His record in professional golf is unmatched. Only two players have won any of the Majors six times - Harry Vardon in the Open Championship, in a very different age, and Nicklaus himself in The Masters.
His consistent exploits as a prize-winner on the US PGA Tour are also unparalleled and he was the leading money-winner on eight occasions. He was also recognised for his sportsmanship and his sense of fair play.
Jack was named ‘Golfer of the Century’ by Golf Magazine in 1988 and also by Golf Monthly in 1996. Sports Illustrated magazine made him their ‘Athlete of the Decade’ for the 1970s and, at the end of 1999, he was voted as the ‘Individual Sportsman of the 20th Century’ by Sports Illustrated.
He began his professional career as a player who could simply overwhelm golf courses with his power game and he remains one of the greatest putters of all time.
From his professional debut in 1962 until 1980, he started as a favourite in nearly every event he entered. Only two golfers during the 20th century were as dominant, fellow Americans Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan, but in each case they performed over a shorter time span. Following his resurgence in 2019 with his fifth Masters victory, Tiger Woods, may one day be seen as the equal of Nicklaus.
Jack’s breakthrough came when he won the prestigious US Amateur Championship, which was then considered the equal of a Major Championship, in 1959 and 1961. He then made an immediate impact as a professional when he defeated crowd favourite Arnold Palmer in a play-off to win the US Open at Oakmont - his first professional victory.
He went on to win three more US Opens; The Masters in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975 and 1986; five US PGA Championships and three Open Championships. He holds the record for the most Masters titles, the most US Open victories and the most US PGA Championship victories (tied with Walter Hagen).
When Jack said farewell to Major Championship golf at the 2005 Open Championship at St Andrews, there was not a dry eye in the house.
Nicklaus was also successful on the US Seniors Tour, including two wins in the US Seniors Open in 1991 and 1993. His 100th career win came in 1996.
One of his prime focuses during the 1990s and 2000s has been golf course architecture and, through his own company Golden Bear International, he has designed award-winning courses all over the world.