By Len Ziehm

OCALA, FL. – My starting point as a golf writer came at the 1968 Western Open at Olympia Fields.  Jack Nicklaus won it.

Over the next 56 years I’ve reported, commented and interviewed many people in the golf industry. Many times I’ve been asked who is the best interview in the golf world, and my response has never changed:

“It’s Jack Nicklaus.  No question about it, and no one else is even close.’’

Not that you always agree with him, but Nicklaus has a good track record for being inciteful, candid, helpful, informative and expansive.

There was somewhat of a departure from that during his annual sit-down with the media before his Memorial tournament, however. He did have one gripe.  He didn’t like having the Memorial moved to a week before the U.S. Open.

“We’re here because the tour asked us to help them out,’’ said Nicklaus. “When I played I would rarely play a week before any major championship.  So I’m asked to be part of putting on a golf tournament in a week when I would never play.’’

Point well taken, and Nicklaus wasn’t treated so well by the tour with the dates the Honda Classic (now Cognizant Classic of the Palm Beaches) was given, either.  Nicklaus has a deep involvement there but, as the first event on the Florida Swing, even the PGA Tour players living in the area weren’t reluctant to skip it.

Tournament dates weren’t the major issue leading into this year’s two-week Memorial-U.S.  Open stretch, however.  The dragged out negotiations between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf League remain golf’s hottest topic but — as hard as the media members at Ohio’s Muirfield Village tried — Nicklaus wanted to stay clear of it.

“I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the day- to- day of the tour anymore,’’ he said.  “I’m 84 years old.  I haven’t played a tour event since 2005, so I’m a few years removed from that. There are a lot smarter people and a lot better people that are better versed on what’s going on than I as it relates to the problems of the game of golf.’’

Nicklaus was very much involved the last time the PGA Tour was involved in such a controversy.

“That was 1968.  I was 28 years old. Arnold (Palmer) was 38.  And Arnold and I and Gardner Dickenson, who was chairman of the board, really broke away from the PGA of America.  We didn’t have anything against the PGA of America, except that we wanted to run our own business.’’

Nicklaus contacted PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan a couple months ago in preparation for a previous interview, and their conversation was short.

“I said, Jay, I’m worried a little bit about what’s going on,’ said Nicklaus.  “I said `Are you doing all right or are you not?  He said `We’re doing fine.’  I said, `That’s all I need to know.’’

Given the widespread respect Nicklaus has in the game, his views could be beneficial to bringing peace back to the men’s professional game but that’s not a topic for lengthy discussions.

About as far as he will go is to laud Tiger Woods’ involvement in the negotiations.

“Tiger’s has a lot of experience.  He’s been around long enough.  He’s not going to play a whole lot more.  He can still contribute,’’ said Nicklaus.  “It’s great that he wants to contribute and be part of it.  It’s great that the guys want him to contribute.  I’m delighted to see him on the board.’’

Beyond that, Nicklaus isn’t convinced that a merger is the answer.

“I don’t know whether it’s imperative that that happens,’’ he said.  “It would be better if they all played together more often.  I do think that, but that’s above my pay grade.  To really answer that a hundred percent I’d have to  know all the ramifications of it.’’

Len Ziehm

Len has been covering golf for over 56 years. He was the golf columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times for 41 years and has been in the same role for the Daily Herald and several regional newspapers since 2009… Len is also a regular contributor to the Chicago District Golfer magazine and his travel pieces are regularly published in Pro Golf Weekly, New England.Golf, eSouthernGolf and the Ohio Golf Journal. His works for all publications are available at It is in its 15th year of operation and has been enhanced by the photography provided by his partner Joy Sarver… An inductee into the Illinois Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004 (for his reporting and youth coaching, not as a player), Len was also inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in 2019. He is also on the Advisory Board of the International Network of Golf, is a lifetime member of the Golf Writers Association of America and a member of the Golf Travel Writers of America.

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