“I think that my admiration and respect for Arnold and Gary played a great part in my career. They were my contemporaries, but also my role models.”
The game of golf is an individual sport in which only you are responsible for what you do. It’s not a team sport. It’s a sport that, whatever you do, you do it through your own efforts, you’re out there by yourself. You have to perform to the best of your ability, with integrity and sportsmanship.
In 1966, I was married with three children, I had won the Grand Slam of golf and I was pretty much on top of the world. Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and I dominated the game at the time and became known as The Big Three. We didn’t care where you wanted to rank us, it didn’t really make any difference; we all just wanted to win. We all wanted to be The Big One, and that’s why we had such great competition. But I think together we were stronger than each of us as an individual. We competed together, we dined together, we partied together, we travelled together; we were all great friends. If anybody had a problem, we were all there for the other one. We all had each other's backs. I think that my admiration and respect for Arnold and Gary played a great part in my career. They were my contemporaries, but also my role models. I think that The Big Three certainly made the game of golf a better game.
That same year, we were at the Canada Cup matches in Tokyo. Arnold, Gary and I went to a Rolex cocktail party and as a thank you Rolex asked me to pick out a watch. I picked this “golden” Day-Date because Gary Player who was with Rolex at the time told me, “That's the best one.” I’ve worn it virtually everywhere I’ve ever been since then. It’s witnessed all the tournaments that I’ve won, all the honours that I’ve had around the world; it’s been to a lot of special places. I never owned a watch before this watch. I have other watches, I’ve had a lot of other watches, but this is the only one I ever wear.
This watch has seen a lot of time, it’s seen a lot of me. It’s a lot about what Jack Nicklaus has done throughout his career and there are collectors who would like to have that history. We’re going to take it to auction, probably, within the next year. And if that’s the case, I hope we will build a nice story for it. It should go to a charity. We want it to go to the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation where it would benefit thousands of kids; it would put a smile on a lot of kids’ faces.
Longevity is something that I think we all strive for. We want to have consistency in our lives. I’ve worn this watch for 51 years, I’ve been married for 58 years and we’ve lived in the same house for 48 years. I’m not one for big change, I like consistency. I think this watch has probably seen as much as any watch that’s ever been worn by one individual. It's an old friend, a very happy old friend.