When I saw the press release from the PGA announcing Nicklaus’ induction into the Hall of Fame, I did a double take. I found it hard to believe that the guy wasn’t already in. He owns five Wannamaker trophies, for heavens sake.
But in further reading the release, it emphasizes Nicklaus’ achievements outside of his playing:
Jack Nicklaus: Regarded by most historians as the greatest player in golf history, Jack Nicklaus also has been revered for his efforts in sportsmanship, philanthropy, respect for the game of golf and its effect upon future generations. The 2000 recipient of the PGA Distinguished Service Award, Nicklaus partnered with his wife, Barbara, to begin the Barbara & Jack Nicklaus Junior Golf Endowment Fund. Nicklaus remains honorary chair of PGA Junior Golf, and partnered with The PGA of America to create a $2 million endowment to provide teaching grants to certified Chapters of The First Tee that use PGA Professionals and Apprentices for instruction. To date, 123 of the 202 active Chapters of The First Tee nationwide have been recipients of either a PGA of America or Nicklaus/PGA teaching grant.
The combined PGA and Nicklaus/PGA grants total $1,520,000. In addition to a playing career that includes 18 professional major championships, Nicklaus was a six-time U.S. Ryder Cup member and a two-time Ryder Cup Captain (1983, ‘87). In 1977, Nicklaus was credited in leading a campaign to include European players in the Ryder Cup to enhance competitive balance in what today is golf’s ultimate spectacle. In November 2005, Nicklaus was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civil award, and presented by President George Bush.