Museum - a tribute to Nicklaus

Jack's legacy created in Ohio

Bob Warters's picture
Tue, 21 May 2002

You know when you’re a living legend on this planet – they build a museum in your honour while you’re still alive.

The Jack Nicklaus Museum opened this week, to coincide with the Memorial tournament dedicated to one of the game’s greatest golfers.

Jack inspects his museum.

The $14-million museum is located on the Ohio State University campus, where Nicklaus was once a student and a few miles from the Golden Bear’s boyhood home in Upper Arlington and close to where he played his college golf at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.

''I can't think of a better place for it than where I came from, where my roots are and the school I went to,'' says Nicklaus, who thought he had given or thrown away many of his mementoes.

Fortunately his late mother Helen and his wife Barbara retrieved many of them. Even his birth certificate and a pair of knitted booties he wore as a child are on display!

Nicklaus' career, his family and the history of golf are detailed in the 24,000-square-foot brick building where visitors are initially greeted by a large bronze statue of the multi-major champion.

His career is broken down by decade, with hundreds of family photos and displays showing how a chubby boy who first learned the game from his father, a pharmacist.

Coached by Jack Grout at Scioto Country Club, he built an unparalleled career that included 18 major professional championships.

A video presentation in the museum's theatre features commentary from Scottish actor and golf fan Sean Connery who asks visitors to ''look outside the ropes'' to get to know Nicklaus ''beyond the final round.''

There are interactive displays, and rooms devoted to Nicklaus' long list of victories including a recreated TV lounge and couch surrounded by pictures of his children and grandchildren.

As well as an endless trophy cabinets of silverware, medals, scorecards and scrapbooks, part of the museum is devoted to his course-design business

The museum, which inevitably includes a gift shop, was built with private donations and Ohio State offered a long-term lease on the land. Admission ranges from $6 to $9.

"I'm not sure it's really hit Jack yet," says his wife. "He knows how hard everyone has worked and what we've been doing. But I have he was very emotional, because he really doesn't have an idea of what we've dug out of closets and basements."

Museum director Gerald Goodson says more than 7,000 pieces of Nicklaus' memorabilia have been catalogued and stored to be on display, although not all at once.

In a rare move, Augusta National Golf Club has loaned the museum one of the six green jackets he won. He is now a club member.

"Some of my favourites are the first trophies he won in junior golf and the handwritten notes he would leave for his mother," says Goodson. "We have just about every trophy from every tournament he's ever won, including all his majors."

Said Nicklaus when he opened the museum yesterday: "I am extremely flattered and humbled to have seen how the Jack Nicklaus Museum has evolved -- from an idea a few friends and colleagues knocked around many years ago, to a stunning facility that captures every chapter of my life and career.

"I like to think, however, that the museum is much more than a tribute to me. I think it transcends my story, and instead reflects my passion for the game and my appreciation for its history and tradition."

The museum was almost 10 years in the making. Originally it was going to be at Muirfield Village, where Nicklaus will oversee his Memorial Tournament this week. But residents said they didn't want more traffic through their luxury housing development.

What piece of Nicklaus memorabilia would you expect to find in the Nicklaus museum and which epitomises him most in your memory? Tell us on The Forum.



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