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November 12, 2007

Jack Nicklaus


JACK PETER: Good evening, everyone. I'm Jack Peter. I'm the chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Thank you for being here today. This is a very special day for us. Obviously we've had a lot of success with our featured member exhibits, and to be able to work with Jack and his family and the Jack Nicklaus Museum to bring this to life was really a dream come true, not only for me but for the staff. We had a ball putting this together.
I want to acknowledge a few people that are in the room and then I'm going to turn it over to the commissioner and then he'll turn it over to Jack. First of all, I owe a huge debt of gratitude and thanks to Jack and Barbara for letting us into their house, into their museum, into their offices and as a result into their lives to be able to share with you some of the mementos --
JACK NICKLAUS: You stole everything (laughter).
JACK PETER: We do that here at the Hall of Fame.
I also want to recognize Howard Milstein who is with us today, chairman and CEO of Emigrant Bank. Nice to see you.
We're also fortunate to have Jack, Jr., with us, Nan and Bill O'Leary came up for the day. John Hines and Steve Auk (phon.) were the coordinators and really helped us work through the effort with the Jack Nicklaus Museum. It was truly a cooperative effort. There will be some artifacts and things moving back and forth throughout the year, so it's really been a good cooperative project for us, and John was really driving that. So thank you very much.
Lastly, he didn't know it at the time but we've now formally and officially drafted him to the exhibit team, Scott Tolley. We couldn't have done it without Scott, so thank you very much.
I'll be quiet. At this time I'd like to introduce the commissioner of the PGA TOUR and the chairman of the World Golf Foundation, Tim Finchem.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Let me just commend Jack and his team for another great exhibition here. We've had a good number of them now, and Jack is not very good at the technical side of things. And in particular, Jack, I just want to thank you for turning your team loose to work with Jack, for being here and for making the exhibition possible and of course joining us tonight to speak for the induction of Joe Carr. We've got a lot of Irish over here for that. They'll look forward to hearing your words.
On behalf of the board of the World Golf Foundation, thanks for your support of the First Tee, the Hall of Fame, programs at the World Golf Foundation. You've been almost as good a partner for the World Golf Foundation as you have for the American Presidents Cup team. Thank you, and Jack Nicklaus, ladies and gentlemen.
JACK NICKLAUS: Thank you, Tim. When Jack approached us about doing this, he said, we want to do an exhibit. I said, I've already got an exhibit in Columbus. I said, I've got a whole museum full of stuff. He said, I know, we want that (laughter). I said, you can't have that.
Anyway, so we started working together to try to figure out how can we do an exhibit here and take -- and rotate things back and forth. They've obviously worked it out because they've done a very, very nice job. We went through it this morning when we were here. People have done a great job of putting a story together.
Not too far off of my father's pharmacy looked like, or drugstore, and I'm trying to figure out which song I wanted to play here. Looking at some of these songs here, they probably were on there back when I was in that drugstore. Anyway, we had a little soda fountain in the store there like that one right there, and they've done a lot of nice things.
My congratulations, Jack, to you and your people, and I think that we're going to enjoy having our friends and people in the golfing world come by and see it. I think they'll have a nice representation of what we have.
JACK PETER: At this time we'll open it up to questions.

Q. Jack, is there something -- when people go through that exhibit, even if they're somewhat familiar with your career, is there something that you think they might see that might surprise them?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think every time I go through it I see something that surprises me. It was that way in Columbus, too. Every time I'd go through it I'd see something different. I think they did a little something similar in Columbus, they tried to tell a story.
If you look at the Hall of Fame that was here first, it was just things put out and it really wasn't a story. Now they've taken the Hall of Fame and really just transformed it and told stories of the game of golf, and the Nicklaus exhibit absolutely is the same thing. It's a story. They take you through a story line, my life and my family and my golfing career. I don't know how many monitors they have here and they're all different stories.
JACK PETER: I believe there's 11 different video presentations.
JACK NICKLAUS: And they're all going at the same time and they're all different stories. That's kind of neat.
I was just watching this a minute ago, a lot of video I had not seen before, and that was just in a 30-second clip. I haven't seen that one, either.
I mean, you go through and you look at it, and that's what they all -- I think that's what you do. What you're trying to do, and of course they'll keep it fresh by rotating stuff from Columbus to here and my house, practically stripped my house, too (laughter). Barbara said, no, they can't have that, they can't have that. I said, Barbara, they've got to have something. Anyway, that's what they'll continue to do, and that will continue to keep a fresh story.

Q. I know Barbara is a good record keeper, but who were the other people that were in charge of taking the pictures and taking the home movies?
JACK NICKLAUS: I have no clue. That certainly wasn't Barbara. I didn't know her then. I'm not sure I knew me then. My mother was a pack rat. She collected a lot of stuff. Obviously these kind of pictures here, my mother and my dad must have taken those. They show up.

Q. In a box somewhere?
JACK NICKLAUS: Somewhere, yeah. It's just unbelievable what shows up and what stuff there is and how much of it is still usable. That's what's amazing is they kept replacing what's usable.

Q. Being a person who's in a Hall of Fame, what do you think the appeal is of a Hall of Fame, and do you ever -- did you ever go to Hall of Fames, other sports Hall of Fames? What do you think it is that draws people to Hall of Fames?
JACK NICKLAUS: Good question. I don't know.

Q. Is it just getting in touch with maybe something from the past?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, you've got to be a fan of what it is, and I think that if you're a fan -- they've put 280,000 people through here last year, so you had to have somebody who was interested in the game of golf. You've got to be able to create interest and create fresh stories and create history and create things and people that are interested in that. My wife told me, she says, there's three kind of people that go to museums. There's streakers, and that's the people that just go right on through and they're out of there in a half hour; and then there's strollers, and they go through and spend a couple hours; and there's scholars, and they spend all day there. They're all different and they all want different things.
I'm a streaker. I go through and I'm out. I've had enough of that. Barbara is kind of a stroller. But there are those people, come on, let's go, read this and read that, and if you start reading it, it's fascinating.
I think that the whole idea -- I mean, here I know that there's a lot of stuff here that I went and looked at and read it and said, I don't remember that. I know it was there but I don't remember it. It brings you up to date and so forth, as it relates to the game of golf.
I got sort of scholarly down here when we first entered the Hall of Fame and started looking at a couple things that were very, very interesting that I thought was kind of neat.
Arnold won't get mad at me, will he? I walked in, we were talking by I guess it was the -- it was a little leather basket from the horse, and I said it looked like one of Arnold's old football helmets (laughter). I'll have some fun with that and I'll kid Arnold about something like that. We'll have that kind of fun as we go through.

Q. Most fun for you seeing the old footage of children and things like that?
JACK NICKLAUS: I've only seen mine. I haven't really been through to watch anybody else's. I'm sure that the others were probably equally as good if not better. I have no idea what other people's were, but I'm sure it was very fascinating for everybody. Obviously that's my stuff so I'm interested in it because I don't remember half of it (laughter). It's interesting to me.

Q. To what extent did these images that we're looking at here shape you as a person? Were you open to influence in that regard?
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, I wouldn't have a clue whether I was shaped by anybody. I never saw any of this stuff until I got to be 40 years old or 50 years old. Most of this stuff is stuff that my parents had and my mom had tucked away someplace, and when she started getting ready to clean out her closets, she thought, maybe I shouldn't throw this away. And there it was.
If you go back and look at it, it's kind of neat.
Did it shape me in any way? I don't know.

Q. I mean, your background in Columbus, your parents, the drugstore and all of that sort of thing?
JACK NICKLAUS: I mean, I grew up in a Midwestern family where we certainly weren't poor but we certainly weren't wealthy, modest means. We dad had a pharmacy -- that was actually on Lane Avenue. This one we're sitting at was one that was on the campus at Ohio State University. That's where the students from Ohio State would walk in, they certainly weren't -- they certainly didn't spend a lot of money. We lived on the campus and we grew up there, and I became an Ohio State fan. We were just involved with everything that went on at Ohio State and the Ohio area and Columbus.
Athletics was part of my father's life. My father played football, basketball and baseball at Ohio State, and he was the city tennis champion. He was a pretty decent golfer when he was a kid. He had a couple of course records when he was a kid. He was the city tennis champion. Did I say that twice? Maybe he won it twice (laughter).
You know, he was involved in athletics, he was involved in things -- I think they both came from the south side of Columbus, which was sort of the German village part of Columbus, which was sort of the old immigrant place, and they grew out of there. My father's father was a boilermaker on the railroad, my mother's father was a conductor on the railroad.
My dad's father took -- he had three boys. He took them down to the boiler place where they made the boilers one time, and he took them down there and it was probably about 130 or 140 degrees in the heat and down there with a blow torch and doing all that kind of stuff, and he says, I just want to bring you boys down here to show you where I don't think you want to be. He had three pharmacists and a dentist out of those boys. They worked their way through school. That was their backgrounds. So that was the background I was brought up with.
Barbara was much the same. Barbara's father was a schoolteacher in Columbus, never made more than $6,000 a year in his life, and she never wanted for a thing in her life. She said she didn't realize anybody had any more money than that because they didn't need any more than that.
Were we poor? No, we weren't poor. No, we were very wealthy in a lot of ways because we had a good memory and a good upbringing, and that was what was important. That was your wealth.

Q. I was just curious, when you talk about your childhood and your background and being very well rounded and the different sports you played and whatnot, how has that served you through your career, and do you worry at all about what seems to be golfing landscape now where kids are doing golf and nothing but golf from an early age all the way through?
JACK NICKLAUS: You know, I can't do much with it. I think it's a different day. Everything is a different day. I hate to see kids specialize. Just like even the little school where my kids go to school, my grandkids are going to the same school that my kids did, and my kids got to have the opportunity to play all sports; they played football, basketball or baseball or golf or whatever they played, and they played that all through school. Now that silly school is now specializing in sports. I said, that's why you go to a small school, so you can be able to do all those things, have the opportunity to do it. Basically you have to do that. You have to almost specialize to be able to play.
You see kids specialize in golf. I think that is idiotic. It's crazy. I mean, you've got -- here you've got all these great things -- I don't know any of my grandkids play golf. They play, but they don't play golf. I can't imagine any of them if they really want to put a score on the board are going to break 90, but they're all quite capable of breaking 80, but they just don't play. And that's fine.
Even Bill here, who is probably the best athlete of the kids, has got three boys that all hit the ball beautifully, but they all want to play other sports. He played football for four years at Georgia and he wants to get them out of football -- he can't get them out. He wants to get them into golf. He said, guys, you can't get beat up like that playing golf. They're all walking wounded with a separated shoulders and bad ankles and that.
To play all the sports is great. I played everything. My dad played everything. When I finally ended up, golf to me was just another sport until I was about 19. When I won the National Amateur at 19, I finally said, hmm, I must be a little better than I think I am. It was just a game, still is a game. But it didn't make any difference to me. I mean, I was not -- I went right back -- I was in school at Ohio State, and I went right back and put my golf clubs away and played intramural football and basketball and volleyball and I didn't touch a golf club for three or four months, six months, whatever it was. It didn't make any difference. I knew I was going to play golf next year.
But I think kids today, they don't get their bodies well-rounded. 90 percent of your kids today spend half the time on a computer anyway. They never get outside. If you start looking at what kids are shaped like today versus what they used to be shaped like, they're riding in a car, they're not walking anywhere, they're all overweight, they're not getting out and doing things that keep you healthy. I don't think it's really what we should be doing. I think kids should be playing everything, doing everything. Eventually if you want to specialize in something, that's fine, but go out and enjoy and be happy to be able to play other things and do them. The opportunity to do that is there for you if you want to. That's what my dad did to me. He just gave me the opportunity. He introduced me to everything. I couldn't get enough of any one of them I played. I thought that was just great.
I mean, I think that physically I'm beat up now, but through most of my career I was pretty injury-free. I mean, I only had to withdraw I think from two tournaments my whole career.

Q. Why was that, luck?
JACK NICKLAUS: No, I think it was because of other sports. I think my body was fairly well-rounded. I think I was developed to play other things and do other things and just golf didn't beat me down to one thing and I just didn't wear out. Finally in the end I think it did, but I think that's the great thing about other sports.
Football players in my day, nobody ever lifted weights. Now they're lifting weights and this sort of thing. Nobody ever did that, not even the football players. It's a different day.

Q. Would you have a second to address a question about a Hall of Famer? I'm doing something on Curtis Strange obviously. The magnitude of winning two U.S. Opens in a row, I'm wondering what you think of that feat.
JACK NICKLAUS: That magnitude is why he's here. Curtis Strange was a very, very good player. It was '88, '89, wasn't it? Curtis in those two years obviously played very, very well to set himself apart from everybody else. That was pretty good achievement. Something I didn't do, something a lot of guys didn't do.

Q. Even when you were in your prime, did it seem like a very difficult thing to accomplish, or did you think you would do it one day?
JACK NICKLAUS: I never thought about it. I just played. Obviously when I won my four U.S. Opens, when I played the next year I wanted to win. I just didn't. Curtis did. That's a pretty good accomplishment. There's not many guys that won many tournaments back-to-back. Sometimes they have but not too many. It's hard to win them, to beat a field, particularly on different golf courses. Same golf course, it's a little easier.
Masters, I don't know what they've had, maybe three back-to-backs now; myself, Faldo and Tiger won back-to-back. You know, that's on the same golf course. If it's only happened three times on that golf course, then to do it in the U.S. Open is even more difficult.

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