Jack Nicklaus reveals letter he sent to announce professional status 56 years ago

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Jack Nicklaus made, for him, a very difficult decision 56 years ago when he elected to leave the amateur ranks and play golf as a professional. As it turns out, that decision was one of the best he's ever made.
By T.J. Auclair
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Tuesday, November 07, 2017 | 9:35 a.m.

Can you imagine a professional golf world without the game's winningest major champion of all-time, Mr. Jack Nicklaus?

Neither can we. But, if it weren't for a decision made with "mixed emotions and considerable thought," we likely would have never known -- at least to this legendary extent -- the man affectionately nicknamed "The Golden Bear."

Tuesday, Nov. 7, marked the 56th anniversary of the day Nicklaus made the leap from amateur to professional golf.

A copy of the letter that Nicklaus penned to then-USGA Executive Director Joseph Day Jr., dated Nov. 7, 1961, was shared via the Golden Bear's Twitter account on Tuesday:

In the letter, Nicklaus expresses his regret that his decision to jump to the pro ranks would preclude him from being able to defend his U.S. Amateur title in 1962... it turned out to be no big deal, as Nicklaus would claim the first major title of his illustrious career at the USGA-run U.S. Open in 1962 -- the first of his record 18 major victories and four U.S. Opens.

Looking back over the last half-century plus and a record that includes those 18 majors, 73 PGA Tour victories and countless other records, we'd have to say that as difficult a decision as it was for Nicklaus to turn pro, well, he made the right decision. 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.