The Man Who Nicknamed Jack The Golden Bear

The Man Who Nicknamed Jack The Golden Bear 1THEY CALLED HIM FAT JACK. Early in his career, a serious, heavy-set Jack Nicklaus was the villain, an object of open scorn on the PGA Tour, especially at Grand Slam events such as the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

Ten years older and the undisputed king of golf, the charismatic Arnold Palmer was universally adored, the people’s hero.

It didn’t stop the highly focused, methodical and talented Nicklaus from usurping Palmer’s throne to become the game’s top player by the mid 1960s.

By the time the 1967 U.S. Open was played at Baltusrol, Jack had a growing fan base and a new nickname coined by an Australian sportswriter named Don Lawrence. Referring to Jack’s blonde mane and hefty physique, “The Golden Bear” stuck.

“The notion of a growling bear sat well with Jack, who was self-conscious about his high-pitched voice,” writes Ian O’Connor in Arnie & Jack.

Jack’s Memorial Tournament began today in Dublin, Ohio. Matthew Goggin leads with a 65.

−The Armchair Golfer

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

8 thoughts on “The Man Who Nicknamed Jack The Golden Bear”

  1. It's a nice article but it is completely wrong. Jack Nicklaus is from Upper Arlington, Ohio. An upper-middle class suburb of Columbus, Ohio. The high school mascot at Upper Arlington is the Golden Bear. While his physique and blonde hair may have made the name more fitting the nickname came from his home town.

  2. So D, I guess you're saying Jack's official site,, has it wrong:

    "Ironically, long before he became known as the Golden Bear, he played for the Golden Bears. That was the nickname at Upper Arlington High, though it had nothing to do with his sobriquet (that came later, bestowed by an Australian sportswriter named Don Lawrence)."

    Jack's Web site, Golf Channel and multiple other sources credit Don Lawrence.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.