Remembering the Oklahoma Golf golf pro who taught Jack Nicklaus how to play

COMMENTARY — With his father's legacy in golf fading, a son has written a book about the man who was teacher to a star long before Butch Harmon and Hank Haney.
by Jenni Carlson Published: July 13, 2013
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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.”


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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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.

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