Thursday, May 29

The Man Who Nicknamed Jack The Golden Bear

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


OrlandoGolfBlogger said...

Very interesting article! Now I have some slightly useless knowledge to spread around over drinks on the 19th :)

Orlando Golf Blogger

The Armchair Golfer said...

I wasn't aware there was such a thing as useless knowledge when it comes to golf. :)

Unknown said...

It's a nice article but it is completely wrong. Jack Nicklaus is from Upper Arlington, Ohio. An upper-middle class suburb of Columbus, Ohio. The high school mascot at Upper Arlington is the Golden Bear. While his physique and blonde hair may have made the name more fitting the nickname came from his home town.

The Armchair Golfer said...

So D, I guess you're saying Jack's official site,, has it wrong:

"Ironically, long before he became known as the Golden Bear, he played for the Golden Bears. That was the nickname at Upper Arlington High, though it had nothing to do with his sobriquet (that came later, bestowed by an Australian sportswriter named Don Lawrence)."

Jack's Web site, Golf Channel and multiple other sources credit Don Lawrence.

Anonymous said...

Golf channel did not credit Don Lawrence. They mentioned Arlington.

Anonymous said...

It was Don Lawrence that gave me that name.


Anonymous said...

Oh well shit.....that settles it....."Jack" put an end to that conversation right there

Nick said...

it isnt wrong, i remember exactly the same from golf article i read years ago