With less than a week until the November 3 presidential election, golfing great Jack Nicklaus formally endorsed Donald Trump on Twitter, urging Americans to get out and vote and back the Republican incumbent.
In a lengthy statement he posted on Twitter, the Golden Bear acknowledged the traits of Trump’s personality he did not agree with, but explained he was happy to look past them as he claimed Trump had done more than anyone else to ensure American families could still pursue the same American Dream Nicklaus chased.
“I have had the privilege over the last three-and-a-half years to get to know our president a little more as his term has progressed,” wrote the 80-year-old, who won a record 18 majors.
“I have been very disappointed at what he’s had to put up with from many directions, but with that, I have seen a resolve and a determination to do the right thing for our country.
“He has delivered on his promises. He’s worked for the average person. In my opinion, he has been more diverse than any president I have seen and has tried to help people from all walks of life—equally. […] I also believe that Donald Trump’s policies will bring the American Dream to many families across the nation who are still trying to achieve it.”
Nicklaus then warned voting for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden would lead to the country “evolve into a socialist America” and urged voters to back Trump’s America First policies.
“This is not a personality contest, it’s about patriotism, policies and the people they impact. His love for America and its citizens, and putting his country first, has come through loud and clear. How he has said it has not been important to me. What has been important are his actions. Now, you have the opportunity to take action.”
Predictably, Nicklaus’ endorsement of Trump went down like a lead balloon in some quarters, with Twitter quick to point out the difference between the Golden Bear and the late Arnold Palmer, who along with Nicklaus and Gary Player constituted the so-called Big Three of golf throughout the 1960s.
Palmer won seven majors during a glittering career and his 62 PGA Tour wins put him fifth on the Tour’s all-time victory list behind only Tiger Woods, Sam Snead, Nicklaus and Ben Hogan.
Palmer’s impact off the course was arguably just as significant, as he’s widely credited with helping to change the perception of the sport from a strictly elite pastime into a sport accessible to the working classes.
He was was the creator of Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation, which works to support children and youth and has set up several hospitals focused on treating kids.
Like Nicklaus, Palmer was a Republican who played golf with Dwight D. Eisenhower and admired Gerald Ford, according to a chronicle that his biographer, Thomas Hauser, published on Sporting News in 2018. His relationship with Trump, however, was somewhat more complicated.
In 2010, Palmer featured in a promotional video for Trump’s Golf Channel show “Donald J. Trump’s Fabulous World of Golf.”
The ad resurfaced last month when, ahead of a campaign trip to Palmer’s hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the president paid homage to the seven-time major winner, who died only a few weeks before Trump won the election in 2016.
“I’m going to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the home of the late, great Arnold Palmer— There was nobody like him,” Trump tweeted on September 3. “I got to know Arnold well, played golf with him and miss him.”
However, the feelings may have not been entirely reciprocated. Speaking to Hauser two years ago, Palmer’s daughter, Peg, indicated that while her father appreciated Trump’s support for golf and had dealings with the president in the past, he had been left disappointed by what he saw during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“My dad had dealings with him over the years at some charity fundraisers and a few other events that had to do with Trump’s golf courses,” she explained.
“My dad cherished golf and he appreciated Trump’s support for the game. Trump looked up to my dad, so I suspect he was on his best behavior when they were together. But in the campaign, my dad saw a different side of him.”
While Nicklaus considers Trump the ideal man to ensure the American Dream can still be pursued by millions of Americans, Palmer had developed a different view of the president.
“My dad didn’t like people who act like they’re better than other people,” Palmer’s daughter added. “He had no patience for people who are dishonest and cheat.
“My dad was disciplined. He wanted to be a good role model. He was appalled by Trump’s lack of civility and what he began to see as Trump’s lack of character. […]
What would my dad think of Donald Trump today? I think he’d cringe.”