Jack Nicklaus to back St. Jude, promote children's healthcare - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Jack Nicklaus to back St. Jude, promote children's healthcare

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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

His passion for the game of golf once prompted Sports Illustrated to name him, the best individual athlete of the 20th Century.

Although he's competitively retired Jack Nicklaus has channeled his passion in another direction. He is promoting childrens health research programs and it's what brought him to Memphis on Monday for an announcement at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

MORE: Purchase special Jack Nicklaus golf balls to support St. Jude

In his playing days the PGA Hall of Famer always knew how to close the door on his competitors once he took the lead in golf tournament. But, as the father of five children and 22 grandchildren, he also knows how to open his heart wide for those in need in help.

For a guy with the nickname "Golden Bear," Nicklaus can be a pussycat when it comes to talking about the welfare of children. So, when the winner of 118 career golf tournaments, including 18 major championships, arrived at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, he had nothing but praise for what he saw after touring the facility.

"The activity at the hospital is unbelievable," Nicklaus said. "Everybody's organized. They know what they're doing. They know where they're going and they know what they're trying to achieve."

But, the icon Nicklaus didn't just drop in for a visit. He can do that at any of the 200 golf courses he's designed worldwide. He came to the Bluff City for the announcement of a collaborative program between his Nicklaus Childrens' Health Care Foundation, St. Jude and FedEx, whose marketing department came up with a hole in one idea of their own.

"FedEx says, 'You know, we would like to develop a partnership, where we will work with and not charge people for shipping golf balls,'" Nicklaus said. "'We'll donate the money back to St. Jude and into your foundation.'  That's going to be a lot of money over time for kids and for kids research and for kids healthcare."

For every dozen Nicklaus golf balls purchased on the Nicklaus company's website a minimum donation of $1 will go to St. Jude and $1 to Nicklaus' foundation. But, as Nicklaus projected that's just the tip of the iceberg of what the arrangement could yield for both childrens research facilities.
 
"It's a tribute to the game of golf and the people who play the game of golf," said Howard Milstein, Ohio philanthropist. "That 80-percent of the people who buy our new golf balls online will have been making voluntary donations and in large amounts."

Yet, no appearance by Nicklaus would be complete without his assessment on the state of pro golf and the continuing saga of Tiger Woods' chase to eclipse Nicklaus 'legendary majors record.

"I think the game of golf, professional golf in particular, is probably as strong from a competitive standpoint than it's been for a long time," Nicklaus said. "He's such a talented and such a motivated and hard working individual, that I sort of suspect he'll break my records. If I said anything different than that, I'd really get myself in a lot of trouble, you know that."

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