Jack Nicklaus set to be named an honorary citizen of St Andrews

Jack Nicklaus is set to become the third American to be named an honorary citizen of St Andrews ahead of the 150th Open… 17 YEARS after same proposal failed to receive unanimous approval

  • Jack Nicklaus will be made an honorary citizen of St Andrews on Tuesday
  • Bobby Jones and Benjamin Franklin are the other American to be so honoured 
  • The recognition has deeply touched the 82-year-old 18-time major champion 
  • Nicklaus made it clear that his support of Donald Trump was not unconditional 

There were many in golf who thought Jack Nicklaus had damaged his reputation irrevocably when he endorsed Donald Trump in 2020 to serve a further four years as President of the United States.

Today, the town known far and wide as the home of the game will respectively beg to differ.

Ahead of a procession through the streets that will attract thousands, the 82-year-old will be made an honorary citizen of St Andrews. The only other Americans to be so honoured are Bobby Jones in 1958 and Benjamin Franklin in 1759.

Jack Nicklaus is set be named an honorary citizen of St Andrews on Tuesday ahead of the Open

The recognition has deeply touched the 18-time major champion, who thought he had bade farewell to St Andrews at the 2005 Open.

The 18th hole was packed with people 20 deep back then who came to say goodbye to the man who won the Open here in 1970 and 1978.

‘It was such a magical experience that I didn’t want to come back in 2010 or 2015 and dilute it,’ he said.

A phone call during the pandemic led to a change of heart. ‘They were here with me 17 years ago and I’m very touched they wanted to come back and hear their old man say a few words once more,’ he said.

Nicklaus thought he had bade his farewells to St Andrews during the 2005 Open

Earlier this year, Nicklaus made it clear that his support of Trump was not unconditional. He did not agree with the former President when he welcomed the Saudi-backed LIV Series to host tournaments on his courses in New Jersey and Miami.

The LIV subject was touched upon during a Nicklaus press conference that was largely a trip down memory lane.

Asked about Greg Norman, the face of Saudi golf, not being invited to any of the R&A’s 150th anniversary celebrations this week, Nicklaus offered a considered response. ‘Greg Norman is an icon of golf, no question of that, he is a friend of mine and he will remain a friend of mine,’ he said. ‘We just don’t see eye-to-eye on this subject. Let’s leave it at that.’

Nicklaus has spoken on many occasions that he thinks the ball travels too far, but again he passed on an invitation to comment on the matter.

Nicklaus, an 18-time major champion, won the Open in St Andrews in 1970 and 1978

Asked whether he had any fears the Old Course would be ripped apart this week, he replied: ‘The guys might score low, but so what? They’ll score lower than they did 100 years ago but isn’t that what is supposed to happen, as golfers get better, equipment gets better and conditions get better?

‘St Andrews always produces a good champion. It will this time. That’s how I look at it.’

Nicklaus was proposed to become an Honorary Citizen of St Andrews in 2005 but, rather bizarrely, did not command unanimous approval. 

No such reluctance among the city’s elders this time. Clearly, the Trump furore was not a factor.

This award will go alongside the honorary doctorate that the town’s prestigious university bestowed on Nicklaus in 1984 and an honorary membership from the R&A in 1990.

The message from the Home of Golf, therefore, is clear. A man of honour, no ifs or buts.

Nicklaus made it clear earlier this year that his support of Donald Trump was not unconditional

Nicklaus refused to talk about Greg Norman not being invited to the anniversary celebrations

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