Walking with Jack: A Fathers Journey to Become His Sons Caddie

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I was five under par, and all I cared about was getting to seven under. The putt for eagle on No. Jack notes he had faced a similar putt during the Masters. Such is the acuity of Nicklaus' memory, with the video there to prompt him.

Walking with Jack: A Father's Journey to Become His Son's Caddie

As the ball nears the hole, Jackie bends at the knees, and when it drops he leaps and claps his hands. Jack and jackie are leaning forward on the sofa now, the finish looming like the last minute of a championship football game. The final act begins with Jack's birdie at the 16th hole, which might be the most replayed episode in the history of televised golf. It's a monolithic moment, the sequence of events a confluence of perfect TV announcing from year-old Jim Nantz working his first Masters and Tom Weiskopf runner-up four times at Augusta. Jack and Jackie are wide-eyed watching it.

Walking with Jack

I could even have faded a 4-iron, but it didn't set up for that. It by far is the easiest hole location on that green, because a ball hit to the right will feed to the hole. Even a few feet long is OK. But the key is, you've got to get it to the hole. If I don't hit the 6-iron quite perfectly, it's not going to get there.


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Short is no good. As Nicklaus' eagle putt drops at the 15th, Air Jackie celebrates. Check the big names on the leader board. Weiskopf, asked by Nantz what is going through Jack's mind, says, "If I knew the way he thought, I would have won this tournament. Mine was, I've got yards, I've got to hit the ball high in the air, I need to hit it softly. Make that swing. Some people think about what they're mechanically doing through the ball. I think about what I want the clubhead to do through the ball to make the ball do what I want. People look at things differently.

There's nothing wrong with what Tom said; it's fine, and he was a very good player. But I didn't play by swing mechanics, I played by feeling things that would make the mechanics happen. Of his reaction to the shot, Jack says, "The remark I made was probably the cockiest I've ever made in the game of golf. While the ball was in the air, Jackie said, 'Be right! The gallery, on the other hand, was not quiet. There was bedlam in the amphitheater surrounding the hole, that roar only increasing as Jack approached the green. The spectators quieted as he surveyed the putt, hardly a kick-in.

If I hadn't hit it firmly, it would have broken off.

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It was especially loud walking from the 16th green to the 17th tee. The cheers were coming down on top of us. I remember putting my arms around Dad's clubs as we walked between the people, to protect them, and the people were leaning over and shouting. You have the sounds coming off the hillsides, the trees, the lake. It's a loud, loud place. The roars emanated back to the 15th fairway, where the tape shows Ballesteros, his lead down to one stroke, facing what appears to be a routine 4-iron second shot to the green. In fact, the lie was awkward.

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Kite, Ballesteros' playing partner, later noted that Seve's ball was on the downhill side of a mound in the fairway. Ballesteros proceeds to make an awful swing, the ball immediately fluttering to the left and landing in the middle of the pond fronting the green. Now, every time I wasn't sharp and I got in a tough situation, I would never take more club and hit it easy.


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  • You're much better off taking less club and hitting the ball harder. At 15, he picked an easy 4-iron rather than a hard 5-iron, and you can just see that he quit on it. It didn't get halfway across the water. It was not a good shot. Frankly, I expected that somewhere during the week from Seve, but it didn't happen until But what about the roar Jack provoked at 16, and his comment earlier about his ability to intimidate other players? I've never wished anyone bad, but I knew exactly what had happened.

    People were yelling at me, "It's in the water! It's in the water!

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    Walking toward the drop area, Seve is far from shaking hands with brother Vicente. In fact, they are walking 10 feet apart and are not speaking.

    It's pointed out that even with the eventual bogey, Seve still is tied for the lead with Nicklaus and Kite. How could Ballesteros possibly be out of the tournament? Nicklaus pulled his tee shot on No. I hit it 12 feet from the hole. See "The Red-Dot Rule," page The ball did just that, and there's no Masters photo more ubiquitous than the one of Jack following the ball into the hole with a large step and thrust of his putter.

    Incredibly, Nicklaus led the Masters. They've resodded the greens many times since , and it's a slightly different putt. But the point is, I haven't made it.

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    Jack is intrigued by the technical challenges of the par-4 18th hole as he sees himself preparing to hit his tee shot. The 18th is not the most difficult hole in championship golf, but many Masters have been lost there, and Nicklaus wasn't about to take a big risk. My line was in between the two, and you can see me swinging beneath the ball to make sure the ball didn't go left.

    I hit a nice little fade.

    Walking With Jack: A Father’s Journey to Become His Son’s Caddie

    I left myself yards to the hole. It takes a long time for him to hit that final approach shot. I hit the ball really well, but just as it left the clubface I felt a little breeze in my face. The hole was all the way in the back of the green, and when the ball stopped on the lower tier I thought, Great, now I've got this darned putt. Fortunately for Nicklaus, his design company had overseen the rebuilding of several greens at Augusta, including the 18th. I knew that putt on I'd practiced it many times. Jack's lag stopped six inches short of the hole, dead on line, a feat which, under the circumstances, awed his son.

    For some reason, the six inches he had left looked like five feet to me. After he marked his ball so Sandy Lyle [Jack's playing partner] could putt out, I reminded him one last time, 'Keep your head still.


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    What happened next made it impossible for CBS announcer Pat Summerall to speak, and colleague Ken Venturi was able to exclaim only, "Ah, beautiful" before choking up. Jack and Jackie embraced and then walked off the green, arms draped over each other. The scene does not elicit poetry; it is not the Nicklaus way. But there is power and emotion when he says, simply, "Jackie and I were both elated at what happened. He's my son. He was with me. That alone was more exciting than the tournament. The Nicklauses made their way to the Jones Cabin -- Jackie bringing the bag with him -- to watch the final four groups.

    The wait was not easy. First they watched Ballesteros fade when he three-putted the 17th to fall two shots behind. Kite, only one back, hit a fine 6-iron shot to within 10 feet at the 18th but missed. The only player left with a chance was Norman, who had made four consecutive birdies to tie Nicklaus at nine under par. After Norman creased the fairway with a big drive at the 18th, Nicklaus took what action he could. Norman is seen flaring his approach far right, deep into the gallery.

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