ENDICOTT, N.Y. – It’s no secret that Golf legend Jack Nicklaus was at the course on Wednesday.
What maybe has gone under the radar is that his son Gary is playing in the Tournament this weekend.
I spoke with the father son duo about Gary looking to give his golf career new life.
“I didn’t really leave the game the way I wanted to leave it last time. So I wanted to come out and try a second go,” Gary Nicklaus says.
It had been nearly fifteen years since Gary Nicklaus, the son of golf’s All-Time Major Championships Leader Jack Nicklaus, had played golf competitively when he gave his dad a call.
“Last year he says I think I’m gonna go try and play the senior tour. I said what? He said I’m a much better golfer now than when I played, I understand the game a lot more and I want to give it a try. I said ok it’s your game your life, your try,” said father Jack Nicklaus.
In January he became eligible for the PGA’s Champions Tour on his 50th birthday and decided to give it a go.
Gary’s professional career began in 1991 and halted following a fairly underwhelming stint on the PGA Tour from 2000 to 2003.
All of five of Jack’s kids went to Division I Colleges on Athletic scholarships including Gary who was an All-American on Ohio State’s golf team.
Jack says at a young age you could see what Gary’s path was.
“I always get asked how old should you be before they start taking lessons for golf. I always say if they can play 3 holes without chasing a frog then it’s time to learn golf. My kids varied. Gary’s out here playing he stopped chasing frogs when he was about four. I got one who’s forty-five and he’s out there still chasing frogs.”
Despite being the son of arguably the greatest golfer ever, Gary says there was never any added pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“It’s up to them. As a parent you love to see but you also want them to enjoy have fun and do what’s right for them in their life.”
“At times I wished he would’ve pushed me harder because maybe I would’ve spent more time at the practice tee and less time out catching fish.”
Hitting the course at En-Joie this weekend for the Dick’s Sporting Goods open will be a chance for Gary to take another step towards re-writing the story of his golf career.
He says when he began this journey at redemption, his dad’s advice was simple.
“If you’re going to go back at it go at it hard. Give it your best shot don’t leave anything behind don’t have any regrets.”
While Jack wasn’t able to stay to watch Gary this weekend, he did go out and watch him a little bit during this week’s pro-am and even played a couple holes with him.