The National Board of Directors of the PGA of Canada is presenting Jack Nicklaus with the 2013 George Cumming Distinguished Service Award, as well as honoring the Golden Bear with just the sixth ever Honorary Life Membership of the PGA of Canada. The honor came Thursday night as part of the association's "Canada Night" celebration at the PGA Merchandise show in Orlando.
Jack joined eight other 2013 winners and honorees.
"This year's crop of national award winners are truly great golf professionals and on behalf of the national board of directors' and the association's 3,700 members, I'm proud to congratulate them today on their achievements," says the PGA of Canada's president Gregg Schubert.
"Canada Night at the PGA Merchandise Show promises to be an amazing evening," Schubert added. "Not only is it an opportunity to mix and mingle with others in the golf industry, but it's also a chance to celebrate this wonderful group of PGA of Canada professionals who have been recognized as national award winners, not to mention we'll also be unveiling the inaugural class of the PGA of Canada Hall of Fame as well, so that's very exciting."
Jack joins Arnold Palmer, Dick Grimm, Marlene Streit, Herb Paterson and David Mayes in an elite class of individuals who have been named Honorary Life Members due to their unparalleled contributions to the PGA of Canada and the game of golf in Canada.
Jack has a long and storied association with Canada having been runner-up seven times in the Canadian Open. "My wife Barbara kept sending me to Canada until I could get it right and win," the Golden Bear joked.
An important part of Jack's design legacy is Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ontario, which, when it opened in 1976, represented the Golden Bear's first solo golf course design. It has hosted 26 Canadian Opens and an LPGA event. Glen Abbey was the first of seven Nicklaus Design courses across Canada, five of which personally involved Jack. The Nicklaus organization continues to design courses throughout Canada—most recently with the Nicklaus Design project in Nova Scotia called Forest Lakes.
Jack also played in several Canadian Skins Game, including a memorable matchup in 2006 in Prince Edward Island with friend Tom Watson.
"I want to thank the PGA of Canada for letting me part of this evening," Nicklaus said via video. "Thanks for this wonderful honor; and thank you for the many years in which you have welcomed and embraced me.
"The Distinguished Service Award is humbling in and by itself, but to designate me as just the sixth Honorary Life Member just reinforces the special relationship and connection I have had for decades to the people and the game in Canada."