Sept5 Nicklaus Book


As publisher Martin Davis was working on a comprehensive book about Bobby Jones, he decided to call it “The Greatest of Them All.” He shared this idea with frequent contributor, New York Times columnist Dave Anderson, who had only one problem.

“So what are we going to call the book on Jack?” Anderson asked him.

Available this week is a 328-page tribute to Jack Nicklaus that is titled, “Simply the Best!”

The coffee table book follows other magnificent contributions by Davis on golf’s greatest legends, such as “The Hogan Mystique” and the aforementioned tome on Jones. It includes more than 600 photos, some of which Nicklaus himself had never seen.

Nicklaus was at the Deutsche Bank Championship for a Presidents Cup meeting with his U.S. team and to promote the book, a 3 1/2-year effort that includes tributes from Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Gary Player.

“I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed living it,” Nicklaus said.

While his record 18 professional majors defines Nicklaus, the book brings out what Nicklaus considers to be his two careers.

The first one was a 210-pound bull with a crew cut who smashed the ball and is largely responsible for turning golf into a power game. The second is a 185-pound “Golden Bear” who was among the best strategists in golf.

Nicklaus revealed during a reception why and how he lost weight, a change that occurred after the 1969 Ryder Cup.

He said his longtime doctor always told him he knew when it would be time to lose weight, and the light came on after returning from the Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale.

“It was the first time I ever got tired,” Nicklaus said.

The weight-loss program was not as sophisticated as what you might see today. Nicklaus started with “Weight Watchers,” and he spent three weeks running between shots while playing at Lost Tree.

“I would take five or six clubs with me and run after each shot,” Nicklaus said. “It took me about 45 minutes, sometimes an hour. In three weeks, I lost 15 pounds.”

He won the Sahara Invitational that fall in his first event, then won the Kaiser International Open Invitational. When the 1970 season opened in Honolulu, he shot 63 in the first round.

Nicklaus still considers 1972 through 1975 to be the best golf of his career, winning 21 times and five majors.

“I don’t think the weight loss hurt me,” he said.

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