Nicklaus’ one-time bet at the 1960 US Open

They say the great players will only bet on themselves.

Yet probably the greatest player of all time, Jack Nicklaus, recently admitted he had only once had a bet at a tournament and that was definitely not on another player…it was on himself.

Jack Nicklaus Jack Nicklaus (Credit: USGA)

It’s been well documented how many professionals, like Raymond Floyd, had side bets whenever they played golf.

And Nicklaus did admit he’d have a few side bets during practice rounds.

But there was just the one time when he had money riding on the outcome of an event – and even then he didn’t win.

“The only wager I ever had was in the 1960 US Open,” said Nicklaus.

“It was a month before I was getting married. I was the US Amateur champion at the time and my dad said, ‘Hey, they got you at 35-1. You want some of that?’.”

“I said, ‘I’ll have $20.’”

He said, ‘You want place and show?’ I said: ‘I’m not here to place and show’.”

Maybe he learned his lesson that week because Nicklaus did have a chance to win until missing short putts down the stretch.

He was paired in that the final round with Ben Hogan, who also had a chance to win until he hit into the water on the 17th hole.

But it was Arnold Palmer who put up a charge from seven shots behind that day by driving the green at the par-four first hole and closing with a 65 for his only US Open title.

Nicklaus still smiles at the memory.

“I was more worried about winning $700 and getting married a month later as much as I was worried about winning the US Open,” he said.

“That’s the only wager I’ve ever had in golf.”