This story appeared in the Sept. 22, 2014, issue of Sports Illustrated. Subscribe to the magazine here.
Jack Nicklaus’s office, on the fifth floor of one of the sleek buildings that make up the Golden Bear Plaza in Jupiter, Fla., is brimming with evidence of a life well-lived. The space is stuffed with hunting and fishing trophies, including the mounts of three marlin, one of them a 726-pounder that Nicklaus landed in 1975.
Mostly, though, his office is cluttered with family photos, in which his college sweetheart turned wife of 54 years, Barbara, is always by his side. One group shot brings together their five children and 22 grandchildren, who have grown to expect that their famous grandpa will be on the sideline for all of their sporting events. The head shot of a little boy cut into the shape of a heart has been glued to the picture. This is the Nicklauses’ grandson Jake, who drowned nine years ago at 17 months old. Jack hosts an annual tournament in his honor, The Jake. This year’s raised $2.2 million for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and featured a Who’s Who of today’s pros.
SI's 100 Best Masters Photos
SI's 100 Best Masters Photos
In what many consider the greatest Masters ever, Jack Nicklaus, at 46, fired a final-round 65 to win his sixth green jacket at the 1986 Masters.
Tigers Woods tees off on 18 during the final round of the 2001 Masters.
Ben Hogan was the first golfer to grace the cover of SI from the Masters.
In one of the greatest Masters ever, Ben Hogan (pictured) lost by one stroke to Sam Snead in an 18-hole playoff in 1954.
Ben Hogan missed the cut at Augusta for the only time in his career in 1957.
Sam Snead lost a three-stroke lead and finished in second place in '57. He had previously won the Masters in 1949, '52 and '54.
Arnold Palmer birdied the final two holes in 1960 to win his second green jacket.
Arnold Palmer with the media after his win in '60.
Jack Nicklaus tied for 15th at the 1962 Masters.
Jack and Charles Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus celebrated with his father, Charles, after winning in 1963.
Arnold Palmer at the scorer's table after his win in 1964.
Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer
Jack Nicklaus helps Arnold Palmer into his fourth and final green jacket.
Palmer cruised to a six-shot win for his final Masters title.
Jack Nicklaus shot rounds of 67, 71, 64 and 69 during his victory in 1965.
Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer
Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer exchanged green jackets for the fourth straight year in '65.
Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus defeated Gary Player and Arnold Palmer by nine strokes.
The record nine-stroke win by Jack Nicklaus in 1965 stood until 1997. That's when .... (
Tiger Woods threw his signature fist pump after sinking the winning putt for his first major, a 12-stroke victory.
Tiger Woods and parents
Tiger Woods made his way through the patrons to give his father and mother hugs after winning his first Masters.
Nicklaus birdied the par-3 16th on his way to a thrilling Masters win over Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf in 1975.
Larry Mize, an Augusta native, hit one of the greatest shots in major championship history when he chipped in on the second playoff hole to beat Greg Norman in 1987.
Nick Faldo holed a long birdie putt in near darkness on the second playoff hole to win the 1989 Masters.
Ian Woosnam made a par on 18 to edge Jose Maria Olazabal by one at the 1991 Masters.
A week after burying his mentor, Harvey Penick, Crenshaw won his second green jacket.
Greg Norman started the final day with a six-shot lead, but shot a final-round 78 to lose another chance at a green jacket.
Vijay Singh greeted his son, Qass, just off the 18th green after winning in 2000.
Tiger Woods, Steve Williams
Woods and caddie Steve Williams celebrated Tiger's victory at the 2001 Masters, his fourth-straight major victory, now known as the "Tiger Slam."
Mike Weir became the first major champion from Canada, and the first left-handed player to win the Masters, in 2003.
Mickelson birdied five of the last seven holes, including the 16th (pictured), to beat Ernie Els by one stroke for his first green jacket.
Phil Mickelson birdied the 18th hole to win his first major, at the 2004 Masters.
Mickelson ended his major drought at age 33.
Mickelson made his way through the crowd after holing out for the win.
Tiger Woods, Steve Williams
Tiger Woods and caddie Steve Williams celebrated after Woods chipped in for birdie on the 16th hole of the 2005 Masters.
Tiger Woods won his fourth green jacket -- and his ninth major -- at the 2005 Masters.
Bubba Watson hit a shot for the ages in a playoff against Louis Oosthuizen in 2012. Stuck in the trees on the right side of the 10th hole, and 162 yards from the hole, Watson played a 40-yard hook shot to the green and two-putted for par to win the tournament.
Augusta National patrons celebrated as Bubba Watson sank a one-foot putt on the first playoff hole to win the 2012 Masters.
Jack Nicklaus finished eighth in 1970.
Nicklaus was the only player to finish under par when he won his fourth green jacket in 1972.
Nicklaus shot rounds of 68, 67, 73 and 68 in his thrilling Masters win over Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf in 1975.
After opening with rounds of 67 and 69, Jack Nicklaus faded on the weekend and tied for third at the 1976 Masters.
Nicklaus' sixth Masters victory was also his 18th-career major title.
Jack Nicklaus made the cut at the Masters for the final time in 2000.
Jack Nicklaus played in his final Masters in 2005.
In 1966, Palmer finished two stokes out of a playoff.
Palmer finished five strokes behind 1967 champion Gay Brewer Jr.
Arnold Palmer still had his army following along in 1995.
Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods
Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods played a practice round together in 1996.
Arnold Palmer, a four-time champion, played his final round at the Masters on April 9, 2004. He competed in the tournament 50 times.
Palmer placed his ball and glove in his locker after playing his final round.
Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson
Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson served as honorary starters at the 1993 Masters.
An overhead shot of the 18th green in 1960.
Roberto De Vicenzo
In 1968, Roberto De Vicenzo missed out on a playoff with Bob Goalby when he returned an incorrect scorecard.
George Archer won his only major championship at the 1969 Masters.
Billy Casper defeated Gene Littler, 69-74, in an 18-hole playoff in 1970.
In 1973, Ben Crenshaw tied for 24th in his second Masters.
Gary Player won his second green jacket at the 1974 Masters.
In 1975, Lee Elder became the first African-American to play in the Masters.
Gary Player tied for 28th in 1976.
Raymond Floyd cruised to his second major title at the 1976 Masters.
Tom Watson captured his first of two green jackets in '77.
Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus
Tom Watson edged Jack Nicklaus by two strokes in '77.
Lee Trevino tied for 14th after a final-round 74 in 1978.
In 1978, Gary Player shot a final-round 64 and came from seven shots back in the final round to win his third Masters.
Gary Player birdied seven of the final 10 holes to win by one in 1978.
In 1979, Fuzzy Zoeller won the first sudden-death playoff at the Masters. He birdied the second playoff hole (No. 11) to beat Ed Sneed and Tom Watson.
Seve Ballesteros made 23 birdies on his way to winning the 1980 Masters by four shots.
Greg Norman finished fourth at the 1981 Masters.
Craig Stadler blew a six-shot lead on the final nine holes, but he beat Don Pohl on the first playoff hole to win in 1982.
Ben Crenshaw won his first Masters title in 1984. He shot a final-round 68 to beat Tom Watson by two.
Bernhard Langer captured his first green jacket in 1985.
Tom Watson tied for sixth in 1986.
Nick Faldo graces the cover of SI after winning his first Masters in 1989, downing Scott Hoch in a sudden-death playoff.
Seve Ballesteros finished two strokes out of a playoff in 1989.
Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam
Ian Woosnam helps Fred Couples into his green jacket in '92. For the win, Couples earned $270,000.
Fred Couples made eight pars and one birdie on the back nine on Sunday to hold off Ray Floyd.
Fred Couples landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated after his Masters victory in '92. It's the only major title of his career.
In 1993, Bernhard Langer couldn't coax in this putt on 18, but later in the week he'd close out his second Masters title by four shots over Chip Beck.
Jose Maria Olazabal
In 1994, Jose Maria Olazabal joined Seve Ballesteros as the only Spaniards to win the Masters.
Tiger Woods made his Masters debut in 1995 as the reigning U.S. Amateur champ.
A view of the par-3 16th at the 1995 Masters.
Nick Faldo fired a 67 in the final round of the 1996 Masters to beat Greg Norman by five shots.
Tiger Woods embraced his caddie Mike "Fluff" Cowan after the final putt dropped for his first Masters victory, in '97.
Tiger Woods hit a shot off the pine straw on his way to victory.
Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods
Nick Faldo put the green jacket on Tiger Woods after his 12-stroke victory.
Phil Mickelson finished T6 in his sixth start at the Masters, in 1999.
The 1998 Masters champion, Mark O'Meara had some trouble getting out of a bunker during the 2000 tournament.
Patrons watched the action at the par-5 15th during the 2000 Masters.
Phil Mickelson finished third in 2001. It was the third of eight consecutive Masters top 10s by Lefty.
Tiger Woods hit a wild recovery shot during the 2002 tournament.
Woods defended his title in 2002 for his third green jacket.
Zach Johnson's final score of 289 in 2007 tied the highest winning total ever at the Masters.
Woods broke his club hitting from behind a tree on the 11th hole Sunday at the 2007 Masters. Woods tied for second.
Despite a final-round 75, Trevor Immelman won the 2008 Masters by three strokes over Woods.
Trevor Immelman joined fellow South African Player as Masters champions.
Mickelson finished fifth at the 2008 Masters. Mickelson has finished in the top 10 at the Masters 14 times.
Angel Cabrera became the first Masters champion from South America when he won in a playoff in 2009.
Rory McIlroy led the 2011 Masters after 54 holes, but he shot a final-80 to finish tied for 15th.
Phil Mickelson's purple shirt matched the azaleas on the 13th hole during the first round of the 2011 Masters.
Charl Schwartzel birdied the final four holes to win his first major title.
Mowers worked before dawn at Augusta National Golf Club during the 2012 Masters.
Nicklaus’s empire building may show no signs of slowing, but the man himself does occasionally pause to reflect. He has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and appeared on a five-pound note in Scotland. His courses have brought joy (and some suffering) to countless golfers, and through his vast philanthropic works he is bettering the lives of children across Florida and Ohio. “All of this because I could hit a golf ball,” he muses. Of course, it’s so much more than that, but Nicklaus still wants to finish the thought. “Isn’t that ridiculous? It’s ridiculous, and it’s wonderful."