Golf legend Nicklaus impressed with region's enthusiasm for Open
Legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus said Wednesday that he was highly impressed with the Southern Tier’s support for its own unique event, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.
“It’s obvious that you love this tournament,” he told a crowd of more than 3,000 at the En-Joie Golf Club, noting that the tourney is a signature experience that gives Greater Binghamton a real boost every year. “I see the enthusiasm. You have an event that is your event.”
“This is a nice golf course,” he said, easily accessible to people in the gallery who want to move from one green to another to follow the golfers.
Mr. Nicklaus’s comments came during “Stories with Jack,” the feature presentation of the 2019 UHS Golf Expo Presented by Dr. Bai Lee.
At a news conference earlier in the day, John Carrigg, president and chief executive officer of UHS, said UHS was very pleased to welcome Mr. Nicklaus as the Expo’s 2019 honorary host.
“This year, I think you will agree that we have gone above and beyond in featuring a presentation by the man who has changed the face of golf more than any other,” Mr. Carrigg said.
Often called the “Golfer of the Millennium” and the “Most Powerful Person in Golf,” Mr. Nicklaus was inspired by his father, Charlie Nicklaus, to take up the game, and learned its fundamentals from renowned instructor and mentor Jack Grout.
Jack Nicklaus went on to become one of the sport’s winningest players, as well as a famed golf course designer, philanthropist and goodwill ambassador.
This was “The Golden Bear’s” first visit to the Southern Tier. He said that fellow pro Joey Sindelar, a Horseheads resident, had been coaxing him to visit Endicott for a long time.
“He was after me to come here for 20 years,” Mr. Nicklaus said, “since the days of the B.C. Open.”
In a wide-ranging live interview on the 18th Green conducted by Sirius XM Radio’s Dave Marr III, Mr. Nicklaus reminisced about his lengthy career in the sport.
He said a good golfer comes to understand exactly why he loses a tournament, and why he wins one, adding that no one becomes a top pro without being “a tough competitor.”
Mr. Nicklaus holds the record for Professional Golf Association major championships, with a total of 18, and has the third most PGA Tour victories, with 73. He also holds the record for the most wins at the Masters, with six, and at the Players Championship, with three.
He played on six Ryder Cup teams, captained the teams twice, and topped the PGA Tour money list and scoring average eight times each. For 24 straight seasons, from 1960 to 1983 inclusive, he made at least one top-10 finish in a major championship, setting a record.
When asked by Mr. Marr to name the greatest golfer of all time, Mr. Nicklaus suggested a list of possibilities, including Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Tiger Woods.
Mr. Marr then led the crowd in an alternative response, in unison: “Jack Nicklaus!”
The Golden Bear concluded his remarks by encouraging parents to introduce their children to golf, even if the youngsters don’t go on to turn pro, citing how much the sport can be enjoyed at any ability level.
“Those who really want to play can become champions,” he said. “Others may just enjoy it, and that’s fine. That’s what makes this great game so much fun.”
Under large tents near the 18th, UHS offered Expo attendees educational materials related to urology, orthopedics, and men’s and women’s health issues.
Providers and clinical experts from several specialties were on hand for informal question-and-answer sessions with the visiting public.
Those who attended received gift items and were entered into a prize drawing.
For seven years, UHS has held the special health and fitness exposition in connection with the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. It continues to gain in popularity with tournament attendees of all ages.
Mr. Carrigg remarked: “We are very pleased with the record turnout. Our aim is to make this day as valuable for everyone as possible.”
During his visit, Mr. Nicklaus toured the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UHS Wilson Medical Center and attended a special “Golden Hour” reception at En-Joie, hosted by the UHS Foundation.
Members of the media were able to interview Mr. Nicklaus at the joint Dick’s Sporting Goods Open-UHS news conference.
After his talk, Mr. Nicklaus posed for a wide-angle group photograph with scores of Expo attendees, most wearing trademark golden-yellow polo shirts.
On the green, Broome County Community Charities presented Mr. Nicklaus with a $10,000 check to benefit the work of the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, established by Mr. Nicklaus and his wife Barbara in 2004.