Jack Nicklaus has always been a family man first and a golfer second. Though that hasn’t stopped the athlete from becoming one of the most notable professional figures in the sport of golf! The celebrity golfer has always put his family before his career. And a 2005 tragedy almost prevented him from playing in that year’s Masters Tournament. Thankfully, he managed to pull through, though he didn’t end up performing very well. Join Facts Verse as we explore how Jack Nicklaus was never the same after this family tragedy.
Jack Nicklaus Is a Celebrity Figure Free from Controversy, but Not from Tragedy
While Jack Nicklaus is arguably just as big of a celebrity in the world of golf as figures such as Tiger Woods, you don’t often hear Jack’s name come up in the tabloids. This is because Jack has always been a family man at heart. And has been happily married to the same woman for over 50 years. Though Jack isn’t a controversial figure and audiences aren’t likely to see his name on the cover of a gossip magazine. The celebrity golfer has had a few tragedies throughout his lifetime that have found their way into the human interest sections of various publications.
Undeniably, the most tragic story from the life of Jack Nicklaus revolves around one of the athlete’s many grandchildren. Jack and his wife have hide five children over the course of their marriage. And those children have given the couple many, many grandchildren. Tragically, one of these grandchildren involved in an incident that resulted in his death. And it changed Jack Nicklaus’ life forever.
The Tragic Death of Jack Nicklaus’ Grandson
The year was 2005, and Jack Nicklaus was at the top of the world! However, the legendary golfer’s life about to turned upside down as the result of the tragic death of his infant grandson. This grandson’s name was Jake, and he was the child of Jack’s son Steve. As a newer addition to the Nicklaus family, Jake was finding himself the center of attention. Still, it apparently wasn’t enough attention to keep the child from wandering away and into a nearby hot tub.
As the story goes, infant Jake and his older brother were playing in their hot tub with their nanny. After being brought back inside from the hot tub to dry off, the nanny let her eyes off Jake for a moment, during which time the baby managed to slip away. Jake apparently wanted to go back to the hot tub. Though the infant wasn’t aware that doing so would be the cause of his tragic end. There said to have been a child barrier surrounding the hot tub so as to prevent such things as the incident that ended up killing the infant. Even so, it seems that the baby managed to get past this.
When the nanny realized that Jake was no longer where she had left him. She began to frantically search the residence. It didn’t take long for her to think to go look near the hot tub. And though she was already too late by the time she found the baby face down in it’s water. Attempts made to revive the infant, but he ended up pronouncing dead.
Was There Foul Play Involved?
The authorities were initially skeptical of the nanny’s story on account of the fact that there had been a child barrier around the hot tub. Because of this, there’s a small investigation into Jake’s death that meant to ensure that there hadn’t been any foul play involved. The investigation turned up nothing. And it determined that Jake’s death had truly been an accident, and one that few could’ve foreseen.
Jack Didn’t Want to Compete in the 2005 Masters
It didn’t take long for news of Jack Nicklaus’ grandson’s death to reach the world. Understandably, the family devastated. Jack had plans to play in the upcoming 2005 Masters Tournament. Though he decided that he didn’t want to after receiving the news of his grandson’s passing. When son Steve found out that his father didn’t want to take part in the tournament out of respect for the recently deceased Jake, Steve went on to insist that his father compete.
Upon Steve’s insistence, Jack Nicklaus went back on his word and decided to go forward with competing in the 2005 Masters Tournament. Though the celebrity golfer didn’t do too well in the tournament, it ended up being a positive experience for him regardless. Jack has recalled how one fan came up to him during the tournament. And also shared that he had also suffered the tragic loss of a grandchild.
That lone fan that shared the tale of his own tragic loss with Jack Nicklaus was far from being the only fan to reach out to the celebrity golfer with support. Jack has claimed that he received many, many letters from fans expressing their condolences to both Jack and Jake’s parents. And also wishing for the golfer to perform well in the Masters Tournament. Sadly, the latter wishes didn’t help much.
Jack and His Family Overcame the Loss
Although Jack Nicklaus didn’t perform too well in the 2005 Masters Tournament due to his grief. The legendary athlete has thankfully been able to get back in the swing of things since. Although the loss of Jake is certainly the biggest personal tragedy that the celebrity golfer has suffered over the course of his life. He did nearly suffer the loss of one of his own children many years before. This incident went on to inspire Jack to create a foundation by the name of the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation in 2004. It is which took on a new meaning in the wake of Jake’s passing just a year later.
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Jack Nearly Lost His Own Child Many Years Before
Though the loss of grandson Jake is certainly the biggest personal tragedy that celebrity golfer Jack Nicklaus has faced over the course of his life. The athlete nearly suffered the loss of his own child many years prior. The year was 1966, and Jack’s daughter Nancy began feeling sick. Jack and his wife took her to the doctors, but no one could figure out what was wrong with her. The child was suffering from a type of breathing problem, but no one could diagnose it.
Eventually, medical professionals were able to deduce that the cause of Nancy’s sudden breathing problem was a crayon that the young girl had inhaled. The doctors thankfully able to get the crown removed, and Nancy ended up recovering just fine. Nancy is now much older, and she even has some children of her own! One of Nancy’s children is American football tight end Denis O’Leary, who is best known for playing with the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins. Though Jack has suffered the loss of one of his grandchildren, he still has around 20 that are still around!
Nancy ended up recovering from her crayon inhalation. And the experience of not being sure what wrong with his daughter during the long period of time before she properly diagnosed traumatized Jack Nicklaus a great deal. It was this traumatic experience that inspired Jack and his longtime wife to start up the aforementioned Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation many years later. The foundation founded in 2004, which only a year before the death of young Jake. Upon Jake’s death, the foundation took on an entirely different meaning for the family. Today, the foundation is going as strong as ever!
Jack Nicklaus Has Always Put Family First
He is now 82 years old. And he values his massive family much more than he values his plethora of golfing trophies. Jack currently has 22 grandchildren from his five kids, and this number seems to just keep going up! Jack’s wife’s name is Barbara, and the celebrity golfer has married to her since 1960. Besides the aforementioned Steve and Nancy, Jack and Barbara’s other children include Jack II, Gary, and Michael. Way back in 1986, Jack II could seen carrying his father’s clubs at that year’s Masters Tournaments. Perhaps due to some good luck that he received from his son’s close presence, Jack went on to receive his sixth green jacket in the competition.
The incident as mentioned earlier involving Jack II wasn’t the first precious family moment from Jack Nicklaus’ legendary golf career. Over a decade prior, there was a similar incident involving son Gary. This incident occurred at the 1973 PGA Championship. Gary was only a toddler at the time. And the audience thought it was adorable when the young boy ran out onto the field to share a moment with his father. A memorable photograph taken of the occasion. And it still stands as one of the most iconic images of Jack Nicklaus.
In 2018, Jack Nicklaus was able to have a similar moment with one of his grandchildren. This grandchild’s name is GT, and the incident occurred during the 2018 Masters Tournament. During the competition’s downtime, Jack and his grandson were taking a walk around the course when GT decided to take a swing that would impress his grandfather a great deal! GT shot a hole-in-one from the course’s eighth tee, standing 112 yards away from the hole. Given that Jack Nicklaus himself was over the age of 70 by the time that he had developed enough skill to make the same shot. He was understandably incredibly proud of his grandson.
Jack Nicklaus was so proud of grandson GT upon the latter making a hole-in-one that he could be seen with tears running down his face shortly afterward. It’s moments like these that keep Jack coming back to the sport of golf. And regardless of the personal tragedies that he has suffered.
Jack Nicklaus’ life was changed forever as a result of the tragic death of his infant grandson in 2005. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that celebrity golfer Jack Nicklaus has over 20 grandchildren. And that one of those grandchildren is a professional tight end in the NFL? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!