Golden Bear to be Honored by U.S. Congress
Widely regarded as a leader, ambassador, patriot and the greatest player in the history of golf, Jack Nicklaus now will receive Congress’ highest civilian honor—the Congressional Gold Medal.
The prestigious Gold Medal recognizes a person’s service to the nation in promoting excellence, good sportsmanship and philanthropy. It’s a bull’s-eye to lionize the Golden Bear, who for a lifetime has represented the highest standards on and off the golf course.
“Jack Nicklaus is a legend, and without a doubt the greatest golfer of all time,” said Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Nicklaus’ native Ohio, who co-sponsored the legislation with fellow Ohioan, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. “Yet in addition to the Golden Bear’s career in golf, he is a dedicated philanthropist who has made a difference in communities across America.”
During his distinguished career, Nicklaus, 74, won 74 PGA Tour titles, including 18 major championships, more than any player in the game. He won his first national tournament at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs at the 1959 U.S. Amateur, and one of his last, the 1993 U.S. Senior Open, at Cherry Hills Country Club.
He also has designed nearly 300 golf courses throughout the world, including 12 in Colorado (Aspen Glen, Breckenridge, Broadmoor-Mountain, Castle Pines Golf Club, Country Club of the Rockies, Country Club at Castle Pines, Cherry Creek, Cordillera-Summit, Ptarmigan, Roaring Fork Club, Meridian, The Bridges and Granby Ranch).
Photo: © Chris Duthie
Further, let’s recall the 1969 Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale, when 29-year-old Nicklaus, competing in his first-ever Ryder Cup, conceded a missable putt to Britain’s Tony Jacklin that ended their hotly contested match—and the team competition—in a draw. The touchstone moment is now hailed as one of the greatest acts of sportsmanship ever.
Perhaps more significantly, Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament, a popular PGA Tour event staged annually at the Muirfield Village course he designed in Ohio, has distributed more than $200 million to charitable organizations in Central Ohio. He and wife Barbara also this year founded the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation, which supports innovative programs focused on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of childhood illness.
(A percentage of all tour-quality Nicklaus Golf Ball sales is being donated to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and to the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation. To order a dozen ($28-$32) go online to nicklaus.com.)
The honor underscores his reception of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the only golfers to have received both honors. Past recipients of the Gold Medal include Rosa Parks, Robert Frost, Joe Louis and Neil Armstrong.
Chris Duthie is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.