OAKVILLE, Ont. — Jack Nicklaus has gained 18 golf majors and 73 PGA Tour occasions, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, and owns an organization that has designed greater than 300 golf programs around the globe.
He additionally can’t shoot a hockey puck to save lots of his life.
“Nobody has ever handed me one in every of these earlier than,” Nicklaus mentioned on the seventh tee at Glen Abbey Golf Membership, after he was given a stick and requested to fireside a few pucks at a close-by internet. The setup is a part of The Rink, a brand new addition to the RBC Canadian Open this 12 months during which the par-Three seventh is surrounded by hockey boards. There’s additionally a Zamboni close to the ahead tees and the tee blocks are goalie masks and the marshals on the outlet put on referee stripes.
It’s corny, sure. However Nicklaus, at 77, is aware of fairly properly find out how to play alongside. He donned a Golf Canada hockey jersey, requested for some tips about find out how to shoot, and pushed some pucks within the course of the web. He requested find out how to elevate the puck. Extra instruction was given. Pull the puck again, Jack, and transfer your proper hand down the stick. Nicklaus mentioned his proper arm has seen higher days. It was “lifeless,” he mentioned. This was not a recipe for a top-corner snipe.
After a pair extra tries, Nicklaus surrendered the stick and famous that at the very least he hadn’t missed the web. There have been smiles and handshakes and photographs. Nicklaus is aware of the drill: he’s the game’s greatest ambassador now, notably after the passing of Arnold Palmer, and so all over the place he goes there are calls for for him to mortgage a contact of his star energy.
He does it with humour and charm. At a ceremony to kick off the RBC Canadian Open on Tuesday morning, Nicklaus asks what number of Opens there have been and is instructed the quantity is 108. “I performed in most of them,” he says.
However, later, after the hockey stunt, the dialog takes a extra critical flip. “I’m very happy with Glen Abbey,” he says. “It’s hosted, what number of Canadian Opens?”
He’s instructed this week is the 29th.
“Twenty-nine,” he says, sounding slightly stunned on the passage of time. “That’s a pair. Lots of you aren’t that outdated. Anyway, I believe it’s been good, and it’s contributed so much to the sport of golf in Canada.”
These phrases have been freighted with additional significance, given current developments.
Glen Abbey, Nicklaus’ first solo design, was constructed to be the everlasting dwelling of the Canadian Open. Its proprietor, ClubLink Corp., introduced in 2015 that it needs to shut the course and switch it into housing.
ClubLink is a great distance from acquiring clearance for that — there are a number of ongoing makes an attempt on the native and provincial stage geared toward maintaining bulldozers away from the Abbey — however, requested concerning the prospect of seeing one in every of his programs get replaced by ever-more-valuable housing, Nicklaus is frank.
“It’s what it’s,” he says. “Glen Abbey is below stress from that standpoint.” Then Nicklaus makes a sound that his near a loud sigh. “I’d hate to see it torn down, however progress strikes on. However, you recognize, we did this golf course 41 years in the past, and I believe we may do one thing higher right now.” This was not Nicklaus chaining himself to the bushes.
However, was the golf legend acknowledging that he has been a part of the discussions on probably constructing a brand new everlasting dwelling for the nationwide males’s open, some place else within the Toronto space? Nicklaus mentioned he would go away that reply to “the RCGA,” which was an indication of his historical past on this nation, since Golf Canada hasn’t been known as the RCGA for a while.
Over to them, then. “He has been a really valued and trusted sounding board for us,” says Laurence Applebaum, Golf Canada’s chief govt, who has been on the job for lower than two weeks.
In an interview, he acknowledges that a part of Nicklaus’ go to this week has been to scout doable websites and speak to potential companions.
“We don’t have a proper association with him, to be frank, however I just like the conversations we’ve had in the previous few weeks,” Applebaum says. “It could be fantastic to have his guiding hand by means of the method. It may solely be an actual asset.”
As a lot as embarking on the event of a high-end course that might host a match the scale of the RBC Canadian Open can be a troublesome promote in right now’s local weather, having Nicklaus lend it some shine would assist open some doorways, in any case. “I’d proceed to say ‘Watch this house,’” Applebaum says.
The Golf Canada boss additionally makes a degree of noting that Glen Abbey has been a wonderful accomplice and he may see the match being the host for at the very least the quick time period.
As for Nicklaus, requested if any of his designs had been changed by residences, he says: “In all probability. However I’m undecided the place.”
He by no means did win the Canadian Open, though he was runner-up seven occasions. What did he bear in mind about taking part in right here, and arising the 18th gap, with the pond on one facet and the pure ampitheatre on the opposite?
“Simply don’t hook it,” Nicklaus mentioned. “And don’t hit it fats.”
Good recommendation for this week, and possibly a couple of extra.