Coolest Spots in Golf: The Nicklaus Room at the USGA Museum
As a player, Jack Nicklaus was part of The Big 3, alongside Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, the trio that supercharged professional golf in the Swinging Sixties. At the USGA Golf Museum, in Liberty Corner, N.J., Nicklaus is a member of The Big 5, the most recent recipient of his own gallery here, after Bob Jones, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Mickey Wright. The man has always kept good company.
At 1,200 square feet, the Jack Nicklaus Room is about a third the size of the 12th green at Augusta National, filled with more than 80 artifacts from the Golden Bear’s life and career. Film buffs have nine Nicklaus shorts to peruse, while art buffs will gravitate toward two commissioned pieces, Zenos Frudakis’ bronze sculpture Jack Is Back and the painting A Study of Jack Nicklaus 1, by Harold Riley. The memorabilia runs the gamut.
Alas, the MacGregor Tommy Armour 3-wood used in all 18 of Nicklaus’ professional major triumphs and two U.S. Amateur titles has been returned from its loan to his eponymous museum in Columbus, Ohio, but that was a mere 37-year partnership; Jack’s marriage to Barbara, which will reach 60 years on July 23, 2020, is celebrated by the display of their wedding invitation and napkin. (Each one’s Bob Jones Award, the highest honor bestowed by the USGA, is also present.)
Equipment heads can ogle everything from the Golden Bear’s wood-shafted Ben Sayers putter used from 1959 to 1962 to the famous 5-iron he struck to the 16th hole on Sunday in the 1986 Masters. Speaking of which, anyone with a heart beating in his or her chest will smile to see the caddie overalls worn by Jack Nicklaus II, aka Jackie, during that iconic triumph. Father and son’s interaction as that tee shot hung in the air — Jackie: “Be right!”; Jack: “It is” — could function as a review of the Jack Nicklaus Room itself.
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