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Public Statements

Providing for Award of Gold Medal to Jack Nichlaus

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BACA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

First, I would like to thank Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus and Ranking Member Barney Frank for their effort to move this bill forward. Also, I want to thank my colleagues who helped me get 342 signatures. I want to thank Tom Rooney and Duncan Hunter and, of course, Dan Burton in trying to help us get the 342 cosponsors.

I also wanted to thank Mr. Luetkemeyer for his support of this legislation and all of my colleagues who became cosponsors of this legislation.

Today, I rise in strong support of H.R. 4040, to honor Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear, with the Congressional Gold Medal. Jack Nicklaus' golf record is one that history will remember forever.

He was born on January 21, 1940, in Columbus, Ohio. He attended Ohio State University, and turned professional in 1961, which happens to be from the same State that the Speaker, John Boehner, is from.

As a family man, he remains committed to the core values of providing for his family, respecting the game, and serving as a true inspiration for others.

Upon marrying his wife, Barbara, in July of 1960, and the birth of their first son, Jack, Jr., in 1961, he decided the best way to provide for his family was to become a professional golfer. His drive and his passion for the game is an example of sportsmanship of the highest caliber, like most of us amateurs who love the game of golf. However, I ask that Jack Nicklaus be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his leadership as an American and as a positive role model.

Yes, Jack Nicklaus won 118 national and international championships. Yes, Jack Nicklaus' most prominent professional titles were six Masters--1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986; three British Opens--1966, 1970, 1979; four U.S. Opens--1962, 1967, 1972, 1980; and five PGA Championships--1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, and 1980.

Like most of us golfers, we'll probably never be able to accomplish his feat of what he has just done right now. There are others who are trying, and who knows what will happen.

Jack Nicklaus is the only player in history to have won each of the game's majors at least three times, and is the only player to have completed the career grand slam on the regular and senior tour, and that's quite an accomplishment. That's very difficult. Most of us who play golf know it's hard to win one tournament versus the next tournament. It's quite an accomplishment.

Jack Nicklaus also represented the U.S. in the Ryder Cup Masters as a player six times and served as a captain twice. He also served as the U.S. captain four times for the President's Cup.

He has written several instructional books, one called ``Golf My Way,'' which I have read every time I'm in trouble and need to go back and refresh my golf game; the autobiography he called ``My Story,'' which describes his golf course design methods and philosophy; and many others, such as ``Play Better Golf: Shortcuts to Lower Scores''; ``Jack Nicklaus' Lesson Tee''; and ``My Golden Lessons: 100-Plus Ways to Improve Your Shots, Lower Your Scores and Enjoy Golf, Much, Much More.''

Yet, he's a businessman. Jack Nicklaus also produced several other instructional videos showing his fans how to play the game from his points of view.

But I ask that we honor Jack Nicklaus with a Congressional Gold Medal because of the way he lived his life. Jack Nicklaus' way of living his life is a perfect example of how Americans should give. He was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather who cared for his family, who helped many other families during a time of hardship and struggle. Jack Nicklaus' work and philanthropy is evidence of his dedication to helping others.

He is known to have an unfailing sense of kindness, and has used the game of golf as a means of sharing and helping others.

He proactively helps thousands of children and their families everywhere. By serving as chairman of the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, he was able to provide valuable programs to serve more than 4,000 hospitalized children and their families free of charge. That is giving, that is caring, that is someone who cares about people and cares about children. This foundation is able to reach such volumes of patients through the Child Life programs and the Pediatric Oncology Support Team that supports therapeutic interventions for children with chronic and acute conditions during hospitalization.

He also partners with Miami Children's Hospital Nicklaus Care Centers, which offer a new option for Palm Beach County-area families with children who require pediatric specialty care. The foundation also has a Safe Kids program aimed at keeping children injury free and offers safety education in an effort to decrease accidental injuries to children. Jack Nicklaus helped

raise over $12 million within 5 years for this cause. Much of the funding comes from a pro-am golf tournament he established in honor of his 17-month-old grandson who passed away, called ``The Jake,'' which also became the foundation's chief fundraiser.

Jack Nicklaus also serves as honorary chair for the American Lake Veterans Golf Course in Tacoma, Washington, a course designed for the rehabilitation of our wounded and disabled veterans, especially those that are fighting and coming back right now who need a lot of rehabilitation, our wounded warriors. In providing help and knowing that there is somewhere they can go, Jack Nicklaus is instrumental in helping others.

A lot of us don't know of his history and what he's given back. We look at him as a professional golf player, but he has given so much back to our community that we find out this is a man that cared about making our country a lot better in giving what he could.

He has donated his design services for the improvement of the course. He also raised contributions for an additional nine new holes, the construction of the Rehabilitation and Learning Center, and the upgrade of the maintenance facilities through a 2-day event called the ``Nicklaus Nine.''

He also manages a memorial tournament in which proceeds benefit the programs and services at Nationwide Children's Hospital in his home State of Ohio, and has raised more than $5.7 million. Jack Nicklaus has worked with the Nationwide Children's Hospital since 1976 and ensures the contributions generated through the support of over 2,600 volunteers are distributed each year to the hospital's unrestricted giving fund.

He also serves as a trustee and a spokesperson for The First Tee, a program which is dedicated to bringing the game of golf to children who would otherwise not be exposed to it. These are many children that can't afford to play golf, but First Tee allows a diversity of individuals--black, brown, white, Asians, American Indians, Hispanics, and others--who can't play the game to learn to play the game, be exposed to the game, and love the game and what it means in teaching many of the other skills.

Other organizations that Jack Nicklaus has successfully partnered with are the For Hope, the James Cancer Hospital, Wolfe Association, Central Ohio Junior Golf Association, the Shriners, the Lions Club, and many more.

We thank Jack Nicklaus and his wife, Barbara, and their five children--Jack II, Steve, Nancy, Gary, and Michael--and his 22 grandchildren for making America a better place.

Jack Nicklaus is one of the most humble athletes to play the game and is considered by many to be golf royalty. He is royalty in the eyes and hearts of those that he has helped, and is overall a great human being.

We thank Jack Nicklaus. We thank you for your life's work. You are a true American, and you have touched the lives of many individuals, an American deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the PGA Player of the Year Award, to name just a few other accolades he has received over the years.

Jack Nicklaus, known as a Golden Bear, deserves to be honored with a Congressional Gold Medal.

For these reasons, I urge us to support the passage of H.R. 4040, and I reserve the balance of my time.


r. BACA. Mr. Speaker, I would like to just state that Jack Nicklaus was not a tall man--he is like me and like many others--but he could hit the ball a hell of a long ways. It is quite an accomplishment when you see someone like him that has the rhythm, tempo, and the timing that can hit the ball. That is an inspiration to many of us that are not 6 foot and above, but are below 6 foot and can still play the game of golf because golf is open to everyone. And Jack, along with Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods, Lee Trevino and many others, has opened it for a lot of us.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.


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