have you?
JACK VICKERS: No. On the land back there, though.
JACK NICKLAUS: Anyway, I don't think length is necessarily the answer. Length is some of the answer but not all the answer. You've got to make them play golf shots. Today the emphasis on the game is all power. I think you need to take some of the emphasis of power out of the game. Power is always a great asset. I had power. I had power when I needed it. But 85 to 90% of the shots I played were played with a shot and not the power. When you had the power and used it, then you had that 10% advantage over the other players. That was probably maybe the difference between what I did and what somebody else did.
Today they all have power because of equipment. The guys are big and strong. So the element of playing the shot is not nearly as important as being able to hit it out there. I think if you take the example of your five leading money winners last year, they were not in the top 120 in driving accuracy last year, none of the five. Now, that didn't mean they couldn't hit it in the fairway because they'd all won US Opens or PGA Championships or British Opens or a Masters, which meant they had to be able to drive the ball in play when they had to drive the ball in play.
Today it's better for them to play a ball out of the rough with a wedge than it is out of the fairway with a 7 iron or 8 iron, the equipment we have today and the ball we have. That's why the game has changed from being a shot making game to a power game. I think that's a shame for the game. As a result of that, a lot of tournaments, of course all they do is add length, length, length. What do you do? You encourage that scenario to be more. As a result, you eliminate more of the Jay Haases and Mike Weirs, Gary Players. You probably heard me tell the story about Gary. First year they changed Augusta, two or three years ago. Gary came back. I was at the Bears Club. Gary is a member of our club at home. He was out on Tuesday. He was hitting balls. Went out and talked to him. I didn't play that year.
"Course is tough." He said, "Jack, you won't believe how tough it was. I am so proud of shooting 78 and breaking 80 on the second round." I said, "Gary, come on, don't tell me that. You're a Masters champion. You tell me you're proud of breaking 80." He said, "Jack, you won't believe how tough it was." I said, "In that case, then I guess as tough and long as it was, if the course had been that way 30 years ago, you never would have won a Masters." I just threw in that little softball. He looked at me, all of a sudden, "Oh, yes, I would have."
But it is a little bit that way 'cause the way the game is today, you would have taken Gary out of tournaments, you would have taken Ben Hogan, Gardner Dickinson out, Hale Irwin. The way the game is going today, you eliminate a lot of those guys who are wonderful players for the element of trying to make sure you can try to control power.
Why in the world are we doing this? You heard me go through this soapbox so often. Why are we doing this? Why don't we do the little simple thing to where the strategy comes into play. You don't spend millions of dollars like Jack or they do at Augusta to change your golf course where it costs just a couple thousand dollars to change a golf ball.
You could be here all night and into tomorrow and so forth. I apologize for being late. I got absorbed doing my work.
JACK VICKERS: Thank you.
End of FastScripts.