Jack Nicklaus’ 1977 Memorial win came after he was ‘picking up papers and cigarette butts’

Jack Nicklaus has won the Memorial twice (1977 and 1984), but the first victory on the course he designed still holds a special place on his list of favorites.

“Well, ’77 was the second year of the tournament and I spent most of my time on the golf course picking up papers and cigarette butts,” Nicklaus said Tuesday at Muirfield Village Golf Club in his annual press conference before the 2024 Memorial.

Nicklaus’ caddie, Angelo Argea, had to empty the pockets of his bib every 3-4 holes because his boss kept filling them with trash.

“I was more interested in the cleanliness of the golf course, how the players enjoyed it, how we were taking care of the players and making sure everything was as it should be,” he said of his priorities. “To do that, and that was all I was doing, and win a golf tournament with it, that was probably one of the best feats I’ve ever had in the game of golf.”

Viktor Hovland receives the trophy from Jack Nicklaus after winning in a playoff over Denny McCarthy during the final round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

Of course, another great feat Nicklaus accomplished was winning the U.S. Amateur and the NCAA Tournament while with Ohio State in 1961. Nicklaus was happy to see the Buckeyes tie for third last week at the NCAA Championship in Carlsbad, California.

“(Coach Jay) Moseley has done a good job with it. They’ve got a good golf course to play and practice on, to develop a golf game,” he said, referencing the Scarlet course. “I think a lot of guys shy from coming north to play.”

Not Nicklaus, who grew up in Upper Arlington.

“I had offers from a lot of schools to play elsewhere, and I wanted to come to Ohio State,” he said. “I loved going to the football games, the basketball games and being part of fraternity life and school life. That was as important to me as playing on the golf team.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek