Nicklaus Honored by Woodrow Wilson International Center

Motivated by the global impact he has made in his second career as a world-class designer, as well as his philanthropic efforts at home, Jack Nicklaus was honored January 19 with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship. The award was bestowed before a crowd of 500 gathered at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, Fla.

With its Woodrow Wilson Awards, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars recognizes leaders in business and public service from around the world and across the political spectrum. Recipients share President Wilson's vision of improving our policies and institutions through enlightened and deliberate dialogue and stand as living testaments to what may be accomplished when learning, public affairs and business come together in common interest.

The Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship is given to executives who exemplify a commitment to the common good - beyond the bottom line. They are the people who demonstrate that private firms should be stellar citizens in their own neighborhoods, as well as in the world. Nicklaus has been involved in the design of 262 courses through his business, Nicklaus Design.

Nicklaus Design courses are found in 32 countries, 38 states, and at least 84 have hosted a combined total of close to 600 professional tournaments or significant national amateur championships. At least 60 Nicklaus Design courses have appeared in various national and international top-100 lists. The firm also has projects under development in 45 different countries, including 28 in which Nicklaus Design has never been involved, such as Croatia, Turkey, Czech Republic, Nicaragua, Panama, Vietnam and Cambodia.

"You only get one life, one shot at it, and you need to make the most of it," Nicklaus told the crowd. "You not only want to be satisfied with yourself and your accomplishments, but you hope that along the way, you have touched a life or two, and you have made a difference. I am fortunate to be able to say that I not only lived out a blessed career through playing the game of golf, but I have enjoyed - and still enjoy tremendously - a second career through the business of golf.

"In many ways, I am finding even more personal satisfaction in this second career, because I am able to give back to the game that has been so good to me; I am able to impact the growth of the game worldwide, and, as we would all like to do, touch lives along the way. Tonight, I thank you for, in some small way, recognizing me as much for what I am doing today, as what I did yesterday."

Nicklaus, who has been recognized by one publication as the Most Powerful Person in Golf for four straight years, has used his iconic status to introduce and grow the game of golf in emerging markets worldwide. At the same time, he has proven that golf can not only enhance global tourism and economies, but impact the lives of those who call these countries home. For example, a little more than a year ago, Nicklaus Design's first golf course in the Dominican Republic was opened at Cap Cana by Punta Cana on the eastern coastline. Cap Cana recorded more $655 million in property sales last year, but more importantly, the project created more than 4,000 jobs - most being Dominicans from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo. When the project is completed, they will employ more than 28,000, with housing and a school on site.

"It has been said that too often in business or life we over-exaggerate yesterday, we overestimate tomorrow, and we underestimate today," Nicklaus said. "We dwell too much on the good or bad that happened yesterday, and bank too much on what might happen tomorrow. Today matters. And I like to think that throughout my career and life I have tried to make the most of today."

Nicklaus closed his speech by acknowledging Barbara, his wife of 47 years, and his five children, most of whom attended the event. He credited Barbara for being the guiding light for the family's influence on lives at the local level through her myriad charitable efforts, the most notable being the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, which supports numerous pediatric health-care services in a five-county area, including Palm Beach.

"We talked earlier about making a difference, and the importance of making a difference for others with others," Nicklaus said. "That's why we hope we have touched the lives of our own children and instilled in them the values and the motivation to carry on what Barbara and I have tried to start.

"I have always said that no matter what I did in my tournament career, golf course design will be my lasting legacy." Nicklaus then looked at the table where his children were seated, and added, "But if I could re-write that tonight, I would say that if Barbara and I did our jobs right, our legacy is sitting right there."

Past recipients of the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship include Alexander Dreyfoos of the Dreyfoos Company, Sherry Lansing of Paramount Pictures, Ross Perot, Jr. and Ted Turner.