The sight of Jack Nicklaus on the Augusta National property remains one of the most enduring images of the golfing year. This year, aside from any commentary bits, we’ll only get to see the Golden Bear with a club in his hands on the 1st tee as he’s reportedly decided to give the Par 3 a miss.
For the last two years the contest hasn’t happened and the six-time Masters champion, now 82, has played his last par 3 on the property.
He told Golfweek: “In many ways, it is the start of the golfing season, it certainly is the start of the major championship season. Even though I don’t play any more, it’s fun to be there. It’s fun to go to the Masters dinner. I’m done with the Par 3, but toward the end of my career, I used to play every year.
"But I just can’t play any more. The honour of hitting the opening tee shot alongside Gary Player and, now with the addition of our good friend, Tom Watson, that will be nice. I enjoy seeing everybody. It’s like a reunion.”
Nicklaus never won the Par 3 though plenty of other Masters champs did, including Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer, and we all know the stat that no golfer has won the Par 3 as well as the big one.
In recent years the short course gave Nicklaus one of his favourite ever moments when his grandson, GT, carded an ace on the 112-yard 9th hole. Nicklaus described it as the ‘greatest day I’ve had at Augusta National’.