Dick Grout wants you to know about his father.
He wants you to know that his dad got his start in golf in Oklahoma City. That he spent more than a decade playing on the PGA Tour, then became one of the best teachers that the game has ever known. That he was the first and only teacher Jack Nicklaus ever had.
Had Jack Grout been alive and tutoring today — and accompanying a star pupil to the British Open this week — he'd be as well known as Butch Harmon and Hank Haney.
Instead, his imprint on the game is largely overlooked.
“As time goes on,” Dick Grout said, “everybody forgets.”
But he doesn't want everybody to forget his dad.
That's why he spent eight years on a book chronicling his dad's life. Called “Jack Grout — A Legacy in Golf”, the book starts with humble beginnings on NW 35th Street and ends with tears from the Golden Bear upon reading a final letter from his teacher.
In between is the story of a man who learned the game as a caddie at Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club, then started teaching it to golfers all over town. Jack Grout eventually got good enough himself that he joined the PGA Tour and competed alongside the likes of Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Walter Hagan and Gene Sarazan.
Dick Grout heard many stories about those days when he was growing up. But when he began his book project — he would ultimately enlist writing help from journalist Bill Winter — he tracked down people who knew his father and dug into old newspapers to confirm details and find more information. Time and again, he came away amazed at how the stories were just as he'd been told.
“Well, darn it,” he'd think, “here it is.”
Those details about his dad's life just steeled his resolve to finish the book.
“I just really felt it had to be told, this story,” Dick Grout said.
And, of course, a big part of that story was Jack Nicklaus.
The teacher and the pupil first crossed paths at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. Jack Grout had moved there as the head pro in 1949 in part because the course would host the PGA Championship the next year, but it was a junior class that he decided to start that would truly change his life.
No golf pro in Columbus had ever offered a class for kids, so they flocked to Scioto.
The first one there was a 10-year-old redhead everyone knew as Jackie.
Jack Grout once admitted that Jack Nicklaus's greatness wasn't immediately obvious.
“He was just another little boy out there swinging way like little boys do,” he is quoted as saying in his son's book. “He was just one of the kids, a redhead with a crew haircut.”
That soon changed.
“That little rascal learned quickly,” Grout said. “Some kids forget, but you'd tell Jackie one time and he would remember.”
And Nicklaus loved the game. Grout would arrive at the course around 8 o'clock each morning, and lots of times, Nicklaus was already there on the putting green.
Grout loved the boy's passion for the game.
Nicklaus saw that same enthusiasm in Grout.
“Jack Grout got excited about my golf game,” Nicklaus once wrote, “and he stayed that way until the day he died.”
Grout developed the greatest golfer that the world has ever known. Nicklaus won 73 times on tour, including a record 18 major championships.
“The fact is, I had only Jack Grout,” Nicklaus wrote in the forward to this new book. “No strength coaches, dietitians or psychologists. Just Jack Grout.
“If that suggests that Jack Grout was one tremendously effective teacher and mentor for me ... well, indeed he was.”
Nicklaus considers Grout an unconditional friend and a second father.
Dick Grout and his three siblings were aware of their father's relationship with Nicklaus — the son occasionally accompanied the father to tournaments to watch Nicklaus — but Jack Grout never made a big deal out of it.
Yes, he taught Nicklaus, but ultimately, Nicklaus and any other golfer who Grout tutored were the ones who had to go out and play the game and win the tournaments.
“My father never, ever, ever forgot that,” Dick Grout said. “He would always give the credit back to them. I think it was because he himself had that playing background.”
So, even though he taught Nicklaus and gave lessons to Raymond Floyd, Ben Crenshaw and Gary Player among others, Jack Grout is largely an afterthought in sports history.
Dick Grout hopes his book helps change that. Hopes people learn about his dad's extraordinary life. Hopes they realize what an amazing man he was.
He hopes you remember Jack Grout.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.
TWO-PART SERIES ON JACK GROUT
*Sunday: Reintroducing the Oklahoman who taught the greatest golfer in the world
*Monday: Now that our state remembers Grout's contributions, what should we do next?
BUY THE BOOK
“Jack Grout — A Legacy in Golf” is available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. Written by Dick Grout and Bill Winter, it retails for $24.95.