Two-time Amateur Champion Jack Nicklaus first tee’d it up as a professional on this day…
In 1962 Jack Nicklaus competed in his 1st professional round in Los Angeles Open at the Rancho Park Golf Course in West Los Angeles. The 21 year old Nicklaus shot an opening round of 74, three over par as his 1st 18 holes as a pro. The Associated Press reported in the January 5th, 1962 edition of the New York Times that,
“The National Amateur Champion, Jack Nicklaus, playing in his first professional tournament as a pro had a tough time. He ran into putting jitters and came in with a 74.”
Nicklaus began his professional career on the PGA Tour in 1962. While Nicklaus officially turned professional in late 1961, he debated heavily the idea of remaining an amateur in order to further emulate his idol, Bobby Jones. However, Nicklaus realized that in order to be regarded as the best, he would have to compete against the best and in greater frequency.
Jack made the cut in his debut but ended up with a 289 in a tie for last place. For his efforts Nicklaus finished tied in 50th with Billy Maxwell and Don Massengale. His first paycheck as a professional golfer was for $33.33 (pictured above). Good thing he didn’t give up there. Nicklaus won 73 times on the PGA Tour and made a total of $5,734,322. He’s currently 220th on the Tour’s career money list, one behind David Peoples.
Josh Morris is the Editor of Golf History Today. A proud USGA Volunteer and golf enthusiast. In his free time he enjoys being a weekend caddie as well as playing as much as he can.