No name is more synonymous with greatness in the sport of golf than the name Jack Nicklaus, and no single person has changed the face of the sport more than Jack Nicklaus – the player, the designer, the philanthropist, and the goodwill ambassador.
Jack, 78, was named “Golfer of the Century” or “Golfer of the Millennium” by almost every major golf publication in the world. He was also named Individual Male Athlete of the Century by Sports Illustrated, and one of the 10 Greatest Athletes of the Century by ESPN.
In June 2018, the Golden Bear received the Lincoln Medal from the Ford’s Theatre Society, making Jack Nicklaus just the fourth person in history—and the first athlete or sportsperson—to be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2005), the Congressional Gold Medal (2015) and now the Lincoln Medal.
For more than 40 years, the Lincoln Medal has been presented to a person or persons who, through their body of work, accomplishments or personal attributes, exemplify the lasting legacy and mettle of character embodied by one of the most beloved presidents in our nation’s history, President Abraham Lincoln.
In 2015, the Golden Bear received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor the United States Congress can bestow on an individual or group, becoming just the seventh athlete to receive this prestigious honor. That same year, Jack became just the third-ever recipient of the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award from Sports Illustrated, created in 2008 to honor athletes and sports figures that have embodied the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership, and philanthropy over their lifetime and the first since the award was renamed in tribute to Ali
A decade earlier, the Golden Bear was honored by President Bush at the White House with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the Office of the President can award any U.S. civilian. Jack is one of only two golfers to receive both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal and became just the 16th individual in history to receive both honors.
At the end of 2005, Jack was unanimously named by GolfWorld Magazine as its Newsmaker of the Year, punctuating a year in which he played his final British Open, his final Masters Tournament, and led the United States to a thrilling victory as captain of Team USA in The Presidents Cup.
In 2001, Jack was honored with the first-ever ESPY Lifetime Achievement Award, and he became the first golfer—and only the third athlete—to receive the Vince Lombardi Award of Excellence. In 2003, he was honored with the Muhammad Ali Sports Legend Award.
Jack’s competitive career spanned five decades, and his legend has been built with 120 professional tournament victories worldwide and a record 18 professional major-championship titles (six Masters, five PGA Championships, four U.S. Opens, three British Opens). He is one of only five golfers—Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Tiger Woods the others—who have won all four of golf’s modern majors, an achievement often referred to as the career “Grand Slam.” Jack remains the only player to have completed the career Grand Slam on both the regular and senior tours. His eight majors on the senior circuit, now called the PGA TOUR Champions, stood as a record from 1996 until 2017.
Jack is a five-time winner of the PGA Player of the Year Award and was the PGA Tour’s leading money-winner eight times and runner-up six times. He played on six Ryder Cup teams, captained two other Ryder Cup teams, and served as U.S. captain for the 1998, 2003, 2005, and 2007 U.S. Presidents Cup teams—going unbeaten in his final three captaincies.
The legacy Jack has left as a player can be rivaled only by the legacy he is leaving as a golf-course designer, businessman, and philanthropist.
Jack was voted the 2017 Golf Course Designer of the Year by the World Golf Awards, following his receipt of such honors as GOLF Magazine’s Architect of the Year in 2014, GolfWorld’s Architect of the Year in 1993, and being named the world’s leading active designer by Golf Digest in 1999. In 2005, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America recognized Jack with its highest honor, The Old Tom Morris Award. In 2001, he was named the recipient of both the Donald Ross Award (American Society of Golf Course Architects) and the Don A. Rossi Award (Golf Course Builders Association of America), and was honored with the International Network of Golf’s Achievement in Golf Course Design Award for 2000-2001.
Since 1962, Jack has added the moniker of “businessman” to his lengthy résumé. He is co-chairman of the privately held Nicklaus Companies. For a record six consecutive years (2004-09), Golf Inc. magazine ranked Jack “The Most Powerful Person in Golf”—and he has never finished out of the top three—due to his impact on various aspects of the industry through his course design work, marketing, and licensing business, his ambassadorial role in promoting and growing the game worldwide, and his involvement on a national and global level with various charitable causes. He was also named “Golf Development Newsmaker of the Year” for 2005 by Golf Inc., and the Robb Report once named Jack the “Leading Power Player” in the golf market. Jack was also the “Global Ambassador,” along with women’s golf legend Annika Sorenstam, for golf’s unified campaign to gain inclusion into the Olympic Games, a goal realized in 2009 when the International Olympic Committee voted to add golf to the 2016 Olympic Program.
In 2008, Jack was also recognized for his global impact through design as well as his philanthropic efforts at home, when he was presented with The Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship is given to executives who exemplify a commitment to the common good—beyond the bottom line—and who demonstrate that private firms should be stellar citizens in their own neighborhoods, as well as in the world.
Jack and his wife Barbara have a long history of involvement in numerous charitable activities, from junior golf to children’s hospitals to several scholarship foundations. Jack and Barbara are the guiding light for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which supports numerous pediatric health-care services in South Florida, as well as nationally, and has raised almost $90 million dollars since its inception in 2004.
Residing in North Palm Beach, Fla., since 1965 and in the same home they have lived since 1970, Jack and Barbara Nicklaus are parents to five children and grandparents to 22.