The Forecaddie: Jack Nicklaus remembers caddie key to his U.S. Amateur success at Pebble Beach

Jack Nicklaus of Columbus, Ohio, knocks a short putt into the hole for a par 4 on Pebble Beach's eighth hole during his third round conquest of Dan James of Millbrae, Calif., in the National Amateur, Sept. 13, 1961. In background atop cliff is the succeeding twosome. Second shot on the hole requires a long iron across a cove of the Pacific Ocean to a small, heavily-trapped green. (AP Photo) Associated Press (1961)

The Forecaddie: Jack Nicklaus remembers caddie key to his U.S. Amateur success at Pebble Beach

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The Forecaddie: Jack Nicklaus remembers caddie key to his U.S. Amateur success at Pebble Beach

The Forecaddie thought he’d heard most Jack Nicklaus stories. So it was a great pleasure to hear about an important Pebble Beach character in the Golden Bear’s success at the legendary course. The fresh story was especially fun given it was revealed during the U.S. Amateur’s fifth edition at Pebble Beach.

Back in 1929, Harrison (Jimmy) Johnston won the U.S. Amateur in a final watched by 5,000 fans, even after Bobby Jones had been eliminated in the first round. While Jones was up playing Pasatiempo and settling on Alister Mackenzie as the architect for his dream course, Johnston was busy claiming the championship with a young local caddie named Al Gonzales.

Thirty-two years later, Gonzales was on the bag for Nicklaus during his 1961 U.S. Amateur win. Later, he looped for Jack in a few Bing Crosby National Pro-Ams. The little-known caddie died in 1970.

Last week, Nicklaus was reminiscing, walking around Pebble Beach, watching his son with even deeper ties to the first U.S. Amateur. The best part? The notorious self-reliant Nicklaus credited Gonzales with his uncanny ability to cope with Pebble Beach’s difficult greens.

“D.D. was his name,” Nicklaus told The Man Out Front. “I don’t know how I got him, but I did. He was Portuguese. He was a short, heavy-set guy with a felt hat and a big cigar. He knew the golf course like the back of his hands. He was just terrific, a wonderful guy.”

Before TMOF could ask how this meshed with Nicklaus’ aversion to letting caddies do much green reading, the Hall of Famer anticipated the follow-up question.

“I had no idea what to do with these greens when I got here,” he said. “D.D. read everything, and I don’t have [caddies] do that very often. On this particular golf course, when I first played it, I didn’t have a clue where the ball was going to break. If D.D. said hit it four inches left of the cup, I did and boom, I made a lot of putts.”

Count the grin on Nicklaus’ face and hearing about another unsung character as The Forecaddie’s U.S. Amateur week highlight. Gwk

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