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Visiting with St. Jude patients are (from left) Howard Milstein, Jack Nicklaus and Barbara Nicklaus.

Perspective: Fore the Kids

Golf history’s greatest icon explains his support of St. Jude and children’s health care.

By Jack Nicklaus

It is said there is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. Early in our lives, my wife, Barbara, and I pledged that if we were ever in a position to help others, we would—and that extended hand would most often go to children.

Our path to philanthropy can be traced back to an alarming moment for us in 1966. Our daughter Nan was just 11 months old, and she was struggling to breathe. In fact, she was basically choking. At the hospital, they discovered she had inhaled a piece of crayon. She battled pneumonia and other complications while there, but the doctors and staff essentially saved her life. It was at that time we began to make a strong commitment to children’s health care.

Fast-forward to 2004, when we created the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation to provide access to world-class health care for children, and to support cutting-edge programs focused on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of childhood diseases and disorders. Part of that mission hinges on forming strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations, such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

I visited St. Jude with Barbara and my business partner, Howard Milstein, last spring, when we announced that the charitable program tied into the sales of our Nicklaus Golf Ball line was expanding to benefit St. Jude. We have always loved and supported St. Jude, and our visit allowed us to observe first-hand the extraordinary work being done. We met wonderfully inspiring children and incredibly dedicated and passionate hospital staff. It was an emotional few hours, but we left motivated and even more driven about our mission.

When we launched the Nicklaus Golf Ball line last fall, we wanted to determine a way these balls could help save young lives as much as save golfers strokes. We decided that for each dozen golf balls sold through, the Nicklaus Companies would make a donation to St. Jude and the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. Because of support from our friends at FedEx, online customers also receive free domestic shipping, and if FedEx delivery services are used, more money is donated to St. Jude. Customers can also make voluntary contributions at checkout, and to date, nearly 80 percent have chosen this option. That says so much about the game of golf and the people who play it.

Supporting organizations that impact young lives means the world to Barbara and me. My career in golf has blessed our family of five kids and 22 grandkids, and the philanthropic model of our Nicklaus Golf Balls allows golfers of all ages and abilities to spread that blessing to those who need it most—such as the children and families impacted each and every day by St. Jude.

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus, nicknamed the “Golden Bear,” is widely recognized as the greatest champion in the history of golf. He and his wife, Barbara, have a long history of philanthropy. To purchase Nicklaus Golf Balls and help support St. Jude, visit

Abridged from Promise, Winter 2015

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