Time has no mercy for anyone…it’s difficult to watch the Golden Bear stumble back to his den. Could he possibly be putting us in a position to pity him? It seems that it could come to that.
Jack Nicklaus has always been impervious to the realities of physics. The laws of nature meant nothing to him. He did the things on the golf course we all wished we could. And, he did them at times when most of us would be too nervous to stand…let alone strike the ball into the cup. Now, however, the Golden Bear’s judgment as to his playing future seems muddled, clouded. It was just a few weeks ago that he said this year’s British Open would be his last competitive tournament. We said…”Oh… that’s good…He’ll go out at St. Andrews…the home of golf…that’s fitting. It has a symmetry. He always said you didn’t have a career unless you won there. Let’s hope he has a decent showing.”
But, now..the Bear…at 65…is holding out the possibility that he may play after that at future Memorial tournaments in his home area of Dublin, Ohio. It’s the tournament he annually hosts and is thought of as one of the top stops on the tour. He said he may try to play as a past champion…(he won the tournament in 77 and 84). Why would he do this? My guess is that there’s some underlying financial motivation being pushed on him by the tournament organizers and sponsors…But even The Bear himself said at a press conference this week that the best he could hope for would be to make the cut. That’s not the Jack that we know and love. And for that very reason we hope he changes his mind.
Wouldn’t it be awful to…somewhere down the road…have to view video of the Golden Bear becoming…just a bear. How tremendously painful it would be to watch him swat futilely at a ball from behind a tree…or take a Billy-Casper-like 14 on a par 3…or perhaps take five to get out of a trap. Video tape such as that should be burned to preserve the hall-of-fame memories of the game’s greatest hero. But it wouldn’t be. We’d have to watch in agony…over and over again. Until The Bear’s shining moments…became distant images of faded golf history. His triumph in the ’86 Masters…would suddenly seem not nearly as super-human as it was 19 years ago.
Use the great good sense that you’ve always used on the course Jack. Change your mind about playing at the Memorial…. and instead walk off into the mist of the Scottish countryside at St. Andrews…with the crowds simultaneously cheering and weeping…and the bagpipes saluting your incomparable glory days.