Just two months ago I had the pleasure of meeting with Jack Nicklaus and watching him play golf at the grand opening of his newest course at Mexico’s Punta Mita resort. He looked healthy as an ox.
So you can imagine my shock when I returned from a writing trip yesterday and learned of his demise.
Well, not exactly.
What I returned to was a big pile of mail, including my media list copy of the new Golf Digest.
I was immediately struck by the somber funereal photo of Nicklaus occupying the full cover, his head bowed, eyes hooded and the dates 1950-29010 underneath. I pondered this memorial for a moment before realizing that the dates were not Jack’s life, but rather a “celebration” 60th anniversary issue of Golf Digest.
Nicklaus certainly is golf’s most important figure of the past six decades, its most dominant player, most prolific course designer and generally the game’s royalty and ambassador. But the photo of him on the cover bears little to no connection to more than a half century of golf, and the magazine would have been much better served with an action shot of one of his many winning puts, or better yet a montage of the Golden Bear alone or sharing the stage with the many other memorable golfers of the several eras since the 1950s, from Arnie to Tiger. Simply put, this cover is not just morbid, but also a patently stupid choice.
Remember, not so long ago the editor of Golf Week got fired for featuring Tiger Woods’ mock lynching. To see the second worst golf magazine cover of our lifetime, click here.
I don’t think the funeral tone is a mere mistake. More like a not too subtle Freudian slip on behalf of the Golf Digest staffers, probably worried about their own mortality when the magazine is becoming rapidly and increasingly irrelevant as the sport’s best, most expert and most experienced journalists are increasingly found online.