Jack Nicklaus explains his craziest rules encounter ever

May 27, 2019

Welcome to You Don’t Know Jack, a five-part GOLF.com series in which — in a nod to the Memorial Tournament, being played this week at Jack’s place, Muirfield Village GC — we’re bringing you a daily dose of something you (most likely!) didn’t know about Jack Nicklaus.

Most pros have a pretty good understanding of the Rules of Golf — and laser-sharp memories of when they’ve run into those rules in competition. Jack Nicklaus is no exception.

The 18-time major champion recently recalled a certain unfortunate ruling that he says was the oddest of all. It came in 1962 at the Houston Classic at Memorial Park Golf Course. Ironically enough, it involved a rule that just changed this year on Tour: putting with the flagstick in.

“My caddie was a fellow named Robert Ford, and we were playing the par-3 7th hole, last round,” Nicklaus wrote in the June issue of GOLF Magazine. “I had about a 20-foot putt, and he was holding the pin. I hit the putt dead center, but he couldn’t get the pin out! He lifted it and pulled the entire cup halfway out of the hole.

“My ball hit the cup dead-on and bounced away, so I putted it back in for five instead of two. I ended the tournament tied, and lost in a playoff. In today’s game, I could have just putted with the pin in.”

It’s fair to say the Golden Bear would’ve liked putting with the flagstick in during this specific situation. And it’s a good reminder that the craziest and most embarrassing rules violations can happen to the best of us.

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