The Arkansas Traveler

A tune, a dialogue, and a painting from the mid-nineteenth century, the Arkansas Traveler became a catch-all phrase for almost anything or anyone from Arkansas. It has been the name of a kind of canoe, various newspapers, a racehorse, a baseball team, and a well-known American professional golfer whose career spanned over four decades – one of the longest in the history of The PGA Tour.

Ernest Joseph (E. J.) “Dutch” Harrison was born in Conway, Arkansas and nicknamed “The Arkansas Traveler.” Harrison turned professional in 1930 at the start of the Great Depression. In short, he took the plunge into the ultimate insecure job, touring professional golfer, at the precise moment when life on tour was at its toughest point. The early years of the Depression left 30 million people with no income at all. They were desperate people whose tolerance of crime was the highest in American history. It was Bonnie and Clyde time.

The tour in the 1930s was little more than an excuse to go gambling, if not on the course then in a hotel room dealing poker and rolling dice. My father, who joined the pro tour in December, 1931, laughed when he recounted a story about a craps game he was in with Dutch Harrison and some other pros. When it was ol’ Dutch’s turn for the “come out roll,” he decided it was in his best interest to heave the dice clear across the hotel room. “It was all gambling,” said Jack Burke Jr., the 1956 Masters champion. who learned the game during the Depression from his father, a prominent Texas pro. “They had bookmakers at every tournament. They’d make more gambling with each other than there was in the purse.”

“As long as there’s been golf, there’s been gambling.

And where there is gambling, there will be hustling.”

Dutch Harrison believed the modern art of golf hustling was a product of The Great Depression. “After the stock market crash in 1929, half of the country’s 6,000 golf courses went broke,” he said. “Who’d want to become a golf pro? It was the day of the hustlers hustling the hustlers, and anyone else.”

In addition to the usual cons, down-home Harrison was known in the trade as an “oil artist.” He buttered up his opponent as a means of playing with the man’s head. “This course is built for your game, Mr. Henry – fits you perfect,” or “You’re such a great putter, Mr. Henry, I probably should concede that short putt, ’cause it’s a lead-pipe cinch you’ll make it.”

Although he was one of the better players on tour for over two decades, the mainstay of his income was the many exhibition matches and private “money” games in which he played. Adding his gambling income to his “official” prize money vaulted him into being one of the “unofficial” leading money winners in the late 1940s. Undoubtedly, Harrison won so many bets because of his gamesmanship. He would always find a way to beat you. But the stakes did not necessarily have to be high. Sam Snead recalled a day when Dutch Harrison lost a $5 bet to a player he thought was an easy mark.

“Dutch, this is really an honor,” said the man. “I’m going to frame this bill.”

Harrison grabbed it back and said, “In that case, I’ll write you a check.”

My father and Dutch Harrison were pals and occasionally they roomed together while on tour. Dad was an “Okie” from Oklahoma, born on March 24, 1910. Dutch Harrison was an “Arkie” from Arkansas, born on March 29, 1910. In my father’s instruction book, Jack Grout’s Golf Clinic, there is the story about the amateur, who had not been playing well at all in the Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Somewhere around the seventeen or maybe even the eighteenth hole he had the chance to make a long putt for the team’s best score on that hole. He nervously asked his professional partner, Dutch Harrison, what his best strategy was. Harrison’s reply was, “Try to keep it low!”

Dutch Harrison had a total of 18 career victories spanning from the 1939 Bing Crosby Pro-Am to the 1958 Tijuana Open Invitational. However, as late as 1969, Harrison had a top-25 finish in the Canadian Open at the age of 59. He played on three Ryder Cup teams: 1947, 1949, and 1951. Harrison finished nine times in the top-10 at major championships, including third place finishes at the PGA Championship in 1939 and the U.S. Open in 1960. He won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average in 1954, and ranks fifth on the list of players with the most PGA Tour victories without a major championship on his resume. In 1954 Harrison became the Old Warson Country Club’s first golf professional. He died of heart failure at age 72 in 1982 in St. Louis, Missouri.


How To Make Junior Another Jack Nicklaus

A week before final exams, during my junior year of high school, my father asked me a couple of memorable questions. In his typical nonchalant manner, he said, “Dickie, do you want to be in Golf Digest with me?” My response was a clear and unambiguous “Whaddya’ kiddin’?” Then, he asked, “Can you get out of school?” I gave him an enthusiastic, “Yes, I’m sure I can!”

As it was, my father had already written his article on junior golf for the magazine. What he wanted from me was to be his demonstration model. The photo session was scheduled on May 14-15, 1970 at La Gorce Country Club. Dad and photographer Doug Kennedy worked together to capture the various images needed to illustrate and compliment the story. My father’s feature article along with a number of photos appeared in a four-page spread in the August 1970 issue of Golf Digest magazine.


By Jack Grout

Professional, La Gorce Country Club, Miami Beach, Florida

In my 44 years as a golf professional I probably have taught more than 10,000 youngsters to play the game. Many of them have gone on to considerable success as amateur and professional golfers.

But whenever my name is mentioned in a group of golfers, someone invariably refers to me as “Jack Grout, the man who taught Jack Nicklaus.”

I appreciate the many nice things Jack Nicklaus has said about me. He still comes to me when he wants to work out a problem in his swing. Jack calls me “my only golf pro.” We had a close rapport when he was a youngster of 10 taking up golf. But his great ability was developed more through his own determination than my teaching.

For instance, I first taught Jack in the summer of 1950. He worked harder than any of the 50 or so youngsters I had in my class at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. He was always the first there and the last to leave. One of the points I made then, and still do, was that, to be a really fine player, a golfer must be willing to practice. Significantly, when it rained at Scioto, Jack was usually the only one of my juniors who’d come out to the course.

During the past two decades I’ve also had a chance to teach golf to my own sons, so many remarks are made as much from the viewpoint of a parent as from that of a golf professional. My son, Dick, reminds me a great deal of Jack – he even started at the same age. Dick is 16 now, and he has the same attitude toward practice. He hits bucket and bucket of practice balls every day. He appears to have the desire and the determination to become a fine golfer.

Dick’s older brother, John, had a fine golf swing when he was 13 or so, but later lost interest in the game and decided not to play. I didn’t try to argue him out of that decision, and I don’t think that any parent should, in similar circumstances. But now, as an adult, John has started playing again – in fact, he’s worked down to a two handicap. This is tremendously satisfying to me as a father because, in effect, it justifies my action in exposing him as a boy to a thorough grounding in the fundamentals of golf. Once a child learns the basics of the swing (or any skill, for that matter), he’ll never forget them; he can pick up his game again and play at least decently after any period of golfing inactivity or disinterest.

The best incentive to play golf that a child can initially receive is the example of one or both of his parents actively and happily (by which I particularly mean in good temper) playing the game. Unless you spend a lot of time on a golf course, as I do, your children won’t be as naturally exposed to the golfing environment as mine were. But, with very little fuss, it’s possible to involve a child in some of your practice sessions in the backyard or at the driving range. You may even be able to have the youngster trail you for a few holes during an actual round at your course, but only let him tag along while his interest lasts – don’t try to force him into your kind of commitment to the game if his interest wanders.

Golf, to appeal to very young children, has to be fun, a game – not a “must” subject like school or homework. One excellent way of increasing a child’s interest in the sport is to take him to one of the pro tournaments. Most youngsters are thrilled to watch famous sportsmen perform, and if you are able to manage an introduction and chat with one of the players, the youngster will always remember the day. Children are great imitators, too, and will often benefit from watching the actions and absorbing the rhythm and swing tempo of the top players.

Most boys and girls are mature enough physically to start learning golf – at least in a clinic – at age 10. A child will normally take well to group instruction at this time, particularly if he already has been given a taste of the game by his parents. Individual lessons generally should wait until the child is around 14. In my experience, that’s when a youngster generally begins to have the interest and intelligence to properly assimilate detailed instruction, and also to accept the idea of meaningful practice.

Unfortunately, girls tend to give up golf at about age 14 in favor of other pursuits. It’s too bad, for girls have natural rhythm, good touch around the green and the ability to learn quickly. But even the girl who “drops out” of golf will usually have absorbed enough of the fundamentals to make it worthwhile. And very often she will decide to start playing again after she’s married or is well into a career. So don’t automatically count out your daughter as a golfer if she quits as a teenager. She’ll probably thank you for getting her started when she’s a wife and mother herself.

Ideally a child should play with equipment fully-suited to his size and swing. Adult-size clubs, whether “cut down” or not, can produce bad swing habits if youngsters find them too heavy to control and tiring to go on swinging. My son, Dick, started with regular junior clubs, then shifted to using his mother’s (ladies’) clubs when he grew a little older and stronger. Finally, he started using men’s clubs. This is a natural progression for any boy who plays the game regularly.

A sound group-instruction program will, in the course of a summer, firmly implant the fundamentals of golf in a child. It also should be so structured as to give the youngster his first taste of golf competition – showing him the point and purpose of what he’s learning. Thereafter, he’ll probably prefer playing with golfers in his own age group, rather than with his parents, and that’s fine. It’s in actual competition that the junior golfer will quickly learn to play all the shots he didn’t learn on the practice tee.

Parents still have a role to play, though. They must constantly help and encourage the child by setting realistic scoring goals, and in developing a healthy attitude to competition. For instance, as a parent I am always watching for suitable junior competitions in our area in which to enter my son. Young golfers today are lucky in that there are numerous opportunities to compete in club programs, municipal tournaments and the like.

Attempting to do well in a tournament can be a realistic goal, but I believe that it is more important for the parent to help the child set goals that are not directly related to competition. Rather than having a child aim towards winning a certain event, for instance, it is better to encourage him to keep track of his scores. A realistic goal would be for him to make his scores for every two-week period, taken as a total, better than for the same number of rounds in the previous period.

In practice, too, the child should be urged to set goals. For example, he could work with his driver until he is able to put the ball within a designated area half of the time, or chip until half of his shots end up within three feet of the pin.

The photos accompanying this article show my son Dick illustrating the swing fundamentals I would stress in teaching all junior golfers. These are basically the key points I have concentrated on ever since starting to teach golf. The only change I’ve made in my teaching program over the years has been the emphasis I now place on the short game. I believe strongly in the value of practicing all possible shots required from 50 yards and on in – pitches over bunkers, chips from rough, lag putts, and all the rest. Even today I see pros on tour with beautiful swings who, after getting close to the green, can’t get the ball “up and down.” I’d recommend intense short-game practice to any youngster who wants not only to swing well, but also to score low.

May 15, 1970, Father & Son alongside the putting green at La Gorce Country Club


The 68th Amateur Championship of the United States Golf Association was held at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. The tournament was won by Bruce Fleischer with an even-par total of 284 on the famous Donald Ross design. There was only one sub-par round that week and it came on the final day when then University of Virginia law student Marvin “Vinnie” Giles III shot an incredible closing 65 and set a course record but came up a shot short of Fleisher.

One of the most memorable aspects of that championship was the unusual number of young golfers – virtually all collegians – in the field who went on to become well-known regulars on the PGA Tour. Besides Fleisher, there was Tom Watson, Hubert Green, Lanny Wadkins, Andy North, Doug Tewell, Leonard Thompson, Rod Curl, Barry Jaeckel and Jim Simon.

My father and I were at Scioto for the 1968 U.S. Amateur. One morning after arriving at the club and before we went our separate way, Dad told me to meet him at the practice area at 4:00 p.m. He said, “we’ll hit some balls.” Later that afternoon, while I was in the midst of hitting a few warm up shots, he approached the tee. But, Dad was not alone. Walking alongside him was his longtime companion Byron Nelson and legendary sportscaster Chris Schenkel.

My father introduced me to his famous friends and then mentioned that they had come to watch me swing a bit. As I remember it, Chris Schenkel appeared as the consummate gentleman; very pleasant but he did not say much. By contrast, Byron Nelson was in his element and ready and willing to give counsel. First, he told me to relax and just swing the club like I always did. Then, as I was about to hit another shot, he moved in close enough to actually step-on the head of my club. At that point, Mr. Nelson’s instruction was pretty simple. He said, “Even though my foot is on the club, I want you to go ahead and make a swing.” With obvious restrictions, I moved as far as I could into my limited backswing. Then, he lifted his foot off the club head and, in an instant, the club rebounded its way to the top of my backswing.

Byron Nelson’s lesson that day dealt with the importance of everything moving together during the takeaway. Evidently, by using primarily my hands and arms to move the club away from the ball, I had gotten too far or too deep into my backswing without shifting my weight and turning my hips and shoulders. For future practice sessions, Mr. Nelson advised me to purposely keep the club head on the ground a little longer as I hit balls. Though still in my mid-teens, I knew what he meant because that was how my father taught. Both of them favored a teaching technique that involved getting people to do something by prompting them to do the opposite.

During those halcyon days in 1940s, when Nelson was winning a record number of tournaments on the early PGA Tour, his backswing started off with a choreographed movement of his right foot. His right knee moved slightly forward which would roll his right ankle inward and imperceptibly pull his right heel off the ground. From there he would plant his right heel down as his club, arms and body moved together away from the ball. For Nelson, these initial swing movements acted as a trigger to relax his muscles which gave him the great rhythm, tempo and timing that he always seemed to have.

Through the years my dear father was responsible for introducing me to a great many wonderful people. Which I am most grateful. Both Byron Nelson and Chris Schenkel were indeed world-class gentlemen. I know that the instruction given to me that day by Byron Nelson helped my golf game. His interest in me added to my love and respect for the game. Mr. Nelson made himself available on a number of occasions and he offered valuable information to my book Jack Grout, A Legacy In Golf. I am happy to say that I was fortunate to remain in contact with him until the time of his death on September 26, 2006.

Byron Nelson and his ABC broadcast partner Chris Schenkel at the British Open Golf Championship, Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland
(Photo is dated 06-18-1968)

Chris Schenkel was a television stalwart. His versatility and easygoing baritone won over fans during a more than six-decade broadcasting career in which he covered all major sporting events. He was the first to cover The Masters on television, in 1956; the first to call a college football game coast to coast on ABC; and the first to serve as live sports anchor from the Olympics, in Mexico City in 1968. And he did it while earning a reputation as one of the nicest guys in the business.

Mr. Schenkel was named sportscaster of the year in 1963, 1964, 1967 and 1970 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, which inducted him into its hall of fame in 1981. He died September 11, 2004, following a long battle with emphysema. He was 82.


Jack Grout probably didn’t realize it as he was driving across the desert in early 1936, heading back to Texas, but a key factor in creating a higher comfort level for himself as a touring pro was finding the ideal traveling companion. Having a pal alongside to help ease him through the rough patches, a chum right there to share the good times, was what he lacked. In each of Dad’s previous winter excursions he paired himself with friends who would become exceptional players. As great as Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Jimmy Demaret were on the golf course, though, all three were emotionally tough guys to be around on a daily basis, at least for my father. All three were, in a sense, lone wolves.

My father’s search for a supportive tour traveling partner came to a happy conclusion later in 1936 in the person of one of the game’s most accomplished players, Massachusetts’ own Henry Picard. Picard liked Dad’s strong character and businesslike approach to the game, and a close and lasting friendship developed. As they traveled the circuit together and eventually worked side by side as club professionals, Picard became one of my father’s key mentors, teachers and colleagues.

Henry Gilford Picard was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts on November 28, 1906. He began his lifelong career in golf as a caddie at the Plymouth Country Club. While in high school, Picard advanced to the position of clubhouse steward with the help of Donald Vinton, the club’s golf professional. The pro knew that this promotion would give the young fellow playing privileges at the club. Vinton recognized Henry’s love for golf and wanted him to have an opportunity to develop his burgeoning natural talent.

In the fall of 1925, after Picard had graduated from high school, Vinton petitioned William Picard for his 17-year old son’s services, as his assistant, at the Charleston Country Club. Vinton had the pro position at the South Carolina club in the wintertime. When Henry told his father how badly he wanted to go, Mr. Picard reluctantly gave his approval. Before Henry left home, however, his father gave him a little piece of advice to take along with him. He said, “You’ll always be rated by the people you choose as friends.”

1937, Jack Grout and Henry Picard at Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pennsylvania

In 1925, the Carolina’s Open was held at the Charleston Country Club. To everyone’s surprise, it was won by young Henry Picard. However, to show that it wasn’t a fluke, he won the tournament again the following year. In January 1935, Picard journeyed to the West Coast to put his flourishing game to the test against much tougher competition. During that winter campaign, Picard was traveling and rooming with his pal Johnny Revolta, an excellent player who would win nineteen pro tournaments, including the 1935 PGA Championship. When my sister Ronnie and her husband Tom visited Mr. Picard at his Charleston, South Carolina home in December, 1995, the aging pro reminisced how Revolta was “out on the town every night.” While Picard enjoyed Revolta’s company, rooming with him was difficult because Picard was a staunch family man. He didn’t begrudge Revolta and the other pros their nighttime fun; he just preferred to have calm and restful evenings, better to prepare himself for the next day’s golf.

December 1995, Ronnie (Grout) Christman and Henry G. Picard at his residence in Charleston, SC

Picard and his wife, Sunny (Annie Addison), had married in December, 1930 and by 1936 were parents of a pair of young sons, Bill and Larry, my dad being the latter’s godfather. It was disquieting to family-man Picard during his first foray in 1935-36 that Revolta sometimes was returning to their shared hotel room just as Picard was leaving for his morning round. It was a piece of good fortune that Picard began to notice my father’s purposeful ways and quiet work ethic at about the same time. Soon the two men began palling around away from the golf course, and later in 1936 they began traveling together.

Jack Grout would find no greater ally, confidante and traveling companion in all of golf than Henry Picard. In retrospect, the Picard-Grout pairing seems such a natural. Their playing styles were comparable; each had a long, rhythmic swing and could hit the ball a great distance. More importantly, the two also were like-minded, with many similarities in the way they approached life. Honesty, hard work and modesty were attributes they shared. Picard was more serious-natured than my father and a tougher individual both physically and competitively. With his lighter personality, Dad generally was more fun to be around. In many ways these contrasting traits tended to attract one to the other.

When the tour reached San Francisco in January 1937, Picard had a candid discussion with my dad about his own increasingly busy work schedule and how my father could help him deal with his obligations as head pro at Hershey Country Club. Then and there the job offer was made and accepted. My father experienced three solid years of growth as a player and a teacher at Hershey. His day-to-day association with Henry Picard had a lot to do with that. That is, Picard and Dad worked together on the golf swing for countless hours.

Over the succeeding decades the personal lives and golf careers of Henry Picard and Jack Grout would crisscross many times. In the fall of 1943 when Picard was in his second year as Twin Hills’ head pro in Oklahoma City while also employed during the week in a war-plant job at Douglas Aircraft Company, his trusted friend Jack Grout was there to run the golf operation in his weekday absence. In the fall of 1945 this golf version of musical chairs continued to unfold after the prestigious Canterbury Country Club reached out to Picard offering him its head professional position. When Picard told his employers at the Harrisburg (PA) Country Club that he was headed for Cleveland, Ohio, the club quickly set its sights on my father and in 1946 made him their new golf professional.

Dad wasn’t looking to begin the 1950s in a new job or in a new city. The four years in Harrisburg had been good for him and his family. But in the fall of 1949, a head professional position opened in a city that my father had driven through a number of times during his various travels and he had liked a lot. Things happened pretty fast after that. Henry Picard, still the head pro at Canterbury, teamed with Ohio businessman John W. Roberts in contacting my father about the position. Then the two men backed Dad’s eventual efforts to secure the new job.

The Associated Press reported the news on December 9, 1949: Thirty-nine-year-old Jack Grout, head professional at Harrisburg Country Club in Pennsylvania for the past four years, had been named head professional of Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. The story noted that, as the new head pro, Grout would be the host for the 1950 PGA Championship, scheduled at Scioto on June 21-29, 1950.

The prospect of hosting one of golf’s major championships excited my dad. But I know he would have been infinitely more excited had he been able to look into the future and see that within a few months, his orbit would collide with that of a husky Columbus ten-year-old redhead named Jackie Nicklaus, who would become under Jack Grout’s tutelage, the most successful golfer the world had ever seen.

My father and Henry Picard were shy and humble men. They were gentlemen and “first-class guys” who had great respect for one another. Throughout their long and successful careers they provided each other with assistance and support whenever and wherever it was needed. Both men had much to be proud of, including their ability to inspire in their respective families great loyalty and devotion for their father.

December 1995, Henry Picard said the 3 keys to great golf are: Posture, Balance and Grip. He added that having a “strong left is the key.” Also, “honesty” is what makes for a fine golf professional.

Note: Henry Picard had 26 wins on the PGA Tour and won the 1938 Masters Tournament and the 1939 PGA Championship. He retired in 1973 and returned to Charleston where he was a fixture in the local golf community. Picard played golf regularly into his 80s and died at age 90 on April 30, 1997. He was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in April 2006.

Naples’ Winter pens book about teacher Jack Grout through his son’s eyes

Naples Daily News
Posted June 15, 2013 at 5:41 p.m.

Ceremony in downtown Columbus, Ohio following the ticker-tape parade given to Jack Nicklaus for his victory in the 1962 United States Open Championship
Father and son at La Gorce Country Club in 1970 during a Golf Digest Magazine photoshoot (Doug Kennedy photo, used with permission)
Jack Grout and Jack Nicklaus at La Gorce Country Club’s practice tee just prior to Nicklaus’ victory in the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. (From the Nicklaus family collection.)

Dick Grout remembers his dad turning work into family vacations. He remembers traveling the country, going to U.S. Opens and PGA Championships.

Grout remembers watching his dad’s protégé’s — Jack Nicklaus, Ray Floyd and David Graham — capturing those major championships.

Now, he’d like the golf community to do more than remember his dad, one of the game’s most prolific instructors.

Dick Grout is pushing for his father, Jack Grout, whose pupils have won 24 major titles, to be inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame.

Dick Grout calls it a travesty that he’s not already there.

“It’s absurd,” Dick Grout said. “I know I am tremendously partial but how can there be a PGA Hall of Fame without my father in it? The Hall should be honored to have him as a part of it.”

To spread his message, Dick Grout wrote a book — with the help of part-time Collier resident Bill Winter — about his dad. The book: “Jack Grout: A Legacy in Golf” isn’t a traditional golf tale about swings and score cards. This is a story told through the eyes of a son, about a quiet and humble family man who had a solid career as a touring professional, then a truly brilliant one as a teacher to the pros and the stars. This is a love story about Jack Grout’s passion for his wife, their four children and for the game of golf. This is a golf history book and the considerable impact one man made on the game.

“We tried to make it a human interest story,” Dick Grout said, “not just a sports book and not solely about golf, but about someone’s life.”


Jack Grout’s life changed back in 1950 when a husky 10-year-old redhead named Jackie Nicklaus attended his junior clinic at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio.

But some may say Nicklaus and golf had the good fortune that Jack Grout landed the head teaching job at Scioto. There had never been a junior clinic held in Columbus before, and who knows, a superb athlete like Jack Nicklaus may have become a football player.

Unlike today’s golf world, where players have strength coaches, swing coaches and sports psychologists, Nicklaus had only one coach for nearly 40 years.

With his 73 PGA Tour victories and 18 major titles, Nicklaus said: “If Jack Grout had not arrived as the new pro at Scioto concurrent with my father’s convalescence, right now I would probably be selling insurance Monday through Friday and flipping a fishing rod for my weekend fun. Conceivably, I would have continued to play golf, or come back to it in later years. But I am certain that my life overall would have been very different from what it became.” He added, “Without (Jack Grout), I’m certain I would never have achieved the professional success I have enjoyed.”

Nicklaus said Jack Grout’s omission from the PGA Hall of Fame mystifies him, but his coach wouldn’t be bothered by it.

“J. Grout, as I called him, was just too humble and too comfortable in his own skin — and with what he accomplished in life — to spend even one minute worrying about such things,” Nicklaus said in the foreword of the book.

Jack Grout was as simple as his golf theories: head still, good footwork, balance and a wide arc.

“He knew the golf swing probably as well as any instructor ever has,” Nicklaus said. “But I think his greatest gift to his students was his belief in them and his ability to get them to believe in themselves.”


Ray Floyd described Jack Grout as low-key and always positive.

Raymond Floyd and Jack Grout at Frenchman’s Creek Country Club’s practice tee in 1978

Floyd said Grout always focused on “telling you what you were doing right. If I went to him when I was playing well, I came away from a session, man, I couldn’t wait to get to the tee. I knew I was going to beat everybody.”

In a letter to Jack Grout after winning the 1986 U.S. Open, Raymond Floyd wrote, “I want you to know that I could not have accomplished all that I have done without you. Your patience, your tutelage and your inspiration has been the formula of my success. I sincerely thank you.”

Nicklaus’ and other players’ tremendous success didn’t change Jack Grout.

Dick Grout said his dad may have never fit into today’s instant golf lesson landscape. Jack Grout would have been the polar opposite of Hank Haney. My father would have never participated in reality- celebrity TV, despite giving lessons to the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Andy Williams and Sean Connery.

“That would have gone against the grain of his shy nature,” Dick Grout said. “Dad would sooner put on a disguise and change his name before going on any reality TV show.”

Instead, Jack Grout quietly grinded out a career as a highly sought-out teaching professional. Besides Nicklaus, Floyd and Graham, Jack Grout worked with a stable of touring pros such as Jim Colbert, J.C. Snead, Gibby Gilbert, Roger Maltbie, Tom Purtzer, Olin Browne and Lanny Wadkins.

“Dad was a lunch pail guy. He was quiet, uncomplicated and did the job at hand,” Dick Grout said. “His desire to remain in the background and not promote himself in the public eye seems a key reason why

he hasn’t yet taken his rightful place in the Hall of Fame. But, he enjoyed his life; he lived his life the way he wanted to live it and on his terms.”


Lost in the lessons and his players’ accolades is the fact that Jack Grout was a respectable player in his early days. According to PGA Tour Selected All-Time Rankings and Statistical Highlights:

ERA Rankings (1930 – 1945)

#79 Jack Grout – Officially credited with 18 Top Ten and 35 Top Twenty-five finishes

Top 500 Players (1916 – 1988)

#425 Jack Grout – Officially credited with 20 Top Ten and 40 Top Twenty-five finishes

Grout learned the game working as a caddie at Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club. He earned 35 cents shagging balls and eventually won the caddie championship.

He turned pro in the early 1930s and traveled the PGA Tour with the likes of Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret, and Henry Picard. He was a pioneer of the Tour and finished in the top 25 on the money list in 1941, 1942 and 1943.

Jack Grout gave up tour life in 1945 after marrying and starting a family.

“What surprised me the most was that on top of being a great teacher, he had a pretty solid playing career,” said Bill Winter, the book co-author who is a member at Hammock Bay in East Naples.

Winter met Dick Grout by chance at The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards in South Carolina. Winter’s wife, Rosanne, had heard the teaching pro at the course, Dick Grout, talking of a book about his father and looking for a journalist to help write it. After hearing the book was about Jack Grout, Winter, an Ohio native, walked over to Dick Grout and said don’t look any further, I’m your man.

“I wanted to do something that was worthwhile and a good story,” Winter said of his interest in writing the Jack Grout story, “and something someone may care about.”

Dick Grout had followed in his dad’s footsteps, becoming a good player and a teaching professional, too. The 59-year-old spent four years compiling notes and stories about his father. Winter and Grout spent another four years retooling the book.

“I quickly came to realize that his father is my father,” Winter said about the correlation between Jack Grout and Winter’s father who quit college to support the family and still became a successful accountant. “I realized that Jack Grout was every father who wanted what was best for his family and didn’t seek any acknowledgment or accolades for the hard work.”

Jack Nicklaus also looked up to Jack Grout as a father figure.

“The truth is that we developed a friendship as close and warm and comfortable as two men can, and particularly after my dad’s death in 1970, when Jack Grout became a second father to me,” Nicklaus said.


Dick Grout said growing up he didn’t even understand his father’s prominence in the game. He said when one of his father’s students won a Tour event, Jack Grout didn’t make a big deal about it. Grout said looking back the family should have celebrated his dad’s success.

“We all took our lead from our dad and we kept these things in perspective,” Grout said. “He didn’t come home and go crazy about it during tournaments or when Jack was in the lead.

“We took all of that in stride. I look back now and say this was really something else, history being made and made over and over again, and maybe should have made a bigger deal about it and it was almost crazy that we didn’t.”

Jack Grout was humble. He was quiet and reserved. He was loyal till the day he died. On his deathbed, days after the 1989 Masters, Nicklaus and his wife Barbara came to the family home. Jack Grout asked Nicklaus why he pushed his second shot on 18. Jack Grout asked Nicklaus to stand up and take his stance. Then Jack Grout proceeded to give Jack Nicklaus one last lesson even though he could barely lift his head off the pillow.

Dick Grout said his father had a saying: “If you know what is right, do what is right.”

Dick Grout said golf knows what’s right: His father, the second father to Jack Nicklaus and many other successful pros, should occupy a place of honor in his sports Hall of Fame.

Note: For the purposes of this story more information was added to the original article.

The Legend of Doug Sanders

I first met Doug Sanders as a seventeen-year-old on September 1, 1970 when forecaddying for his foursome (which included the legendary jockey Eddie Arcaro) during a Pro/Celebrity event to reopen the newly renovated Bayshore Golf Course on Miami Beach. As the group’s forecaddie, my main duties included watching where the player’s golf balls went, raking bunkers, helping to tend the flagstick and bringing putters to the green for the players to use. Apart from spending an enjoyable time in the company of a pair of famous athletes, I really only recall two episodes from that day. Both of which involve the flamboyant Doug Sanders: Firstly, while playing a par #4 on the back-nine, Sanders’ approach shot finished on the front section of the green. With the edge of a bunker and fringe in his direct line to the hole, he cleanly pitched his ball from off the pristine surface of the green to within a few inches of the hole to save par. The deft touch he demonstrated on that delicate shot was downright remarkable! Secondly, upon completion of his round, the two of us walked to where his car was parked. At that point, I placed his golf bag in the trunk and Doug Sanders handed me some money and his business card. Then, in the most sincere and convincing manner, he said for me to call him if I should ever need his help. I can tell you, I came away from that day with a very favorable impression of Mr. Doug Sanders.

Whenever the name Doug Sanders arises in conversation the majority of golfers immediately tend to think about just one detail in the American’s career…..that infamous short putt on the wickedly contoured final green at St. Andrews which denied him the British Open Championship in 1970. It remains one of the most unfortunate images in the history of the event and, though it was a cruel blow to a great champion in an otherwise illustrious career, it cannot take away from his many achievements.

Indeed, the record books show that Doug Sanders was one of the game’s outstanding players during the late 1950’s and 1960’s when his contemporaries included such greats as Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Billy Casper.

When looking back on the career of Doug Sanders, one must wonder at what might have been if he had enjoyed a slice of luck at crucial moments in all four Major Championships. The fact is that he came agonizingly close to winning the entire set, a feat accomplished by only a handful golfers in the history of the game.

Doug’s Near Misses In The Majors

1959 PGA Championship – tied second behind Bob Rosburg at Minneapolis Golf Club

1961 United States Open Championship – second to Gene Littler at Oakland Hills

1966 Masters Tournament – tied fourth, only two strokes behind Jack Nicklaus

1966 British Open – runner-up to Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield, and defeated by Nicklaus in playoff at St. Andrews in 1970

He might have missed out on glory in the Majors, but he scored twenty (20) victories on the PGA Tour in a richly rewarding fifteen-year spell, including five big wins in 1961 when he climbed to a career high 3rd place in the money rankings.

His career statistics for the period between 1955 and 1975 show that he was a fearless and consistent competitor at the highest level. Apart from his twenty tour victories, he was placed second on 21 occasions, third on 13 occasions, he had 154 top-10 finishes and he featured amongst the top-25 in no fewer than 286 tournaments! He also enjoyed the special feeling of being a member of the 1967 United States Ryder Cup Team – “the finest golfers in the world” captained by Ben Hogan which demolished Britain & Ireland (23.5 – 8.5) in the match held at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.

Despite the great success he achieved many golfers will tend to remember Doug Sanders for his eye-catching wardrobe and swashbuckling characteristics, his compact golf swing, and, of course, that putt for the British Open title at St. Andrews over a half-century ago. However, I will remember Doug as a truly kind man and the genuine article. He was a credit to the game and the most “colorful” golfer who has ever lived.

As luck would have it, our paths crossed several more times through the years. In 1997, I was the golf professional at a country club just outside of Boise, Idaho. During the fall, Doug Sanders paid us a visit and orchestrated one of his Sanders Style corporate outings which included a group clinic, a round of golf and an after-dinner speech. Needless to say, the show he put together for our members and guests was quite a success. Then, the last time I saw Doug was in 2016 at Augusta National Golf Club where we had lunch together during the Masters Tournament. As usual, his big heart and winning personality were apparent.

An Ideal Way to “Retire”

At some point early in the ’70s, Jack Nicklaus talked with my father about the new course he was building in the Columbus suburb of Dublin (that later became known as Muirfield Village Golf Club), about his plan to launch The Memorial Tournament, and about his personal gratitude for the good work Dad had done with him. Then, Nicklaus asked my father a question that was both generous and very smart: Would Dad consider coming to Muirfield Village in the summers as the club’s Golf Professional-Emeritus and teacher-in-chief? Dad would set his own hours, teaching as much as he wanted, and he never would have to stick around for the cold and damp Ohio winters.

The Muirfield offer had no downside for my father. He was nearing retirement age, and this would be a wonderful opportunity for him to remain active without working full-time. Plus, he would get to return during the beautiful summer season to an Ohio city he had enjoyed a great deal. With the rest of the year free, he would be able to steal away to the milder climate of Florida. Jack Nicklaus had made an offer that could not be refused, so when the time was right Dad informed his colleagues at La Gorce Country Club that he was going to retire.

While never one to want a fuss made over him, my father was pleased to find that his friends and admirers at La Gorce weren’t about to let him just walk quietly into the night. In late spring of 1974, Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, the noted golf instructor Bob Toski, 1941 PGA Championship winner Vic Ghezzi, New York Yankees owner Dan Topping and scores of other La Gorce members and guests – including the reigning world champion backgammon player, Tim Holland – gathered for a send-off dinner for Dad and Mom in the main dining room of the La Gorce clubhouse, up the beautiful, broad staircase from the large sitting area on the club’s main level. Guests could hear live music as they entered the front door and were greeted by a display of photos of my dad, including some from his childhood in Oklahoma City and others from his days on the early pro-golf circuit with Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and other all-time greats. And there were, of course, photos of Dad with Jack Nicklaus.

With club president Harry Daumit as emcee, the evening was full of fun stories and tributes to my father, including warm statements by Nicklaus and Toski and some parting remarks by the guest of honor. There was dancing after dinner, and Dad was in high spirits, with my mother vibrant and beautiful in a lovely outfit with her hair pulled up in her signature style. At evening’s end, honorees Jack and Bonnie Grout, basking in the afterglow of the loving and appreciative sendoff by their many friends at La Gorce, went home to prepare for their next adventure, one that would last for the final fifteen years of my father’s life.

My Father’s Voice


As I revisited Jack Grout’s Foreword in Jack Nicklaus’ Golf My Way, it occurred to me that Dad wrote much in the same effective manner as he taught the game of golf. Either as a writer or as a teacher, he used simple, clear sentences and language to make his point. My father didn’t bog down sentences with extra words and long, winding sections. He cut to the chase and made his point in the simplest language possible. Plainly, Dad had his own unique way of stringing words together, formulating ideas, and relating scenes or images. Now, after re-reading, my father’s ‘expert opinion piece’ written nearly fifty years ago for Nicklaus’ instructional classic, I can almost hear his voice again.

Golf My Way, Copyright 1974 by Jack Nicklaus

Foreword by Jack Grout, American professional golfer and Jack Nicklaus’ one and only teacher

Strength, intelligence, an enormous capacity for hard work, and unswerving adherence to sound fundamentals are the factors behind Jack Nicklaus’ fantastic successes as a golfer.

Strength may not be essential to play fine golf, but it is a priceless asset. The strong man can with comparative ease secure the height that is essential to carry the golf ball a long distance, and he also has the muscular capability to power the ball. These are critical factors at the highest reaches of the game, as is the stamina to practice and play day after day after day. It has been my privilege to observe or be associated with every great golfer of the twentieth century with the exception of Harry Vardon. Almost all of them were strong men. During my time in golf there have been some wonderful performances by men not gifted with great physical strength, but in the long haul they have run second to the powerful players. I believe that few men in the history of the game have possessed greater strength or more natural athletic ability than Jack Nicklaus.

Intelligence is necessary to a tournament golfer because the game is so difficult and inconstant that it can destroy anyone who lacks the capacity to control his emotions and to reason logically. Intelligence is necessary, too, in the acquisition of a profound knowledge of technique – profound enough to allow the player to be his own swing mechanic. The golfer who must fall back on a teacher every time any little thing sours in his game cannot but have a limited future. Jack Nicklaus still likes to come to me every year for a checkup, but, beyond that, he has asked for my help only when he hasn’t been able to solve a problem after weeks or months of intense personal study and work. Such occasions have been rare.

Today, Jack plays such sensational golf with such apparent ease that many people who watch him probably gain the impression that his skills are heaven-sent rather than self-developed. That isn’t true. No one ever worked harder at golf than Nicklaus during his teens and early twenties. At the age of ten, in his first year of golf, Jack must have averaged three hundred practice shots and at least eighteen holes of play daily. In later years, he would often hit double that number of practice shots and play thirty-six – even fifty-four – holes of golf during the summer. I have seen him practice for hours in rain, violent winds, snow, intense heat – nothing would keep him away from golf. Even a slight case of polio failed to prevent him from turning up at Scioto for a golf match. With this kind of dedication, and all his other assets, it would have been a surprising if he had not become a great player.

However, I believe the most significant of all the factors that have contributed to Jack’s success has been his unswerving adherence to sound swing fundamentals. It was my good fortune to be the professional at the Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, when this young man first became really keen on golf in 1950, and I take modest pride in having introduced him to many of the fundamentals that I consider to be the key to consistent play. But the credit for mastering those fundamentals, and for sticking to them through thick and thin, must go entirely to Jack. It is true that I have never had another pupil with so much natural talent for golf, or one so determined to excel at it. More significantly, I have never had another pupil who, once he was convinced about a fundamental, would so resolutely stick to it. The proof of that iron-willed commitment is to be seen in the fact that his basic swing is exactly the same today as it was fifteen years ago, when he won his first U.S. Amateur Championship at age nineteen. The benefits of it are evident in the present repetitiveness of his swing, and in the immense confidence he has in his technique today.

During forty years of teaching golf I have had a lot of naturally talented people pass through my hands. I feel I was able to help most of them, but none of the others progressed even halfway to what Nicklaus has achieved. I believe I can pinpoint a number of specific reasons why not.

First and probably foremost, the golf swing is, in my view, the most unnatural action in sport. It is extremely hard to teach, and even more difficult to learn. Consequently, unless a person has unusual amounts of ambition and dedication, the sheer difficulty of golf generally causes him to give it up long before he has attained his full potential at it.

Another reason there aren’t too many budding Nicklauses to be found on the lesson tee is that most people take up golf too late in life. The ideal age for starting is in the early teens. And then, even when a really promising youngster comes along, you have to be realistic about the distractions he will face in relation to the amount of time and concentration golf demands. I have always insisted that youngsters should not take golf lessons until they are ready to concentrate – give the game their undivided attention and interest. I had no problem in this area with Jack. He was more single-minded about golf than any other youngster I’ve ever known has been about anything – even the opposite sex! For a very long period I don’t think the young Nicklaus ever really thought about anything other than golf, and the better he became at it, the more he thought about it and the harder he was inspired to work at it.

However, I think the best clue to why Jack went on from where others with comparable natural talent have stopped lies in a brief sentence from his book The Greatest Game of All: “I was fortunate to learn the fundamentals at an early age.” Jack and I both know countless promising golfers who have become hopelessly confused through failing to learn these fundamentals at the outset, usually with the result that they start confused and then compound the confusion by switching from method to method or from teacher to teacher, until eventually they end up trying to play a dozen different ways all at once. Jack never fell into that trap, and I believe that his evasion of it is one of the less-recognized factors behind his greatness.

It gives me much pleasure that Jack’s fundamentalist approach to golf comes across so loud and clear in these pages, because my teaching has always been based on what I believe to be the time-proved fundamentals of the golf swing, even when such an approach has been unfashionable – as has been the case many times in my career. So far as I’m concerned, you can toss all the “tips” into the garbage can. The only way to play consistently good golf is through the mastery of a set of basics that the great players of the past have proved to be integral to the swing.

What are these basics? I don’t want to steal the author’s thunder by getting deeply involved in technique here. The basic points we worked on for so many long hours during those happy and productive years at Scioto will all be spread before you in these pages by the best pupil I ever had.

But there is another, nontechnical phase of the game that bears mention here, because I believe it had probably as great an effect on Jack’s later career as did his efforts to develop sound technique.

Jack Nicklaus started to play competitive golf at a very early age, and it did wonders for him, as it has done for many other youngsters. Formal competition puts the game in clear perspective for a youngster, by giving meaning to what he is learning about technique. It causes him to become aware of the need for strategy, as well as fine shot-making; makes him realize that he will have to think well to win, not just swing well. It breeds maturity by thrusting him into pressurized situations and subjecting him to the emotions of success and failure. It builds self-confidence and self-reliance, and it helps a youngster to overcome nervousness. Most of all, in the majority of cases – certainly in Jack’s – competition fires and sustains a youngster’s enthusiasm for his sport, and breeds the development of goals and the dedication that leads to their attainment. I believe a lot of Jack’s adult successes both on and off the golf course can be traced to the maturity and clear-headedness that grew out of his early competitive golfing experiences.

Finally, as a player and teacher of golf for forty years. I’d like to say a word to any readers of this fine book who have youngsters they’d like to think might follow in Jack Nicklaus’ footsteps.

There have been thousands of boy and girl wonders in golf, but most of them have fallen apart before reaching adulthood. Why? I think the main reason is that they failed to learn sound basics during their early years, and thus held their games together to a certain point only through natural ability. As they grew older and the competition got tougher, this was not enough to carry them through.

I do not believe it is possible for any youngster, however naturally talented, to learn the fundamentals of golf in less than five years of dedicated effort, and even then I think that qualified guidance is essential in he is to reach his full potential. One of the great difficulties every golf professional encounters in teaching children to play the game is combating the misinformation given to them by their parents. By all means let a youngster read about golf, and encourage him especially to watch good players in the flesh and on television. But if you want him to play the game well, take him to a qualified teacher and resist the temptation to interfere with that teacher’s program.

Jack Nicklaus was given that opportunity, and there was no doubt from the moment we began to work together that he would make the most of it. He was totally attentive, he asked intelligent questions, he had an infinite capacity for hard work, and his desire knew no bounds. He was certain to be a star. Even so, he never ceases to amaze me. I find his achievements astounding. There is no doubt that he is one of the greatest golfers of all time – possibly the greatest. It has been my privilege and joy to know him.


I’ve always felt that my father was the ideal teacher for Jack Nicklaus, not just because Dad was a highly skilled golf instructor, but also because he had spent a couple of decades on the PGA Tour dealing with tough, competitive and sometimes-curt men such as Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead. Through his interactions with these great players, he grew to understand the drive and the personalities of highly talented individuals who often were self-involved and insensitive to how their actions impacted others. Dad, thus, had an intuitive understanding of Nicklaus’ strong and demanding personality, intense focus and occasional impatience with persons or issues that distracted him from the work at hand.

My father, with his relaxed way of dealing with people and his low-key approach to teaching golf, matched well with Nicklaus’ personality for several reasons. First, Dad was consistent. Through exposure to accomplished professional golfers on the early tour and decades of working with good players, he had come to a set of golf-swing principles that he taught unwaveringly. He was not attracted to and did not confuse his pupils by advancing every new swing theory that came down the pike. Nor would Nicklaus have wanted him to. Second, Dad was by nature a highly supportive and encouraging person, and this characteristic won him great loyalty from Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd and many other top-level golfers who were his students. And, third Dad was by nature a humble man. He drew great satisfaction from the success of those he taught, but he had no need to be the “star of the show.” He was happy to stand in the background and let his golf students take full credit for their successes both on and off the course. This was his viewpoint for one simple reason: He felt they deserved it.

Jack Grout “was perfect for my dad,” said Nicklaus’ son, Jack Nicklaus II, himself a talented golfer and course designer. “Whether it was my dad’s analytical mind trying to understand on his own accord what to do and how to make adjustments on the golf course, or Jack Grout’s way of teaching that allowed him to do that … it was probably a combination of both. Whatever buttons Jack Grout pushed, my dad responded very well to.”

Memories of My Day ‘Under the Strap’

From 2001-2007, I had the fancy position of Ambassador of Golf for The Cliffs Communities located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Principally, my job was to help sell the Cliffs lifestyle to prospective members and property owners. In the spring of 2005, I received a phone call from the Chief Operations Officer of the company asking me if I would be interested in caddying for Jack Nicklaus during the first official round of play at The Cliffs at Walnut Cove. To be honest, I was a bit stupefied by the offer for several reasons. First of all, my initial thought as to why he was calling, was that he wanted me to play with Nicklaus, since I had played with him a number of times previously. Now, I was being asked to caddie for him when the only golf bag that I ever carried was my own. Well, I told the club’s official that I needed some time to think about it. As it turned out, after a brief come-to-Jesus moment with my wife, I agreed to be the Golden Bear’s caddie for a day.

On Wednesday, April 27, I received word to be available upon Jack’s arrival at Walnut Cove between 10:15-10:30 a.m. The meeting place was a townhome overlooking the ninth hole of the new course. At approximately 11:30 a.m. (and fashionably late) in through the doorway came J.W.N. and Jim Anthony, CEO and Founder of The Cliffs. I said hello to my boss Jim Anthony and then a few moments later my eyes met with Jack’s and we exchanged greetings, as well. He prompted said to me: “You are going to have to work today!” I chuckled when I heard Jack’s comment but he was prophetic because by the end of the day I was exhausted.

At that point, Jack made his way to a back bedroom where he changed into some golf clothes that were there waiting for him. He then sat down at a dining table for a quick bite to eat and to autograph a number of items that required his signature. Before long it was time for the group to head to the golf course. Since, Jack’s clubs were in Jim’s vehicle and, as his caddie I was responsible for them, I jumped in the backseat.

As the three of us were on our way, Jim Anthony said: “I’ve never heard anyone say an unkind word about Dick Grout.” Jack’s response was, “That was the same thing with his father. Nobody ever said an unkind thing about Jack Grout either.” I thought, hey, this trip is off to a rather good start! Just a few moments later, Jack asked me, “Dick, how old are you now?” When I answered him, both he and Jim commented on how remarkably well preserved I appeared for my age. To which I truthfully replied, that I had been well cared for my entire life. Then, just as we had arrived at the golf course, Jack mentioned that he remembered the summer in which I was born (June 1953).

I managed to lift Nicklaus’ 45-50 lbs. of golfing equipment out of the back of the SUV. Immediately, I knew that I was in for a long haul. His large black bag was heavy! There was definitely some extra gear in there. Next, Jack removed his wristwatch plus some other valuables from his pockets and instructed me to put them into his golf bag. He said, “Be sure to watch over things.” At that point, Jack turned and both he and Jim Anthony walked in the direction of a big tent that was to hold the media event.

I placed Jack’s clubs on his personal golf cart that was being closely protected by one of the Cliff’s marketing people. Before long, it was time to venture down to the practice facility for the Golden Bear’s clinic and warm-up session. The pace of things got considerably quicker now as I made my way to the designated spot where Jack was to conduct his exhibition. After retrieving Nicklaus’ clubs from the golf cart, I passed under the spectator ropes and found myself at the practice site sharing centerstage with the “Golfer of the Century.”

While stretching a bit and making several practice swings prior to hitting his first shot, Jack called over to me and said, “Dickie, you are eleven years older than your father was the first time I met him.” (Dad was 40 years old in 1950). I knew right away that Jack’s math had been correct.

Jack Nicklaus has always prepared himself properly for a round of golf. As it happened that day at Walnut Cove, he clearly conveyed to all those in-attendance the process of how his mind works and clearly displayed how his body works during the swing. In essence, what we were privileged to witness was how Jack Nicklaus organized himself before he went out to win all those 18 major championships.

When Jack finished giving the clinic, I handed him three new Black Callaway golf balls and his putter. Before heading to the first tee, his last stop is the practice putting green to strike a few putts. Once Jack sensed that he has a good feel for the speed of the greens it was time to begin his round.

Growing up as a junior golfer, I carried my own golf bag all the time. On the golf team in highschool and college it is a requirement that a player carry their own clubs. In my life, I have trekked many a mile while under the strap. Also, I’ve had the pleasure of playing countless rounds of golf in the company of many fine caddies. It is from paying attention and observing them that I feel that I know how to properly conduct myself as a caddie. However, when I stepped on the first tee at Walnut Cove with Jack Nicklaus’ clubs on my back, that was a brand new experience for me.

To be honest, when I got to Big Jack’s drive on the first fairway, I knew that he was not joking when he said that I “was going to have to work today.” I actually wondered if I would be physically able to finish all 18-holes. Nevertheless, I was fiercely determined to do the best job possible for him on this special day and somehow I managed to survive the entire round.

During the exhibition match, Jack was joined by actor Kevin Costner. Both men wore microphones and bantered easily with each other and the audience. Upon arriving to the tee of each new hole, Jack would share his thoughts on the design of that hole. It was both interesting and inspirational to hear how his mind worked when designing a golf course. The rapport between Nicklaus and Costner was fun, upbeat and genuine. At one point, Jack commented to me about how impressed he was by Costner’s shot-making ability. To which, I agreed.

Probably my greatest inspiration for making it through all eighteen holes and not collapsing under the weight of Nicklaus’ golf bag came from the chorus of cheers and attaboys I received from the club’s members. Sensing that I might be leaking oil, they encouraged me along the way. I was able to reward some of my support team with souvenirs of Jack’s golf balls. After throwing another one of his Jack#5 balls to the gallery, he looked at me and said, “Make sure I have enough to finish the round.”

Perhaps, the greatest compliment I received that day was from none other than Roy ‘Tin Cup’ McAvoy, I mean Kevin Costner, when he referred to me as “Jack’s professional caddie.” This occurred on the seventeenth tee while Costner was chastising Tim Hockter his boyhood friend and part time caddie for doing such a lousy job. To which Nicklaus responded, “Hey Kevin, this is the first time my caddie ever caddied before!” I really don’t think that Costner believed him.

In the end, a fictional storybook account of the interaction between Jack and I during our round together, would be to tell you that our personal conversations were full of warm remembrances of the past. But anyone who is familiar with Jack Nicklaus knows that he lives in the present. Like other highly accomplished people who seem to exist in the here and now, Jack doesn’t dwell on the past or spend time overthinking the future. He focuses intently on what he is currently engaged in and it is always done with a singleness of purpose.

Now, at 65 years old (2005), I could still plainly see in him the intense concentration and absolute resolve that I saw as a child over forty years ago. All during the round I watched him closely with the same set of eyes that witnessed his powerful and dominating shot making abilities of yesteryear. As far as I am concerned the only change in him that has taken place is the toll that age exacts on all of us. That being said he remains Jack Nicklaus, the greatest player whom my father told me to watch and learn from many years ago.