UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio (AP) – Scioto Country Club is returning to the national spotlight in golf for the first time in decades.
And Jack Nicklaus wants to be ready for it.
“I just have to work to get my game in shape for it,'' cracked Nicklaus, who will be 76 when Scioto hosts the 2016 U.S. Senior Open championship. On Tuesday, Scioto and the USGA announced the tournament, which will be held in conjunction with Scioto's centennial.
Nicklaus learned the game on the rolling Donald Ross-designed layout in suburban Columbus, Ohio. The winner of 18 major championships will serve as the tournament's honorary chairman.
He recalled carrying his father's clubs around Scioto while his dad walked to get better after ankle surgery.
“He couldn't make a game because he couldn't walk that long,'' Nicklaus said of his late father. “He'd play one hole, we'd stop, and I'd chip and putt and fool around. I was a 10-year-old kid who didn't know anything. But my dad introduced me to everything. He finally said, `Hey, would you like to learn how to play golf?' I said, `Sure.' So he started me off.''
Nicklaus father, Charlie, lined up his son with golf lessons from teaching pro Jack Grout. The young Nicklaus was a quick learner and within weeks Grout was singling him out to show the other students how to hit a sand wedge or how to fade a shot.
Grout took the 10-year-old Nicklaus into the locker room of the 1950 PGA Championship at Scioto where he met many of the golf stars he would later compete against.
“I met Sam Snead and got Sam's autograph,'' Nicklaus said. “I met Bob Hamilton and Skip Alexander. And I'll never forget walking up to (1946 U.S. Open winner) Lloyd Mangrum. He had a scotch sitting on the table, cards in one hand and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and he said, `What do you want, kid?' I remember it like it was yesterday.''
Chandler Harper won that PGA. Scioto has also hosted the U.S. Open won by Bobby Jones in 1926, the 1931 Ryder Cup captured by the United States side, the 1968 U.S. Amateur won by Bruce Fleisher, and the 1986 Senior Open won by Dale Douglass.
“The only thing I'm upset about, through all the years I never had the opportunity to play (here),'' said Nicklaus, who grew up just a few blocks from the course and played it a lot up until he married and moved to West Palm Beach, Fla., in the late 1960s.
The tournament will be held Aug. 11-14, 2016.