Eighteen-time major champion Jack Nicklaus recently joined the Dennis and Cowlishaw show on ESPN Dallas 103.3 [KESN-FM] ahead of the 2019 AT&T Byron Nelson tournament. Below are highlights of the interview, edited for clarity. You can enjoy the full interview with Nicklaus here.
On Bryson DeChambeau’s analytical approach to golf
Nicklaus: I could just tell (the air density) by whether Angelo (Argea’s) hair was straight or frizzy. I didn’t have to ask. I just looked. The game of golf is just a game. If the ball is here and you want to get it there, hit it. Sure, you might want to know how far it is. I was the first one to start ruining that for all of these guys. When I first played in the U.S. Amateur Open in 1961, I was playing some practice rounds with Deane Beman and Deane Beman used to walk off golf courses (for yardage). And he said “Why don’t you try it?” So I tried it and I played under par every single round. So I went to the tour and I became the first one to do yardages on the tour. I got the nickname of “The Best Caddie on Tour” because all the other guys were sitting there going “Well it’s about 153 yards, what do you think?” It’s 156 yards guys. I knew exactly what it was. I figured it’s got to be better to know exactly what it is. Then after seven or eight years, they began giving out yardage books. It spoiled my entire gig. I like Bryson. I think he’s a great kid. But that’s a lot of information. A lot to digest. Maybe he is so much smarter than everybody else that to get to an answer, he needs all that. He’s got XYZ minus the hypotenuse of this and that.
On winning the 1963 PGA Championship at Dallas Athletic Club
Nicklaus: Well (I don’t remember) a whole lot. I remember coming from the British Open and it was cold at the British Open. We played 36 holes on Saturday and then we came straight here and it was hot. I do remember that. I changed clubs. I played Slazenger over there and I played Brigadier here. You change from the small ball to the large ball. It was a whole different thing. The guys today would have to run it through their swing coach and nutrition coach and psyche coach as to whether or not they could change those clubs or not …. Anyway, coming here, I hadn’t thought — we weren’t thinking much about the PGA because in those days, major championships were what I was interested in but I was never really paying that much attention to the whole thing. Just as an example, when I won at St. Andrews in 1970, I came into the press room and Bob Green — he was an AP reporter — said to me “Well that’s 10. He only needs three more to tie Bobby Jones.” And I said “Really?” I never ever added them. The guys today win one and go “okay, we only have 17 more to go.” The guys today are fish-bowled and are talking about everything all the time. We didn’t have that and then I won. Good. I liked that part of it.
Be sure to listen to Steven Dennis and SportsDay’s very own Tim Cowlishaw weekdays from 3-6 p.m. on the Dennis and Cowlishaw show on ESPN Dallas 103.3 [KESN-FM].