Even though he is now retired, golf enthusiasts will remember Jack Nicklaus as “The Golden Bear.” Considered to be the greatest golfer of all time, Nicklaus has been pegged both the longest and straightest hitter to ever play the game. Winning 18 career championships over 25 years, Nicklaus focused strictly on major championships, such as the Master’s, US Open, the Open Championship, and the PGA Championship. When he did play in regular PGA Tour events, he was very selective, and he racked up 73 event wins.
Believe it or not, golf was not the first choice for Nicklaus, when it came to making a living. He was initially working towards a pre-pharmacy degree from Ohio State University. While he chose to change his major to insurance, Nicklaus always aimed at keeping his golf involvement to an amateur status. However, Nicklaus became a family man and quickly found out that raising five children, with his wife Barbara, did not come easy, hence his decision to become a pro golfer. After winning the US Amateur Championship in 1959 and 1961, Nicklaus made the decision to join the PGA Tour.
Nicklaus’ first professional win came against Arnold Palmer by three shots in a playoff round. By the age of 26, Nicklaus had racked up a career slam of major championships. Since professional golf was taking up most of Nicklaus’ time, he was a few credits short of graduating from college. However, in 1972, Ohio State presented him with an honorary doctorate, leaving Nicklaus free to focus on the game he truly loves.
In 1986, Nicklaus became the oldest winner of the Master’s Championship, marking his 18th and final major win on the PGA Tour. By January 1990, Nicklaus joined the Senior PGA Tour, and by the end of April 1996, he added ten tour wins to his collection, including eight major events. Around 2005, Nicklaus retired from professional golf.
While not every golf enthusiast has stopped to think about it or even add up the wins financially, Nicklaus likely made a lot of money in all of the years that he played professional golf. In fact, according to Bing, in 2016 Nicklaus is worth $300 million. While he may be retired from playing the game professionally, Nicklaus has not completely stepped away from the game. He owns one of the largest golf course design companies and shares a hand in designing some of the greatest golf courses in the world.
Nicklaus has also written one of the most successful, instructional golf books, Golf My Way. Given the success of the instructional book, Golf My Way has also become a successful instructional video. Like most successful athletes, Nicklaus has his own tournament named for him on the PGA Tour. Several software companies have also approached Nicklaus for the endorsement of their computer generated golf games. Whether you own a desktop computer or video game system, such as Xbox or Playstation, chances are you own a golf simulation game that has been personally endorsed by Nicklaus. Of course, if Nicklaus has not personally endorsed the game, it is highly possible that he is one of the featured players.