Though many present-day golf fans might associate Jack Nicklaus with Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, his roots in the game actually are about 15 minutes south of there, at Scioto Country Club.
On October 2, 2013, Scioto honored Nicklaus with a plaque where the game’s all-time major champion learned to play the game under the guidance of the late Jack Grout, the club’s longtime (1949-1961) head professional.
On what is presumed to be the exact location where the husky ten-year-old redhead hit his first golf shot in 1950 on the club’s practice tee, a round plaque memorializes the event and the accomplishments of Grout, who died in 1989 at age 79, and Nicklaus.
The plaque reads: In 1950, Jack Nicklaus hit his first golf shot from this location under the watchful eye of Scioto’s PGA Golf Professional, Jack Grout, beginning what would become the “greatest career in golf history.”
Nicklaus thanked the club, but he spent most of his time reminiscing about Mr. Grout.
“He taught me not only how to play golf but how to teach myself to play golf, and I think that was probably the most important lesson that Jack ever gave me,” Nicklaus said of his only teacher. “I don’t know whether Jack Grout was the best golf teacher in the world or the best golf teacher, period. He was just the best golf teacher to me.”
The impetus for honoring Nicklaus came from longtime friend L. John Bishop, a Scioto member.
According to the club’s general manager, Bishop told the club’s leaders: “That of all the things that have happened in golf around the world, there’s only one place where the greatest player ever hit his first shot.” Bishop wanted not only to honor Nicklaus but also to recognize the substantial role of Grout, the Golden Bear’s mentor and friend.
Mr. Bishop suggested a gazebo, but the club opted for a plaque. Bishop drafted the initial words, but he died in April at age 93 and would never see the completed work.