Jack Nicklaus' first pro check
Jack Nicklaus via Instagram
Jack Nicklaus began his historic career with a tiny check for tying for last place in his first pro start.
One of the people I really enjoy following on social media is Jack Nicklaus. The Golden Bear – and his staff, of course – do a fine job of noting many of the prominent days throughout his storied career.
 
Today is one of those days, but not for the reason you might think. No, Jack didn't win a major on January 8, 1962 – instead, he received his first check as a professional golfer on that day. And it was a whopper – $33.33 – beause the Bear tied for last place.
 
That's the real check pictured above. Nicklaus shared the photo on Instagram, and it's awesome that he still has it.
 
Back in the early 1960s, the Los Angeles Open was the PGA Tour's season opener, and the 21-year-old Nicklaus made his first pro start at Rancho Park Golf Course, a prominent public course in west Los Angeles that hosted the tournament 18 times over the years.
 
 
He made the cut in his first start, but shot 289 and finished up in a tie for 50th and last place with Billy Maxwell and Don Massengale. His check was for $33.33 – and, as he noted on Instagram, he always wondered what happened to the extra penny.
 
Phil Rodgers, 23 years old at the time, won the tournament – according to the Golf Historical Society, Rodgers finished nine shots ahead of the field and 21 shots ahead of Nicklaus.
 
Nicklaus played again at Rancho Park in the 1963 Los Angeles Open. He improved seven shots, posting a final score of 282, and finished 24th, eight shots behind winner Arnold Palmer. And, of course, he went on to win a few tournaments hmself.
 
Jack Nicklaus got his first pro check 53 years ago today
January 8, 2015 - 10:07am
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T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
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Golf.com is reporting that Tiger Woods will make his 2014-15 PGA Tour debut in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

In case you missed it, Golf.com is reporting that Tiger Woods will likely make his 2014-15 PGA Tour season debut at in the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale, Jan. 29-Feb. 1.

Golf.com reported that one source close to WMPO organizers said Woods has reserved his courtesy car for the event, "which has officials cautiously optimistic that he intends to play."

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Rob Myers, a spokesman for the Thunderbirds organization that hosts the WMPO, wouldn't confirm if Woods would in fact be in the field.

"We have heard the rumors, but as of yesterday he is not on the confirmation list," Myers told Golf.com on Wednesday.

After this week, there are only two events on the Tour's schedule before the WMPO -- the Sony Open in Hawaii and the Humana Challenge. Woods would have to commit to the Sony Open by late Friday afternoon (a tournament he has never played in). Woods has until late next Friday afternoon, Jan. 16, to commit to the Humana Challenge (another event in which he has never played). 

Another source told Golf.com that Woods has reserved rooms at Scottsdale's Four Seasons Resort, but a spokesperson for the resort declined comment to confirm whether Woods had a reservation or not.

Woods has not played in the WMPO since 2001 when he tied for fifth.

In 1997 -- his rookie season on the PGA Tour -- Woods famously made a hole-in-one on TPC Scottsdale's raucous par-3, 16th hole, regarded as the biggest party on the PGA Tour:

 

If he does play at TPC Scottsdale, it would be the first PGA Tour start for Woods since his missed cut at the PGA Championship last August and decided to take the remainder of the season off to recover from a back injury that plagued him throughout 2014. 

Report: Woods to play Phoenix Open
Jack and Barbara Nicklaus
Getty Images
Barbara Nicklaus has teamed with her husband Jack to raise millions of dollars for junior golf and children's charities.
Barbara Nicklaus, Jack Nicklaus' wife for more than half a century, will receive the 2015 Bob Jones Award, the U.S. Golf Association announced Wednesday. 
 
Presented annually since 1955, the Bob Jones Award is the USGA's highest honor. It recognizes an individual who demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by Jones, winner of nine USGA championships. 
 
"Barbara's generosity of spirit and deep respect for the game have touched the lives of countless families throughout the world," said USGA President Thomas J. O'Toole Jr. "Her dedication to support players and spouses, and advocacy for multiple causes, are worthy of our highest honor. She has been the rock for arguably one of the game's greatest champions, while raising a family and devoting her heart and soul into what she believes in."
 
Mrs. Nicklaus has a long history of generating attention – and funds – for a variety of youth-related charitable causes and volunteerism. Among her most prominent efforts is the Barbara and Jack Nicklaus Junior Golf Endowment Fund, which supports junior golf programs at the local, state and national level for children who otherwise might not be introduced to the game.
 
She also serves as the chairman of the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, which promotes the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of childhood diseases and disorders. The foundation, which also supports not-for-profit programs and projects aimed at pediatric health care and health-related services, has raised more than $32 million since its inception in 2004. 
 
 
In 2010, the foundation became the lead charity of the Memorial Tournament, which Nicklaus created in 1976. To date, the Memorial has generated more than $23.5 million in donations to Central Ohio charities, including more than $13 million to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
 
In addition, her involvement as co-chairperson for the charity that organizes the Honda Classic has helped raise considerable money for the Nicklaus Outpatient Center in partnership with Miami Children's Hospital, which is designed to meet the healthcare needs of children and adolescents from birth through age 21. 
 
"Golf has not only given us an incredible life, it has provided us a vehicle and a means to make a difference in the lives of young boys and girls, and the families who love them," she said. "I don't think our life's work could ever compare to or repay what the game has given to us."
 
Mrs. Nicklaus joins a list of winners that includes champions such as her husband (1975), Francis Ouimet (1955), Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1957), Arnold Palmer (1971), Ben Hogan (1976), Annika Sorenstam (2012) and Payne Stewart (2014), as well as those who have contributed to the fabric of the game in other meaningful ways, including Richard S. Tufts (1967), Joseph C. Dey Jr. (1977), Bing Crosby and Bob Hope (1978), P.J. Boatwright Jr. (1993) and President George H.W. Bush (2008). The Nicklauses are the first married couple to receive the accolade.  
 
She will receive the award during the 2015 U.S. Open, set for 15-21 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
 
Barbara Nicklaus to receive USGA's 2015 Bob Jones Award
Natalie Gulbis
LPGA veteran Natalie Gulbis gave her Twitter followers an inside look into her workout regimen.

Pro golfers make it look so easy. They walk 18 holes like it's a stroll in the park, since the caddy's carrying all the heavy stuff. 

But what television doesn't show you is how hard they work out when they're not on the course.

For example, take Natalie Gulbis' workout routine. She gave her Twitter followers this week an inside look into some of the exercises she uses. Do you think you could keep up with her exercise regimen?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the way, happy birthday to Natalie. The 14-year LPGA veteran turned 32 on Wednesday.

Check out Natalie Gulbis' workout regimen
January 7, 2015 - 11:30am
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T.J. Auclair
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Bubba Watson
YouTube
Chesson Hadley got this shot of Bubba Watson seconds before jumping off a cliff into the Pacific Ocean.

So how do PGA Tour players competing in this week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions prepare for the first event of the new calendar year?

Well, if you're two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson and 2014 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Chesson Hadley, you go cliff-jumping:

Wait, what?

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Hadley is wearing a GoPro camera before taking his plunge and gives us a quick peek of a little more than we wanted to see of Bubba.

Life isn't bad when you're a PGA Tour winner kicking off the new year in Maui.

Hadley, Watson go cliff-jumping in Maui
January 7, 2015 - 11:26am
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Phil Mickelson
USA Today Images
Adverse course conditions, like a great deal of mud, fall under the guidelines of "winter rules."

Just because it's winter doesn't mean you should be playing "winter rules."

That's a misconception many amateurs have about playing this time of year. The Bermuda may be dormant and the lies may not always be the best, but if it's a dry, sunny day, you're probably not allowed relief.

CHECK THE RULES: Bunker or native terrain?

As Bryan Jones, co-vice chairman of the PGA Rules Committee, explains, the decision to allow "lift, clean and place" has little to do with temperature and everything to do with course conditions. And the ultimate decision to allow "preferred lies" -- as one of the Local Rules -- falls into the hands of the course officials or tournament committee.

That's why you'll sometimes see "lift, clean and place" implemented after a heavy rain. If the tournament committee determines that there are "adverse conditions," the Preferred Lies/Winter Rules section of the Rule Book comes into play, even if it's hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.

None of the 34 Rules of Golf directly address the issue of "winter rules," but Appendix 1, Part A, Definition 4b specifically deals with adverse conditions. Here is the exact phrasing from the Rule Book:

Adverse conditions, including the poor condition of the course or the existence of mud, are sometimes so general, particularly during winter months, that the Committee may decide to grant relief by temporary Local Rule either to protect the course or to promote fair and pleasant play. The Local Rule should be withdrawn as soon as the conditions warrant.

Jones, who is at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla., this week for the PGA Winter Championships tournament, said "abnormal playing conditions that interfere with the proper playing of the game" is the key point to consider.

GOLF BALL MIX-UP: What to do if you hit the wrong ball?

"Interestingly enough, we will play our first event utilizing the 'Preferred Lies/Winter Rules' authorized by the Rules of Golf because of adverse conditions," Jones said. "In our situation, the adverse conditions exist due to extreme wet fairways where virtually every stroke that lands on a closely mown area will collect a great deal of mud on the ball, whereas a ball that lands in the rough will not, because the thicker grass prevents the ball from penetrating the ground.

"That inequity to well-struck shots is the key, as is the frequency of occurrence. If only a couple of fairways yielded this result, the Committee would not utilize this option."

Jones said three conditions must be met for "winter rules" to be in place.

1. The Committee (or course officials) must authorize this Rules extension granted by Appendix 1, part A.
2. The majority of the golf course must be impacted to consider this.
3. The Committee should utilize the wording provided by Appendix 1, part B 4c ,which explains exactly how to proceed: lift and place, lift and drop, and the distances allowed.

MORE RULES QUESTIONS: What if your ball moves at address?

So why do Local Rules exist?

"When we need to stray from the purity of the Rules, we have guidance on how to do so and will be backed by the (sanctioning bodies) should a dispute arise," Jones said.

So the rule of thumb?

"Play golf as normal, unless normal golf is really challenged by mother nature."

Winter rules: What golfers need to know