Jack Nicklaus at 13y/o – photo: Jack Nicklaus Museum
Jack Nicklaus has accomplished more than any golfer to play the game to date. He had success from a young age, but if you look at his history in sports as a youth it is no surprise that his foundation was built early on. Growing up, Jack Nicklaus played many sports. In high school he was a three sport athlete, competing as the center on the basketball team, the quarterback of the football team, and a catcher on the baseball team. All of this while winning Ohio State Juniors in 1953, ’54, and ’55 and the Ohio Open in 1956 at the age of 16. I’m not saying if you as a junior golfer (or a parent of a junior golfer) aren’t winning State Open’s by sophomore year you are behind the eight-ball, that’s not the point at all, and actually couldn’t be further from the truth. What I want to stress is how strong an athlete Jack was across the board, and how this supported his goals “to be the best golfer the game has ever seen.” Jack was built different than many of the other competitors in the game of golf at the time. His brute strength and power was an obvious advantage over the field and the way he moved at the golf ball was instinctive. I encourage junior golf athletes to be just that, an athlete first. It is easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of the game and obsess over swing mechanics, but I promise if other sports are in the recipe of your development, engraining those quality movement patterns in the long run will come more naturally and the skills needed to play the game at a high level will have a spring board from which to improve.