Jack Nicklaus: End of an Era

The Golden Bear has just played his last round of professional golf at the British Open - Nicklaus, who had said already he would retire as a professional after the tournament, didn’t make the halfway cut.

I’m not a golf fan, but even I know the end of an era when I see it. Nicklaus got a huge wave of applause lasting several minutes from the crowd at St. Andrews as he strolled down the fairway to take his final putt and birdied the hole, ending at 3 over par. Very moving, even to this non-devotee of the sport.

Well, I appreciate Nicklaus’ desire to play only as long as he could still be respectable and competitive. He has no interest in being like Billy Casper and shooting 175 at major tournaments where he’s got a lifetime exemption. He doesn’t want to be like Gene Sarazen, and get wheeled out to take meaningless ceremonial shots.

He was the best ever for many years, and while he isn’t quitting at the top of his game, he’s quitting long before there’s any chance of his becoming an embarrassment to himself or the game.

I will resist saying anything Pittish about the man, but instead congratulate his fans — albeit through gritted teeth. Whether this final tournament is indeed the actual final tournament, however, remains to be seen.