Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

The Yips: “Once you’ve had em, you’ve got em…”

Published

on

Many viewers of Tiger’s return (including his former coach, Hank Haney) observed his difficulty with a few “sticky” chips around the greens at the 2017 Hero World Challenge — it should be noted that other players did also have a similar problem dealing with the tight lies around the Albany greens, most notably Hideki Matsuyama. But Woods, who has had more consistent issues in the last few years, stubbed the ground behind the golf ball on a number of shots this week, and half-skulled a few others while trying to avoid the same result. We can pass it off as “rust,” but we have seen it from him before. So let’s talk about it for a bit.

The “yips,” as they are known, are one of the most frustrating problems that plague golfers, particularly professional golfers. The physical causes of the yips are well known; this is not some esoteric information known only to great players and coaches. We all know the physical reasons, but the yips are not simply a physical problem. In fact, the physical might be a small part of the problem. The biggest part is the mental.

Everyone reading this has yipped a chip, and we all know that the very next time that shot presents itself we are thinking about the yip. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to dismiss that last shot from the mind. And if it happens more than once, or more than few times, it might be permanently on one’s mind. That’s a huge problem if you play the game for a living. Brandel Chamblee, with whom I have publicly disagreed in the past, has a theory on this. He believes no great player has ever really gotten over the condition. I can’t say if that’s true or not, but it may be.

It’s been said, (I have read that Sam Snead might have said it first, but who knows where these things ever really come from) about the yips: “Once you’ve had ’em, you’ve got ’em.” How’s that for a scary thought? Who knows if it’s true, but one thing I do know is this; golf always seems to go for the jugular!

It seems as though every time I have ever stubbed a chip shot, very soon, if not the very next hole, I have to hit another chip from a tight lie. If I’ve just missed a short putt, very soon, if not the next hole, it also seems like I’ll knock it 5 feet past the hole. And what am I thinking about? You guessed it, the last missed short putt. So no amount of mental discipline seems to overcome these evil thoughts.

Hitting the ground behind the ball on a short shot is caused by one or any combinations of the following:

  • The leading edge of the wedge sticking in the ground
  • An early release with a closing face
  • Swaying off the ball
  • A path that is too inside-out (too far from the inside)

But as I noted, every tour player and coach KNOWS this all too well. The same player who once chipped in from behind the 16th green at Augusta with a Green Jacket on the line yipped some sticky chips last week. To me, that is not rust or a mechanical problem; it’s a mental one. I would like some professional psychologist or mind-discipline expert to chime in to advise all of us on how to overcome this problem. It’s easy enough to say: “Forget about it, stay present, play the shot at hand only.” But that seems almost impossible, or at the very least, difficult to do. “Don’t think about yipping this shot” is almost a sure fire way to do just that. It’s a vicious cycle.

If it’s on Tiger’s mind, the rest of us are in big trouble. Let’s hope Chamblee is wrong, but I have to wonder. Remember the down time in golf far exceeds any other game.  We are on the golf course 4+ hours, and in the act of swinging a club a total of only about two minutes. The rest of the time is thinking about swinging the club, and the outcomes. And unfortunately what we usually think about is the WORST shot we have hit in a situation, not the best. And when that shot is a short, chip from a tight-lie, well, that’s when the yips resurface.

The mechanical is correctable, but the mental is long-lasting.

Editor’s Note: “Once you’ve had em, you’ve got em” is attributed to Henry Longhurst (h/t @peterkessler)

Your Reaction?
  • 53
  • LEGIT11
  • WOW2
  • LOL1
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP1
  • OB4
  • SHANK53

Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Happy Golfer

    Dec 11, 2017 at 11:16 am

    One way to cure the Yips is the practice more! And this is the BEST way to improve your short game right here – PerfectShotGolfLoft.com . Anyone who practices with the Golf Loft will see short game improvement after only a couple days, worked for me and it can work for you too!

  2. DrRob1963

    Dec 8, 2017 at 4:10 am

    My wife really helped her chipping with one of those Callaway Xact 37* Chipper clubs. Maybe Tiger needs one of them. The Missus will let him borrow hers if he wants to try it out!

  3. Ken Parker

    Dec 6, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Hi,

    I’ve had the FULL SWING YIPS for over 4 years, every club in the bag, every takeaway was a yip including putter.

    I’m not cured, but I worked out a pre-shot routine that now enables me to hit the ball yip-free and have been able to get my handicap to between 1.9 to 4.9, best I ever did before was 4-7 hcp.

    EVERY SWING NOW FEELS LIKE MY PRACTICE SWING.

    I have an explanation of how I created a pre-shot routine that works but as it’s detailed, will elaborate further if requested.

  4. Billy Bondaruk

    Dec 6, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    I was once involved with the study on the ups and the doctor told us all about how much information our eyes pick up or take in to our brain Yep’s can be directly related to a car accident in fact there was a woman once came out of a coma she was broadsided going through a red light and when she came out of the coma she told the doctors that she could describe the gentleman that hit her she gave a direct description all the way down to his beard on rim glasses yellow polkadot tie she could perhaps one and a half seconds to see him because he had her going 45 to 50 miles an hour The Siri is the Bentley having missed show it to a 3 foot pod or flub the chip out of the nest egg Or tight lie…. your eyes see the movement of the club coming towards the ball and the mind jumps in and sends messages thru proprioceptor‘s to your forearms and hands ….The yips are real and I agree with you that they are 99% mental having been a teaching Pro for many years and played at tour levels…. 2006 PGA teacher of the year northern California I have discovered some ways to free your golf game of the yips…. What I’ve come up with is you have to find a way to use your bigger muscles your body and body rotation to hit these delicate shots but I don’t think that type of movement will ever create the fantastic shots we have experienced Tiger woods hit with the feel of his hands and arms… the technique I speak of will only get you through a round of golf without feeling completely terrible about yourself

  5. Ian Harris

    Dec 6, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Disagree 100%. The yips are not mental they are physical. Focal dystonia.

  6. Christopher Smith

    Dec 6, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Dennis,

    Nice piece, thank you for bringing this important (and highly misunderstood issue) to readers’ view. To your point, vital – like with all in this day and age of info overload by ‘supposed’ experts (let us all “consider the sources,” please) – to better educate ourselves on the topic:

    – Important to note that in fact there are different TYPES of yips. Some more physical, some more psychological; but then again – the mind/body are ONE, after all. Indeed, eventually they have a taste of both. Peruse this re Andre Drummond, and his foul-shooting yips – and how he addressed them: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21332122/nba-andre-drummond-dramatic-free-throw-improvement-driven-back-basics-approach?ex_cid=espnapi_public

    – YES – ask a TRUE expert. I have had the privilege of working and learning from both Dr. Debbie Crews (multiple studies on the yips at the Mayo Clinic) and Dr. Christian Marquardt (creator of the SAM PuttLab – and the individual who helped Hank Haney with his driver yips back in the day…). You want legit info on the realities, causes and ‘treatments’ of the yips, as opposed to the wandering guesses of the talking heads on the broadcasts? Ask these two, among others.

    – Pure technique-wise, thank you for bringing up the dangers of the leading edge of the club contacting the ground first. It’s why there is an inverted sole on wedges (bounce), to facilitate the trailing edge striking the ground first. If that trailing edge strikes the grass or ground first, it continues to move forward – instead of sticking/stubbing or digging. Ball back, hands ahead/shaft leaning forward (especially on an uphill lie, like we saw with most gross miss-hits in Albany) and handle-dragging thru impact is a fantastic recipe for miss-hits and yes, eventual yips. Suggestion? practice your short shots off an actual putting green, without taking a divot, while still getting the ball up in the air. It’s what Seve and many of his modern-day disciples did/do.

    Best,
    CS

    – “Forget about it, stay present, play the shot at hand only.” But that seems almost impossible, or at the very least, difficult to do.
    Amen, brother! No, it doesn’t work, does it now? At least, not for very long. This is the preferred ‘shtick’ offered by traditional sports psychologists, who deal only with the CONSCIOUS mind. Unfortunately for the yipper – the issue (like with the motor program that is any golf swing) resides primarily in the UNCONSCIOUS part of the mind/brain/body system. So, this advice, in addition to being temporary – does not address the CAUSE of the yipping issue. Yet another golfing band-aid…

  7. Jack Nash

    Dec 6, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Of course he has the Chyps. Watch how Fowler chipped compared to Woods. Woods could easily solve part of the problem by adding a bit more bounce on his wedge.

  8. justin case

    Dec 6, 2017 at 10:58 am

    This article and others are a little off. First, the lies were not *tight*, they were into the grain. Grainy bermuda is no fun to attempt pitches to firm, fast greens.

    Secondly, I played over 15 PGA tour events in 89-93. While an excellent chipper, my weakness was pitching the golf ball and limited my playing success at the higher level. I later developed full-on pitch yips. After working on some various pressure points of my grip, I now have command of even the toughest pitches. It makes golf so much more fun. Tiger, and anybody else, can figure this stuff out and I think he will.

  9. Jarlaxle

    Dec 5, 2017 at 11:38 am

    Matt Kuchar’s caddie had an excellent take on this, called the chipping conditions this week the hardest he has ever seen in over 20 years on tour. Every article I’ve seen starts with the same premise… “Everyone else had trouble… but Tiger had more than most so something is wrong”.

    The guy is coming off of back surgery and has had a golf club in his hands for maybe about 10 weeks. This was his first tournament back, playing in the hardest possible conditions imaginable… of course he’s going to hit some turds.

    Why don’t we give him a few months of pain free practice/playing and a few tournaments under more typical playing conditions before we conclude that he has an incurable case of the yips.

  10. JM

    Dec 5, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Dennis Clark,

    Let me first say that your articles are well done. I have to disagree with this one though. Sure he hit a few poor chips, from what I saw this doen’t qualify as the yips. After all, how many people who have the chipping yips chip it off the green to tap in range? I think chipping it off of the green is the last thought that enters a players mind if they have the chipping yips.
    I feel he fixed the majority of any chipping issues a few years ago. After he had all the issues in Phoenix, he purposely made his appearance around the chipping green at the Masters hitting various chips, pitches, and flops, all while the Golf Channel’s Live From was being filmed. They all marveled how much better it was.
    I’m not saying it was as good as he once was around the greens but I think maybe yips is a little harsh.

  11. RBImGuy

    Dec 5, 2017 at 6:15 am

    This is the Sean Foley failed teachings showing up in Tigers game

  12. Nat

    Dec 5, 2017 at 1:24 am

    Tiger’s skulled chip shots are due to his over-developed arms and popeye forearms from all those muscle building curls. He’s lost his ‘touch’ that he had when he was normal and not all juiced up on hgh and protein shakes.
    All that pumping iron is the root cause of his messed up swing. Now that he’s aging and starting to look like his father with a paunch, he’s going to get fat as his muscles turn to lard, and before our very eyes…. believe it….

  13. Acemandrake

    Dec 4, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Be decisive & content with your shot choice.

    Don’t decelerate!

  14. Hawkeye77

    Dec 4, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Watched quite a bit of the coverage, didn’t see the multiple “half skulled” chips that are being suggested, but maybe there were. Saw a couple sticky ones for sure and wonder about his technique given he doesn’t seem to “release” and be as bounce friendly as some others – is there a technique issue? Foley sure seemed to change his chipping technique to making the leading edge more of an issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Opinion & Analysis

Women’s college golfers (and juniors) are getting significantly better, here are the stats

Published

on

Here’s the deal: If you are talking about women’s golf these days, especially at the elite level, you are talking about superstars! These girls are crazy good, and I wanted to take an opportunity to highlight some of the data to help better inform everyone.

Let’s start with a couple key highlights from the first couple of weeks of the 2018-19 season

  • Sierra Brooks fires 65-62 (-17) at College of Charleston
  • Patty Tavatanakit from UCLA shoots 63, including 7 straight birdies
  • Alabama shoots NCAA record -45 at Belmar Golf Club
  • Atthaya Thitikul from Thailand shoots 60 in the final round of the World Junior Golf Championship to finish at 268 (-20)
  • Lucy Li shot 62 in the first round of the U.S. Junior Girls at Poppy Hills
  • Newly D1, California Baptist shoots -6 in the final round at University of South Alabama to finish -4 for the tournament

In 2018, Missouri women’s golf was likely the last team into the regional championship. To earn this right the team needed to average 295; scoring a decade earlier which would have likely made them a contender for being among the elite 10-15 teams in D1 golf! The fact is, in a little over a decade, the game has changed not a little, but a lot. Players from the past would have no chance to compete with today’s teams.

Why? Girls are simply stronger, better coached and more focused on golf. According to Joey Wuertemburger, a teaching professional with 100-plus college players

“The bar is getting raised every day, I’m seeing the next generation of women getting more athletic, which helps with the speed component but also with the ability to make changes quicker in their individual coaching programs.”

One example of the power of women’s golf is Emily Tubert. Emily, a former USGA champion, college golf standout at Arkansas and LPGA player recently hit it 322 yards in a nationally televised event. Emily is not even a complete outlier, look at club head speed data with driver collected by Trackman from the 2018-19 rosters at University of Arkansas

  • Player A: 108 mph
  • Player B: 106 mph
  • Player C: 101 mph
  • Player D: 97 mph
  • Player E: 96 mph
  • Player F: 93 mph
  • Player G: 90 mph

Arkansas is not an outlier either. Troy women’s coach Randy Keck notes two players on his team with club head speeds of 103-ish with the driver and a team average in the upper 90s. This means that players are hitting the ball on average at least 225 in the air. When playing courses of 6,200 yards, this gives them lots of opportunities to have short irons and attack short par 5s.

At the end of last year, according to GolfStat, four women’s teams (Alabama, UCLA, Arkansas, and Duke) had adjusted scoring averages under par, with the University of Alabama leading with 70.93. According to Mic Potter, head women’s coach at the University of Alabama, “Through eleven tournaments in 2017-18, our team was 111 under par. Thirty years ago, if a school averaged 300, or roughly 12 over per round, they were winning tournaments. In 2018 they are more likely to finish last. Student-Athletes are entering college more physically fit, with better technique, and more prepared to play at the highest level. This is reflected in their ability to score.”

The transformation of women’s golf can be seen throughout D1, as well as into other levels. One amazing example is the University of Indianapolis, the 2018 D2 women’s national champions and likely among the best D2 teams ever. According to Golfstat, for the 2017-18 season the adjusted score for the team was 73.45 which helped them win 11 times. Likewise, the women at Savannah College of Art had an amazing year in NAIA women’s golf with an adjusted scoring differential of 75.32.

At the junior level, players are equally impressive. Data collected suggests that the average girl going to play major conference golf has a scoring differential of about minus three for the past three years. This means that they shoot about three shots better than the course rating. That’s impressive until you consider that the best player in ranked in junior golf in the U.S., Lucy Li, has a scoring differential of minus 8.53. That’s almost two shots better than the player ranked second — darn impressive!

Women’s golf is on an excellent trajectory, which includes so much more depth, competition, and superior athletes who are driven to make their mark on the sport. Over the next five to seven years, it will be interesting to see these players develop in their quest to become the best players in the world — I cannot wait to see what happens!

Your Reaction?
  • 48
  • LEGIT6
  • WOW3
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP2
  • OB2
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

Equipment

TG2: Equipment leaks and launches for 2019 (TaylorMade, Callaway, Mizuno and more)

Published

on

It was the week of equipment leaks and launches on GolfWRX.com. Equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky discuss the new TaylorMade P-760 irons, Callaway “Epic Flash,” Mizuno ST190 drivers, more photos from the 2017 Nike VPR line, Evnroll putters and more.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

Your Reaction?
  • 2
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL1
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK15

Continue Reading

Podcasts

Full Transcript: The 19th Hole podcast interview with Barbara Nicklaus

Published

on

Check out Michael Williams’ full conversation with Barbara Nicklaus, Jack’s wife, on our 19th Hole podcast below. Listen to the full episode here!

Editor’s Note: We’ve been listening to your feedback about wanting transcripts for the podcasts. Obviously, we can’t transcribe every single podcast, but we’ll try to provide these as often as possible. Thanks for listening!

Michael Williams: I’ve been telling everybody since I’ve met you. If Jack is The Golden Bear, I’ve been calling you the Teddy Bear because you’re just the nicest person, so easy to get to know, and you just remind me of my own Mom.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, what a nice compliment. Thank you.

Michael Williams: You’re welcome. We know so much about Jack, his life is documented in so many ways and in so many places. Looking up and researching this chat, I couldn’t even find a biography for you online. There’s no Wikipedia page. There’s no nothing. You’re so humble. You’re so under the radar.

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, I think that’s a good thing.

Michael Williams: And a very rare thing these days, by the way. I wanted to give people and myself a little background on the person that you are. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, Jack and I both grew up in Columbus, Ohio. We were from different sections of town, so I didn’t meet him until the first week of our freshman year in college. My dad was a high school math teacher, and we just had a very nice … I don’t know what you call it. I’ve had a great life.

Michael Williams: When you were growing up, were you from a golf family? Did you know a lot about golf? Were you prepared to be the wife of a golf professional?

Barbara Nicklaus: No, actually when I met Jack, I really didn’t even know golf existed. Golf wasn’t a real popular sport back then, particularly in high school. So, I didn’t really know anything about it when I met him, and we dated. We met, like I said the first weekend of our freshman year in college, and we dated until about New Year’s Eve when you kind of run out of Mickey Mouse things to talk about. He sort of went back dating the girl he had been dating. I actually started dating the fella that she was dating. Then about February, my birthday, all of a sudden I started getting these cards in the mail. I got a birthday card from his sister, and one from his mom and dad, and one from Jack. So, he called me that day and then we’d been together ever since. We were married between our junior and senior year. I sort of decided maybe I should learn a little bit about golf, so I took it Winter quarter at Ohio State. We hit balls just in tin building and then they let us play five holes at the end of the quarter. It was really hilarious because I think I made three bogeys and two pars. I said to Jack, “I really don’t understand why you practice so much.” Of course, I haven’t broken 65 for nine holes since. That was my meeting with golf.

Michael Williams: It sounds like you’d taken the thing seriously, you could have been better than him.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, I think that was just a little miracle that never, ever, ever happened again.

Michael Williams: That is a great story. You married Jack, I believe, in 1960 and he went pro in 1961. He’d already had a great amateur career, but did you both know right away that you were headed for one of the all-time great careers? Could you feel it even at the beginning?

Barbara Nicklaus: Absolutely not. Like I said, we grew up in Columbus, Ohio. We planned on living in Columbus, Ohio. We were married between our junior and senior year of college. He was trying to sell insurance, and play golf, and go to school. He really expected to remain amateur. So, Jackie was born in September of 1961, and Jack turned pro in November. We’d been married for a year and half before Jack turned pro. Of course Bob Jones, was one of his heroes. Mr. Jones couldn’t have been nicer to him at a lot of amateur tournaments. It was a big decision, but when he wanted to be the best and he said, “If want to be the best, I have to play against the best.” In 1962, which was his first year on tour, his first tournament was the L.A. Open in January and he split last place with two other golfers at $100. He got a check for $33.33, so, big beginning.

Michael Williams: And you cashed it and spent every penny, didn’t you?

Barbara Nicklaus: I wish I had the check. I never even thought about it at the time, but it’d be pretty funny to have now.

Michael Williams: Yes it would. That check itself would be worth a lot more than $33.33.

Barbara Nicklaus: He didn’t even get to 34 cents. He only got 33.

Michael Williams: Yeah, I know, that other guy owes you a penny, okay. I’ll help you hunt that guy down. I know some folks. Famously, Tiger Woods as he started his pro career was aiming for Jack, in terms of his target for excellence. Was Bobby Jones the guy that Jack was aiming for?

Barbara Nicklaus: You know what, golf wasn’t really talked about in that sense as it is today. I think the first time Jack even thought about breaking Bob Jones’ career record, was when he was at … I’m not sure it was the Open or the PGA in Cleveland and someone said, “Well, if you win today, you break Bobby Jones’ record.” I think that’s the first that was even brought to attention. The majors just as the years have gone on, have gotten bigger in the public’s eyes. [Editor’s Note: Nicklaus won his 1973 PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf club outside Cleveland, his his third PGA and 14th major championship].

Michael Williams: So, at that point he really wasn’t aimed at any records or numbers or anything like that. It was more about achievement, in terms of his own personal goals.

Barbara Nicklaus: It was. It really was. It was, like I said, “If you wanna be the best, you play against the best.” Victories were what he was all about. He always says, “Golf is a game” And he loved it. I always say, “Very few men are really happy in their profession.” And I said, “How unbelievably lucky could Jack be to be happy in two. Playing golf and golf course design.” We both feel very blessed.

Michael Williams: The tour obviously was very different in those days from going on the road to the tournaments themselves. Everything was different. What are some of the biggest differences for you when you look at how the tour now is versus how it was when you were doing it?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, I love the way we started out, but I can’t say that the way the gals and guys are now isn’t better. We basically drove, drove from tournament to tournament. We had Jackie, so that was when you could put a port-a-crib … It would sit in the backseat of the car and we just dumped him back there and traveled. Michael, we’re so old, we didn’t have the disposable diapers back then, so you can imagine how are motel rooms smelled. It was a different atmosphere. If someone else’s husband happened to be playing better, than say Jack, I would keep her kids for the day or vice versa. It was a much smaller tour and more family, but what the wives have now is wonderful. They have a school for the kids, and so they’re all together. The tour’s grown unbelievably, but I still cherish some of those old-fashioned days.

Michael Williams: Were you particularly close to any of the players and their families?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, it really just depended. Winnie Palmer, Vivienne Player and I have been dear, dear friends for a hundred years [laughs]. We hated it when we lost Winnie. Vivienne and I are still really good friends. There’s a lot of them out there that I still see a lot. We just kind of started in the early 60s and the six of us traveled together a lot.

Michael Williams: I just wondered if it was a barrier to friendship, the fact that Jack was at another level than these other guys.

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, you know what, I don’t think he was thought of it back then. He was really just starting out, and obviously Arnold was winning a lot, and Gary. Later on, Tom Watson came along and just a lot of the other guys, so it went in steps and everything fit together.

Michael Williams: Yeah. There’s sort of a smooth transition if you will between those generations and groups of players. You mentioned raising kids, the difference now between raising kids. You have, let’s see, one, two, three, four, five, I believe?

Barbara Nicklaus: Yeah, we do.

Michael Williams: Well, five majors of your own. One of them named Michael, quite wisely.

Barbara Nicklaus: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Michael Williams: Appreciate that! Raising the kids must have been just wild, yeah?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, you know what, Michael? When you say that, I have the attitude, “You know what, you do what you have to do.” Of course, everybody who knows me, knows this story, but I’ll quickly tell you. When I was at the Masters in 1962 and Jackie had been born the September before, so I’m on the back patio with some other wives. I’m bemoaning the fact that I missed my baby and this and that and the other thing. There’s sort of an older woman sitting over on the patio knitting. All of a sudden, she put her knitting down. She put her finger in my face and she said, “Listen little girl, you had Jack long before you had that baby and you hope to have Jack long after that baby’s gone. Now you grow up and be a wife.” I was kind of taken aback. It actually was Elita Mangrum. She was Lloyd Mangrum’s wife. I was kind of taken aback and then I didn’t see her for about 10 years. I saw her and I said, “Elita, you will never know what you did for my marriage.” I said, Jack would call me and I might have three in diapers and he’d say, “I’m lonely.” I said, “Elita, I was on the next plane to that tournament.” So, it was sweet because I can still see her finger in my face as a 22 year old wife.

Michael Williams: What a life changing moment, such a great story.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, it was and I’ve shared that with a lot of the younger wives. Just because you become a mother, you don’t stop being a wife. That was one of my biggest lessons.

Michael Williams: In your life, you’ve obviously had some great blessings and you’ve had some amazing experiences. You’ve led a singular life with a lot of success, but like all of us, life is not all success. You experienced your share of tragedy. The loss of your grandson Jake was a tragedy that’s unimaginable. But that same year you founded the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation. That’s when your career in philanthropy really took full flight. If you would, just talk a little bit about the start of the foundation.

Barbara Nicklaus: Of course, the loss of Jake was unbelievable. It’s a double whammy because you feel so bad for your children and then you’ve lost this precious baby. But our thinking that we wanted to help children really started when our daughter was 11 months old. We had a scary experience with her and thought we might lose her. So we sat in the hospital looking at each other and saying, “You know what, if we’re ever in a position to help anyone we want it to be children.” We just feel blessed that we’ve been able to do that. We did start our Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation in 2004, I think it was. We lost Jake in 2005 and we were just helping smaller places. Well, when Jake died, we just jumped to a bigger level. That horrible statement, “Some good comes out of all bad.” Is true; Jake was such a precious child, and so we feel like we’re keeping his memory alive with a lot of the charity work that we’re doing in Jake’s name.

Michael Williams: I was amazed to hear the story about the Foundation. I knew something about it, but having attended the events during the summer, I saw the videos and met some of the people there. I tell you, honestly, and it’s not even just a turn of phrase. There literally was not a dry eye in the house when you talked about some of the ways that you’ve helped people. I love the fact that you take on causes that nobody else takes up. These unknown diseases and you’re applying charity and philanthropy and research where no one else is. No one else is helping, and you dive in and do those things. It must be a wonderful feeling.

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, that’s a nice compliment, Michael. We started our foundation and we wanted it to be local. We wanted to grow it, so that we can be a global foundation. When we partnered with the people at Creighton Farms, we feel like we’re branching out from just our home area. Of course the last two years, it’s been benefiting PKU, which to tell you the truth, I had never heard of. [Editor Note: Phenylketonuria, also called PKU, is a rare inherited disorder that causes an amino acid called phenylalanine to build up in the body. For the rest of their lives, people with PKU need to follow a diet that limits phenylalanine, which is found mostly in foods that contain protein].

It’s such a rare thing to happen, and such a distress for a family. That’s been wonderful to help that charity. We’ve helped Children’s National in Washington, D.C. and of course the beneficiary for the Memorial tournament in Columbus, Ohio is a nationwide Children’s Hospital. We just feel blessed that we’ve been able to help children.

Jack has been unbelievably great. He’s actually supported me all these years, and now that he’s not playing so much golf, we’ve really gotten him involved. I think he’s totally enjoying being a part of this charity and kind of just hearing what’s been after him. In fact, I tease him that I’d had to raise his salary twice this year. He laughs. He says, “Yeah, from zero to double zero.” But he’s a pretty good employee.

Michael Williams: That is awesome. When I talked to him again during the summer, I asked him whether he enjoyed the 18 majors and all the wins more or if he enjoyed the philanthropy more. He said he really enjoyed the philanthropy more and it was because he was a partner of, albeit a junior partner, to you. That’s what he said.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, oh, well I haven’t heard that, so I won’t tell him I heard that.

Michael Williams: Hopefully he’s listening to the show every week, but I’m just throwing that out there. Just before we wrap it up, I want to go a little bit more about your, back up to a little bit more about your role as a mentor on the PGA tour. Talk about the players themselves because you get to know some of these guys, these young men. Of course, they make more money, have different lives, but other than that, are they really different than the young men that were around when Jack was touring and during his career?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, you know it’s funny, Michael, ’cause you look at all the generations and this generation, all I can tell you is, gets it. I think they have the greatest group of young players. Rickie Fowler, and Rory McIlroy, and Daniel Berger, and Jordan Speith, I mean just so many of these young guys. They get it. They’re giving back at early ages. It’s really fun to see. When some of the young girls will ask me some questions, I’m so complimented because I’m really probably not even close to being their mother now. I’m closer to being their grandmother. The girls are adorable. They’re special and they’re very supportive. It’s just fun to see.

Michael Williams: Did you ever give someone the Mrs. Mangrum speech?

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I think an awful lot of the young girls, that’s one of the first things I always say. Because it’s been several years ago, but you know I have heard some say, “Well, I’m not gonna do that anymore. I have a baby to take care of.” Then all of a sudden, I see Elita Mangrum’s finger in my face again and I have shared with a lot of the girls. In a nut shell, it’s very true.

Michael Williams: So I’m gonna give you a fantasy scenario here. Let’s say you’re queen of the tour, empress of the PGA tour-

Barbara Nicklaus: Uh-oh. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Michael Williams: … It’s been handed down. The decree has already been written. Would you change anything? What would you change? What would you step in and say, let’s do this a little differently?

Barbara Nicklaus: I’d like to say … You know, I don’t think I’d change anything. Jack and I were 20 years old when we got married and took all four of our parents with us to get our marriage license. I feel like we’ve grown up together. I feel like we’ve been a team and a pretty good team. People say, “Well, what about being a golf widow?” I said, “You know what? Jack has always made me feel like I’m a part of his life.” If it’s a phone call or a wink or what.

Barbara Nicklaus: I said I’ll tell you a story. It was at Oak Hill at the US Open and after the round, there’s like 40,000 people on the golf course. After the round, he said to me, he said, “Where were you on the 8th hole?” I said, “You’ve got to be kidding. You know that I wasn’t there on the 8th hole?” I actually had stopped to talk to, well, it was Laura Norman, at the time. I did miss the 8th hole and I said, “How in the world do you know?” He says, “I know how you walk and I know where you are and I couldn’t find you.” That was probably the nicest compliment he ever gave me. ‘Cause I didn’t even think he knew I was on the golf course, even after say 30 or 40 years of following him. So anytime I feel like golf widow, that little story comes to mind and I just smile.

Michael Williams: You know, I’m a great big mush ball and it’s not fair for you to make me cry on my own stupid radio show, okay. It’s just not cool.

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, come on down and I’ll give you a hug.

Michael Williams: Sold. Last couple of questions. This is like total trivia. I happen to know what Jack’s favorite flavor of ice cream is and we share the same favorite flavor. It is in fact butter pecan…

Barbara Nicklaus: Yes, you are correct.

Michael Williams: Yes. What is your favorite flavor of Jack Nicklaus ice cream?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, some of them that haven’t been out very much they … I actually, to tell you the truth, love the vanilla.Then they have a nice black cherry, and they have a mango that’s good. There are a lot of flavors that really haven’t hit the public in force, but vanilla’s terrific.

Michael Williams: Yeah, we had a couple of bowls. Getting back to the Foundation. I know there’s a lot of people that are aware of the Foundation now, but don’t necessarily know how to contribute and/or participate. How can they get more information about contributing, going to events, that sort of thing?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, we have a website, which is Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation. We are with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami now… It was Miami Children’s Hospital, and they changed the name two years ago to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. ‘Cause there again, we’re trying to get more of a global feel and have people know we now have treated people from every state in the union and 119 countries. We’re very proud of that … just for an example, 64 pediatric cardiologists, so we have just a terrific heart program, cancer program. Our foundation supports that as well as other charities around the United States. It’s our tiny little foundation and it’s growing. The Jake Tournament, which we do every year at the Bear’s Club here Jupiter, Florida, in memory of Jake, is probably one of our biggest fundraisers, and that goes to our foundation and to some of the hospital projects.

Michael Williams: Well, I can just say that we, collectively, the golf, sports, America in general, we’re so proud of you. We are in awe of you for being the mother that you are, the wife that you are, the philanthropist that you are, and just overall the person that you are.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, Michael, that is so sweet. It’s interesting because golf has given Jack and me so much more than we could ever give back to golf or the world. It’s opened a lot of doors for us and we feel blessed that golf has opened these doors and helped us to help other children. Thank you. I loved talking to you, Michael and I hope we’ll see you soon.

Michael Williams: Thank you so much, dear. I will be down there to pick up that hug.

Barbara Nicklaus: Okay, I’ll be waiting. We’ll also feed you dinner. So, come on down for a hug and dinner.

Michael Williams: Ice cream for dessert, no doubt, right?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, sure. Absolutely.

Your Reaction?
  • 9
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending