|Barbara and Jack Nicklaus circa 1972.|
Presented annually since 1955, the Bob Jones Award is the USGA’s highest honor. It recognizes an individual who demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by Jones, winner of nine USGA championships.
Often referred to as the “First Lady of Golf,” Mrs. Nicklaus has skillfully used her influence as the wife of 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus for nearly 55 years to generate attention for youth-related charitable causes and volunteerism.
“Barbara’s generosity of spirit and deep respect for the game have touched the lives of countless families throughout the world,” said USGA President Thomas J. O’Toole Jr.
“Her dedication to support players and spouses, and advocacy for multiple causes, are worthy of our highest honor. She has been the rock for arguably one of the game’s greatest champions, while raising a family and devoting her heart and soul into what she believes in. We are proud to bestow this award upon her to recognize her lasting contribution to the game.”
“Wow! What a truly humbling honor!” she said when informed of the award.
“The USGA has been a part of our lives since Jack and I were teenagers, and we have always respected and appreciated their contributions and impact on the great game of golf. To receive this honor from them, one that bears the name of a man who had such a deep impact on our family, is one of the most meaningful recognitions I have been blessed to receive.
“Golf has not only given us an incredible life, it has provided us a vehicle and a means to make a difference in the lives of young boys and girls, and the families who love them. I don’t think our life’s work could ever compare to or repay what the game has given to us. I thank the USGA, the caretakers of this wonderful game, for this extremely kind gesture and honor.”
Mrs. Nicklaus joins a list of winners that includes champions such as her husband, Jack (1975), Francis Ouimet (1955), Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1957), Arnold Palmer (1971), Ben Hogan (1976), Annika Sorenstam (2012) and Payne Stewart (2014), as well as those who have contributed to the fabric of the game in other meaningful ways, including Richard S. Tufts (1967), Joseph C. Dey Jr. (1977), Bing Crosby and Bob Hope (1978), P.J. Boatwright Jr. (1993) and President George H.W. Bush (2008). Mr. and Mrs. Nicklaus are the first married couple to receive the accolade.
The Bob Jones Award will be presented at a ceremony during the week of the 115th U.S. Open Championship, which takes place June 15-21, 2015 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.