Awards are nothing new to Jack Nicklaus. The Memorial Tournament Host and Founder, Nicklaus, is set to be honored this week, on Wednesday, July 31, at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, at Firestone Country Club. Nicklaus, a World Golf Hall of Fame member, will officially be named the 2013 Ambassador of Golf by Northern Ohio Golf Charities.
Annually presented since 1981, the Ambassador of Golf Award recognizes those who have fostered the ideals of the game on an international level and whose concern for others extends beyond the golf course. Nicklaus will join his wife Barbara on the prominent list of past recipients of the Ambassador of Golf Award, which includes President Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, President George H. W. Bush, 2011 and 2012 Memorial Tournament honorees Nancy Lopez and Tom Watson and the 2012 Ambassador of Golf recipient Sir Nick Faldo.
"I am very honored to have been chosen to receive the Ambassador of Golf Award," Nicklaus, 73, said. "This is certainly a special and meaningful recognition. I feel blessed to be included among such a distinguished list of past recipients, including my wife, because I am certainly Barbara Nicklaus' biggest fan."
Nicklaus' accomplishments on the course are unrivaled. For one, he holds the record for most professional major championships with 18; Tiger Woods is second with 14 and Walter Hagen has 11. Included in his 18 major victories are three full cycles of the modern career Grand Slam, a record shared with Woods. His 73 TOUR victories are third to Sam Snead's 82 and Woods's 78. His legendary success on the PGA TOUR was followed by continued dominance on the Senior PGA Tour, now known as the Champions Tour. While Nicklaus competed on the Senior Tour, he won a record eight senior major championships. Within two years on the Senior Tour, he completed a full cycle of the Grand Slam, making him the first player to record a Grand Slam on both the PGA TOUR and the Senior PGA Tour.
Still, it is what Nicklaus has accomplished outside the ropes that has furthered his legacy and separated him from his peers. The Nicklaus Companies' global business includes golf course design, development and licensing around the world. With a philosophy of working closely with clients, enhancing the natural environment, and creating courses that are both challenging and enjoyable for players of all levels, Nicklaus Design has 377 courses open for play in 36 countries and 39 states. Of those 377 golf courses, Jack Nicklaus has been involved in the design of 290 courses. One of the crown jewels of Nicklaus' designs is Muirfield Village Golf Club, host of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. The course opened in 1975 and was the first venue built for tournament golf with the spectator in mind. This October Muirfield will host The Presidents Cup, becoming the first venue to host the Ryder Cup (1987), Solheim Cup (1998) and The Presidents Cup.
Through the Memorial, Nicklaus has not only created one of the premiere stops on the PGA TOUR but also an impressive platform for giving back. Each year the Memorial gives back to the game of golf by remembering and honoring the great golfers of the past, and those individuals who built the foundation to the game. The Tournament also gives back through charitable initiatives that have to date has surpassed $24 million, with more than $15 million going to Nationwide Children's Hospital through the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation.
Jack and Barbara have always strongly supported charitable initiatives, especially those involving children. In 2004, they created the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation with the mission to provide access to world-class health care for all children and support innovative programs focused on diagnosis, treatment and prevention of childhood illness.
In addition, Nicklaus is a national chairperson for The First Tee, which is an organization designed to instill nine core values into young people's daily lives, such as honesty, integrity, respect, and sportsmanship. He has twice spoken before Congress on the character-building values of the organization.
"As Barbara and I look back on our careers and our lives together, we realize and appreciate that golf has contributed to us having a lifetime of fulfillment, enrichment, and happiness," said Nicklaus. "But we also felt a responsibility to give back, whenever and wherever we could. A legacy is not what you do on the field or inside the ropes. A legacy is what you leave behind for others and how you are remembered. Golf has always been my vehicle to competition, but golf was also a vehicle for both Barbara and me to give back. Our hope has been to leave the world, even if just the world of golf, a better place than when we arrived. So in some small way, I hope I have used the game of golf, my career, and my life to do that."Nicklaus has been highly decorated for his philanthropic and goodwill achievements off the course. In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civil award, by President George W. Bush. He was named the "Most Powerful Person in Golf" for the sixth consecutive year in 2009 by Golf Inc. magazine. In November 2007, an exhibit, "Jack Nicklaus: Golf's Golden Champion," opened at the World Golf Hall of Fame. Two months later, he was honored with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship. In 2008, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the PGA TOUR.