On the April 5, 2022 episode of the Stick and Hack Show, we spoke with golf legend Tony Jacklin about his favorite moments from the course and some of the golf greats he played with. This interview has been shortened for space and clarity. For the full interview, check out the Stick and Hack Show wherever podcasts are found. 

SH: Take us back to 1969 at that moment when Jack did something that I’ve never done, and he conceded a putt when it mattered the most. Were you surprised when you were at that moment? Was it surprising to you?


Tony Jacklin: I was surprised I was relieved. I was shocked. I had a lot of emotion over basically a split second in time. But, I think since then, and it’s a long time ago now more than 50 years, People have come to realize that … there is far more pressure on you playing in a team environment as far as golf is concerned than there is playing for yourself.


Historically golf is a solitary pursuit, but there’s far more pressure involved when you’re putting for your teammates and your captain and your country and your tour. If you’re doing it for yourself and you miss and you screw up well you just shrug and move on. But it’s tough to move on from a Ryder Cup situation when it’s all on your shoulders. So that was the crux of it.


Coming off the 18th tee that particular week, Jack hollered at me, and I waited for him to catch up. We walked together and he’s looking me in the eye and he said, “Tony, Are you nervous?”

I said, “Jack, I’m bloody petrified.”

And he said, “I just thought I’d ask because if it’s any consolation, I feel just the same way you do.”

That’s, you know, that’s it. All your teammates are around the green, your captain, the result of that game is the result of the Ryder Cup. It’s not really where you want to be. You might think you do but it’s a bit nerve-wracking. And we’ve seen that circumstance happen numerous times and the roller coaster of emotion that all the players go through that week. It’s something else is what it is.


SH: I’m gonna name a few players for you and I want you to give us the rundown of each one of these players from the US Ryder Cup teams from that era. First and foremost, Jack Nicklaus.


Tony Jacklin: Well, the best. He’s been a leader in our game for a long time now. And he’s a sweetheart. I think the basics of golf and sportsmanship lies in his early amateur career. I was fortunate enough to meet his father back in the 60s and Jack had a pretty prolific amateur career, and that’s where he got the foundation for the great sport he’s become and has remained.


SH: What about Lee Trevino?


Tony Jacklin: Trevino, Lee Buck? I mean, what a competitor. I mean, he kicked my butt on a couple of occasions. and well, the Open certainly too was a sort of game-changer for me, chipped in five times the last couple of rounds, and I was witness to it all. But what a competitor. And the other side of him is the motormouth, you know. I mean, he could never stop talking. I can’t think about Lee Trevino without thinking about that mouth is.


SH: That sounds like a great guy to me. That sounds like a guy that I could hang with.


Here’s another one for you Tony, Ray Floyd.


Tony Jacklin: Raymondo, what competitor he was too! He didn’t manage to capture The Open Championship, but he won everything else. And he was an amazing competitor. He was out on tour early when he was 19. We were great pals back in the day. Don’t see much of each other now sadly, but what a competitor. Great, great competitor Raymond and as straight has a gun barrel.


SH: Those are the who’s who of the game. And today, everybody knows those names, and that’s who you competed against, for the Ryder Cup. Thinking about that, And going back to those days, Did you know the power you guys were going up against with the US team back in those days? Or were they just golfers to you?


Tony Jacklin: No, we knew I mean, I especially knew because I spent five years on this tour, got my card in 67, and played through 72. So I was very aware. And I was the only one from Britain doing that. A friend of mine, Peter Townsend was over here, but he didn’t get in that many events. So I was very aware it was one-sided.


SH: What do you feel are the key differences between pro golfers from say the 60s through the 80s to those of like the last 20 years?


Tony Jacklin: Well, the game’s changed. The ball is central to everything. All those players you mentioned, myself included, a seven iron was 150 yards. You couldn’t hit it any further with the ball. It didn’t matter. You know, Nicklaus and Weisskopf were maybe a bit longer with longer clubs and they could get the elevation but Ray Floyd and every one of us, a 7-iron was 150 yard shot an 8-iron was 140 yards 6-iron maybe 165, 170 Max. Now you’re getting these we saw the lot yesterday when on that final hole at the PGA national hitting some sort of a mid-iron into a hole I never was able to get up in two on.


I don’t want to sound like a sour puss and I’m not. I wish everybody well. I just wish I’d maybe been born 50 years later. The game has just completely changed and I have to say that I think the powers that be let it happen. I think it got away from them. And I’m not sure they’re ever going to be able to do anything about it anymore. It’s a different challenge altogether. And I don’t think the game’s better for it personally. I’m obviously getting up there now.


SH: All right, so we appreciate your opinion. You know, you talk about your arrival in the United States in the early days of your career. Take us back there and what your thoughts are from that day when you came to the US and started playing to when you started winning and how the mood changed?


Tony Jacklin: Well, not everybody welcomed players from overseas with open arms. I mean, there were a lot of players in America at that time that were very insular. There was no need to go anywhere but America and they stayed in America and didn’t sort of need to travel the world. I mean, the world was my university, and I started traveling in 1963. And I played in Australia and Japan, and the Far East multiple times. And so when I came to America, not everybody, and certainly, the Nicklaus and the Palmers, and the Trevinos and the Weisskopfs were fantastic. But there were others, and I don’t need to name them, that were more mean-spirited.


I never did meet anybody in my life yet, that could help where they were born. And they didn’t seem to react to that. It was, “why didn’t he go back to where he came from,” or whatever. And there weren’t a lot of them. But there were a handful. And when you got drawn with them, many of the times I looked and I thought, Oh, God, maybe I should take a week off. Because they wouldn’t talk to you, you know, I mean, they communicate through a scorekeeper. They resented your presence. But they’re all dead now. So it doesn’t matter anymore.


SH: That’s the greatest answer ever. Tony, going back to those days, and the stories and all the memories. What was it like for you, and you’re writing the book?


Tony Jacklin: Well, I was doing actually a few podcasts with the guys. Tony Jimenez, who I did the book with, said, “Well, why don’t we do a book.” Now, I was diagnosed in 2014 with follicular lymphoma, which is not much fun….  I had four [rounds of chemo] and by the time I had my fourth one, I got the all-clear from the doctor. I was in remission. But, we got the book done, and it wasn’t all Ryder Cup, if you stuck your head in it, you’ll see there’s lots of other stuff in there. It’s like when a bunch of guys get together and start telling jokes. One reminds you of another and another. These stories kept coming out thick and fast. And we got it all written down. And here we are, you know, it turned out well and Tony did a great job.