FARMINGTON HILLS – Golf legend Jack Nicklaus headlined a gala Golf Association of Michigan Foundation fundraiser at Oakland Hills Country Club Monday to help honor the association’s centennial.
The GAM 100 CELEBRATION included golf for 120 people on the famed South Course, and dinner for 300. Proceeds benefit the GAM Foundation and its efforts to grow the game through its Youth on Course initiative where youngsters under 18 get the opportunity to play over 100 participating Michigan golf courses for $5 or less.
Nicklaus congratulated the GAM on its centennial and praised it for its efforts with youth golf.
“That’s what this room is all about, getting people on the golf course and serving golf,” he said.
Nicklaus, 79, returned to where he won the 1991 U.S. Senior Open on the South Course in a playoff with Chi Chi Rodriguez, and where 30 years earlier he finished fourth in the 1961 U.S. Open as a 21-year-old amateur. Nicklaus met with the state’s media, and took part in a special dinner celebration, which included him chatting with WJR Radio personality Frank Beckman in front of an audience of 300 people who donated to the fundraiser.
Monday was also the final practice day for the 108th Michigan Amateur Championship that Oakland Hills is hosting across the street on the North Course over the following five days starting Tuesday.
Nicklaus met with the media and talked on a variety of subjects through the day, including his favorite subjects of limiting the flight of the golf ball, making golf cheaper and getting more young people to play. He said his career had turned in recent years to being part of projects that help people and charities because of his wife Barbara.
“She supported my golf game for 45 years, so for the last 15 I’ve supported the things she wants to do and she is all about helping people,” he said.
The celebration fundraiser for the GAM Foundation also included an online auction that ended Monday night during the event.
ABOUT THE GAM: The GAM serves 60,000 golf members and 470 clubs and courses in the state, and its Foundation is a charitable arm currently focused on youth golf. With the help of over 250 volunteers and rules officials the association provides 35 championships for golfers, age 7 to 70-plus, and administers 40 qualifiers for the major GAM championships and 18 for the USGA and its schedule of national championships.. The GAM also administers the GAM/USGA Handicap System and measures and rates almost 70 courses a year. Learn more at gam.org
ABOUT JACK NICKLAUS: No name is more synonymous with greatness in the sport of golf than the name Jack Nicklaus, and no single person has changed the face of the sport more than Jack Nicklaus – the player, the designer, the philanthropist, and the good-will ambassador. Jack was named “Golfer of the Century” or “Golfer of the Millennium” by almost every major golf publication in the world. He was also named Individual Male Athlete of the Century by Sports Illustrated, and one of the 10 Greatest Athletes of the Century by ESPN. In June 2018, the Golden Bear received the Lincoln Medal from the Ford’s Theatre Society, making Jack Nicklaus just the fourth person in history—and the first athlete or sportsperson—to be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2005), the Congressional Gold Medal (2015) and now the Lincoln Medal.
Jack’s competitive career spanned five decades, and his legend has been built with 120 professional tournament victories worldwide and a record 18 professional major-championship titles (six Masters, five PGA Championships, four U.S. Opens, three British Opens). He is one of only five golfers—Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Tiger Woods the others—who have won all four of golf’s modern majors, an achievement often referred to as the career “Grand Slam.” Jack remains the only player to have completed the career Grand Slam on both the regular and senior tours. His eight majors on the senior circuit, now called the PGA TOUR Champions, stood as a record from 1996 until 2017.
The legacy Jack has left as a player can be rivaled only by the legacy he is leaving as a golf-course designer, businessman and philanthropist. Jack was voted the 2017 Golf Course Designer of the Year by the World Golf Awards, following his receipt of such honors as GOLF Magazine’s Architect of the Year in 2014. Jack has been involved in the design of over 300 courses open for play worldwide, and the firm he founded, Nicklaus Design, has more than 415 courses open for play in 45 countries, 40 states, and more than 150 Nicklaus Design courses have hosted over 1,000 professional tournaments worldwide or significant national amateur championships.
Jack and his wife Barbara have a long history of involvement in numerous charitable activities, from junior golf to children’s hospitals to several scholarship foundations. Jack and Barbara are the guiding light for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which supports numerous pediatric health-care services in South Florida, as well as nationally, and has raised almost $90 million dollars since its inception in 2004. In 2015, Jack and Barbara’s efforts for impacting pediatric healthcare reached a significant milestone when Miami Children’s Health System renamed its flagship hospital Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. In November of 2017, and in a system-wide rebranding, Miami Children’s Health System became Nicklaus Children’s Health System. This includes 14 outpatient centers and facilities located throughout Florida.