PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Jack Nicklaus has not swung a golf club since hitting a tee shot before the first round of the Masters in April while serving as an honorary starter along with Gary Player and Tom Watson.
On Monday, he did not take his clubs to a clinic at PGA National, leaving the ball striking to Annika Sorenstam, Ernie Els and Luke Donald.
And the 83-year-old Hall of Famer from North Palm Beach is not sure when he’ll pick up a club next.
“I would like to go play again. I play so poorly anymore it’s just really not any fun,” Nicklaus said. “And I run out of golf balls.”
Welcome to our world, Jack.
Of course, most of us who Jack now compares himself to are decades younger.
“People always say they want to play how I do,” he said. “Well, now they can. In fact, I don’t think I want to play like I do.”
Nicklaus won 120 professional events, 73 on the PGA Tour, including a record 18 majors. He was runner-up in another 19 majors. In 2005, the R&A hosted the British Open so Nicklaus could end his career at the esteemed St. Andrews course. He missed the cut and said he has never played an 18-hole round since where he’s holed out every putt.
On Monday, Nicklaus, Sorenstam, Els and Donald spoke at the clinic before the Integra Connect Golf Classic benefitting Conquer Cancer.
They each told stories and gave tips. But it was Jack’s voice that resonated loudest, whether he was talking about his grip, relaying stories about Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer, or giving his reason why he believes Rory McIlroy will be able to play “until he’s 80.” (It’s his swing.)
When he and Sorenstam, who is regarded as the greatest female golfer of all time, had a discussion about where they hold the club in their hand – Sorenstam more where her fingers meet her hand, Nicklaus closer to the palm), she suggested if he used her technique, “maybe he would have won more titles.”
The audience laughed. Sorenstam smiled.
“Just kidding,” she said.