Testing Jack’s Golf Balls

Dear Frank,
Is it true that you “borrowed” several of Jack Nicklaus’s balata golf balls (brand name not mentioned, but better known for woods and irons) during his prime from his bag without his knowledge for USGA testing, and found them wildly inconsistent?

I don’t know where you found out about my “borrowing” balls from Jack Nicklaus’ bag without his knowledge. This is how rumors get started and one can infer from it that I did something surreptitiously, which I am sure you did not imply and know it is not my style 🙂

Unfortunately, my style is being completely up-front which has frequently landed me in trouble.

I consider Jack to be a friend and someone I have admired for many years and YES, I did get three sleeves of golf balls from Jack in 1977 to test and make sure they were the same as those submitted for conformance testing, but I asked him for these and he removed them from his bag and gave them to me.

These balls conformed with the specifications, however, the balls were wildly inconsistent from an accuracy point of view and some were at least 15 yards off line. I was not permitted to discuss this with Jack until about 23 years later.

I sincerely believe based on our testing of thousands of balls that Jack Nicklaus would have won at least two or three more majors had he played with a different ball in the 1970’s.

Jon, you can find out more about this from my book Just Hit It with a foreword by Jack.

The topic for this week’s forum is: Do you think that any golfer will beat Jack’s major record?

Share your views below.

11 thoughts on “Testing Jack’s Golf Balls

  1. Someone will… some day. If Rory can keep playing at the level he is for 10 years, he might. Tiger has the best shot, of course, but he needs to pick at least one up in 2013 or he might only get close as in 16.

  2. I know that there was a practice among the Pros to check the balance of their golf balls in salt water and to also check the diameter in at least two directions with a ring gauge. Do you think that Jack may have done so as he was always aware of the fine detail of his game and the course as well as his equipment. It probably made commercial sense for him to play the ball made by his equipment company.

  3. Jack did extremely well putting on greens in the 60,s and 70’s, that were not as good as today. He played a fade most of the time…..I don,t think being 15 yards off line mattered….he knew his strengths and limitations, which of course made him the winner that he was.

  4. I think that Tiger Woods will without a doubt break Jack`s record once he starts swinging the club normally and refrain from trying to force a win.He is by far the best player around once he sets his mind to it,and controls his temper on course,I admire him for his consistant play and hope that he will show the enjoyment in his own game again.Good luck to him ,he should be able to do it in 2 or 3 seasons coming.

  5. Tiger will break Jack’s record in the next three years and his record will stand forever. Tiger is a good young man that made a few mental mistakes and had paid dearly for them.

  6. Now I know why I couldn’t breark 80 in those days-I knew it wasn’t my fault!!!! Merry Christmas to Don’t yoou just love this game!!!

  7. Jack Nicklaus was a genetic freak of nature. I mean this in a positve way. He is a once of 200 years kind of talent. If Jack had the modern golf ball, modern driver, launch monitor, he’d make Tiger Woods look like a 10 handicap. He also contended withthe pesky world class talent in Gary Player and Tom Watson. Jack is still the best of all time. Enter Rory!

  8. I recall reading an interview with Tom Weiskopf some time ago criticising the standard of the MacGregor balss he was playing. The comment included ” … I would like to have been given the balls they gave to Jack to play.” Testing is objective but golf is often a subjective game to all of us who play it.

  9. Dear Valerie and Frank,
    I do not believe that anyone will better Jack’s 18 majors. It is becoming progressively more difficult for one player to be dominant due to the constant improvement in the overall standard of players at the top level and the quality of youger players entering the pro game at the highest level.
    Kind regards

  10. Frankl: Gosh, I hope no one breaks Jack’s major’s record but I it could happen some day. I believe the fields are stronger now and any such domination will be hard to attain. Best to you for the holiday season. Sherwood Schoch

  11. Dear Frank and Valerie,

    Thanks you again for answering my question regarding Jack’s golf balls. I should have read “Just Hit It” before to get the details straight. If Tiger does not get to 19 in the next couple of years, I do not think anyone will! Hope to get to Florida next year for a putting evaluation.

    Merry Christmas,


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