Doc of the Week: Jack Doc of the Week

Doc of the Week: Jack

Showing on successive nights, this new three-part documentary offers a unique insight into the life and times of the world’s greatest ever golfer, Jack Nicklaus. eir Sport 1, Tues-Thur, April 25th-27th 20.30.

He won 18 majors over the course of a glittering career, a record that will probably never be matched. He is the yardstick against which all other golfers are measured – past and present. In a sport that treasures and celebrates its legends, Nicklaus is the greatest of them all and Jack is the definitive account of his life and career.

Produced for the Golf Channel, Jack is divided into three separate parts, each chronicling a particular time in the Ohio native’s life. The first, ‘Prodigy’, tells the story of his early years and includes plenty of home-shot film of the young Nicklaus growing up in the American mid-west. ‘Prime’ documents his long career at the top (there were 24 years between his first and final major win) with plenty of footage and analysis of his most iconic moments. Finally, ‘Legacy’ deals with the latter portion of his career, the man himself and his life away from the golf course, his family, his hobbies and interests and his various charitable works.


Interviews

The piece is nothing if not comprehensive and includes nearly 100 interviews with a wide range of subjects. These include contemporaries such as Lee Trevino to major figures from other sports like legendary ice hockey player Wayne Gretsky. There is even an interview with Donald Trump who is fulsome in his praise and offers his take on what made Nicklaus a winner. “People like Jack, they have a desire to win,” he says. “They never give up, they never quit. He’s a man that’s led a truly exemplary life: his family, his work ethic, his championship status. He’s a very exceptional man.”

But most camera time is given over to Nicklaus himself who was filmed at his North Palm Beach home over a period of 18 months. There are memories, insights and reminiscences aplenty on a wide variety of topics. We learn that Nicklaus never really thought too much about how many majors he’d won until someone mentioned that he was getting close to the record of 13 which was then held by Bobby Jones. That spurred him on to surpass his idol and break new ground in the sport, he says.


We also learn that the young Nicklaus played lots of sports growing up and showed plenty of promise in basketball and football as well as golf. He studied pharmacy at Ohio State University and planned to follow his father into that profession before switching to insurance. He wanted to play football but was advised by legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes to concentrate on golf. The rest, as they say, is history.

One of the highlights of the documentary is when Nicklaus talks about some of his most memorable shots and moments that turned big tournaments in his favour. Among these is the fabled one-iron on the par-three 17th at Pebble Beach that helped him to victory at the 1972 US Open. Remarkably, he reveals that he knew he had taken the club too far to the inside on his backswing, so he adjusted on the downswing. His shot hit the flagstick, leaving him with a tap-in for birdie. “Most people can think of one, maybe two things during a golf swing,” he says. “I can think of five or six, and do them.”

Family man

We also get to see a more personal side of the legend. A renowned family man, he married wife Barbara at age 20 back in 1960. The couple, who now have five children, have been together ever since. However, while he may be the greatest player ever to pick up a golf club, his talents do not stretch to DIY as Barbara explains. “We do call him Handy Jack,” she says with a smile. “But the word 'handy' probably takes on a different connotation in our family.”


Why so, you may ask? “I asked him to put a cup rack up for me in the kitchen cabinet,” Barbara continues. “Three screws. And, mind you, my dad could do anything, so I just thought all men could do anything. So, 45 minutes later, every cuss word in the book, one screw in sideways, and he said, ‘I give up. If I can’t fix it we’ll call a repair man.” Good thing he stuck to the golf then!

Images: Getty

There are plenty of great documentaries to watch out for on the eir Sport pack every week. From football to golf, GAA, rugby, athletics and beyond, we’ve got something for everyone. Watch out next week for another fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into the sporting world or go to eirsport.ie for more sports news and stories or eir.ie to find out more about how we're setting sport free.

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