Home Sports How Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus revolutionized golf

How Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus revolutionized golf

Through a mixture of Arnold Palmer’s “swashbuckling” type of play, Gary Player’s sheer willpower and Jack Nicklaus’ utter brilliance, this triumvirate of golf greats catapulted the sport into the trendy period.

If the trio got here to redefine how golf was performed between the late Nineteen Fifties and the early Nineteen Eighties, unusually for sporting rivals, in addition they shaped lasting relationships alongside the way in which — a lot in order that the wives of Nicklaus and Palmer have been finest mates too.

“We went everywhere in the world, Australia, all over the place collectively. And we principally lived collectively, taking part in loads of tv matches and exhibitions collectively.”

Player remembers having a confrontation with Palmer on considered one of his programs, however the “affection” they’d for one another made it simpler to reconcile.

“We went in and we had lunch collectively and I can vividly keep in mind, we have been each crying as a result of I feel we had such affection for one another that we did not need it to affect our friendship. And so we laughed collectively in addition to crying collectively.”

‘That man’s going to be a champion’

Palmer was the primary of the trio to realize golf famous person standing. Even the nice Nicklaus, the person who has received essentially the most majors in an expert golf profession, admitted that he was a part of “Arnie’s military” throughout his early years.

Nicklaus remembers placing a driving clinic on in Athens, Ohio as an 18-year-old with Palmer and outdriving his rival by 40 yards.

Nicklaus remembers saying to Palmer: “I simply knocked it by you 40 yards.” Palmer replied: “Yeah, however I shot 63 and you shot 67.”

South African Player recollects seeing Palmer hitting balls on a observe tee in 1957 and considering: “Well, that man’s going to be a champion.”

Player’s prediction was prescient. A 12 months later Palmer received his first main title, claiming the well-known Green Jacket as a 28-year-old. He was to don the Masters’ Green Jacket three extra instances, in addition to successful the US Open in 1960 and the Open Championship twice.

Assisted by his agent Mark McCormack — who would ultimately signify each Nicklaus and Player — Palmer grew to become a worldwide famous person, touring all over the world to showcase his abilities along with his golf equipment and aided by the charisma he “oozed,” in accordance with the South African golf legend.

Palmer smiles during the presentation ceremony at the 1958 Masters tournament.

His ardour for the sport was prodigious, in accordance with Player.

“Even as he received older, he actually could not break 90, however he nonetheless needed to go on the market and play with the members and with folks,” Player mentioned.

Palmer’s rise to prominence was accompanied by the appearance of widespread tv throughout the US permitting folks throughout the nation to look at him win his maiden majors.

“They beloved the frequent man who rose to the highest and slew all of the dragons,” Nicklaus defined.

But it was Palmer’s type of play on the course which actually made him such a likeable participant to spectators. The 18-time main winner Nicklaus calls him a “Robin Hood” of kinds.

“He appeared like he needed to hit it into the woods, so he might hit a spectacular shot out and thrill all people,” he mentioned. “And he did that. He hit it within the woods so much, and he had these spectacular photographs that everyone associated to.

“And he excited all people. He hitched up his pants and had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.”

Palmer plays a shot from the bunker at the seventh hole at the Desert Inn Country Club.


The aggressive nature of golf’s self-professed “Big Three” drove them onto larger and higher issues.

Nicklaus and Palmer usually performed themselves out of competition for tournaments, such was the aggressive fireplace between the 2, in accordance with the 18-time main winner.

Nicklaus particularly remembers the 1975 Masters, during which they have been each close to the highest of the leaderboard after two rounds.

“We have been taking part in the third spherical and I shot 73 and Arnold shot 75. And we shook arms on the final gap and he says: ‘We did it once more. Here we’re capturing ourselves out of the match.’

“I got here again, shot a very good final spherical and ended up successful the match. But Arnold successfully shot himself out of the match. And that is not the way in which to play golf.

“You play golf by controlling your self. And you are the one one that you possibly can management, not the sphere. So it’s a must to take that into consideration, however we did not. We have been too cussed. We have been too aggressive.”

Including his 18 majors, Nicklaus received 73 PGA Tour victories — the third most ever. Palmer collected 62 PGA Tour victories, the fifth most ever. Player had 24 PGA Tour victories, whereas additionally racking up a outstanding 116 worldwide wins.

Player attracts similarities between the trio’s ardour and drive and the aggressive spirit that Tiger Woods — the 15-time main winner and tied for essentially the most ever PGA Tour victories — brings to the sport.

“We have been as fierce as rivals that the world has ever seen,” says Player.

“But the factor is we had nice affection for one another. When we have been on the golf course and we made it very clear: ‘I wish to beat you. And in the event you beat me, I’ll look you within the eye and say nicely completed.'”

Palmer and Player follow the flight of Nicklaus' tee shot at the Firestone Country Club, Akron, Ohio in 1965.

Changing opinions

While the Open Championship is likely one of the most sought-after accolades in golf globally, that wasn’t all the time the case.

Player had received the foremost in 1959, however earlier than Palmer made his first look there a 12 months later, only a few American golfers had made the journey over to the UK to take part within the match.

Arriving because the reigning Masters and US Open champion, Palmer introduced a sure degree of cachet to his compatriots watching again dwelling on his option to a second place end, in accordance with Nicklaus.

“The Scots beloved him. And taking part in at St. Andrew’s and Kel Nagle beats him by a shot. And swiftly, all American gamers needed to go to the British Open,” mentioned Nicklaus.

Nicklaus, Palmer and Player are pictured at the Open Championship in 1970 at St. Andrew's.

Fast ahead to the 149th Open at Royal St. George’s in July and 51 US golfers featured within the 156 robust discipline, together with eventual winner Collin Morikawa.

Although Player says the Open “can be what it’s at present with out” Palmer’s affect, he does consider that the American’s arrival on the occasion helped deliver additional eyeballs to it again within the US.

“The Open Championship with Ben Hogan and Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen and Peter Thomson and Roberto De Vicenzo and you possibly can go down the listing of a whole bunch of fellows that helped make the Open, this nice championship.

“Did Arnold Palmer improve it when he got here throughout? Yes. Here was this charismatic man taking part in so nicely in America, comes throughout, actually, it did the Open an immense quantity of fine, however we are able to by no means give one man the credit score for the best championship on the planet.”

Palmer, Player and Nicklaus pose with their golf clubs before a practice round at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.

Since his demise in 2016, Palmer has been honored all through the sport of golf and the even by the US Postal Service — they issued a commemorative stamp honoring {the golfing} nice in 2020.

“I feel a lot of the guys realized what Arnold did for the sport was greater than anyone else,” mentioned Nicklaus, as he paid tribute to his “hero.”

“His affect within the sport, his demeanor, the way in which he dealt with himself, he wanted to be stately when he wanted to be stately, presidential when he wanted to be presidential, humble when he wanted to be humble. Arnold did a fantastic job of all that. And I feel all of us owe him a fantastic deal,’ provides Nicklaus.

“Not solely do the professionals owe him a fantastic deal, the sport of golf owes him a fantastic deal. It’s been 5 years, however I miss my buddy.

Nicklaus looks up to the sky to honor Palmer before hitting an honorary first tee shot for the ceremonial start of the first round of the Masters in 2017.

“I talked to him about two weeks earlier than he handed. And he was his typical self. I mentioned: ‘How’s it going, AP?’ He mentioned: ‘I feel I’m on the point of exit and hit some balls. I’m actually feeling good. As finest as I’ve felt in a very long time, I’m trying ahead to getting on the market.’

“He wasn’t anymore close to on the point of go hit golf balls than a person on the moon, however he did not need me to know something completely different. So I gave him credit score for that, and for that, I like him. We’ll miss him endlessly.”

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