Jack Nicklaus, ASGCA Fellow, (Nicklaus Design) has been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow. The recognition is the most recent and one of the highest for the winner of a recond 18 golf major championships and designer of great golf course around the world, including Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio, and Castle Pines Golf Club, Castle Rock, Colorado.
Congressional leaders attended the ceremony, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.
Among Nicklaus’ friends in attendance included his wife Barbara, five children and 22 grandchildren. Arnold Palmer, ASGCA Fellow, made the trip to the nation’s capital, as Nicklaus did the same when Palmer received the same honor in 2012. Members of the Ohio State University marching band, where Nicklaus went to school and dotted the “i” in Ohio in 2006 during their famous pre-football game manuever, were there, too. CBS Sports announcer Jim Nantz was also on hand, delivering remarks.
The Columbus (Ohio) Post Dispatch reported:
“Nicklaus, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, joined Palmer as being the only golfers in history to receive both honors. Accepting the award, he turned the tables to talk about (ASGCA member) Jack Jr. When his namesake was six, someone asked him what his father did for a living.
“’Nothing,’ the boy replied. ‘He just plays golf.’
“When it was his turn at the podium, Nicklaus talked about what golf has given him. Golf, he said, has helped injured veterans returning from the war. Golf has united cultures and taught him honesty, integrity and good sportsmanship. And it generates some $4 billion a year in charitable giving. The PGA gave $140.5 million to charity last year, and has given an all-time amount of $2.14 billion.
“’We just play golf,’ he said, ‘but for so many others, golf was so much more.'”
“Thank you, Jack, for being the most prolific winner in the history of the greatest sport of all time,” Nantz said during the ceremony, “and for showing us what it looks like when one dedicates a lifetime to service to others and a lifetime to devotion to family. You’ve let us all see it right up close.”
Nicklaus, who has won a record 18 professional (as he’d say) majors and 73 PGA Tour events, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the executive branch equivalent of the Congressional Gold Medal — by George W. Bush in 2005. He joins Palmer as the only other golfer, and just one of seven athletes, to earn the Congressional Gold Medal.
The 75-year-old graciously heaped praise on wife Barbara, crediting her with his incredible career.
“She is responsible for 15 of my major championships,” Nicklaus said with a smile. “I’ll give myself three of them.”
Nicklaus concluded his remarks with what a joke that may have played off Pelosi’s remarks, when she called him “saintly.”
He said, “Anything I’m not proud of was from before the Internet was invented.”