20 Fun Facts About Golf Legend Jack Nicklaus

20 Fun Facts About Golf Legend Jack Nicklaus

Charlie Riedel | AP

Jack Nicklaus, widely regarded as one of the greatest golfers of all time, has left an indelible mark on the sport with his 18 major championship victories and 73 PGA Tour wins. Beyond the greens, Nicklaus, alongside his wife Barbara, has become a beacon of philanthropy, tirelessly supporting various causes through their Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. Renowned not only for his unparalleled skills on the course but also for his immense contributions off it, Nicklaus remains a towering figure in golf. Read on to explore some of his most iconic achievements and enduring legacy.

1956 – Wins the Ohio State Open golf tournament at age 16.


At 16, Jack Nicklaus clinched the 1956 Ohio Open, featuring a stunning third round of 64 against professionals. By 17, he had amassed 27 victories in the Ohio area, showcasing his early dominance in golf.

1959 and 1961 – Wins the US Amateur Championship.


While at Ohio State, Nicklaus won the U.S. Amateur twice (1959, 1961) and the NCAA Championship (1961). In the 1959 U.S. Amateur, he defeated defending champion Charles Coe 1-up, becoming the youngest champion since 1909.

January 1962 – First professional start at the Los Angeles Open.

Dick Strobel | AP

In January of 1962, Jack Nicklaus competed in his first professional start, the Los Angeles Open where he finished tied for 50th place.

June 1962 – First Professional win, defeating Arnold Palmer at the US Open.


Jack Nicklaus won his first PGA tournament in his 17th start at the 1962 U.S. Open, defeating Arnold Palmer in a Sunday playoff at Oakmont. Despite the crowd’s support for Palmer, Nicklaus triumphed by three shots, earning $17,500 and becoming the reigning U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur champion.

1962, 1967, 1972 and 1980 – Wins the US Open.

Paul Vathis | AP

Jack Nicklaus competed in an astonishing 44 U.S. Open tournaments from age 17 to 60, securing four victories—tying the record for the most wins in the event’s history.

1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975 and 1986 – Wins the Masters.


Jack Nicklaus holds the record for six Masters victories, unmatched by any other golfer, with no one else winning more than four. He first played The Masters in 1959 and last in 2005. Nicklaus holds tournament records for wins, Top 5 finishes (15), Top 10 finishes (22), Top 25 finishes (29), and shares the runner-up record (four). He once was the youngest Masters winner and remains the oldest.

1963, 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1980 – Wins the PGA Championship.


Jack Nicklaus shares the PGA Championship record with Walter Hagen for the most wins at five and holds the record for the most second-place finishes with four. He leads in rounds under par (53), Top 5 finishes (14), Top 10 finishes (15), and Top 25 finishes (23), and shares the record for most career cuts made (27) with Raymond Floyd.

1966, 1970 and 1978 – Wins the British Open.


Jack Nicklaus won the British Open in 1966, 1970, and 1978, tying him for fourth-most all-time with three victories. He placed in the top five 16 times, including seven second-place finishes. No one has surpassed Harry Vardon’s six wins.

1967, 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1976 – Named PGA Player of the Year.


Jack Nicklaus won the PGA Player of the Year award five times, a testament to his enduring excellence. However, Tiger Woods holds the record with an astounding 11 Player of the Year awards.

1974 – Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.


Jack Nicklaus on being elected to the World Golf HOF: “Being elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame, especially with the inaugural class [of 13] in 1974, was one of the unquestioned highlights of my career. It was a sign of respect and validation for the hard work I put into a game I have always loved and considered the greatest game of all.”

1991 and 1993 – Wins the US Senior Open.

Mark J Terrill | AP

Jack Nicklaus captured the 1991 and 1993 U.S. Senior Open titles, setting a course record with a 65 in 1991 and defeating Chi Chi Rodriguez by four shots.

1999 – Named Sports Illustrated’s best individual male athlete of the 20th century.

Mark Lennihan | AP

In 1999, Jack Nicklaus was named Sports Illustrated’s Male Athlete of the 20th Century, joining legends like Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky, Pelé, Ted Williams, Bill Russell, and Larry Bird.

2001 – Is awarded the ESPY Lifetime Achievement Award.

Laura Rauch | AP

“Jack Nicklaus’ career – combining greatness, longevity and class – ranks among the greatest in all of sports,” said Maureen Murray Quinn, executive director of the ESPY Awards. “He is most deserving of our ESPY Lifetime Achievement Award.”

2002 – The Jack Nicklaus Museum opens on the campus of The Ohio State University

Jay Laprete | AP

The Jack Nicklaus Museum, located in the heart of The Ohio State University sports complex in Columbus, Ohio, is a 12,000 square-foot facility dedicated to golf’s history and its greatest practitioner. Visitors can explore Nicklaus’ illustrious career, featuring trophies, photographs, and memorabilia from his 18 major championships and 100 worldwide victories. The museum highlights Nicklaus’ contributions to golf and his unwavering commitment and mental toughness, showcasing his transcendence beyond the game.

2004 – The Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation is formed.


In 2004, Jack and Barbara Nicklaus founded the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation to ensure families have access to world-class pediatric healthcare. Inspired by a pledge they made as young parents, the Foundation supports Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and programs dedicated to diagnosing, treating, and preventing childhood illnesses.

2005 – Retires from tournament competition.


After a storied career, Jack Nicklaus retired from tournament play after missing the cut at the 2005 British Open. In typical fashion, he sunk his final putt, later joking, “I knew the hole would move wherever I hit it.”

2005 – Is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Evan Vucci | AP

President Bush awarded Jack Nicklaus the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Nov. 9, 2005, at the White House, making him the second golfer to receive the honor after Arnold Palmer in 2004. Only two other golfers have received this prestigious medal.

2006 – Is inducted into the PGA Professional Hall of Fame.

Jack Roth | AP

The PGA of America Hall of Fame, established in 1940 on the recommendation of renowned sportswriter Grantland Rice, honors outstanding contributions to golf. Jack Nicklaus, inducted in 2006, joined this elite group.

March 24, 2015 – Honored with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Andrew Harnick | AP

During his distinguished golf career, Jack Nicklaus amassed numerous trophies, including four U.S. Open Championships among his 18 major victories. On March 24, he was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian accolade, in an emotional ceremony attended by family, friends, and elected officials at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.

December 2015 – Nicklause receives Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.

Chris Weeks | AP

Jack Nicklaus was honored with the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, recognizing his embodiment of sportsmanship, leadership, and philanthropy. This prestigious accolade celebrates individuals who utilize sports as a catalyst for positive change.