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Wright Thompson on Jack Nicklaus

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WaylonJennings, May 29, 2008.

  1. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member


    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — For the past few days, Jack Nicklaus has been sick, listing a bit, even telling his oldest son he might need to lean on him. As he pulls his gold Lexus onto the tarmac of Signature Flight Service, he's still considering canceling this trip. He thinks of all the times he showed up when he didn't feel like it. He even kept an appointment after his grandson died; a devastated Jack believed a commitment should be honored. That's how his dad taught him to act. No, pushing 70, he can't remember ever missing a business trip. He doesn't want to start now, so he's here, on muscle memory mostly, fighting a sinus infection and a hacking cough, parking his car next to the gleaming white Gulfstream V -- tail number N1JN, affectionately called Air Bear -- but even now, he isn't sure. It's not too late to turn around.

    On board, his staff looks out the plane's large, oval windows. They didn't know until now whether he was making the two-hour flight down to the Dominican Republic. This is a simple trip. Two countries in about 36 hours, two golf courses to design, a few news conferences, a convoy of Range Rovers, a beachside villa or two, a handful of ministers and one ambassador to meet. He'd told everyone he was a game-time decision, and now he's headed toward the jet in shorts and an orange golf shirt. Just a minute before, communications director Scott Tolley sent someone down to get something from his car. Everyone is confronted by a potentially unpleasant start to the day: an ailing Bear, ready to get on with it, waiting on them. Jack doesn't like to wait. The men on the plane look at each other, clearly thinking the same thing.

    "I told him to hurry," Tolley says.

    Jack climbs the stairs, looking worn out. Sinatra plays on the jet's stereo; he is almost always playing on the jet's stereo, and Jack always notices if someone tries to slip in a different CD (a Motown disc made it one song). Jack says his good mornings, slumping into the big, blue leather seat in the middle row.

    "I'm still deciding on whether to go," he says.

    The plane begins to roll forward, the pilot bringing the engines to life. Air Bear is cleared for takeoff. Jack leans back into his seat. He manages a smile.

    "I guess it's too late to say no," he says.
  2. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    More show than blow here. "Look at me -- I'm in Jack Nicklaus' private jet!"

    And not a whole hell of a lot of quotes from Nicklaus.

    I've read more than a lot about Jack and his Dad but maybe I'm too old -- you can always trot stuff out for the first time for a new generation, and reads like new.
  3. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    The usual long and winding Wright road to nowhere.
  4. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    I dunno, I'd love to ride on Jack Nicklaus' private jet. And I like the my jet-my tunes rule. I'll read this when I get a little time. I'm just glad it isn't an ode to the South or college football Saturday, since I'm a fan of neither. (Prefer the former to the latter, actually).
  5. Tiger16

    Tiger16 Member

    Better have more than a little time. It's very, very long.

    Too long, probably, but it has some value.
  6. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Scott Tolley, the former newspaper guy?
  7. bydesign77

    bydesign77 Active Member

    I grew up in Augusta. In that neck of the woods, Nicklaus is more than a legend. I'm figuring when he dies, there will be a Jack Nicklaus parkway or highway or something to go along with Bobby Jones. I don't know if the National feels the same way about him since they do their own thing. But this piece still made the room dusty for me.
  8. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Here we go!

    (deep breath)
  9. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I liked the story. Granted, I'm a sucker for most things Jack, but still liked it. It did start out a little heavy on the airplane details for me (important people on private jets isn't breaking new ground), but when Wright got into the details of his family and the legacy Nicklaus wants to leave behind -- one that has little to do with how many majors he won -- I was intrigued. I've always been very impressed how Jack has always put family first.
  10. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Focused, useful. A good capture of who Nicklaus is now, and how/why he became that man. Obviously, Thompson was wise enough not to screw around with lofty, dubious themes when a big-timer granted him access. And Thompson's gift for small, revealing details served the story, rather than masking over a lack of substance.
  11. ink-stained wretch

    ink-stained wretch Active Member

    Different strokes. A very bitter-sweet read. For me it was well-told story about growing old, about staying vital even as the years sap the vitality. Perhaps it's just that I'm close to Jack's age.

    Do not go gentle into that good night.
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