Jack Nicklaus Biography

Career facts and figures for the legendary golfer

Jack Nicklaus in 1990
Jack Nicklaus (pictured in 1990) won 18 major championships, more than anyone else. Stephen Munday/Getty Images

Jack Nicklaus was the dominant player in golf from the early 1960s through the late 1970s, with a few more bursts of greatness into the 1980s. He is one of the greatest golfers in the history of the sport; in fact, many rate him No. 1 all-time.

Date of birth: January 21, 1940
Place of birth: Columbus, Ohio
Nickname: The Golden Bear ... but early in his career, before he established his credentials and earned respect and admiration from fans, he was often called "Fat Jack."

Tour Victories:

• PGA Tour: 73
Champions Tour: 10
List of Jack Nicklaus' wins

Major Championships:

Professional: 18
• Masters: 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986
• U.S. Open: 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980
British Open: 1966, 1970, 1978
PGA Championship: 1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980
Amateur: 2
• U.S. Amateur: 1959, 1961

Awards and Honors:

• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• PGA Tour money leader, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976
PGA Player of the Year, 1967, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976
• Recipient, 2 "Golfer of the Century" awards
• Named "Athlete of the Decade" for the 1970s by Sports Illustrated
• Member, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1981
• Captain, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1983 and 1987
• Captain, U.S. Presidents Cup team, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2007

Quote, Unquote:

• Jack Nicklaus: "I never went into a tournament or round of golf thinking I had to beat a certain player. I had to beat the golf course.

If I prepared myself for a major, went in focused, and then beat the golf course, the rest took care of itself."

Gene Sarazen on Nicklaus: "I never thought anyone would ever put Hogan in the shadows, but he did."

More Jack Nicklaus Quotes


• Jack Nicklaus played 154 consecutive majors for which he was eligible, from the 1957 U.S. Open to the 1998 U.S. Open.

• Nicklaus finished in the Top 10 on the money list 17 consecutive years (1962-78).

• He won at least one PGA Tour event in 17 consecutive years (1962-78).

Jack Nicklaus Biography:

Jack Nicklaus won 73 PGA Tour events in his career. Only two golfers have won more. But in the majors, how do other golfers stack up against Nicklaus? They don't.

Nicklaus won 18 professional majors - twice as many as all but two other golfers. He finished second 19 more times, and third nine times. In all, Nicklaus posted 48 Top 3 finishes, 56 Top 5 finishes and 73 Top 10 finishes in majors.

Perhaps Tiger Woods will someday surpass Nicklaus' major wins. But for now, Nicklaus remains the most accomplished player in the history of major championship golf. And he did it all exhibiting great class and sportsmanship.

Nicklaus shot 51 in his first 9-hole round of golf at the age of 10. By age 12, he was winning the first of 6 straight Ohio State Junior titles. He missed the cut in his first U.S. Open in 1957 at age 17.

Nicklaus won the 1959 and 1961 U.S. Amateur titles while playing collegiately at Ohio State. He finished second to Arnold Palmer in the 1960 U.S. Open.

He turned pro in 1962, earning $33.33 in his first as a pro, the Los Angeles Open.

But things quickly got better, and he won his first major that year, defeating Palmer in an 18-hole playoff at the 1962 U.S. Open.

By age 26, Nicklaus had completed the career grand slam. Then he won all the majors a second time. And finally, with his 1978 British Open victory, he'd won them all at least three times each. Nicklaus' final major came in 1986, at the age of 46, with his sixth Masters.

Nicklaus played sparingly on the Champions Tour, but won 10 times, including eight senior majors. He founded and hosts the prestigious Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour.

Nicklaus brought power to the forefront in golf, being the longest driver of his generation. But he also was one of the best clutch putters ever, and his concentration skills were legendary.

Along the way, Nicklaus created his own equipment company and has designed hundreds of golf courses, among many off-course interests.

His Muirfield Village Golf Club is considered among the best in the United States, a Nicklaus hosts the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament there every year.

Jack Nicklaus was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

See our Jack Nicklaus Index for more info and features about the Bear.