With a Shot at the Masters, Gary Nicklaus Jr. Highlights a Legacy of Humility

Gary Nicklaus Jr. stands next to his grandfather Jack Nicklaus while interviewed by ESPN's Tom Rinaldi.

Nicknamed G.T., Gary Nicklaus Jr. told ESPN on his shot at the Masters: “I was just trying to hit a good shot…Do the best that I can, and whatever happens, happens…”

The Masters, as usual, tested the grit of the competitors and provided another exciting finish that entertained millions of golf fans like me. Even with Tiger Woods relegated to another also-ran finish, the rest of the world’s best made it interesting. Patrick Reed built a solid lead over the first three rounds, then won his first major by holding off furious rallies by Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth.

But for me, perhaps the most compelling storyline happened before the first shot of the tournament.

One of the traditions at the Masters is the family friendly 9-hole exhibition on the par-3 course the day before the actual tournament begins. It’s so informal that caddies or family members often play the final hole. One of those caddies was 15-year-old Gary Nicklaus Jr., who had been carrying the bag for his famous grandfather – six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus.

Gary Nicklaus, Jr. aced the 135-yard hole, much to the delight of the crowd and, of course, his 78-year-old grandfather. Jack Nicklaus, who has five children and 22 grandchildren, has hit dozens and dozens of memorable shots at Augusta National during his storied career, but nothing compared to watching his grandson hit his first hole-in-one.


I’ve always been a fan of Jack Nicklaus, and I’ve written before about how leaders can learn from the character traits he displays. With all of his success, he’s managed to maintain a sense of humility, and clearly he understands the importance of sharing and celebrating life with his family.

It was surreal. I didn’t even celebrate it at first because I didn’t know if I saw it.
– Gary Nicklaus, Jr.

We all want to “win” in our given professions, and we need the competitive spirit that Nicklaus displayed many times as a golfer (and that Reed showed this weekend). But we also need the perspective that our legacy includes the lives we’ve influenced along the way. Seeing our children and grandchildren experience success will give us more joy than we ever might have imagined. Just with our proteges at work, our role is to equip them, encourage them, and give them opportunities. They won’t always hit a hole-in-one, but we can always take pride in watching them do their best.


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