Born
Feb 21, 1940
In
Upper Arlington, Ohio

About

Jack Nicklaus has had a prolific second career spanning back to the 1960s.
“Signature architects” have held immense power over the arc of modern golf course design. Who more fitting to be that category’s leader than Jack Nicklaus?

Nicklaus’ career as a competitive golfer needs no introduction. And thanks to a half-century-long span that covers some 400 layouts worldwide, his career in golf course design needs scarcely any, either.

Nicklaus got into golf course design at the height of his professional golf career, teaming up with Pete Dye to design Harbour Town Golf Links, which debuted in 1969. The attachment of Nicklaus’ name to the course helped soften the ire of fellow pros in its controversial early days, which gave Dye cover to continue in his own development as a great architect. It was Nicklaus’ springboard into the same profession, a lucrative side-business to his on-course exploits.

By adding golf course design to his storied playing career, Nicklaus followed Arnold Palmer in parlaying his success on the course into a powerful commercial brand. The Golden Bear went from golfer to corporation, and helped make golf course design a profitable extracurricular activity for fellow greats of the game.

Jack Nicklaus (photo taken in 1980) has been flying more miles than just about anyone in golf for the past several decades.
Fittingly, golf courses that bear Nicklaus’ design input tend to generally reflect his game and, more broadly, have a premium and professional feel about them. And as different associates have rotated in and out of his firm over the years, Nicklaus courses have evolved along with tastes in design.

From the 1970s into the early 2000s, Nicklaus courses - especially his higher-touch “Signature” designs - could be counted on to be strenuous tests of golf. Narrow fairways, angled greens, deep bunkers and numerous hazards place a premium on ball-striking. Though somewhat simplistic, the notion that a golfer had to hit high left-to-right approaches in order to play a Nicklaus course of that era was not without merit.

At a time when the PGA Tour dictated trends in golf course design - prestigious feel and high degree of difficulty - Nicklaus delivered for his clients, including several high-end resorts and real estate developers.

Great Waters at Reynolds Lake Oconee is one of Jack Nicklaus' most prominent resort layouts.
Selected golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus
Dublin, Ohio
Private
5.0
2
Oakville, Ontario
Semi-Private
3.9858941176
649
Castle Rock, Colorado
Private
0.0
0
La Quinta, California
Public/Resort
4.3445235294
649
Pawleys Island, South Carolina
Semi-Private/Resort
4.0250352941
49
Eatonton, Georgia
Private/Resort
4.8888833333
11
Anaconda, Montana
Public
4.5263
38
Palm Coast, Florida
Resort/Private
4.9134666667
53
Jupiter, Florida
Private
0.0
0
Bluffton, South Carolina
Private/Resort
4.9047714286
6
Southampton, New York
Private
5.0
2
Columbus, Ohio
Semi-Private
3.3137058824
5
Benton Harbor, Michigan
Public/Resort
4.8557176471
147
Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos
Private/Resort
3.2549058824
16
Nassau, Bahamas
Resort
4.4444166667
12
As a more classic sensibility has crept back into golf course architecture, Nicklaus and his design team have begun to adapt. From the mid-2000s, courses under his name have started to come with more spacious fairways and larger greens, though with more internal contour than their predecessors. This evolution has also created ample opportunity for Nicklaus’ firm to return to older original courses and modernize them, as the have done at clubs like Ibis in West Palm Beach, Fla.

With the Golden Bear now in his 80s, his son, Jack Nicklaus II, is assuming a larger leadership role in the design business. The Nicklaus name figures to appear on new golf courses for years to come.

-- Tim Gavrich
4 Min Read
March 18, 2021
Jack Nicklaus has amassed a global design portfolio that is among the world's most prestigious as well. Here are his best courses, according to Golf Advisor's raters.
Jack Nicklaus Design videos

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4.5
Average Rating
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19059 Reviews (19059)
Total 19059 Reviews
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321 Reviews
4-5 stars
161
3-4 stars
17
2-3 stars
2
1-2 stars
1
Unrated
140
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4.5
Avg. Off-Course Amenities
4.4
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Avg. Course Conditions
4.4

Jack Nicklaus Designed Courses Map

Jack Nicklaus Designed Courses