Ohio, United States: A strategy that was born a little more than 10 years ago when Jack Nicklaus brought on Howard Milstein as a partner to grow the business, institutionalise the Nicklaus and Golden Bear brands, and create a transition to the future of one of the golf industry’s most enduring and recognisable companies has reached a juncture where Nicklaus has decided to step away from the day-to-day commitments of the Nicklaus Companies and re-prioritise his time and focus.
The foundations of the Nicklaus Companies were created almost 50 years ago, with the mission to promote the game of golf, preserve its great traditions and grow the game.
Over those decades, Nicklaus Companies and its predecessors have been committed to efforts to enhance the golf experience, and to bring to the national and international consumer, golf-related businesses and services that mirror the high standards established in the career and life of Nicklaus.
Products and services include golf course design, development of golf and real estate communities, and the marketing and licensing of golf products and services.
This year, the National Golf Foundation recognised the Nicklaus Companies as one of the Top-100 Businesses in Golf.
Nicklaus is committed to ensuring that the company remains among the industry’s most respected and successful.
“I have spent my life building the Nicklaus Companies, and there has come a time in my life when I need to reduce my level of involvement and pursue many other things I am very interested in, such as charity work – specifically efforts focused on children’s healthcare – supporting the industry’s initiatives to grow this great game, and being involved in many other things outside of my involvement in the Nicklaus Companies,” Nicklaus said.
“I am 78 years old, and while my health is excellent, and I have a great deal of energy and enthusiasm, it became apparent by last fall that it was time for me to spend more time on these other activities. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, and there is no reason for me to do so, because I will continue to support the Nicklaus Companies and I want the company to be successful.
“However, my life has changed and I wish to support my wife, as well as other family members, in any endeavour they are involved. I have said many times that Barbara spent much of her life supporting me and my career, and for the last few years, I have tried to dedicate my time and energies to supporting her and what she is involved in.
“I am enjoying that aspect and want to continue to devote my time to her and these other life-changing efforts, and to enjoy our lives together. I would like to thank Howard. He has enabled me to monetise what I have built in this company, take care of my family, and allowed me the time to focus on these other priorities in my life.”
In 2004, a year before Nicklaus played his final competitive round in a Major championship, the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation (nchcf.org) was founded. Since then, the Foundation has raised more than US$83 million for paediatric care programmes in South Florida and beyond. In 2015, world-renowned Miami Children’s Hospital was renamed Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. In November 2017, the entire Miami Children’s Health System was rebranded to Nicklaus Children’s, including 14 outpatient facilities up the Southeast Florida coast and west to Naples.
In 2007, Nicklaus partnered with Milstein to help further the growth of the company and to realise the full potential of the brands and branded businesses. Milstein is Chairman of New York Private Bank & Trust, the country’s largest family owned and operated bank.
Nicklaus-branded products have been marketed worldwide since 1962. The Jack Nicklaus and Golden Bear-branded lifestyle collection of products includes: golf academies; ice cream; restaurants; beverages; beverageware; wine; home appliances; apparel; footwear; and golf equipment. Many of these have been introduced in the last decade, as the focus was placed on building the brand.
Meanwhile, Nicklaus Design continues to be recognised as a world leader in golf course design, with 415 courses open for play in 45 countries and 39 US states. Nicklaus has designed, co-designed or re-designed over 300 courses around the globe, more than 100 of which have been ranked in various national or international top-100 lists. He will continue to support the golf course design projects currently under development.
Nicklaus will remain as Co-Chairman of the Nicklaus Companies, while Milstein will assume the role of Executive Chairman. The Nicklaus Family will continue to be the majority owner of the Company, with Emigrant/Milstein being a significant investor, and Jack Nicklaus II and Gary Nicklaus continue to serve as members of the Board. In addition, Jack Nicklaus II, who has active golf course design projects all over the world, including Malaysia and Vietnam, remains President of Nicklaus Design.
“Jack Nicklaus has basically spent a lifetime building a successful company and brand that is viewed as the strongest in golf, and we embrace the opportunity and responsibility to make certain this great brand-one that represents excellence-continues to grow in global prominence,” Milstein said.
“Jack has also built a company with experienced, talented, innovative and hard-working people, and those colleagues are as much a part of his legacy as the company itself. From CEO John Reese to the management team and the entire staff at the Nicklaus Companies, we have enormous confidence in their ability and are positioned so that the next generation of the Nicklaus Companies will build on the strength Jack and his family created, and that Jack will remain very proud of the legacy he has established. Jack will ensure that the company and the people behind it continue the success enjoyed to date, and he will be a part of it for many years to come.”
Milstein, whose passion for golf has led him to acquire in recent years a number of golf-related businesses-such as True Spec, GolfLogix, Miura, and, just this week, GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com, applauded Nicklaus’ commitment to the game and to his many efforts aimed at giving back to the game.
“Everywhere you turn, Jack Nicklaus has left his imprint on the game of golf,” Milstein added. “About 50 years ago, he was instrumental in creating the enormously successful PGA Tour we know and enjoy today. In 1976, he created the Memorial Tournament – his gift to Central Ohio that has become one of golf’s most prestigious events.
“He has been a national co-chair and Trustee of The First Tee, and he and the company have become a Trustee of the PGA of America’s charitable arm, PGA Reach. Jack has certainly given far more back to the game than it has given him, and I know he will continue to impact the game and charity on a daily basis. I am proud to call him a partner.”