He Remains a Rock of Ages
by Art Dlugach
HORSESHOE BAY—Jack Nicklaus does not play much golf any longer, but he’s in the Design business as much as Gap or Old Navy. His business is the golf course, and Summit Rock, in this links-laden resort community, is one of his latest “jewels.” On October 30, the man who owns a record 18 professional major championships, went out and played a few holes on the only the only Nicklaus course constructed in the U.S. this year.
The first look took place in 2006, and it opened just over a year ago. Nicklaus was told, “Those who have played it have been blown away.” He responded: “Well, we had a lot of time.”
“There are places where you can gamble,” Nicklaus declared. “There are great views, and the terrain is not severe.
“It shouldn’t be all that difficult. 10 and 11 can be played as par-fours or fives.
“12 is a beautiful par-three,” Nicklaus continued, “and 15 is a short hole over water. 17 (411 yards) is another pretty hole.”
Someone—mistakenly—asked him what is the signature hole at Summit Rock. “I’ve never been a part of that,” Nicklaus strongly observed. “I want 18 signature holes.”
The Golden Bear indicated gold has not been available enough to design courses in recent years in this country, whereas his name is at work all over the world: China, Moscow, Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America.
“The ability to invest here has been eliminated.”
“The leaders of golf organizations are trying to stimulate the game,” Nicklaus pointed out. “We’ve lost four million players since ’06. The game is expensive, difficult, and it takes a long time to play.”
Rivalries on Tour
“The press creates rivalries. It was no big deal to me; I could control only myself.
“We just go and play.” Play he did, along with Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson, and Lee Trevino. Those were exciting times—the 1960s and ‘70s. It appears that won’t happen today, just too many different players who can pop up and win.
Jack v. Arnie
Palmer was extremely popular when Nicklaus turned pro in 1962. You read plenty then that they didn’t like each other.
Jack put one fist against another to describe their relationship. “On the golf course,” Nicklaus explained, “I wanted to beat him, and he wanted to beat me. After the match, we’d shake hands and maybe have dinner.
“We played exhibitions together, plus the Ryder Cup and World Cup. We were very close friends.
“We wanted to beat each other’s brains out, but we left that on the golf course.”
Can Tiger Woods (with 14) break his record? “He has the time and talent,” Nicklaus answered, but, he mildly joked, “I don’t want him to play too well.”
Does Rory McIlroy make him queasy? “Does he make me QUEASY? laughed Nicklaus. “I haven’t felt QUEASY. That’s never been an issue. I’ve done what I’ve done—let them do what they’ll do.”
“I was with President Bush (George W.) and my son, Gary. The President said to Gary, ‘We’ll play father and son, a team game. You get my dad; I get yours.’ ”
“I encouraged my wife Barbara to join me for a round one day. I told her our scores are getting closer and closer.”