|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
February 20, 2007
JAMES CRAMER: I'd like to welcome everyone to this press conference prior to the Accenture Match Play Championship, and it's an honor to have Jack Nicklaus with us. Before we go to Jack, I'd like to ask Jack Warfield, vice president of PGA TOUR championship management, to say a few words about the reason that Jack is here. Jack?
JACK WARFIELD: Thanks, James. First of all, I really want to give a thanks to John McMillan and the Gallery staff here. They've done a fantastic job on prepping us for our first course of a transition of a four-year period, and they've done fantastic things for us, been a great team to work with.
Secondly, a couple things to hit on before I hand over. We've done a great job in the community here, and it really doesn't come without a lot of hard work on people's parts. I'd like to thank Michael Gardener, executive director; also, John Belton, who is the Tucson Conquistadors chairman, and Judy McDermott.
I also want to announce that as of this morning, we sold out the event. Tickets are now all gone. We're extremely excited about that, and we're going to go forward with a great event this week.
The transition we want to talk about today -- and we're so grateful to have Jack with us to talk about it -- is going to be moving hopefully '09. The plans are to move down the road about a mile and a half, going to be a 36-hole golf course, beautiful setup there. It's going to be a five-star hotel, fantastic piece of property. David Mehl and his folks have done a great job down there, and so we're looking forward to that and hearing the comments on what you've seen.
With that, I want to hand over to Gary Beckner, who is director of global events for Accenture. Would you make a few comments, please.
GARY BECKNER: Jack, thank you for being with us today. On behalf of Accenture 150 employees worldwide, we are really pleased to be part of this great event. You'll hear a lot of thank yous throughout the week. First of all, we want to thank The International Federation of PGA TOURs for putting together what we feel is a great series, and we feel that we have the flagship event with the Match Play Championship.
Secondly, I want to second Jack's remark with the Gallery Club. We all have been dealing with golf course management and organizations throughout the world, and I can tell you without a doubt or hesitation, this is the finest organization that we have ever worked with. From day one when we met with Dave and we met with John McMillan, the very first thing they said to us, "The answer is yes; what's the question?" And that's the way it's been ever since.
Thirdly, we'd like to thank the Conquistadors, who have been just a wonderful partner in working with us in generating support throughout the community and making this thing the sellout that it is today.
Fourthly, we'd like to thank the mayors of Tucson and Marana, as well as the governor of Arizona. They've been a very big part of all of us wanting to come here. They've given us unlimited support from the 18 months ago when we first met with them, and we really want to thank them.
And lastly, not to let the cat out of the bag, we wanted to thank Jack for being here today and also to announce what he will be announcing as we will be looking forward to continuing our partnership with the Gallery Golf Club, with John McMillan, with David Mehl, and now with Jack Nicklaus, as well.
Thank you all for covering this event. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Thank you.
JAMES CRAMER: I'd now like to ask Mr. David Mehl, the developer of Dove Mountain, to say a few words before we talk to Mr. Nicklaus.
DAVID MEHL: Thank you all of you for coming. This is amazing to have this Accenture Match Play tournament and the support of Accenture and the PGA and Dove Mountain. We are blessed with amazing land, really the best of the very high desert, so it's been exciting working on the development to date, and looking forward to what we're developing in the future.
It's hard to describe how exciting it is to walk around with Jack Nicklaus and watch him in action designing a golf course. He is an amazing artist and just obviously an incredible golf mind. Combining those two things into his design talent is really just a beauty to behold.
24 years ago we did the La Paloma course together with my brother, and now we're out here at the reunion. It really is wonderful to be back together, so Jack, I want to thank you.
JAMES CRAMER: Before we take questions, Jack, you were out there. You were on-site and had a site visit. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about your day this morning and what you saw and your thoughts about the new property.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, this is probably about the fourth visit, I guess, fourth or fifth visit, into here and the golf course. Basically what we're doing is we're doing a 36-hole complex. And we're sort of working our way -- I don't know what direction that is -- that's west, starting on the east part of the golf property and working our way west. And we're actually doing -- the first nine we're basically almost finished, which is actually a Members Golf Club. And then today we're back in on the second nine, which is -- will be the first nine or actually would be the back nine of the tournament golf course, and then we've got the first nine of the tournament golf course and then we'll go into the back nine of the Members Golf Club.
But there will be two golf courses. All four will come back to the clubhouse. It's absolutely gorgeous -- well, you look outside; it's the same thing. It's gorgeous high desert. You've got a great saguaro forest, an abundance and a variety of cactus. You've got beautiful vistas. It's sort of in our mind not to mess up, not do much with it.
But it's a very, very pretty piece of property. We should end up with a very nice golf course. Obviously we're tailoring the golf course towards the Match Play Championship, and assuming that the golf course -- the tournament will move there. It's planned to. That's the way it is phrased today I assume, isn't it, Jack?
JACK WARFIELD: Yeah, it is.
JACK NICKLAUS: We'll get that golf course done. We'll finish the first nine up here this year, the second nine will be grassed up next spring, so it'll be ready for 2009 quite easily. That's what our goals are today.
As I say, on the tournament golf course, which is what you're interested in, we've got probably 10, 14, 15, 16, part of 17, 18 shaped, part of 11, tees at 12, opened up at 13. That's about what's on that nine. We haven't opened up the other nine yet, and that will get opened up later on this year. That's where we are.
JAMES CRAMER: Questions for Mr. Nicklaus, please.
Q. Could you talk about specifics on -- about tailoring a golf course towards the Match Play venue?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know how to do that (laughter). All I know how to do is do what I think is right for that piece of ground, keeping in mind that we are going to have an event there and it's going to be a match play type of event. I think there's a little difference in what you might -- you probably do tailor a little bit, tailor something for match play than you do for medal play.
During match play you might have a couple more difficult pins in some awkward areas at certain times that you might not want to have for a medal play tournament that you would use once a year type thing.
And so my guessing is that we will do a little bit of that, and we are doing a little bit of that. I really haven't made up my mind how tough I want to make the golf course. I think you want -- it's going to be right now probably in the area of 7,800 yards would be my guess. At this altitude, though, you're taking about four percent off of that at this altitude, so that takes off, what, 300 yards. So you're at a 7,500-yard golf course, which for these guys is fine.
Membership, we've got a golf course that sits in there at around 6,700 yards, which actually plays about 64, 641/2. It's a nice Members Golf Club with a set of back tees that will hopefully challenge the guys out here. You want to challenge them, but you also want them to play it and have some excitement and making some birdies and that sort of thing. So you've got a variety of things to do.
I think it's always good to have the opportunity to make a number of birdies, but it's also a good opportunity to have some holes where you actually challenge people to make par. I mean, par should be important sometimes.
Q. Earlier today Tiger said he has changed the way he walks around a golf course now that he's an architect. He looks at things (laughter). Did that happen to you when you started your design?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, after about 20 years of it, yeah (laughter).
Q. This isn't your first time designing a course, but maybe it's been a few years. Any changes you've seen in Tucson --
JACK NICKLAUS: I'm sorry? What did you say?
Q. Redesigning a course, doing a course here again and the changes maybe from doing a course years and years ago in Tucson. Now it's grown out to Marana. Any difference in scenery change with the metropolitan area? Anything with Tucson draw you back?
JACK NICKLAUS: Not really. We had a long way to the restaurant last night. I'll tell you that.
Q. Maybe the drought of desert golf in that aspect of building --
JACK NICKLAUS: What was the altitude at La Paloma?
DAVID MEHL: Very similar.
JACK NICKLAUS: About the same altitude, yeah. And you had nice saguaro there, too. Not really. You really try to do a golf course for where you are and what's there. There's nothing really changed. I think that 24 years and probably about 200 golf courses beyond La Paloma for myself, and so obviously I ought to try to be able to do some different things and more exciting things than we used to do. But you learn from that as you do it.
Golf course design obviously for me has been a blessing. You know, it's allowed me to take what I've learned playing the game of golf and be able to transition from playing golf into another field that allowed me to stay in the game that I love.
To be able to take those things and have the different ideas -- actually I've been doing it now for 40 years, so 40 years of experience of doing golf courses, we ought to have a little variety, a little different things to do and some things that are kind of interesting and fun.
I don't really ever have a specific idea when I go on a piece of property, and I still don't have a specific idea what I'm going to do on this golf course yet. I know how the holes flow and what we're going to do with them, but I'm not sure how I want to finish them. I sort of let that evolve.
What I mean is that David saw a perfect example on 18 today, the finishing hole on the golf course, a hole that was originally 452 yards, I think, and it sort of doglegged right and came back into a hill that turned left over an arroyo. I put a bunker in on the right side of the fairway, which was about 270 carry, and then another bunker into the left center of the fairway which was about 300 yards.
It was kind of an area you could play short of and play left of. Didn't give you as good of an angle unless you tried to challenge the bunker on the right and put it into another area. I kept looking at it and said, I don't think we're long enough for those guys. 270 is not long enough at this altitude. So I moved the tee back to 320 yards today. I had an idea and a concept on the green. I changed the concept on the green and I had them lower the green pad to get more of a gallery area, more of an amphitheater effect. Went in today and sort of got a little bit more specific with what I wanted to do. In other words, each time I come it sort of evolves into the next place.
The finishing hole will be a very strong finishing hole, but then I also had to do, How to you play that hole for the membership? People are going to play here. David is selling real estate. Aside from having the Accenture tournament here, he is selling real estate. He's got to be able to keep this place afloat the next week.
You've got to be able to create it so people can play the golf course, and how do you create the strategy for them? Actually there's 100 yards difference between the back tee and the front tee on that green, because the green is severe so it allows the member to be able to get to a place where we can drive it so the bunkers aren't in play, but they don't murder them. Because if you put it on a normal progression of 30 or 40 yards they would never get near the bunkers. The bunkers weren't in play. They never could play the second shot.
So I have to get it to where they can play the golf course and then get to where the gorillas, as I call them, the guys out here, the guys that bomb it, they're tested, too. So you've got to have a combination of those things. It's kind of fun. Obviously I kind of enjoy doing it.
Q. This is as it relates to the tournament course. I'd be curious what the routing is. What strikes me as odd about this one is this course for this two years is it goes straight out and basically --
JACK NICKLAUS: This one? I don't know this one --
Q. -- back. Did you say all of them come back to the clubhouse? Is it a routing that allows -- I'm thinking of the gallery in this case. More than a couple holes at a time?
JACK NICKLAUS: It's actually very much a park golf course. I don't know whether there's any real estate inside the golf course or not. Is there?
DAVID MEHL: All the fairways are double loaded so there's never -- there is some real estate between the two nines, but within the nines it's all double fairways.
JACK NICKLAUS: We haven't really finalized the front nine. We went out the other day to take a look at it the last time I was here three weeks ago. I said, "Look, guys, we're looking at vegetation as high as this tree, and when you're right here you can't see anything. We're going to keep this on topo until we get this thing open."
The back nine actually runs out two holes, plays the par 3, runs back one hole, then goes up a valley for four holes. Then comes back and connects beside 10 back into 18. So it's kind of a T shape, which is really excellent for gallery. We've got space -- a wonderful gallery on 10 and 18, and on 14, 15, 16 and 17, we've got a central area which is elevated which people can go up and beyond that area and they'll see 14, 15, 16 and 17 from that central area. So it's designed for a gallery-friendly usage.
Q. Secondly, you have the Tucson tournament I believe for match play when you were still playing a fairly full schedule, correct, on the Tour? Didn't they have match play during the later stages of your career? You never played there?
JACK NICKLAUS: No. I think I played once at 49er. Did I play Tucson National?
Q. Yes, once.
JACK NICKLAUS: I think I played once at each of them. I didn't do very well so I didn't come back (laughter). I remember 49ers opened up, I think I hit my opening two tee shots out of bounds. Made a 9 on the first hole or something.
Q. I would have been curious how much you enjoyed match play. Would having a lot of match play tournaments in golf be too much --
JACK NICKLAUS: I love match play.
Q. Why do you go match play as an amateur and then when you get to the professional level it's -- they didn't have television when you started, did they?
JACK NICKLAUS: No, and as a matter of fact they barely had cars (laughter).
Thank you, Doug.
No, there wasn't much television. I forgot your question because I was having fun with it.
Q. Match play, stroke play.
JACK NICKLAUS: I did an article these last couple weeks -- I haven't read my own article, but I think part of our system is flawed in the United States from the Ryder Cup standpoint and so forth where I think that our whole high school and college system is all medal play, and I don't think it's that way in a lot of other countries.
We don't play much match play as you go through and you get to the Tour. All of a sudden you get like Brett Wetterich who plays in the Ryder Cup matches and he's never played a match before.
You know, we don't play it. I'd love to see a little bit more match play. Is it a little harder from a television standpoint? Yeah, probably. Yeah, do you have a little bit of a chance of having not your marquee players playing in the finals? Yeah, probably so. But there are a lot of people here, and you are all here. It must not be too bad. And Accenture doesn't feel it's too bad; it wouldn't be involved.
I'd love to see a little bit more match play come back. I'd love to see a little bit more variety. I think it would be a lot better for the players. I think in this field actually there's only about a third of the players are American players here or something, something of that nature.
But still, we don't have enough within our own system to give the guys the ability to finish golf tournaments, and I think that's what you have to do is be able to finish a golf tournament. I think match play teaches you how to finish on a day-to-day basis, so it's a very, very good program to have.
Q. That would translate to stroke play, wouldn't it, the finishing part?
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, sure, of course it does, really. Because each day is a tournament in match play, and you've got to finish that day if you want to go to the next day. So it teaches you how to finish a match play tournament or a medal play tournament, either one. I love match play. I think I go back and I look at my record, and I was very proud in '59. I lost one match in '59. I lost the quarterfinals of the British Amateur. Actually I lost two matches in '60: One in the U.S. Amateur and one in the Colonial Invitational which I was defending, and then I lost one match in 1961.
So I lost four matches in the last years I played amateur golf, but I was proud of that. It was match play. You're going head to head and you're playing guys and you had to beat guys to get to the next round.
As a result, I was a lot tougher when I got to the Tour and got to medal play, when I had to finish a tournament I was able to finish it. I think the guys on the Tour today have to be taught that before they get there.
Q. No coincidence that Tiger's match play record as an amateur was --
JACK NICKLAUS: Tiger's record as an amateur was fantastic. He knew how to finish as a kid, and when he got here he didn't have to go through that. He already knew how. Absolutely, that was no coincidence. That's really what you were asking, wasn't it?
Q. Yeah. I want to follow up on the comment to bringing the course here to life in Tucson in particular. In the world of wine we have a word, "terroir" that speaks of taste of place. How important in your golf course architecture philosophy is bringing out the beautiful taste of the place so to speak for the people who are playing? How important is making it feel like --
JACK NICKLAUS: That is the most important thing. I mean, I'm not a wine drinker -- used to be but I'm not anymore. I drank too much of it earlier (laughter). But people who like wine really like the bouquet, the taste, the look, the whole nine yards. And when you're playing golf, to me to go out and play in an unattractive place and not have -- bring out the nature of what's there, you're wasting what you're doing.
I mean, here you've got beautiful mountains; you've got a beautiful saguaro forest; you've got a beautiful high desert; you've got beautiful vistas. You've got to take advantage of that all throughout your golf course and bring that out in the golf course and try and make that be part of it.
Q. So you're looking to bring that out?
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, absolutely. That's what you try to do. If you don't, then I think you're really sort of not doing your job.
Q. As a follow-up, what does Tucson give you to work with that's unique in your architecture career?
JACK NICKLAUS: The mountains, the saguaros, the vistas, the high desert, et cetera, et cetera. It gives us that. I have a story which sort of answers what your question is. Years ago, and I've told -- some of you have heard this story. I did a clinic -- had an outing actually at a facility, and I went to that facility and I did a clinic in the morning. I don't know why I didn't play that day. I don't remember. But there were ten pros that play, and I met them for cocktails and dinner afterwards.
When they walked off -- when you went to the facility, the facility was magnificent, the building and clubhouse was gorgeous, golf course was in wonderful condition, the vistas were beautiful trees, beautiful lake, all the things that you'd want to make -- the service in the clubhouse was fantastic, appointments and everything, everything was beautiful.
So every amateur, when they walked in that day, they said, "That may be the best day I have ever had." That may be the best golf course I've ever played. All ten pros walked in, and they said, "Jack, that's the worst golf course I've ever seen."
I said, Well, okay, what did that really mean? So obviously the average golfer is really not too concerned with the quality of the golf course. They're concerned with their experience, their enjoyment, their partners, their friends, camaraderie, the beauty, the condition, all those things.
The pro, what do they consider? The shot values, what's my challenges, how can I play, so forth and so on, how can I do things the right way.
Basically my design philosophy now is I took the two of them together. If you can do a golf course and make it esthetically pleasing, make it as pretty as you can, take advantage of all the surroundings, put everything together and put good shots in it and fair shots, then you've done what you should do for a golf course, and that's really what I try to do.
Q. Lastly, as a follow-up, that design duality, knowing --
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't mean that course incidentally (laughter).
Q. It must be a very unusual experience for you to know that you're getting a big important professional event going to a course that you're designing. How often does that happen for you so that you know that that's part of the design duality that you're experiencing?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, we've played -- I don't know what the number is.
JAMES CRAMER: A lot.
JACK NICKLAUS: 500 or 600 tournaments on my courses, professional tournaments, so I've had a couple.
But I still get a charge out of that. I get a kick out of knowing that the best in the game are going to play my facility. But I also know that if I do that golf course, which is -- Muirfield Village was one of my early golf courses, and I did that golf course for that tournament. I spent the next 30 years or so changing it so the members can play it, too.
The whole idea is to make sure that you do a golf course for that tournament, but also a golf course that's a membership golf course where you can play it. I thought the old Augusta was as great a golf course from an idea of what to do. I mean, the members had plenty of room to play golf. It wasn't a particularly long golf course. They had plenty of places to hit the ball. They could get there, do what they had to do, and all you had to do was move the tees back and hide the pins and you had a championship golf course.
That's sort of been my philosophy and I think it's a good philosophy. Not that Augusta is a bad golf course today, it's a different golf course. It's a different philosophy. They've tightened it up for everybody. I don't think you needed to make it a tougher golf course for members. You've got to make it so the members and the people who pay the tariff can play it and enjoy it. That's the whole idea of the whole thing. Then you have the back tees and the challenge for the players. That's what we're trying to do.
Q. You said it's a fantastic piece of high desert and you don't want to mess it up. Could you give us any insight into what the main environmental challenges are both here and generally throughout your design philosophy?
JACK NICKLAUS: Every place you go they're different, and here in the desert you have the ability to take saguaros, some of them, and move them. Now, you're moving 200 and 300 year old plants. If they're moved properly, they can be moved. Because if you don't move them, you're going to knock them down basically if they're in the way, with a golf ball or a bulldozer as you're constructing the golf course.
You've got the sensitivity of all the other ecosystem that's out there. You've got the four fours that are running through the property, which are the government waterways and that you've got to protect and so forth. I don't know what kind of trout are coming up in those streams. It can't be many out here (laughter). The government still protects them, and that's fine.
We are given a set of rules that we have to follow, and that set of rules really helps me design a golf course. Because if you work within the rules of the environment and what rules you're given, you will then be able to -- and take those challenges or opportunities, whichever way you want to make them, and put them into a golf course, they really will come into play. They will come into play and they will come into function and the place that you are will not be harmed. That's what you're trying to do.
What you're trying to do is bring man and nature together to enjoy a game played outdoors. I think that's the important thing that you want to do. And you do that everywhere, whether I'm in Ireland or Scotland or whether I'm in South America or Africa or wherever I am doing whatever I do, I try to do the same type of things.
Many of the countries we go into -- I'm actually working on golf courses right now -- I've previously done 26 countries and I'm working in 29 countries right now, so I've got a lot of golf courses in places that are very interesting. I've got an opportunity to go into those countries and shape what the game of golf will be in the future. That's exciting to me. It's a game I love being part of. To be able to go into a country where you're basically pioneering, you go into those countries, and all of a sudden to be able to do a golf course that people will learn on and the youngsters in that country will learn on and they will come and be your tournament players of tomorrow, but giving them something to do it well on coming from that country, it's nice to be in that position.
Rather than giving them a piece of junk to play on and tearing up the environment -- and also going into that country I impose U.S. environmental conditions into those countries, because those countries don't necessarily have those environmental rules yet. So if I am going in there and I impose rules that are tough here on myself into those countries, then ten years from now when they do have those rules they'll say, Well, Jack Nicklaus didn't come in here and rape the environment in other words, so he came in here and did the thing properly.
That's what I want to do. I want to make sure what we do with the game of golf is that it grows throughout the world. It may not be good in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, but it'll be pretty good for the rest of the world.
Q. With so many great golf courses you've designed around the world and having to, I guess, take account of what's happening in championship golf where your courses are having to get longer and longer, are we getting to the point where the ball has to be restricted or the clubs have to be restricted, or are golf courses just going to have to keep getting longer?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, until they do something, if you want to play championship golf, the golf courses need to get longer. You don't have a choice. I mean, I think everybody is tired of a driver and a wedge. You can't go to all the old golf courses anymore without taking them totally and changing them, which I think is just ridiculous.
The game of golf, if you look at it, once we got past wood shafts and gutta-percha or whatever the ball was before, once we got into a wound golf ball and once we got into steel shafts, the game from basically the early 1930s until 1995 changed very little, and all the golf courses that were built needed very little adjustment to be able to handle any kind of a tournament. From 1995 to today, it's a totally different game. It's certainly not that game that I played when I grew up. Not that it's a bad game, it's just a totally different game.
And because of that every golf course that you're going to have for a tournament has to be done the way that we're trying to do this one. We used to be able to just do a golf course, do a course from the back tees and if you moved up 25 or 30 yards the strategy for the members' tees would fall into place, another 25 or 30 yards then the strategy for the seniors would fall into place, and then another 35 or 40 yards and that strategy would fall into place. That does not work anymore. The average golfer does not get what the pro gets out of the golf ball. When I talk about the average course being 100 yards different in length, the length of golf course played by the average golfer and the touring pro, the USGA and the R & A, one thing they want to do is have the same equipment. I couldn't agree more, but they couldn't be further apart because the equipment that we play today is designed for the good player, and the average golfer has to adapt himself to that. Can he do it? The odd person that hits the ball hard, yeah, he can get some distance, but they hit it further off line.
The growth of the game of golf and keeping people in the game, we need to do something that allows the average golfer to play the same game as the pro. When I was growing up and playing exhibitions I'd go out with the club champion very often, and playing his golf course he had a very good chance of beating me any time we played.
Today, if you take that club champion and out Tiger or Ernie or any one of those guys going out and doing it with us, not a chance on this earth are they going to beat them. They're not playing the same game. They just don't have the ability to do so.
I don't mean to be on my preaching stool again, but we need to do something where it brings the game back to where we don't have 17,000 obsolete golf courses in this country and 20 of them designed for tournaments. Just doesn't make any sense. We've played the same game for 60 years. Why does it have to be different now? Maybe I'm an old fuddy duddy.
Q. What club champion was it that ever beat you in your prime?
JACK NICKLAUS: Fortunately I don't remember the names, but quite a few (laughter). No, I had several. I absolutely did.
Q. How many visits will you make to do these two golf courses?
JACK NICKLAUS: I'll probably be here another eight or ten times, I suppose, would be my guess. We've got one nine basically done on the one golf course, and we have the first nine on the other golf course. I'll probably finish that in a couple more visits probably. So that would be maybe seven or eight visits for that, and it would be about the same for the next. That would be my guess. I've got Chet Williams who's right here. Chet is my design associate on the project. Chet will do a nice job. John Carter is on the site. John is right here. John is the DC we call it, design coordinator, on the site. John lives here and has been part of the whole project.
So what generally happens is I'll come in and I'll give Chet and John what I want done. Chet is a member of the American Society of Golf Courses. He's working on it. But anyway, he's quite capable of being one. He should be one. He will be shortly. Anyway, I come in, I get them what I want. They'll go out and do that work. Chet will make sure the work is getting carried out, John will carry it out on a daily basis, and then the next stage I come in and do that again and approve what we've done.
So it's Chet's job to carry out mine, and it's John's job to carry out what happens throughout the project and coordinate it. It's a process as a team to move forward and obviously to meet the needs that Tim and David want as it relates to what they need from a real estate standpoint from the movement, and of course from what the Tour will need as it relates to what they need from a tournament standpoint.
We work with that, everybody, as we go through and address all those issues, and I address them each time I come.
Q. I was brought up in UK on a diet of big three golf. We did have television in those days, and it was great.
JACK NICKLAUS: We did have television, see.
Q. Two parts to the question. Firstly, how much of what we've got here this week and 52 weeks of the year in the U.S. and Europe and around the world is actually owed to the big three in terms of what they did? Secondly, how much has the game changed in terms of a product for television in those years?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I don't know that we had a lot to do with it. I'm sure we had something to do with it. I think that Arnold came along at the right time for everything -- for television, for -- everything sort of blossomed at the same time. Arnold came along and really we didn't have a hero in the game at that time. Nobody had really won since the Hogan era and Snead era, and so Arnold came along and filled that gap, and then Gary and I came along to be part of that. I think we helped popularize it since then. The game has obviously grown leaps and bounds since then.
The second part of your question?
Q. How has the game changed for television. Is there a big three today?
JACK NICKLAUS: Has the game changed for better or worse, I don't know. I sometimes think it maybe has changed for the better, sometimes it's changed for the worse. For the better is that people watch the pros and they're absolutely amazed at what they can do, whereas it used to be they watched us and they said, "Well, I can do that," or "I think I can do that." You understand what I'm saying.
Is it good or is it bad? I don't think it's good, but then again, there are a lot of things that say -- it is good because television is increasing, prize money is increasing. I mean, we used to have four of you guys sitting in here, and gals sitting in here, at a press conference. Now we've got 50 of you sitting in here. The attention of the game, the media, the exposure is 50-fold to what we had. So it can't be too bad.
There's both to be said for both sides. I'd just like to see the game be a little closer for the average golfer and the pro to where when we do a golf course we don't have to redo it three years later.
It's actually been a good living for me because golf courses I did 20 years ago I'm going back and redoing them all. It's ridiculous, but it is happening because it's silly.
Q. Would the professional game today benefit from a contemporary big three, do you think?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think that challenges and rivalries are absolutely good for the game, absolutely would benefit from it. Do we have a lot of guys that are trying to contend? I can't make up my mind, and I think I'm probably -- I can't make up my mind whether we've got a whole bunch of really good players today and Tiger is this far about -- I mean, they're at this level and Tiger is here. We were either at this level and nobody was up here, or that we were at this level and Arnold and Gary and I all sat in the middle level above the challengers and that's why we got Tom and Trevino and everybody came up to that one level, or we were all at this level and Tiger is that much above. I don't know the answer to that. I don't suppose we'll ever know the answer.
Sure, we've got a lot of very, very good players today, there's no question about it. And the guys that -- they just don't seem to be able to beat Tiger when they have to. Whether Tiger is just that much better or they're just not quite there, I don't know. It's very difficult to answer that question. The game is so different from the game I played.
JAMES CRAMER: Jack, thank you very much.
End of FastScripts