Jack Nicklaus and his twin golf legacies

Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports /

Jack Nicklaus truly has more legacies than any professional golfer ever has.

Jack Nicklaus is among the game’s most dominant and iconic figures. While many will argue there are other contenders, few will disagree that at the end of the day “The Golden Bear” is truly golf’s highest power.

It’s safe to say that any golfer in the solar system over age 5 is aware of Nicklaus’s iconic playing career as it’s the gold standard amongst all others are measured. Nicklaus won 18 Majors and 73 overall Professional Tournaments during his regular PGA TOUR career. He prevailed on all types of courses and had epic battles against some of  golf’s all-time greatest.

His 1986 Masters win made possible by his Final Round 65 is widely considered as the biggest moment in golf history. The Sunday performance has become one of those ” I remember where I was when” moments for all who witnessed it.

Nicklaus legacy as golf’s greatest winner is in all probability forever secured. Winning Majors isn’t Nicklaus’s only everlasting legacy on the game though.

The Memorial Invitational is an all-encompassing example of Nicklaus’ multiple golf legacies.

The Memorial Invitational is this week’s TOUR stop. The tournament is hosted by Nicklaus himself and played on the Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village.

Nicklaus plays host to an elite, invite-only field that has provided electric moments and has contributed many millions to charity since its inception in 1976. The Memorial is in a tier of Tour events that is considered almost a Major. The Memorial and Muirfield Village have earned their history and legacy courtesy of Jack Nicklaus.

Muirfield Village is a spoke from the hub of the Jack Nicklaus legacy and the flagship example of another lasting Nicklaus legacy on the sport. Nicklaus’ track record for golf course design makes him among the best ever in that regard.

Jack Nicklaus record as a course designer is nearly as impressive as his record as a player.

Muirfield Village is one of golf’s greatest courses. Designed by Nicklaus and named for Muirfield in Scotland to honor the site of his British Open victory that completed  his career Grand Slam, Nicklaus incorporated aspects of another of his favorite places, Augusta National into the design and layout of Muirfield Village.

Worldwide over 1% of all golf courses have been either designed or collaborated on by Nicklaus. Three of his courses have hosted Major Championships while several others have been site of some of the biggest events in golf. In addition to hosting The Memorial , Muirfield has been host to the U.S. Amateur and The Ryder Cup.

Shoal Creek, PGA National, and Vallhalla have all hosted golf’s 4th Major, The PGA Championship. Those are three of Nicklaus’ more well  known tracks.  Valhalla was the site of Tiger Woods’ 2000 victory in a playoff over Bob May that won him his 3rd consecutive Major championship victory in during his unfathomable 2000 season.

Many players have dabbled in course design and several have even shown some aptitude for the art of building good golf courses. Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman are two great players who have designed and built some good golf courses.

Just because someone plays golf well doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to design and build a golf course

The following are some of golf’s greatest of all-time: Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus.

The following are some of the greatest architects/ course designers of all time: Alistair MacKenzie, Donald Ross, Pete Dye, A.W. Tillinghast, Jack Nicklaus.

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List one is a small sample of multiple Major Championship winners from different eras. The second list is a sample of the most prominent and revered course designers in golf history . Their work is where the great tournaments including Major Championships have been played for many generations and will continue to be played.

The only name on both lists is Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus’ legacy as a course designer will always be overshadowed by his playing career, no doubt. That said, watch The Memorial this weekend and try to pay particular attention to the golf course itself. Muirfield was named in tribute to one of Nicklaus’s 18 Majors which will always be at the forefront of his legacy.

The course itself is tribute to another of his impressive legacies and as impressive as one of his 18 trophies. Muirfield Village is a great trophy to the entire Nicklaus legacy.