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Fake News and Golf Instruction: Caution in the Age of Click Bait

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Lose 20 pounds in two weeks. Hit it like Rory.

Cure your insomnia once and for all. Work it like DJ.

Learn to speak Spanish in one week. Never slice, hook, shank, top, hit fat, pull, or push again. 

As one who makes his living teaching a game that is very difficult (and borders on impossible at times), it never ceases to amaze me that I continue to see articles titled the likes of above. Does anyone really think that reading an article is really going to help them hit their driver like Rory… or get up and down every time… or work the ball like a tour pro… or stop a slice or hook forever? Really?

I can assure you these things are not likely to happen… at least not to the degree they are billed. Over the last 35 years on the lesson tee, I’ve seen golfers of all stripes struggle mightily to make small swing changes. Rarely does anyone make significant improvements overnight, let alone after reading one article. Golf swings change glacially. In a two-year span, I helped a student go from an 18-handicap to an 8. There was even one who went from 14 to a scratch over a period of time, but he was also a former professional athlete. What’s important to remember is that these progressions happened over years. They’re also rare.

Readers must consider that the author of any given article probably never saw you swing. So to adopt a “this-is-for-everybody” approach is misleading in my view of learning golf. It seems there is almost nothing that every great golfer does except hit it solid. The idea that there is a magic move that will change it all is anathema to my experience.

Once you know WHAT to do in the golf swing,  you have to learn HOW to do it. I suggest you find someone to guide you through that process, but that is an individual choice. Remember all that your mentor/coach/teacher can do is tell you what… not how. The how part is in the dirt, and it comes out of the dirt s-l-o-w-l-y.

“So if articles don’t help golfers improve, then why do you write them,” you might be thinking. I try to steer clear of titles that are designed to get more readers; I certainly don’t need more students. (The only good thing about getting a little older is one wants less, not more.) Many of you have told me that my shared insights have helped your games in some small ways. That has been the aim all along.

My teaching style is what I call “”if THIS, then THAT.” I try to relate what I’ve seen work for a variety of swing problems. If it helps, great! If something someone else suggested helps, great! Remember that improvement is not all-or-nothing. Every little change helps a lot. If you’re steep and you get less steep, great! If you’re outside-in, and you get less so, great! Sure, maybe you’re not inside yet, but you are on your way. You know what to work on. A lot of students seem to think that if they are not doing something totally right, they’re not improving. That’s a huge misconception.

Golfers will only get better by admitting they have a swing issue and seeking some ways to improve it. While I’m certain some fortunate few have made great strides quickly, the masses plod progressively and hopefully along. I have never claimed to work magic or reveal some secret method that is going to make golfers think about giving up the day job. Golf is a hard game, and we have to improve at it by grinding it out a little at a time.

It’s the journey, not the destination that offers the most joy… and how pleasant the journey can be when you don’t expect to get flat abs overnight… or add 30 yards to your drives.

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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

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. RBImGuy

    Feb 11, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    Took me 6 hours to change and build a new golf swing after 30 years.
    student built new in 3 weeks, hit longer than he ever did.
    He tried usual modern swing lessons for 5 years! and become depressed how badly he hit it.
    He is happy now

    Some people can do magic, I am one of them

    • RBimGuy

      Feb 11, 2018 at 7:59 pm

      Of course my new WIMB game improvement clubs helped a lot too:
      Cobra F7+ Driver 10.5 Aldila Rogue 125 Silver TS 44.5″
      F6 Baffler 4w stock Matrix Stiff
      Cobra Fly Z 3 hyb. 20* Aldila Rogue 85H R flex
      Cobra Forged TEC 4i Aldila Rogue 85H R Flex
      Cobra Forged TEC 5-PW CTL R flex
      MD2 Tour 52* and 58* CTL R flex
      PM Grind MD3 64* black CTL R flex
      Scotty Studio Stainless Newport 2

  2. Gorden

    Feb 10, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    It is simple, take a sand wedge and a ball, now bounce the ball as many times in a row in the air off the wedge…if you can do it 20 or more times without missing…take golf lessons you have the hand eye coordination to make use of a “Real” golf swing. If like 95% of us and getting the ball to bounce even 4 times without missing you will play better with a “Bandage” swing that will get you on or close to the green and give you a chance to get even better scores. I know several guys in our 60’s that could never get below a 16 no matter how many lessons we took…about 5 years ago one of our group garbed a CD course that taught a single plane swing (Moe Norman type) almost all of us messed around with some of these ideas and we all somehow found a way to keep the ball off the tee in front of us and at least hit other shots towards if not on greens..so we all have a fighting chance to shoot 79…

    • Bruno

      Feb 11, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      So what you are saying is that an up-down clubhead motion makes for a great circular golf swing? Whoda thunk …. 😮

  3. George

    Feb 10, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Isnt this article click bait?

  4. Bruno

    Feb 10, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Dennis, you forgot this click bait golf fake news/lies:
    “Buy a new set of golf clubs and hit the ball even further and straighter!”
    What is amazing is that desperate incompetent men actually want to believe such misleading nonsense.

    • Dennis Clark

      Feb 11, 2018 at 8:11 am

      Well its not unlike technology period…Everything seems obsolete in 6 months, huh? The problem seems to stem from the consumer mentality on which we are all reared. In golf, the OMs used to re-tool every 5 years, now it seems every five months. Just be discerning, some of it real, just not ALL of it. Thx

      • Bruno

        Feb 11, 2018 at 1:04 pm

        It’s not true “technology”; much of it is a redux of previous club designs.
        As for the “adjustable” drivers with the promise of dialing out your slice and converting it to a draw, well that’s an outright scam. It may work for tour pros who jam all the weights closer to the face to reduce spin, but it does nothing for the mass of golfers who can’t hit on the sweet spot and must depend on dubious back-weighted gear effect. It’s an expensive delusional toy, nothing more.
        The new craze for hollow irons filled with elastomer gunk and flex faces is suspect. Don’t you wonder how so many OMs simultaneously revealed this stupid expensive design? Hmmmm…. 😉

      • Bruno

        Feb 11, 2018 at 8:10 pm

        Much of the “technology” is a redux of old club designs.
        The “adjustable” drivers with the promise of dialing out your slice and converting it to a draw is an outright scam. It works for tour pros who jam all the weights closer to the face to reduce spin. Golfers who can’t hit on the sweet spot must depend on back-weighted gear effect.
        The new craze for elastomer filled hollow irons and flex faces is suspect. Don’t you wonder how so many OMs suddenly revealed this expensive design?
        P-790s are fake forged and fake news too.

  5. Acemandrake

    Feb 9, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Excellent, blunt, plainly spoken article about a subject most golfers would rather ignore.

    “Golf swings change glacially.” Some more glacially than others ?

    I’ve been playing for over 50 years and really began to enjoy the game when I decided to stop chasing tips. It only leads to frustration and confusion.

    “It’s the journey, not the destination that offers the most joy”…YES

    Enjoy the journey, have fun, and keep hope alive.

    “Knowing why you play” would be good advice for those striving for enlightenment ?

    • steve

      Feb 9, 2018 at 11:08 pm

      Some only “play” so they can buy the newest golf clubs and discuss why they “love” their brand new toys. Their game is irrelevant. They are known as “gearheads” and they inhabit this website to load up on the latest golf club gossip.

  6. Dennis

    Feb 9, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    The reader has to be discerning. Does the suggestion apply to YOUR swing issue. That is the KEY. A one size fits all approach to swing corrections is misleading in most cases.

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      But Dennis, 99% (my guess) of all golfers never take a golf lesson from a qualified instructor like you. They just blunder into the game with a trial and error and error and error approach while depending on something they read or saw on a youtube video. Also they depend on golf store sales people providing them with game improvement clubs. The masses of golfers are not “discerning”; they are “desperate”.
      Have you ever told a student they bought the wrong flex golf shafts for their slow swing speed? Have you ever told a golfer to lose 50 pounds of belly fat before attempting a golf swing? Have you ever told somebody they shouldn’t attempt a golf swing for their safety?
      Great article permitted by the fine folks at WRX!

      • Dennis Clark

        Mar 2, 2018 at 9:05 pm

        Sorry OB, missed this a while back…lose 50 lbs would help a lot not just with golf. ???? I did have guy recently who I switched sides. He was a natural lefty playing righty, and couldn’t hit a ball to save his life. EVERY shot was a ground ball. He bought new lefty clubs and is dong great! Broke 100 with a week.

    • steve

      Feb 9, 2018 at 11:03 pm

      He who represents himself in court has a fool for a client.
      He who teaches himself a golf swing is a clown on the golf course.
      You can’t teach yourself a golf swing because you can’t feel what is happening in real time. It’s trial by error and error and error until the errors create a bad swing that is embedded in the brain and neuro-muscular system.
      Trying to consciously think yourself out of your swing problems with a golf tip is impossible. Anybody who claims instant success is lying… either to you or himself. Gullible golfers mislead THEMSELVES !!

      • Ian B

        Feb 12, 2018 at 2:19 pm

        With so much slow motion video technology available you certainly can analyse your swing. You can even send it off to be analysed and corrections sought.
        I’ve had numerous lessons with different instructors and still do the same things as that’s what my muscle memory has ingrained. I’ve had to change swing through injury but it takes time, and application and that’s what people won’t put in. As soon as I don’t focus old habits (and pains) return.

        • steve

          Feb 12, 2018 at 3:00 pm

          Trying to change your swing from the swinging club back into your body and mind is futile because that’s not how ingrained body patterns are changed.
          If you suffer pain when attempting to swing you either need significant swing compensation or complete physical reconditioning. If it’s an arthritic hip joint or chronic knee injury pain you should seek medical advice and even consider hanging up your golf shoes. Chronic pain will only get worse with time and aggravation.
          When professional athletes want to make a fundamental change to their sport movements they first recondition their body with basic conditioning not related to their sport. They hit the gym and rebuild their body. Then they start sport-specific training before they attempt to introduce the changes. You know what that means; no quickie band-aid solutions. Leadbetter and Faldo took 2 years to rebuild his golf swing and then Faldo started winning big time. Now, scientifically, the rebuild would only take 1 year… except for Tiger who is still messing around with swing tips and types from ignorant instructors. Heed Dennis’ advice.

  7. OB

    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    Congratulation, Dennis, for telling it like it is.
    Everybody wants to know but few are willing to pay the price of doing.
    Golf is being sold as a “fun” game, but in truth it is a near impossible challenge.
    Most everybody assumes that if they “know” they can “do”. They believe they can “think” their way through a golf swing because they are successful people.
    They come off the course and complain they can’t “think” about all the golf tips.
    Most playing golf are non-athletic types who have a sedentary job in an office, and they believe/hope that the golfing exercise will help them lose weight or strengthen their back muscles. They are deluding themselves.
    Most golfers want to believe there is “power” built into their golf clubs since they are hitting their new clubs farther without trying harder. They live in a purple golf haze.
    Most avoid lessons because they fear being exposed as non-athletic non-golfers.
    Who seeks lessons for their incompetence? Women and athletes in other sports. They know.
    Most seek lessons to be exposed to knowledge straight from their famous teacher and somehow they can band-aid their incompetence without extensive training and much practice. A great social experience too.
    Golf is an over-hyped, over-promoted, over-built, over-sold, over-promised, over-easy, over-populated, over-run, over-aged, over-crowded, over-the-top/counter/hill game for gullible men.
    I play/perform golf occasionally. 😮

  8. Dennis

    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Authors note: this is not an article 2 cast aspersions at any site or teacher, it is a word of caution to be careful what you try to incorporate into your own pattern and be realistic about Expectations.

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      Aaah, Expectations! For most, golf is a game of delusional fun and social participation. Full of yuks.
      According to PGA statistics 95% of the 50 million golfers worldwide cannot break 100, honestly. Only 5% or 2.5 million can play in the 90s and less. Let’s reasonably assume that 80% of the 2.5 million cannot break 90. That means only 200,000 golfers play in the 80s and less! This is a reasonable assessment of golfers worldwide.
      The mass of incompetent golfers are desperate and their only recourse is to buy the newest set of game-improvement clubs. They just don’t have the “time” to train and practice; they need an instant fix to their inconsistent golfswing. That’s how they live their entire lives… it’s normal humanity.

  9. shing

    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    MeandMygolf is the worst.

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      Perhaps you mean “Golf My Way” books… by Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Toski, and a slew of others.
      Hey… golf was exploding in the 1970s and novice golfers were hitting the wall and needed help desperately. It’s still a mystery requiring highly scientific instrumentation to customize your swing, clubs, ball, shoes, shorts, cap, glove, tee, rangefiner, … 😮

  10. the dude

    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    nice article DC!….I akin the infomercials products (like the ones that line Hank “the bank” Haneys pockets)….to the diet/exercise craze for the last 200 years (or so). It amazes me how gullible people are…… where commitment takes a back seat to ….”AND IF YOU ACT NOW…..”

    whats the ol’ phrase?? there’s a sucker born every minute……(that phrase was made when the world population was < 1 billion people). I wonder what it is now with TV and social media 🙂

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      “Golfers are gullible.” — Harvey Penick – Little Red Book, page 72.

  11. George

    Feb 9, 2018 at 11:24 am

    99% of golf instruction is garbage clickbait.

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      No, it’s not “garbage”… but it’s mostly not applicable to those on these WRX fora. Gearhead eye-candy rules here.

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Opinion & Analysis

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

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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!

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Equipment

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

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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!

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Podcasts

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

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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.

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