Golf legend Jack Nicklaus, who had the star power of Tiger Woods a generation ago, would receive a congressional gold medal under terms of a bill, H.R. 4040, introduced earlier this year and passed April 16 in the House of Representatives. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., and with the support of 341 co-sponsors, the measure now is before the Senate.
Both the House and Senate, and President Obama, must approve the measure before it becomes law. After that, a gold medal would be struck as a gift of Congress and bronze duplicates would be available to collectors willing to buy it from the Mint. Right now, it is off to the Senate for consideration.
The “Golden Bear,” as Nicklaus was often referred to, amassed 118 victories in professional gold competition, including 18 professional major-championship titles. He is the only player in golf history to have won each major championship at least three times and is the only player to complete a career Grand Slam on the regular and senior tours.
Starting in the 108th Congress in 2003, Arnold Palmer a frequent golfing companion of Nicklaus, was nominated for a congressional gold medal. Palmer’s gold medal was approved on Sept, 30, 2009, with the passage of Public Law 111-65.
Byron Nelson, the legendary golf figure of the 1940s is also the recipient of a congressional gold medal recognizing his achievements on the links. Tiger Woods has had the bill introduced in six different Congresses, but no action has yet been taken.
The vote on the measure was almost unanimous; four members of the House voted against it, not because of a dislike for Nicklaus (whom they all conceded was a legendary golfer), but to save the $30,000 in costs that are appropriated to create and strike the medal.