Imagine being jolted awake the morning before the first round of a major championship by a phone call saying you’re needed to caddie for Jack Nicklaus during the height of his heyday. Heady stuff, right? That was the scenario 40 years ago when Jack Rickard, a North Carolina heating and air conditioning salesman, ended up with what would become a front-row seat to a Sunday showdown between Lee Trevino and Nicklaus at the 1974 PGA Championship at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, N.C.
“My wife said that I just screamed, ‘Nicklaus!’ (and) put on my shoes and ran out of the house,” Rickard, now 84, tells The Man Out Front.
This was the era before pros could use their own caddies at majors – sorry, Angelo. Besides, Rickard had trained for the PGA for months.
“I took an old golf bag, put bricks in the pockets and two sets of clubs to make it heavy,” he said. “I lived at the end of the street, and I ran up and down a hill to get in shape.”
Rickard was slated to loop for Buddy Allin until Allin fell off a ladder before the championship and withdrew. Rickard became first alternate until his phone rang that fateful morning. What happened to Nicklaus’ original bagman? Blistered feet.
So Rickard found himself in the thick of a Sunday duel between Nicklaus and Trevino, who boasted to Rickard, “Your man can’t beat me. No one can beat me today.”
And Trevino backed up his brag, holding on for a one-stroke victory.