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Jack William “Golden Bear” Nicklaus

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Golfer Jack William "Golden Bear" Nicklaus,
2006

Jack William “Golden Bear” Nicklaus (1940- ) was born and raised in Upper Arlington, Ohio, and played in the U.S. Open before he graduated from high school. Nicklaus declined many scholarship offers to attend Ohio State University, his father’s alma mater, where he planned to become a pharmacist as his father had. As an amateur in 1960 Nicklaus placed second to Arnold Palmer at the U.S. Open Championship. Nicklaus left college a year later to play golf and went pro in 1962. He moved to Florida in 1967 with his wife, Barbara Bash Nicklaus (1940-), and their children.

In 2005 Nicklaus played his last British Open and Masters tournaments. In five decades of play, he won 105 professional tournaments and a record 18 professional major championships. Nicklaus was the only player to have won each of the four major tournaments at least three times and was the PGA Tour’s top money-winner eight times. His achievements as a golfer garnered recognition that included “Golfer of the Century” and “Golfer of the Millennium” by many golf publications, “Individual Male Athlete of the Century” by Sports Illustrated, and one of the “10 Greatest Athletes of the Century” by ESPN.

Jack Nicklaus is chairman of the privately held Nicklaus Companies based in North Palm Beach. He has been involved in the design of hundreds of golf courses around the world, and he redesigned the North Palm Beach Country Club course in 2006 as a gift to the community. This second career has brought Nicklaus honors from several industry organizations, including the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Golf Inc. named him “The Most Powerful Person in Golf” four years in a row. In 2005 President George W. Bush presented Nicklaus with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award given to a civilian.

Jack and Barbara Nicklaus have contributed to a variety of causes, from healthcare to education to junior golf, with both time and money. Nicklaus tried to show, he said, that Florida is a good place, not just to “live the life that’s here, but to work and build something.”

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