In December, when Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus played with their grandsons in the PNC Bank Father-Son Challenge in Orlando, the 5-foot, 6-inch, 150-pound Player launched a drive at 18 that trickled past that of Big Jack, who in his prime would often blow tee shots half a football field past his longtime foe. This didn’t sit well with the Olden Bear.
“He said, ‘Will you stop outdriving me already?’” Player recalls. “I said, ‘You outdrove me for the first 40 years. Let me have the last decade.’ I never thought I’d outdrive Jack and I never thought I’d be taller than him either.”
Nicklaus might have shrunk in stature, but he remains a giant in the game as he celebrates his 80th birthday today. Whether it is designing golf courses, passing on his wisdom to the current crop of PGA Tour stars, hosting PGA Tour events or his philanthropic work, Nicklaus is as relevant in the game as ever.
Take the kids, as he calls them, including Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and just last week Patrick Rodgers, who have come to The Bears Club, the club Nicklaus founded in Jupiter, Florida, in 1999, for lunch with the 18-time major champion or to his house to drink from his…