Jack Nicklaus Confirms Masters Par-3 Contest Retirement

The 82-year-old six-times Masters champion won't tee it up in the traditional warm-up event this year

Jack Nicklaus will still hit the first tee shot of The Masters alongside Tom Watson and Gary Player, but will not play the Par-3 Contest again
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Jack Nicklaus will not play the traditional Par-3 Contest at The Masters this year after admitting, “I just can’t play any more.” The 82-year-old six-times Masters champion will still hit the opening tee shot alongside fellow legends Gary Player and Tom Watson, but for the first time he won’t be competing as age starts to catch up with him.

The Par-3 Contest, played the day before the tournament proper over nine holes ranging from 70 to 140 yards in the north-east corner of Augusta National, has become one of the most-loved traditions of Masters week since its inception in 1960. Nicklaus played up to 2019 and while it has been cancelled the past two years because of Covid, it was hoped he’d be in the field again. However, while the Par-3 Contest is back this year, the Golden Bear will not be playing.

He told GolfWeek: “I’m done with the Par 3, but toward the end of my career, I used to play every year. But I just can’t play anymore. Even though I don’t play anymore, it’s fun to be there. It’s fun to go to the Masters dinner. And then there is the honour of hitting the opening tee shot alongside Gary Player. Now, with the addition of our good friend, Tom Watson, that will be nice. I enjoy seeing everybody. It’s like a reunion.”

In 2018, playing alongside Player and Watson in the Par-3 Contest, Nicklaus had what he later called his greatest day at Augusta National. He often had one of his children or grandchildren on the bag for the Par-3 Contest, and on that occasion it was 15-year-old grandson Gary ‘GT’ Nicklaus Jr. As is traditional, Jack let his caddie take the tee shot at the final hole and watched in amazement as it pitched on the green and slowly trundled back and disappeared for a hole-in-one.

WATCH: GT Nicklaus hits a hole-in-one 

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The teenager had managed in one shot what it took his famous grandfather 75 years to do, make an ace at Augusta, and the old man couldn’t have been prouder. “I didn’t want to be disrespectful because six green jackets are pretty good,” he said the next day. “But that’s about yourself. When something happens with your children or your grandchildren, that’s far more special to you. And so yesterday, I said, was the greatest day I’ve had at Augusta National.” 

Jeff Kimber
Jeff Kimber

Jeff graduated from Leeds University in Business Studies and Media in 1996 and did a post grad in journalism at Sheffield College in 1997. His first jobs were on Slam Dunk (basketball) and Football Monthly magazines, and he's worked for the Sunday Times, Press Association and ESPN. He has faced golfing greats Sam Torrance and Sergio Garcia, but on the poker felt rather than the golf course. Jeff's favourite course played is Sandy Lane in Barbados, which went far better than when he played Matfen Hall in Northumberland, where he crashed the buggy on the way to the 1st tee!