BLACK GOLF CLUB NEWS: Jack vs. Tiger: The Only Debate That Really Matters
By and large, golfers are some seriously opinionated SOBs. They’ll argue about anything. Wedge vs. 9-iron. Nike vs. UnderArmour. Multi-layer vs. two-piece. Same length vs. traditional. Long iron vs. hybrid. Bermuda shorts vs. slacks. Callaway vs. Cleveland. Pepsi vs. Coke. Salt vs. pepper. Chevy vs. Ford. LSD vs. Shrooms. Beer vs. wine. Missionary vs. doggy style. Ketchup vs. mustard. Chicken vs. egg. Yes, it’s gotten that ridiculous!
But there is one great golf debate that will NEVER go away. Of course, I’m talking about Jack vs. Tiger.
Jack William Nicklaus, aka The Golden Bear, versus Eldrick Tont Woods, aka Tiger — arguably the two greatest golfers to ever tee it up. Now, if we were taking a traditional approach to this debate, we’d compare PGA Tour wins (82 for Tiger, 73 for Jack), major victories (18 for Jack, 15 for Tiger), weeks as the No. 1 golfer in the world (683 for Tiger, but considering that ranking wasn’t in effect prior to 1986 — 25 years after Jack turned pro — a comparison of that stat is impossible).
However, all that “traditional” criteria is immaterial for one simple reason: Stick and Hack is NOT your traditional golf club. Hell no! To properly settle this ultimate debate once and for all, we’ll need to dive deep into the underbelly of “mine’s better than yours” measurables. So sit back, relax and enjoy this unbiased look at the two greatest names in the history of golf.
That’s CARS for all you non-slang savants. Jack was never known to be a gearhead, nor was he connected to the hot car scene. Content with driving a green Lincoln Town Car sporting a white Landau roof, Lincoln took Jack’s cue and, from 1992 to 1997, went so far as to offer a “Jack Nicklaus Edition” Town Car featuring gold badging and lettering, gold alloy wheels, gold hood emblem, front grille spokes, special interior accents and a boomin’ sound system. How many they sold is anybody’s guess. I’m putting the over/under at a dozen. Jack also had an affinity for Mercedes-Benzes, and his C-Class wagon, referred to in Europe as a “shooting brake,” was perfect for hauling around golf bags. Most recently, Jack splurged on a snazzy BMW X6 M, with a twin-turbo V8 pumping out more than 500 horsepower. That ain’t no slow Bear!
While Tiger is by no means the biggest car aficionado on the PGA Tour (last I checked, Ian Poulter holds that honor), he has still owned some truly kickass cars. Tiger’s wicked Lamborghini Murcielago is rumored to have been driven only once, then parked. His Cadillac Escalade made headlines for all the wrong reasons when he crashed it into a fire hydrant in his neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning. Ditto for his $240,000 M-B S65, which ended up in a police impound courtesy of a well-publicized DUI. But the coolest car in Tiger’s collection is an ultra-rare Porsche Carrera GT, of which approximately only 1,270 were made. But don’t be surprised if you see Tiger bouncing around town in a Buick Enclave — a remnant of his monster endorsement deal with GM.
Advantage: Cool factor – Tiger / No-drama factor – Jack / End result: Push
Vessels, watercraft, BOATS! An avid fisherman, Jack has had a long friendship with the sea. His 2009 Westport Yacht, Sea Bear II, is 112 feet of functional luxury, featuring four staterooms and two crew cabins. It has a maximum speed of 25 knots and cost $10 million. Never one to flaunt his successes, this vessel is downsized from his previous M/Y, a Westport 130.
Tiger’s 155-foot megayacht, Privacy, features a Jacuzzi with room for eight, scuba tank-fill station, fully equipped gym, movie theater and a three-person elevator. The Christensen Yachts masterpiece cost $20 million and requires another $2 million annually for upkeep. And while Tiger ended up suing Christensen Yachts for the unauthorized use of his name to promote their company, they still built him one helluva boat.
Advantage: Tiger (when it comes to yachts, size matters!)
I’m not talkin’ about feathered fliers, people, I’m talkin’ about aircraft. Jack has owned several planes over the years, all Gulfstream models. His Gulfstream III, dubbed “Air Bear,” was the best available personal aircraft of its day. As technology improved, Jack replaced the oft-used III-series with a G450.
Tiger has also owned numerous private planes and, like Jack, seems to prefer the Gulfstream brand. His G550 — the very one he sent to Austria to pick up then-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn when she suffered a brutal knee injury in the skiing world championships — cost him a cool $53 million, mere pocket change for Tiger.
Advantage: Tiger (though when it comes to golfers and planes, Arnie wins hands down — he was a well known aviation enthusiast and flew himself almost everywhere)
Nearly 40 years Tiger’s senior, Jack has had much more time to dabble in real estate — for his own use and investment purposes. While he’s lived in some expensive and beautiful homes over the years, MTV’s “Cribs” never came a-knocking. That’s not a slight on the Golden Bear, but rather a tribute to his casual, low-key style and demeanor. Jack’s favorite digs — or at least the residence where he spends the most time — is a sizable spread in North Palm Beach, but that should come as no surprise considering Jack’s had a home in the Palm Beaches for over 50 years. And when a luxury home community names a street after you (Jack Nicklaus Drive), you know you’re doing something right.
Tiger doesn’t do anything half-assed. When it comes to real estate, if you were to describe Tiger’s holdings as a fish, they’d be the equivalent of a great white shark (sorry Greg Norman!). From his private 62-acre island in the middle of Lake Malaren, Sweden (sold after his divorce from Elin Nordegren) to his 12-acre, $54.5 million mansion on Jupiter Island, Florida, Tiger has no shortage of amazing abodes to rest his head for the night.
I wouldn’t characterize either of these renowned golfers as snazzy dressers. Give ‘em both a pair of slacks and a Polo shirt, and they’re good to go. Jack played much of his career without a cap, while Tiger always wore one, sporting his famous TW logo. But both men have their own clothing lines with innumerable skews, and each has also inked licensing deals with some of the biggest names in apparel. If Members Only jackets are your thing, then you’ll want to leaf through Jack’s catalog. More into compression wear? Chances are Tiger’s got something you’ll fancy.
To list all the sponsors these two men have been involved with over the years would require more pages than the Dead Sea Scrolls. Their brand partners represent the biggest and most successful names in virtually every industry on the planet, though it should be noted that neither man has ever endorsed a tobacco brand. If you play golf, chances are you’ve purchased something that one of these two has endorsed. Even if you don’t, if you wear clothes, travel, eat, drink, drive, use something other than a sundial to tell time, or basically just breathe on a daily basis, then, yes, you, too, have undoubtedly used a product that one of these men has endorsed.
While many books have been written about both men, for the purpose of this silly argument I’m only talking about books either of these men has written.
Jack’s Golf My Way is viewed as a must-read for every golfer of any skill level, and has enjoyed numerous re-printings since its first publication in 1974. Ditto for Jack’s first book, My 55 Ways to Lower Your Golf Score, published a decade earlier.
Another Jack classic, My Story, delves into Jack’s philosophy and methodology towards golf course design, and offers great insight into how Jack sees an empty parcel of land that he’s thinking of transforming into his next masterpiece. For all Jack’s published titles, do a basic search on Amazon and prepare to be amazed.
When it comes to the literary arena, Tiger hasn’t been nearly as prolific as the Golden Bear, however his manuscript, How I Play Golf, is invaluable if you want to learn the five secrets (from his perspective) that propelled him to massive success. Tiger’s other book, The 1997 Masters: My Story provides an entertaining and insightful behind-the-scenes look at his historic major victory. A memoir about his comeback, titled Back, is eagerly anticipated.
TV and MOVIES
According to the ultimate entertainment industry stat-keeper, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), Jack has appeared in 72 different productions. The three-episode television series Jack, narrated by Tom Selleck, which aired on the Golf Channel in 2017, is widely considered one of the best sporting documentaries of all time.
IMDB has Tiger linked to a whopping 152 different productions. Tiger has also been satirized on SNL, perhaps a bit unfairly, stemming from his rather public debacles and fall from grace.
Considering the Golden Bear has been the “Golden Child” when it comes to public scrutiny, in this case quality definitely trumps quantity.
Accolade put out a series of Jack Nicklaus computer games from 1988 to 1998 featuring some of the courses Jack designed. Another game, Jack Nicklaus 4, from Cinematronics, features eight different game modes and five courses, four of which are real (Cabo del Sol, Muirfield Village, Country Club of the South, and Colleton River Plantation). The fifth course, Winding Springs, is fictional. Yet another Jack-inspired computer game, Jack Nicklaus Golf & Course Design: Signature Edition, allows players to create and play customized courses. Activision also got into the Jack act with Jack Nicklaus 6: Golden Bear Challenge.
Electronic Arts literally took over the golf games world courtesy of their EA Sports division deal with Tiger, launching Tiger Woods 99 PGA Tour Golf, and subsequent new versions annually, all for PlayStation. Fourteen different versions came to market before EA and Tiger parted ways, and Rory McIlroy stepped into the mix. CyberTiger was another EA Sports offering, released one year into the partnership. Fans of EA repeatedly asked them to carry over the Battle Mode — where two players engage in a golfing fight to the death — to no avail
Advantage: Tiger (solely because three of Tiger’s game appear on the golf gamer’s Top 10 list, with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 occupying the No. 1 spot)
GOLF COURSE DESIGN
Jack began designing golf courses in 1968; his first project was a collaborative effort on Harbortown Links on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Since then, he’s been busy — approximately 330 courses in 28 different countries have received the Golden Bear touch.
Compared to Jack, Tiger is a relative newcomer to the golf course design biz. His first project, The Tiger Woods Dubai, done through his company, Tiger Woods Design, was announced in late 2006, however that deal eventually fell apart. Bluejack National, near Houston, would become the first Tiger Woods-designed course in the United States via his new company, TGR Design. He currently has multiple projects in the works around the globe.
Advantage: Jack (Jack wins this category hands-down; some of the greatest courses on the planet are courtesy of the brilliant mind of the Golden Bear)
Both Jack and Tiger have donated untold millions to charity, publicly and privately. To tally it all up would require accountants with Einsteinian intellect. So for this debate, we’ll focus on their individual foundations.
Jack and his wife, Barbara, created the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation in North Palm Beach, Florida, which provides programs and services to thousands of children annually, completely free of charge.
Jack’s Memorial Tournament, played at Muirfield Village, is one of the most celebrated and prestigious events on the PGA Tour and has raised millions for Central Ohio charities and programs, including the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.
Tiger’s TGR Foundation, established in 1996 with his father, Earl, promotes golf among inner-city kids. They built the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif., soon followed by four additional campuses—Philadelphia, Penn.; Stuart, Fla.; and two in Washington, D.C.
Tiger hosts the Hero World Challenge every December, with proceeds going to his TGR Foundation. The event features a small field consisting of that year’s four major winners, the current Top 11 players according to the World Golf rankings, the event’s defending champion, and two players selected by the foundation.
Advantage: Push (Both men have left their mark on not only the world of golf, but on the world, in general, and will leave it a much better place than how they found it)
One of the greatest broadcasting calls in history, not just in the golf world, but in all of sports, centered on Jack at the 1986 Masters. The last of Jack’s 18 major victories, and undoubtedly his most improbable at age 46, culminated with Jack’s birdie putt on the 17th hole, when a broadcaster announced, “Maybe … Yes, sir!” This line is repeated or referenced constantly, often having nothing to do with golf.
Tiger is credited with making golf “cool,” not to mention proving to the world that you don’t have to be white to win golf tournaments, all the while demonstrating an impeccable sense of humor about the new “age of diversity in golf.” Said Tiger: “Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps.”
The red polo shirt Tiger always wears on Sundays, the final day of professional golf tournaments, has become his signature move, prompting nearly every other golfer in the field to wear any other color but red.
Advantage: Push – Both Jack and Tiger are synonymous with golf at every level. More importantly, both men have transcended golf and become pop culture figures that will likely live on for centuries to come.
Jack might have been a “stud muffin” in his younger days, but he’s been a one-woman man for as long as he’s been in the public eye, married to wife Barbara for 60 years. Not only has Jack never been accused of cheating at golf, he’s also never been accused of cheating on his wife.
Tiger on the other hand has had many trysts with members of the opposite sex, including numerous very public affairs that cost him a marriage. Porn stars, models, actresses, Olympic athletes, au pairs, waitresses … ETW has certainly sowed his oats.
Advantage: I’m not touching this one with a 10-foot pole!
- Inducted into Florida Sports Hall of Fame (1972)
- Inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame (1974)
- Inducted into Palm Beach County (FL) Sports Hall of Fame (1977)
- Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (1978)
- Inducted into Canadian Golf Hall of Fame as a course builder (1995)
- Awarded Professional Medal of Freedom by Pres. Bush (2005)
- Replaced Arnold Palmer on World Golf Hall of Fame Selection Committee (2016)
- Honorary Ambassador for Peace for the Harvey Ball Foundation
- Member of golf’s “Big 3” (Jack, Arnie, Gary) that led to the creation of International Management Group (IMG), the global sports/event/talent management company
- Left IMG to create his own management company, Golden Bear, Inc.
- Owns Nicklaus Golf Equipment, manufacturing golf equipment for three brands (Golden Bear, Nicklaus Premium, Jack Nicklaus Signature)
- Partnered with Terlato Wines to produce three Napa Valley wines, including Jack Nicklaus Private Reserve
- The Royal Bank of Scotland put Jack’s likeness on a special commemorative 5-pound note (2005)
- Avid big game fisherman; in 1978 he landed a 1,358-pound black marlin near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef after a six-hour fight; despite being sore from the fight, he still won that year’s Australian Open by six strokes
- Won three consecutive US Junior Amateur titles (1991, 1992, 1993)
- Won three consecutive US Amateur titles (1994, 1995, 1996)
- Won an NCAA title while at Stanford; his team nickname was “Urkel”
- Golf Digest Player of the Year (1991, 1992)
- Golfweek National Amateur of the Year (1992)
- Golf World Player of the Year (1992, 1993)
- Golf World Man of the Year (1994)
- Fred Haskins and Jack Nicklaus College Player of the Year (1996)
- Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year (1997, 1999, 2000, 2006)
- ESPY’s Male Athlete of the Year (1997)
- Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (1996, 2000) – First to win award twice (Lebron James only other person to win award twice)
- Inducted into the California Hall of Fame (2007)
- Associated Press named him “Athlete of the Decade” (2009)
- Youngest Masters champion (age 21)
- Second person to win the first major event he played (Jerry Pate was the first)
- Putted against Bob Hope on The Mike Douglas Show
- Trained with Navy SEALs
Advantage: Push – Both of these men are freakin’ awesome!
Final Tally: Having to choose which man is “better” is like trying to choose between $1,000,000 in crisp $100s or $1,000,000 in crumpled $20s. Or dating Gigi Hadid or Bella Hadid. Or driving a Lamborghini Aventador or a Ferrari La Ferrari. No matter which you choose, you simply can’t go wrong!