Another Memorial for the Golden Bear


Jack Nicklaus has been hosting the Memorial Tournament since 1976. Ever the competitor, golf's "Golden Bear" was not too hospitable to the other players in the field in 1977 and 1984, winning the title both those years.

But the playing days of the 72-year-old - firmly ensconced as the game's greatest golfer - are over and he now serves as the greeter and proprietor of the $6.2 million event, which starts Thursday at the Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. Steve Stricker is the defending champion.

As he does every year on the eve of the Memorial, Nicklaus met with reporters Wednesday to discuss the tournament, changes to Muirfield's course, and pretty much anything else that pops into his active mind. Here's what he had to say in the following Q&A.

MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Jack Nicklaus, our host this week, once again, for the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. If you'd like to make a couple opening remarks.

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, opening remarks, opening remarks. Anything else? (Laughter.) No, I think, first of all, welcome. Nice to have you all here again. Secondly, when they talk about the golf tournament, the golf tournament is the golf course is good, as it always is. Paul Latshaw and his crew have done a good job, as usual. We all had an early spring, as you know, and we popped a little poa annua out there, but that's outside of having to look a little bit at it, it doesn't affect anything as it relates to golf. But the golf is really good.

I think we've got an opportunity for the first time in a long time, and I think we'll probably have for the next two days anyway, pretty fast conditions. Right, Paul? Which is one out of every 20 years we get fast conditions this time of year. But I think that's good for the golf course. It's good for the tournament. It's good to see these guys play the golf course rather than in a soft fashion. But there's another reason why the golf course is fast. Paul has put, what, nine miles of drainage in it? About nine miles of drainage into the golf course over the last four years. Even when we have rain now the golf course drains very, very rapidly.

The 16th hole, which we did a year ago, has matured nicely. It plays well. The green obviously last year was a new green, so it's probably a little firmer than what the others are now. It'll still play quick because it was designed to have the green run away from you, so the guys will say maybe it doesn't hold as well. Well, it does hold as well, it's just my sight that gets in there, having the green designed away. But anyway, and then the driving range, which I don't know whether you've seen it or not, but the driving range, if it isn't state of the art now, I don't think it's ever going to get state of the art. It's pretty good. They spent a lot of time on it last fall. We changed our east chipping green, took that out and put it over - put two greens over on the west side, and we took the tees all around. We reoriented the practice tee.

The biggest problem we worried about over time was - first of all, the thing that started us to do the driving range was the drainage. If you went out there, and when they did it, Paul has got a little book, I'm sure he'll be happy to show it to you if you want to see it, of the balls he found out there, Ryder Cup matches, Solheim Cup matches. You wouldn't believe what was buried out there under the soil where it was wet. Anyway, the drainage started it, and then we decided we wanted to make sure we contain the ball. Our driving range before was 286 yards straight ahead down from where the master tee was, so we moved it around to the left and now we're 318 yards going up from that tee to the end, and we raised the east tee up high and put a barrier behind it for people walking in. Bubba may hit it over it, but he's got to pop it pretty good.

But anyway, it's really nice, got some great target greens, some bunkers. It's really nice. We're getting ready to do after - you've seen the hole over here at the outside of the players' entrance. There's a hole over there which is the start of a cart barn fitness center, and we're changing - and then we start the week after the tournament, doing a total renovation of the clubhouse and the clubhouse will be ready for next year. We're doing a lot of different things here that we think are interesting. The hospitality has changed here. The hospitality has moved from - not moved, but we used to have the CBS compound between 10, 18 and 14, and that compound has been moved out over to the Country Club, and we ended up creating hospitality in that area over there.

It was kind of funny, I went down to Augusta this year, and I went over and saw how nice the Berckmans Place thing they did behind No.5. I thought, that is really neat. They've really done a great job with that. What a great way to utilize an area and create some hospitality. I came back here and told our guys, Guys, we need to do something like that. They said, Jack, you approved it at the last board meeting. I said, What? Yeah, we went through it last board meeting. Before you knew about Augusta we approved it. I said, Aha, I knew we had good ideas here. (Laughter.) Anyway, we did that, and that'll actually be a nice addition to it. The field is excellent, as you know. We always have a good field. I guess that's enough opening remarks. I'll just leave it up to you guys and gals.

Q. You mentioned Bubba in passing. What do you make of that guy, and does he remind you of anybody you played with in your 25 year era?

JACK NICKLAUS: Nope.

Q. I didn't think so.

JACK NICKLAUS: No. He's got - to put it mildly, a rather unique golf swing, and I think that's - to his credit, which is to me what the game is all about, is learning who you are and what you are and what you do. You know, people criticize Furyk for his golf swing, but Jim knows what he does and how he does it. You look at some other golf swings and you see what you think is a perfect golf swing, but sometimes they don't know what they're doing with it. Bubba knows what he's doing with his golf club. He had to learn that. He had to learn how to do that. I think that's what's so unique about it and what's so good about it. And he's - that's the first time he's played since Augusta, isn't it?

Q. He played New Orleans.

JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, did he play New Orleans? But he's a unique individual. I'm trying to visualize how much he hooked the ball at 10 at Augusta. I don't know how much he hooked it, but he obviously hooked it a lot. But what amazed me was when the ball came down on the green with a hook as hard as he hit it, it backed up. It backed up the hill, and I said, How do you make a golf ball do that? That was kind of interesting I thought. But he's a unique individual that's really bringing some new life and new fun into the game.

Q. Tiger has mentioned wanting to own his own swing like Moe Norman. That's his phrasing of it. He mentioned Moe Norman and Ben Hogan as guys who did that. You just were talking about Bubba who's never had a lesson. Is it possible to really own your own swing, whatever that is, if you keep outsourcing it?

JACK NICKLAUS: You explain to me what that means and I can answer your question. I don't know what you're talking about.

Q. What he means by that is to understand when something is a little bit off and to be able to fix it yourself. Can you ever reach that point if you keep outsourcing your swing to the experts?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, you know, when I was 19, Bobby Jones invited me down to his cabin at the Masters. My father and I went down. And he talked to me then. He said, You know, I had my seven lean years, and he said, Every time I'd play, I'd run back to Stewart Maiden, who was his teacher, and get a lesson for the problems I was having, and so forth and so on. He said, It wasn't until I learned that I didn't need to run back to Sterling or didn't want to run back to Sterling that I became a golfer. So he said if you're talking about owning your own swing, if that's what it is, and so Jack Grout taught me from the start. He said I need to be responsible for my own swing and understand when I have problems on the golf course how I can correct those problems on the golf course myself without having to run back to somebody.

And during the years that I was playing most of my competitive golf, I saw Jack Grout maybe once or twice a year for maybe an hour. If I was in the Miami area or something, I'd run down and see Jack and we'd spend about an hour and we'd spend five minutes on the golf swing and an hour catching up. But he taught me young the fundamentals of the game. He taught me how to assess what I was doing. When I made a mistake, when I was doing things, how do you on the golf course fix that without putting yourself out of a golf tournament and then teaching yourself.

You've heard me say in many press conferences, I'm not hesitant to change my golf swing in the fourth round of the U.S. Open or the Masters midway in the round if I didn't like what I was doing, because I felt like if I didn't like what I was doing, pretty soon it was going to get me. So I would work hard, pick a hole - I wouldn't pick the second shot at 11 at Augusta to be working on my new swing, I'd play it out to the right like I do anyway. But I might pick the tee shot at 14 or the tee shot at 15 or the tee shot at - the second shot at 14 to do things with my golf swing that I thought I needed to do to get myself back to where - try to work myself in without putting myself out of the golf tournament. Maybe that's what Tiger is talking about.

But I think it's very important for any golfer to understand who they are and what they can do and how they swing and how they can best be their own teacher. I sat next to Tiger at the - I sat with Arnold over here and I had Tiger over here at the Masters dinner this year, and Arnold and I, I can't remember what we were talking about because Arnold couldn't hear me, I guess (laughter), but we had a great time. We kid each other constantly, so we have a good time.

And then Tiger over here, we were talking about - I was asking him, Why do you need somebody to watch you all the time? He said, I really don't. He said, I really have - I go to Sean and I get some ideas, but then I really go work on it myself and try to learn what I want to do and how I want to do it, which I think is the right way. I said, If you're doing that, you're on the right track, but all I read in the papers is how Sean is making a swing change on you. He said, That's not what I'm doing. I said, Okay, that's fine then, because he's trying to be responsible for himself, which I think is what the question you're asking me, if that's a long answer to a short question. I don't think there is a short answer to that. But I think he's trying to do that.

And you're talking about Bubba; Bubba understands what he does. You tell me that Bubba didn't have anybody tell him anything? I don't believe that. But did he have formalized lessons, maybe not. But did he have somebody that would say something here, give him an idea or a thought, I'm sure that's happened through time. You just can't possibly pretty soon you get enough of those thoughts to put in your head, then they stay there and you're able to fix yourself when you have problems during a round.

Q. There's the oft repeated quote that Tom Watson made to you on the last few holes at Turnberry in '77 when he said to you, This is what it's all about, isn't it? And I know taking you back to, this is the 50th anniversary obviously of the '62 Open, you always say that playing Arnold you were just a 22 year old kid trying to win a golf tournament, but did you ever during that final round or whenever have a sense of what was happening there with you going head to head with the guy that was considered, I guess -

JACK NICKLAUS: Why would you? 22 years old, you're not smart enough to do that.

Q. What were you feeling?

JACK NICKLAUS: Bob, it's 50 years ago, and I've answered the question 1,000 times. I doubt I can come up with anything different. I was a kid that - Barbara was talking to me a little while ago. She said, I've had people come up to me, how is it with you being in the gallery? Huh? She was walking with Winnie. Winnie was her friend, she was walking with Winnie. They weren't paying attention to what was going on in the golf tournament. They were talking. They were talking about what they got the kids for Halloween or something, I don't know.

But you know what I mean. And the same with me. All I was doing was playing golf. And in those days, when you're 22 years old, you've got your blinders on. I always looked at Watson, who I always thought reminded me a lot of me when I was younger because Tom always - I always thought he had a set of blinders on. He had no idea what was going on around him. He had one goal, he was going down this channel to win this golf tournament, and that's basically what I was doing when I was that age, too. It served him very well. I think it probably served me well, too. I think you have to do that, and more so today than ever. You have more fans, you have more media, you have more of everything that you've got to just blank out and go play. Do we try to blank it out? Not really, because you just don't pay any attention to it, you just go do what you have to do.

Q. But Tom said that he knew you were the best player in the game, and he felt after he beat you that he could finally play with the big boys. Did you have that sense when you were playing against Arnold at that point?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, you know, see, I had a funny feeling going into Oakmont. I had finished - I had won the National Amateur twice, I had played seven or eight tournaments each summer from maybe '60 and '61 on the Tour during the summer while I was playing. So I was playing a fair amount of golf. I almost won in '60 at Cherry Hills, and I really look back, it's one that I gave away. But I was 20 years old. I gave it away because I didn't know how to win.

And then the next year I didn't really give it away, but I had a good chance to win, and I finished fourth. I felt going into Oakmont that, man, I'm not letting this one get away. Going to Oakmont it sounds funny, may sound ridiculous to all of you, but I didn't know who Arnold Palmer was for all intents and purposes. I didn't mean it that way, but what I mean is that all I had to do was worry about myself. I wasn't worried about Arnold or Gary or whoever might be there.

I was interested because I felt like I really had the chance to win those two previous wins, and I had just finished second the week before to Littler at Thunderbird and I was really playing well and I was charged up to play, and that was my sole thought was that this was my week. All of a sudden I found out I was in Arnold Palmer's backyard, but I found that out a couple weeks later after the tournament was over because I didn't pay attention to it while I was there. I don't know if you understand that, but that's what a 22 year old kid thinks like. Maybe even a 16 year old kid.

Q. How much did you enjoy your visit with Arnold recently at Oakmont?

JACK NICKLAUS: We had a great time.

Q. What memories did it bring back?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, neither one of us could remember the course (laughter), but I went to Merion that morning, and I went and spent the day at Merion with Mike Davis, and then that evening we went to Latrobe. Barbara met me in Latrobe and we spent the night with Kit and Arnie, and we had a nice evening and went to Latrobe Country Club and had a nice dinner, looked around, saw all the pictures of the two of us and obviously more in particular Arnie. But we had a very nice evening. Next morning we got up, went over to Oakmont, and the purpose of the visit to Oakmont was to try to get a couple of shots for a special they're doing for - USGA is doing on the '62 Open, 50 years since then. And Arnold says, Why do I have to do that? They want me to do the one with Casper in '67. I lost them both. (Laughter.)

I said, You won enough. We'll get to yours that they won. I said, Did they do one at Cherry Hills, Arnold? Yeah. Okay, I lost there. We were kidding each other about it. We had a good time and we just sort of basically talked about what jogged our memory from stuff, and unfortunately neither one of us got jogged real hard. But we took some pictures. Where did we start? We took some pictures - I think we started over on maybe 10 tee, and we first looked at the golf course, and I hadn't seen it since the trees have been taken out, and I looked out across 10 and 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, whatever those holes - not 16, but whatever holes you see from there, and I'm saying, Wow, boy, is that a difference, looking out at the grass blowing and little ditches running through the property, little ditches you'd never see if you were playing. But they were down there years and years ago.

But we talked about Arnie - first thing we looked at on 10, he said, That's where I was at 9 and it took four to get up and down. I said, What did you do? He said, I fluffed my chip shot and then chipped it up and missed the putt. He said, That's what cost me the tournament right there. And we talked about that, and then we talked about - we took a picture with our old drivers. You ever see a picture of Arnold and me holding our drivers out like this? We redid that picture, my driver that I broke in South Africa had three screws in it. It's painted black. The name is even off the bottom plate of it. And Arnold's was an old Hogan driver. So we put the two drivers out, took that picture again.

We went over to the first tee and we talked about some opening tee shots and things there. We went over to the putting green, and I hit a putt that they tried to replicate the putt I hit at 15 - or 17, I'm sorry, hit a putt at 17 where Jones wrote me a letter, and he said, When you hit that putt I came right out of my chair. Obviously that was his way of saying that was a pretty exciting putt. For those of you who weren't there (laughter), it was a left to right downhill putt that if I missed was going to go right off the green, and I just took it and put it right in the back of the cup. And if I would have missed it I would have lost the Open, but I made the putt. Let's see, and we talked about where we were at 18th green and what happened at the - little things. But it was kind of a nice day. We only spent a morning, but it was kind of nice to be able to do that.

Q. You spoke of the need to play with blinders on. Do you think in today's game where you have more money, more travel, a longer season, it's easier or harder to do that, especially when you're not just 22 but maybe late 20s, 30s with a family?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I was 22 with a family. Jackie was about eight months old when I played the Open at Oakmont. But we used to travel. We used to travel. We talked about traveling in the car, back in the day when we didn't have disposable diapers and we had a diaper pail in the backseat with a port a crib and off we went. Let me tell you, you'd better keep the windows open. I'll tell you what, it didn't smell very good. And all the players, we'd all try to figure out and go to the same motel so we could have cookouts, and then the wives would have - they'd take turns watching other people's kids. If one of the guys was in contention, the other wives would take care of their kids and they'd go watch their husband play golf. We did a lot of that kind of stuff in the days when we were playing.

I think that we were pretty close as a group back in those days even though we were still playing on the golf course with blinders. I think we all went to the golf course with the idea to play the best we could and try to win, but when the round was over, as soon as we shook hands, we said, Where are you having dinner? That's sort of the way we did it in those days. I don't know how the guys do it today. I'm not 22 anymore or 25 or 30 or even close, but I don't know what the guys do today. I'm sure there's a lot of guys that spend time and go have dinner and do things and there are guys that are close friends and so forth and their wives. That's got to continue to happen, and if it doesn't I'd be very surprised. Everything is just magnified. The attention is magnified. The press is magnified. The prizes are magnified.

I don't know that the pressure or tension is magnified because the guys today can make a living playing golf. We couldn't make a living playing golf. We had to go play golf tournaments and win golf tournaments so we had the opportunity to make a name to go make a living, and that was a little different position to be in. Did I answer what you're talking about?

Q. I guess like Rory at 23 already talking about limiting his schedule because he doesn't want to get burned out at 30, you have Bubba taking a month off because he wants to bond with his child, and so it's becoming harder to get all the top players in tournaments week after week -

JACK NICKLAUS: It's always been hard to get the top players. I mean, how many times do you think that I got yelled at by sponsors and everything? I started doing that when - we had it a little different. When we first started, we had to play 25 tournaments a year to get our PGA card, and I had to do that for four years. And I played, I think, 27 or 28 my first year plus a little international golf, and I think I did about the same for the first four years. And then after that I started playing about 21 or 22 tournaments a year, and I think that's about what the guys are going to play, and the guys today, I think I would imagine when Rory ends up at the end of the year that's probably about what he ends up with. I would assume - I don't know what Tiger plays. What does he play? Anybody know the number Tiger plays?

Q. It's under 20.

JACK NICKLAUS: Right around 20, isn't it, around the world? Yeah, that's about - I played maybe 20, 22. So it's not that much different. We all want - and I think that what Rory is saying to you is the same thing I always said, and I always wanted to really do this I wanted to be just as fresh at the end of the year as I was at the start of the year. I mean, the start of the year - these guys played all year round. We didn't play all year round in the first few years I played. So I was very eager to start out in the winter, so we'd start out at Pebble Beach or wherever it might be, San Diego or someplace.

I wanted to get a little golf under my feet. And then the opportunity to start preparing myself for the Masters was starting to fall in around that time. But I always made sure that I never played more than - I did occasionally play three weeks in a row, but very, very, very rarely. I'd play a couple weeks in a row and take a week off and sometimes I'd take two weeks off depending on what I was trying to prepare for, and I started doing that at the same age that Rory is doing that. Well, I wouldn't say that. At 22 I played every tournament up to the Open. I skipped one tournament, I skipped Tucson, and I played the first six, skipped Tucson. But in those days I had to play. I wasn't exempt.

So I got an exemption at LA, because I made $33, they let me play the next week. Anyway, we played at - I played the first six tournaments on the West Coast, made the cut in all six tournaments, finished second at Phoenix, went to Doral, and it was the first year of Doral, and Doral - we had 144 players eligible to play, and they could only get 131 to enter. They couldn't get a full field at Doral. Now they've got 20 qualifying spots to get into it - not Doral because it's a world championship, but let's say Honda or one of the other ones.

So I got in there because they didn't have a full field, and I knew that. That's why I took off the one week. And then I played from Doral all the way through the U.S. Open, and then when I won the U.S. Open, that made me exempt for life. And then I could start to skip a week here and there. But I played my 25 tournaments, I finished them, I think, with Seattle and Portland, which I actually won both of those, and then my first year won the World Series and won Seattle and Portland three weeks in a row, and then I took the fall off and went back to college actually. And then I went to Australia for two weeks in the fall and then I played the West Palm Beach Open at the end of November, and I think that was it for that year. And then I started back in the spring.

I started that at a very early age, and I think we all started at an early age. And they kept yelling at Arnold and kept yelling at me and Gary, you need to play more golf. Well, they're still doing the same yelling. It's 50 years later. The guys are going to play as much as they can. In my later part of my career after I played 10 or 15 years, I decided what I would try to do to accommodate that was try to pick one or two tournaments each year that I hadn't played in - say I had 18 tournaments, the other two I would pick tournaments that I hadn't played in and try to rotate that around.

I laugh at this because it's a different golf course now I can tell the story, but I never wanted to go to Hartford. It had nothing to do with Hartford, it was just an easy golf course and I never played easy golf courses well. Finally one year, Wethersfield, I thought, Okay, I'll go play. Went up and shot 68 the first round, and I think I was in 25th place after shooting a 68. Well, I shot 67 the second round and I was in 32nd place, and I shot 67 the third round and I went to 42nd place, then I shot 67 the fourth round and finished about 37th or 38th. I thought, there's a reason why I haven't come here. I always wanted to play golf courses that were a challenge and difficult. I thought it would create interest to me and would challenge me and make me - stimulate me to want to play. So that's basically how I made my schedule.

And then I went back - when I turned 50 and went to the Senior Tour, we went right back to those golf courses, those same type of golf courses, and that's why I never played much on the Senior Tour. I would play the four majors and I'd play maybe two or three others at the most every year, because I still wanted to be stimulated about playing. To me, golf is - it's hard to play golf and play tournament golf if you're not excited about playing, and that's why I always wanted to be as fresh at the end of the year as I was at the beginning of the year, so I was excited about playing, because I love to play. I love competition, and I always got so mad at myself if I just went at it sort of lackadaisically.

Q. Two things related to the Presidents Cup: First of all, I think after you obviously redid the 16th, the finishing stretch, maybe even starting at the 12th is really pretty cool for match play and so forth. I wonder if you could enumerate some holes on the front side that you like and maybe key holes for match play.

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, you know my old story, and I'll repeat it quickly. You've all heard it. The first year here I asked the members what their favorite hole was, and I had 14 different responses, so I knew I had four holes to work on. So I think I worked on most of those holes, so we should have 18 holes. So to pick a key spot on the front nine I don't think is very easy to do. When you start to look at the back nine, and the 16th hole I never really thought was an exciting way to be at that point in the round. I thought the hole was okay. There was nothing wrong with the hole. It was a nice golf hole. But I thought that 14 and 15 were really - a lot of excitement happens at 14. That's a pretty exciting hole. And a lot of things happen at 15, and then 16 not much happened. Guys decide to get a par and move on. But 17 and 18 were strong golf holes.

So I thought 16, and particularly with the space at 16, and with the Presidents Cup, with match play, I thought that was a pretty good place to try to create a situation where 15, 16, and you can see all of 17 from most of the mounds at 16, so we created a central area where people really for the Presidents Cup will be kind of exciting. But also it's pretty darned good for the Memorial Tournament. Not everybody can get to the 18th hole, but we can probably get 20,000 people around 18, or close to it.

So you've got a situation where you've got the whole back nine that's pretty exciting. I think that's the beauty of Augusta. Augusta's back nine, you want to pick the front nine to the back nine at Augusta? You're obviously going to pick the back nine. And I think you'd pick the back nine here. I think our front nine is a good nine. I think the front nine at Augusta is a good nine. But I think our back nine is better in both cases. I think you can shoot higher or lower on either one, same as you can at Augusta.

Q. Will you have any say in the setup of the golf course next fall or anything?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I'll have a say with Paul. Paul Latshaw is in the back in case you want to interview Paul afterwards. He's a man of many words, right, Paul? But Paul and I will talk about how we'd like to make sure this golf course plays during the Presidents Cup. We'll definitely talk about it. And will it be different than the Memorial Tournament? Maybe not, maybe so. We might change the Memorial Tournament if we want to change anything, we'll talk to the Tour this year, and we'll probably try to get it that way for the Memorial Tournament next year.

I don't really see anything we'd change. We haven't changed anything on the golf course other than rebuilding the 16th hole for four or five years. Nothing that I can think of. Only biggest issues that I have are traffic movement, particularly around the clubhouse area. As I said, we're doing a new clubhouse, so I've got to make sure what we're working on, if we're going to do something, let's do it all at the same time and get it done right. I'd like to get the players to where they can walk freely from the clubhouse to the putting green and back and forth without having to be stopped for half an hour every time they move. If that takes adjusting the putting green and maybe adjusting 10 tee, maybe doing some things to create a better circulation, then we're going to work on - that's one thing, that's more my - while we're doing the clubhouse that's one of the things I want to work on because we will be tearing that area up a little bit, so I may as well do it while we're there.

But outside of that, I don't see anything really with the golf course. I think the golf course plays pretty nicely. The next two days, and I don't know if we get any rain after that, but the next two days this golf course will play very similar to what it's going to play for the Presidents Cup in October.

Q. Like the Ryder Cup in '87?

JACK NICKLAUS: Ryder Cup in '87 was very fast. We moved that creek in ten yards on 18, but they found it pretty easy. I mean, they just kept knocking it in all the time, and we moved it in. But it's because the golf course was fast. The ball hit that fairway - you don't realize this golf course, the pitch on these fairways, we've got a lot of pitch on these fairways which doesn't come into play until the golf course gets fast. We do have relatively wide fairways, but when you start getting a hard fairway with that much pitch in it, they don't stay wide very long.

Q. Slow play has been a hot button topic both on the professional level and amateur level recently. What would you do to combat it and how important is fixing the problem to growing the game?

JACK NICKLAUS: I think there are two different things. I don't think there's a huge problem on the Tour. I don't think the Tour has a big problem with it. They have an individual every once in a while. I used to be that individual sometimes. The guys have to learn, I learned how to not be a slow player. It took me a few years, but I learned, as the other guys will, too. But I think in general, the Tour is pretty good. The one thing that if you wanted the Tour to move a little bit quicker would be instead of monetary fines, stroke fines, and I think they're starting to do that now, aren't they?

Q. Not on the men's tour.

JACK NICKLAUS: Not yet? They haven't done it. They say they're going to do it but they haven't done it. I'm not out here all the time so I don't really know what they're doing. I got a two stroke penalty at Portland and I got a two stroke penalty at Houston playing with Cary Middlecoff, and he didn't get a penalty, so then I knew I was really slow. You don't know Cary Middlecoff, but he was the slowest. So it's a matter of learning how to do it.

Now, as it relates to the everyday game, I think the everyday game, they try to imitate what happens on the Tour, and the kids try to copy the players. Well, the players, these guys are not only taking 65 shots, and there's not a lot of time between their shots. They take their time over their shot, but they play a 7,500 yard golf course and they play it in four and a half hours and they play it in a threesome that moves along pretty good. It's not that bad. Should it be faster? Yeah, it could be a little bit faster, but I don't think that's a major problem.

But the major problem is becoming for the average recreational golfer because they can't - today is not a four and a half, four hour time to play golf. This is in the computer age, kids want to do things in two and a half, three hours at dead max. No other sport is played in any more than that except a five set tennis match maybe might get there, and how much of that do you watch? You watch the fourth and fifth set maybe by the time they get to it. But the game for the average golfer needs to be faster, take less time, needs to be cheaper, and needs to be easier. Those are contradictory to the Tour. So to solve that problem, I'm not sure how we solve that problem. I know that the USGA is doing a study on the golf ball and play to try to help it, and I think the PGA of America is working on it and I think the Tour will be, too, because I think they're going to get their statistics from it. And what they do, I don't know.

But I think they're addressing those issues because they realize that the expense of the game - let's use as a number 10 percent or 20 percent, whatever percentage you would utilize shortening the game is how much maintenance are you going to save, how much money do you save there. I'm probably as much a culprit as anybody. We do a golf course, and most people will say, Jack, we want to have a chance to maybe some day play a PGA or a U.S. Open on this golf course. Well, I've got to do a golf course that's going to fit that level. Well, the average golfer can't play that golf course because it's just too darned difficult. But if we play the golf course at a length they can play it, then maybe it's not so bad.

I don't think the average golfer minds having a challenge similar to my challenge, but that challenge would be - let's say I hit a driver and a 7 iron to a par 4. If they hit a driver and a 7 iron to the par 4, I think they would accept that challenge quite well. Which means I might hit my 7 iron from 155 or 160, whatever it might be, and they would hit their 7 iron from 135 or 140 yards.

Now, to do that, you've got to separate the back tee and the forward tee by probably over 100 yards, but that's what's happening. That's why the USGA is doing this study. So if they brought things back to condense things, could we make that a little bit more together and try to accomplish those things. So there's a lot of things that can be done to try to speed up the game, make it a little bit easier. Playing shorter is the biggest thing. We can do a 7,500 golf course. We're redoing the Australian golf club right now. I redid it in 1977, '78, I did the Australian - MacKenzie had done some work on it. I don't know who did the original work on it.

But when I did that work, we did it for that golf course back then. We're going down and redoing the golf course, and they want to add some yardage and they want to get it to 7,300 or 7,400 yards, and the members want to play the golf course at 6,900 or 7,000. I said, you guys can't play the golf course at that yardage. What are you trying to do to the membership, run them out? You've got the wrong guy to help you do your members' tees then. Because I don't do a golf course for members longer than about 6,500 yards because I just don't think they can play it. I think it's the wrong thing to do. If I do a course that's 7,500 for these guys, you'll still get 65 for the average golfer because, as I said, I just don't think they can play it.

The whole issue is to get people to swallow their ego a little bit to move forward, not look back at 100 yards back. Every time I go to Augusta I play on the members' tees now, I look back 100 yards to see the tees back there and I say, I used to play back there? You understand where I'm coming from. We've got to swallow our pride a little bit and figure out how do we take the game to make it faster, cheaper and easier.

Q. Who was your biggest influence growing up?

JACK NICKLAUS: My biggest influence was my father. Now, my dad played a lot of sports, and he loves sports, and he introduced me to everything. He played it with me. When we got to golf, it was another sport that he introduced me to. I used an interlocking grip because my father used an interlocking grip, but then he turned me over to Jack Grout who was a pro at Scioto Country Club when I was growing up. And Jack Grout, he taught me the fundamentals of the game, but he didn't change my grip. But my father was my best friend and my role model, and I always wanted to be able to do the things my dad could do. I see your dad smiling over there. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: Jack, thanks for spending time with us today.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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