Book reviews were once a regular thing for me, until I realized I hadn’t done one in quite awhile.
It’s not because I haven’t kept up a steady diet of reading on a fairly wide variety of topics. I continued to have a book going at all times, virtually all of the non-fiction variety, but I didn’t deem any – for whatever reason – worthy of a review.
“Best Seat in the House’’ is different. It was written by Jack Nicklaus II in partnership with Don Yaeger, a fellow Floridian with a resume that includes significant ties to the New York Times and Sports Illustrated.
In capsule, this is a son’s loving tribute to a father who is both famous and exemplary. “Best Seat in the House’’ is much more than that, however. It’s a guide to good parenting. It’s a portrait of how an ideally functional family operates. And, it provides good insight into what made a great athlete great.
Jack Nicklaus II was the first-born of the legendary golfer’s five offspring. He was also frequently his father’s caddie, most notably in the 1986 Masters where the elder Nicklaus, affectionately called the Golden Bear, won the title at age 46. In my nearly 60 years reporting on a wide variety of sports for a variety of publications and websites, this was the most most dramatic of individual victories. No question Jack II had the “Best Seat in the House’’ for that one.
Like his father, Jack II is the father of five. He’s also president of the golf course design company that his father created; a member of the board of directors of Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which has down tremendous things on the charity front; and the chairman of both the Muirfield Village Golf Club and the Memorial Tournament, the PGA Tour event held there annually.
Yes, Jack and Jack II Nicklaus are close – and that’s putting it mildly. What’s it like being the son, and namesake, of Jack Nicklaus? Jack II knows, and tells it in a most touching way.
I had a hard time putting this 189-page book down. Apparently his father did, too. In the forward to the book, Nicklaus – after reading the manuscript — admitted “I did not realize what the impact some of our experiences together had meant to him. I will treasure these words forever.’’
Reflections on big tournament victories were almost incidental in comparison to the father-son interaction when Jack II was growing up and the period of growth for both after the days of PGA Tour glory were winding down. You’ll find this book – for a lot reasons — is well worth reading.