THEY CALLED HIM FAT JACK. Early in his career, a serious, heavy-set Jack Nicklaus was the villain, an object of open scorn on the PGA Tour, especially at Grand Slam events such as the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Ten years older and the undisputed king of golf, the charismatic Arnold Palmer was universally adored, the people’s hero.
It didn’t stop the highly focused, methodical and talented Nicklaus from usurping Palmer’s throne to become the game’s top player by the mid 1960s.
By the time the 1967 U.S. Open was played at Baltusrol, Jack had a growing fan base and a new nickname coined by an Australian sportswriter named Don Lawrence. Referring to Jack’s blonde mane and hefty physique, “The Golden Bear” stuck.
“The notion of a growling bear sat well with Jack, who was self-conscious about his high-pitched voice,” writes Ian O’Connor in Arnie & Jack.
Jack’s Memorial Tournament began today in Dublin, Ohio. Matthew Goggin leads with a 65.
−The Armchair Golfer