Legendary Jack Nicklaus has expressed his delight with news he’s to be made an ‘Honorary Citizen of St. Andrews’.
The local St. Andrews Community Council wrote to the 18-time major champion with the offer, with Nicklaus confirming he will be present during July’s 150th Open Championship celebrations to accept the honour.
The award comes 17-years after a similar Council proposal was made in 2005 ahead of the Golden Bear’s final Open Championship but with the Council left with egg on its collective face when just 13 of the 16 people on the Council voted on the motion.
Now the Council got its act together with St. Andrews Provost Gregory Newman seeking out Nicklaus’ management team, on behalf of the council and the people of St Andrews, before making the offer known.
In his letter to Nicklaus, Mr Newman said: “Were you to accept this invitation, we, in conjunction with the local golf clubs of St Andrews, would arrange a suitable civic ceremony during the week of the Open, at a time convenient to yourself, for distinguished invited guests and, importantly, members of the general public.
“This would be followed by a procession through the town, accompanied by pipes and drums, and a reception.”
In a reply received in December, Mr Nicklaus said: “Thank you for your very kind letter and invitation. I am deeply honoured and would be delighted to accept.”
Nicklaus is a twice winner of The Open at St. Andrews and played his last Open in 2005 on the Old Course where, in the company of Tom Watson and England’s Luke Donald, he birdied the last hole in very emotional scenes at the Home of Golf.
Nicklaus, dressed in a white shirt and a very standout bright red sleeveless pullover, sent his final drive well down the right side of the fairway. He was then photographed on the famed Swilken Bridge before walking to his ball and all the time waving and blowing kisses to the crowd. He then superbly chipped to some 10-feet behind the flag and after Watson had missed his birdie attempt from some 12-feet, Nicklaus had the crowd roaring with delight in sending his birdie putt to the bottom of the cup.
He ended up missing the cut but the sight of so many players, including six-time major winning Nick Faldo, and fans lining the length of the hole and behind the green was one of those very special ‘you had to be there’ moments in golf.
Newman, speaking to the local Dundee Courier, added: “In the modern era of golf, I think Nicklaus is up there at the very top.
“St Andrews very rarely does this kind of honour. I know some will say Tiger Woods, also a two times St Andrews Open champion, deserves it. Maybe that’s one for the future.
“But there’s Nicklaus’ connection with St Andrews. He’s twice St Andrews Open champion. It’s also the 150th anniversary of the playing of the Open and this is the Home of Golf. I think the Home of Golf should be doing something special.”