Fast-forward 29 years. Charlie’s son, Jack, is playing the 1955 U.S. Amateur for the first time. Jones is in attendance to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his win that clinched the single-season Grand Slam of U.S. and British Opens and U.S. and British Amateurs.
Charlie Nicklaus had often talked to his son about Jones, not only in regards to golf success but the way he conducted his life. When young Jack met Jones that week — Jones had invited Jack and Charlie for a quick chat after hearing about the 15-year-old prodigy — a bond was immediately formed.
“Bobby Jones was my idol,” Nicklaus said many years later. “I loved what he represented in the game of golf.”
Even though Jack lost in the first round of match play that week, Jones knew he had witnessed something special.
“It was not difficult to see that a new talent of the first magnitude had arrived,” Jones once wrote. “Even though his presence in this championship was of brief duration, I am sure that most of us who saw him realized that he would become one of the greats of the game.”
The friendship never stopped growing. Jack Nicklaus had just met the golfer he wanted most to emulate and follow. His six Masters wins at Jones’ Augusta National meant more than just a green jacket. When Jack created the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, he took note of how the Masters held golf in its highest regard. To do what Bobby Jones did, to live up to the sport’s gentlemanly rules and principles and conduct himself in the most honorable of fashions, became a priority.
“He’s the greatest golfer who ever lived and probably ever will live and he’s one of the greatest persons,” Nicklaus once told Golf Digest. “That’s my goal. Bobby Jones. It’s the only goal.”