Memories of a Champion



JWN80-Grout bookJanuary 15, 2020. Jack Nicklaus reflects on career and turning 80 years old. Note: Displayed prominently on Jack’s desk is a copy of my father’s book: “Jack Grout, A Legacy in Golf.”

“Looking back, the most remarkable thing about those earliest days was how much time Mr. Grout always seemed to have for me. He’d see me coming in off the course and it was always the same: “Well, Jackie boy, how’d you play today? How’d you hit ’em out there, young fella.” And I’d tell him my score, a 93 or an 88 or whatever, and he’d say, “Well, let’s go out and hit a few, let me take a look.” And off we would head once again for the range or the putting green. Certainly he was tickled by my enthusiasm, and in later years he liked to suggest that a certain clairvoyance about where I would go in golf stimulated his efforts to help me. Whatever the reasons, without fail his time was my time.

Equally valuable – especially during my inevitable slumps – was the durability of Jack’s conviction about my innate golfing abilities. Come a bad patch and he couldn’t wait to start getting me refocused and remotived by helping to make the game fun for me again. It was like that every day of his life, even in those terrible times when he was dying of cancer and could barely sit upright in a golf cart. The phone would ring and there he would be … the faint voice trying so hard to sound upbeat and cheerful: “Jackie boy, come on, let’s go out and hit some balls.”

There would be some times as the years passed when Jack’s enthusiasm was my only motivation, when I would go to the practice tee and hit shots for him that I knew his failing eyes could not even see, simply because he wanted to spend time with me, and because I wanted to be with him just as much. And when I got there it was always fun, and, like as not, without him telling me even one teacherly thing, I’d fall back in love with the game again.

Jack Grout was the most fortunate thing that ever happened to me in terms of golf, and the reason was that he would not, under any circumstances, allow me to get really down on myself. In this respect he was relentless. “Come on Jackie boy,” he’d urge and exhort me, “you’ll get it, stay with it, keep at it. You’re the best, Jackie boy, you’ve beaten ’em all before and you’ll beat ’em all again. Okay, you lost it for a while, but forget that, put it out of your head. It’s another day, and there’s another tournament coming up. Now, let’s get out there and go to work. Come on, let’s go hit some balls, there isn’t any time to waste. Now, don’t you forget, it’s right there inside of you and we’re going to find it. Jackie, young fella, you’re going to be unbeatable … you hear me … Un-beat-able! Now, let’s get out there and start playing some real golf.”

It was heady stuff, and there was no way I could not respond to such boundless faith in me. Thank you, Jack, from the bottom of my heart.”



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