Washington, D.C. — At a ceremony today in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, House and Senate leaders presented a Congressional Gold Medal to Jack Nicklaus for his promotion of excellence, good sportsmanship, and philanthropy.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) delivered the following remarks prior to the presentation of the medal, as prepared for delivery:
“In a few moments, we’ll have the presentation of the gold medal. Thank you all again for being here.
“With Jack, there are so many stories to tell, but everyone usually wants to talk about the same thing: the comeback at the 1986 Masters. People ask you where you were when it happened… that’s how big a deal it was. Even the sun brags about being in the gallery.
“Few transcend their sport to achieve that kind of moment, or this kind of honor. With Arnie, it was how he brought an audience to the game—an army. With Jack, it’s how he gave the game a gold standard—a ladder to climb. That’s true on and off the course, as we’ve heard here. But Jack was so good that he was the best in both victory and defeat.
“You see, the toughest thing to learn in golf isn’t the swing or the short game—it’s losing. Because no matter what, you have to shake the other man’s hand at the end—and mean it, too. Then you have to go face the man in the mirror.
“When Jack came up short against Arnie in 1960 at Cherry Hills, Ben Hogan said, ‘I played with a kid who could have won by 10 shots if he’d known how.’ So Jack worked harder and learned how.
“He won with class, and when he fell short, he was just as classy. Ask Tom Watson his favorite story about the duel at Turnberry back in ’77. He’ll tell you it’s Jack congratulating him, saying, ‘I gave it my best shot, but it wasn’t good enough.’ Same thing goes for the ’82 Open at Pebble Beach, when Jack said to Watson, ‘You did it to me again, you little so-and-so.’
“It’s not the trophy or the triumph—it’s the respect that Jack’s rivals remember most.
“That’s what gives the ’86 Masters its size. To win, Jack had to overcome Watson, Seve, Tom Kite, Greg Norman—and, according to some, Father Time. Not a slouch on that list.
“That day, we were part of something special—something bigger—just as we are now. Because in golf, as in all things, it is not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game. And no one has played it better for longer than Jack.
“So, in the immortal words of Verne Lundquist—‘Yes, sir!’—the Congressional Gold Medal goes to the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus of the state of Ohio.”
To view video of the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony and other coverage, follow the links below:
♦ As most know, Speaker of the House John Boehner streamed live the ceremony on the Speaker’s web site. A full-length replay of the ceremony is available on the Speaker of the House’s YouTube channel. Click here to view the video.
♦ In addition, C-SPAN provided a full-length replay online. Click here to view the replay.
♦ Golf Channel provided comprehensive coverage of the ceremony and produced several impressive packages:
o A highlight reel that aired on Golf Channel’s Golf Central, which includes excerpts from the various speeches given, including a sound bite from Jack Nicklaus II’s incredibly moving tribute to his father, can be viewed here.
o Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman, a ceremony invitee by Speaker Boehner, was given a brief exclusive interview with Jack immediately following the ceremony. The following 5-minute clip includes her interview and a live report from the U.S. Capitol, where she echoes the sentiment on Jack II’s speech by saying, “It brought the House—and the Senate—down.” View the segment here.
♦ Lastly, here is a segment from today’s CBS This Morning show during which they focus on the portion of Jack’s speech when he pays heartfelt tribute to wife Barbara. The excerpt includes historic photos of Jack and Barbara, and can be viewed here.