Jack Nicklaus’ Favorite Golf Gambling Story: Betting on Himself at Cherry Hills

Jack Nicklaus’ Favorite Golf Gambling Story: Betting on Himself at Cherry Hills article feature image

Brian Schumacher, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jack Nicklaus

The Action Network spoke with several of golf's biggest legends find out their favorite personal golf betting stories. In a previous series, we spoke with several of today's biggest stars about their favorite betting stories. You can find those here.

  • Who: Jack Nicklaus
  • When: 1960 U.S. Open
  • Where: Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, CO.

Despite winning 18 major championships, Nicklaus never won a bet on himself. The only time he ever even had a bet was in 1960, when he was the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and hadn’t yet turned professional. He famously lost to a hard-charging Arnold Palmer that week, but more than a half-century later still clearly remembers the bet.

“I never had a wager on the golf course.

“The only wager I ever had was the 1960 U.S. Open. It was months before I was getting married. I was the U.S. Amateur champion. My dad came to me and said, ‘Hey, they’ve got you at 35-to-1. You want some of that?’ And I said, ‘I’ll have $20.’

“He asked, ‘You want win, place and show?’

“I said, ‘I’m not here to place and show.’

“I think I was more worried about winning $700 and getting married a month later as much as I was worried about winning the U.S. Open.

“That’s the only wager I’ve ever had on golf ever.

“Oh, we’d play for 10 or 20 bucks. Oh yeah, we’ve always done that. But not in a tournament, just practice rounds. I never had a wager with another golfer in a tournament.

“Practice rounds, sure. We all did that. But a lot of guys would have a bet in a tournament. I always said, ‘I’ve got my mind on enough things. I’m playing golf, I’m playing in a tournament.’”

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