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Three Kings of Course Design: Jack Nicklaus

Editor’s Note: This is the first post in a three-part series highlighting some of golf’s most respected and accomplished course architects.

The Golden Bear
Professional golfer, Jack Nicklaus, otherwise known as “The Golden Bear,” is arguably the most well-known golf course architect in the world today. With more than 350 courses to his name in more than 30 countries around the globe, Nicklaus continues his reign as a king of course design by creating top-rated golf courses year after year.

Since 2004, Nicklaus has been named one of the top 3 most powerful people in golf by Golf Inc. Magazine, taking the No. 1 spot for 6 years straight (’04 – ’09). He still is one of the most respected spokesmen on a wide array of issues. His playing career was legendary and his design career is certainly on the same trajectory.

Nicklaus hoisting the 1980 PGA Championship trophy. Photo by

During his playing career, Nicklaus dominated the game of golf for decades. He won two U.S. Amateur titles (’59, ’61), before turning professional in 1962. During his PGA Tour career, Nicklaus won an astounding 73 PGA tournaments (3rd all time) and 18 major championships (1st all time). Altogether, Nicklaus won 115 professional tournaments world-wide.

A King of Course Design
Nicklaus always had his eye, however, on course design. In Nicklaus’ own words, “Designing a golf course is my total expression. I always knew my golf game would only go on so long. But what I have learned can be put into a piece of ground that will last beyond me.”

Nicklaus’ courses are all unique and provide a fantastic golfing experience. Some quietly conform to the natural landscape with little of the native surrounding disturbed. Others are grandiose projects requiring the relocation of millions of pounds of dirt to create a challenging and picturesque masterpiece.

“The Golden Bear” has more than 350 courses to his name in more than 30 countries around the globe. Photo by

In most Nicklaus designs, you’ll find he employs the five tee concept, which allows golfers of all ages and skill levels to truly enjoy their golfing adventure. Playing a Nicklaus course allows you to play a premier round of golf while creating a cherished memory.

You can’t go wrong with any Nicklaus-designed course, but three of our favorites are:

1. Hammock Beach- Ocean Course (Palm Coast, FL) – Hammock Beach is a manicured track with white sand bunkers and exquisite views of the Atlantic Ocean that is playable for all skill-levels.

2. The Club at Pronghorn (Bend, OR) – The Club at Pronghorn is an inland course that cuts through ancient lava rock formations and outcroppings while featuring the majestic Cascade Mountains of Central Oregon.

3. The Challenge at Manele (Lanai, HI) – The Challenge at Manele is the epitome of Hawaiian golf. It is carved out of the coastline and runs alongside the Pacific Ocean. The par-3, 200-yard, 12th hole makes for a surreal moment as you hit your tee shot over Hulopoe Bay and pray for the best.

Check out these other fantastic Nicklaus Design courses available on GolfNow:






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