Thirty-two years after his last major championship, and 13 years after his final competitive round, Jack Nicklaus is still using his imagination around the golf course. The Golden Bear is planning to redevelop the Renegade Course at Desert Mountain.
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“What we're going to do now is refreshing it. We're going to bring it up to date. We've actually have one hole with three greens on it. We still have double greens together. We knocked down most of the mounding,” said Nicklaus at in interview session at the Jim Flick Golf Performance Center. “I think the people who live here are going to love it because they'll now see the golf course rather than have dirt in front of them. It gives us more space to play. Try to make it user friendly and keep the integrity of the golf course that's been there since day one.”
Developer Lyle Anderson first approached Nicklaus about the Desert Mountain idea at the British Open in 1984. Nicklaus wasn’t fond of the idea but soon changed his mind. Renegade was the first Desert Mountain course to open in 1987. Deemed “the most versatile golf course in the world” by Golf Magazine, the course allows golfers to pick their tee box and pin placement before the round to set the degree of difficulty.
"I can usually look at a piece of ground and visualize how I think golf should be played on it. I've always had the ability to put that golf on the ground. This is my landscape, I'm a painter and this is what I'm painting or sculpting. I've enjoyed it. I've had a second career,” said Nicklaus, who seemed blown away that he’s been designing golf courses for 50 years. “I love the game of golf. I've always loved the game of golf. I don't play it as well as I used to. My handicap is 5, on a good day.”
The Golden Bear won the Phoenix Open in 1964. The tournament has changed since its move from the Phoenix Country Club to the TPC Scottsdale. Nicklaus doesn’t see anything wrong with “The People’s Major.”
“I think what you've done in Phoenix is remarkable. You couldn't do that in every place. The number of people you've got, the fan enthusiasm, the player enjoyment. It's a different kind of week for them,” said Nicklaus, who took home $7,500 for his 1964 win. “It's a serious tournament but not a serious tournament. The 16th hole, all the people driving everybody crazy. I'm so pleased to see a variety in the game of golf and the Phoenix Open is certainly a bright spot in the game.”
Nicklaus won the Masters six times but saved one of his biggest thrills for this year when his grandson Gary Jr. hit a hole in one for him on the 9th hole in the Par 3 Tournament. Gary Sr. will play at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Amateur starting Aug. 13.
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