Royal Dublin


Course Status

Links is open for play today, Buggies are permitted and the range is open. Updated: 18th Apr 2024

Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus was born in Dublin, Ohio, and how appropriate that his first visit to Ireland should take place at The Royal Dublin Golf Club.

The date was Monday July 21, 1986, the occasion the Toyota Challenge of Champions, an exhibition match between Jack and Severiano Ballesteros.

Earlier that year, Jack had stunned and delighted the world of golf by his triumph in The Masters at Augusta at age 46 to win his 18th professional Major championship.

The Toyota Challenge of Champions was the brainchild of Dr Tim Mahony, a member of Royal Dublin, and the Chairman of Toyota Ireland.

Temporary stands were erected close to the 18th green to cater for the enthusiastic gallery of 6,000 golf fans eager to see two golfing greats ply their trade.

Politicians, including the then US Ambassador Margaret Heckler, members of the Dáil, and leading business people were among the attendance.

Seve, then 29, had shot 64 in his final round at The Open Championship held in Turnberry the day before the Challenge, but it was not enough to deny Greg Norman the Claret Jug.

Jack had played The Open but finished down the field.

He flew on his private jet to Dublin, accompanied by his wife Barbara, daughter Nan, then 21, and one of his sons, Michael (12).

The well known actor and entertainer Niall Tóibín, another Royal Dublin member, was Master of Ceremonies and the Army No 1 band provided pre-event entertainment.

First on the agenda was an enjoyable, informative, and entertaining golf clinic in which the two stars displayed their considerable talents.

The highlight of the clinic was the Spanish maestro amazing the gallery by getting down on his knees and hitting a drive 250 yards.

With the players duly warmed up, the match began.

Jack, clad in the colours of the Irish national flag with green trousers, white golf shirt and yellow sweater, had the honour.

He had never seen the course, and by his own admission, was very short sighted, but he hit the fairway with his opening drive and made birdie on the first hole.

That set the tone. The competitive pride of both men was evident and while their exchanges were friendly and witty throughout the match, they were both trying their best on every shot.

Seve, then 29 and winner of four Majors - he was to win his fifth and final one, The Open, in 1988 - produced some trademark stunning short game shots and reached the turn in 34, one under par.

Good, but not quite good enough as Jack had negotiated the outward nine in 32, bringing huge roars from the gallery as he birdied the eighth and ninth holes.

The weather deteriorated through the back nine but falling rain did not dampen the spirits of the spectators, nor the focus of the players.

The lead ebbed and flowed between the two protagonists.

Jack led by three after the 11th when Seve bogeyed; then came a two shot swing on the par-3, 12th with a birdie for the Spaniard and a bogey for the Golden Bear.

On 13, Jack was bunkered off the tee and a par for Seve brought them level with six to play.

Hole 14, par-5.  An errant drive from Seve and a birdie four by Jack left the man from Dublin, Ohio, ahead by a shot.

They each made par on the 15th and Jack thrilled the spectators by driving the 16th.  His eagle putt came up just short, but the birdie was assured.  Leader by two with two to play.

Was it over for Seve? Not at all. He had an opening when his opponent found sand off the tee and made sure of his par to Jack’s five.

Last hole. The famous “Garden” where Seve had holed a monster putt to defeat Bernhard Langer in the 1985 Carrolls Irish Open.

They each played a safe tee shot. Nicklaus’s second finished left of the green, about pin high.

Seve’s second came up short, about 40 feet from the hole.

Jack pitched onto the green, but his ball stopped rolling six feet away from the flagstick.

Over to Seve - and he did not disappoint. Settling himself carefully, he drew back the putter and with a firm rap sent the ball on its way.

It arrowed across the green and flashed into the hole for a sensational birdie three and a round of 70.

 A thunderous roar erupted from the gallery.

Now it was Jack’s turn, but his read was slightly off and the ball finished a tad right of the hole for 71.

Seve was the winner of the match, but the real winners were the fans who attended Royal Dublin on that memorable occasion to see two superstars of the game display their talents.


The Greats


The Royal Dublin Golf Club

North Bull Island Nature Reserve , Dollymount, Dublin 3 , Ireland

Phone: +353 1 833 6346 | Fax: +353 1 833 6504


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