“The Big Three” – a moniker first assigned to Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer in the 1960’s due to their dominance in professional golf – has evolved into a trademark representing golf’s greatest legends. Below explore what made these three legends the greatest rivals and friends in golf and maybe even in sport.
“The thing that comes to mind about Arnold, Jack and me is that there was such a wonderful rivalry and competition amongst the three of us. When we competed against each other on the golf course we were like wild dogs, we wanted to win so badly. But when one of us won, the other two would put their hands out and say: “Well done, but I’ll get you next week.” It was a very healthy rivalry, based upon gentlemanly conduct.
Golf is a global game and we all felt it was our duty to promote the sport around the world, not just in our home countries. We got on aeroplanes and buzzed off to Japan, to Australia, to South Africa. We had some terrific matches and some wonderful memories, and today it is gratifying to hear people say we were not just thinking of ourselves, but the betterment of the game.
We are the best of friends, we respect each other, and we try to do more than just play golf. We tried to be global ambassadors for the game and to be role models for young people. I never saw Arnold or Jack behave badly. In all the time I played with them, I never saw either take a golf club and thump it on the ground in anger. That is something I have noticed with true stars. Very few of them have bad tempers. The three of us always felt we had a responsibility to be better than that.”