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Jack Nicklaus would have been a baseball player but didn’t have the patience

Jack Nicklaus is widely considered to be the greatest golfer of all time, but the Golden Bear insists he is not a one-trick pony. During a recent interview for a feature called “Words From the Wise” from Golf Digest, Nicklaus talked about his passion for baseball. Like golf, he says baseball is a game he was pretty damn good at.

“If I never had gotten into golf, I think I’d have been a baseball player,” Nicklaus said. “My first love was baseball. I was a catcher. I was a good, strong hitter — a switch hitter — with a good arm. But baseball was a sport where I needed someone else to throw the ball back, and you’re waiting on a dusty field for other kids to show up. Heck, I could go to the golf course and practice whenever I wanted to practice, and I didn’t have to rely on someone else. That’s what ran me out of baseball.”

As MLB.com’s Cut 4 pointed out, a good switch-hitting catcher is hard to come by. There have only been 89 in MLB history, and only 34 of those have 1,000 or more career plate appearances. Jorge Posada and Victor Martinez are a couple of names that come to mind as far as players who have played recently, but it’s not a very long list.

If Nicklaus was as talented on the diamond as he says he was, he could have had a shot based on his rare skill set. But at the end of the day, some people just don’t like shagging balls and waiting around.

Jack Nicklaus says less drinking has made for better putting across golf

Jack Nicklaus is arguably the greatest golfer that ever lived. If you believe in Major Championships as a gauge of greatness, he’s the best. When Jack talks golf, people listen. On Sunday morning during the Honda Classic’s rain delay, Nicklaus weighed in on why he believes less golfers seem to suffer from the “yips” in this generation. For those of you who are not golf fans, the “yips” refers to the act of missing short putts, typically as a result of nerves.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, please,” Nicklaus said according to the Golf Channel. “In those days, most of those guys were club pros. Their usual thing was, after a round, to come in and have a drink and socialize. They did that when they played tournaments.

“I always felt drinking did not do well with nerves. The guys today don’t do that. I never did that. Did I have a drink? Sure, here and there, but never while I was playing in tournaments. I always thought that was terrible for your nerves, and terrible for your touch, because I think the most important thing is to be totally there. I don’t think guys did it because they were nervous, it was just their way of life. It was a social way of life, and golf was a social sport. Guys take the game today as more athletes, and I took it that way. I’m not saying these guys were drinkers, but it was part of their life. It’s not part of the culture today.”

Some, like Tiger Woods, argue that the belly putter gives people an unfair advantage and more putter control. Those people might claim the improved equipment in today’s game has led to more consistent putting. Personally, I like Nicklaus’ theory a lot better. Remember that the next time you’re 10 beers deep on the 17th hole and furious that you can’t seem to hit a two-foot putt.

H/T Game On!

Jack Nicklaus Likes Rory McIlroy’s Game, Confidence on the Course

Jack Nicklaus has won 18 majors, more than any other golfer. He doesn’t watch too much golf, but he has begun following the career of youngster Rory McIlory. Calling into NBC during their telecast of the U.S. Open, he talked about the 22-year-old Northern Irishman and raved about his game and personality.

“His rhythm is beautiful, it just stays the same all the time,” Nicklaus said about McIlroy during a phone interview Sunday. “He has a great short game. I love his little moxie and the sort of way he walks, sort of like he’s a like a little cocksure about himself. I kind of like that in a guy. You gotta have confidence in yourself and what you’re doing.”

Nicklaus, who said McIlroy asked him for advice about how to close tournaments, continued to speak positively about the youngster. “I think this kid’s going to have a great career. He’s got all the components. He’s a nice kid, he’s got a pleasant personality. He’s humble when he needs to be humble and he’s confident when he needs to be confident.”

A year ago we said McIlroy was the real deal after watching him dominate at Quail Hollow and put together a sparkling opening round at the British Open as a 20-year-old. We appreciated the character he showed after losing his lead at the Masters. We also love the fun side of his life he displays, not to mention his longtime girlfriend/female friend, Holly Sweeney. At this point we’re in agreement with Nicklaus in enjoying McIlroy as a golfer. As long as he doesn’t turn out to be like Tiger Woods, there won’t be any reason to dislike him.