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tv   The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations  Bloomberg  September 11, 2019 9:00pm-9:30pm EDT

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♪ david: in your career, you won 18 majors, which is the most of many think beating your record is possible. jack: i don't know, tiger is pretty good. [laughter] in those days, compensation was good, but not compared to today. jack: i was making as much money selling insurance as playing golf. david: what makes a great golfer? concentration? physical ability? jack: i think winning breeds winning. >> would you fix your tie, please? david: well, people wouldn't recognize me if my tie was fixed, but ok. just leave it this way. alright. ♪ david: i don't consider myself a
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journalist. and nobody else would consider myself a journalist. i began to take on the life of being an interviewer even though i have a day job of running a private equity firm. how do you define leadership? what is it that makes somebody tick? let me go back to the beginning of golf. i am not a golfer. i have to be honest with you. i took it up when i was nine, i quit when i was 10. jack: i'm not one anymore either. david: but you were pretty famous in golf. it was too frustrating and here is what i cannot understand. why is it some new people are addicted to something that is so humiliating?
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and frustrating to so many people? it never goes where it supposed to go, why are people addicted to it? jack: that is a pretty good question. it's a never-ending pursuit of an unattainable goal. [laughter] david: right. jack: you could try all you want. nobody has ever mastered the game. most athletes love to play golf because it's difficult. it's challenging for them. it challenges them at whatever level they play. and i think that's why they enjoy it. that's why i enjoyed it. no matter how good i got, i can always be better. grew up, youou corrupt, played many different sports. you were recruited to play football at ohio state? jack: basketball. david: you were a good football player as well? jack: decent, yep. david: golf was not your most important sport? or was it one of the three most important? jack: golf was another sport at the time. once i started into college, i won a national trophy. it got me on the walker cup team. all of a sudden, i was one of the best 12 amateurs in the country.
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later that year, i won the national and i was ranked number one. i thought, maybe i'm better at this than i thought i was. i almost won the u.s. open the next year. i did win it the next year. i said, maybe i need to play against the best. it was a process. david: your father got you into golf initially? was he a good golfer? jack: he was a decent golfer as a kid. then he quit for 15 years and was a pharmacist. he broke his ankle playing volleyball. he ended up having three operations and had it fused. the doctor said, if you don't want to end up in a wheelchair, start walking again. we went to the suburbs. he joined at a country club and took me along to carry the bag. he couldn't make a game because he couldn't walk very far. that year, jack grout came that year. the pga championship came that year.
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so i got all that in my first year of playing golf. it got me charged up to learn a sport. david: jack grout became your coach for most of your career. jack: he was my coach until 1989 when he passed. david: so your father and jack grout were the people who mostly got you on the way involved? jack: my dad was my best friend and my idol. i loved my dad. he did everything with me. he just gave up everything for me. david: in those days it wasn't clear that you can make a big career financially as a professional golfer. so you were thinking of getting a degree as an accountant, or being a pharmacist? jack: i started college. most kids want to be what their dad was. my dad was a pharmacist. i went through pre-pharmacy. i hated afternoon labs. david: right, so. jack: my dad talked me into doing something else. i started selling insurance. david: ok. jack: i loved selling life insurance to my fraternity brothers, they needed it.
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[laughter] jack: i did that for a while. i did pretty well at it. i was making good money. i got married and had my first child. but i really wanted to play golf. david: now you -- jack: that's what i did. david: you got married to barbara. you've been married how many years? jack: 59 next month. david: 59 years. [applause] david: ok. the result is five children and 22 grandchildren. jack: that's right. david: you never forget the name of a grandchild. jack: i know their name. i know 95% of their birthdays. david: really? ok. that's pretty impressive. in those days you were thinking of becoming professional. you weren't sure. you met with bob jones. david: yep. david: the most famous amateur golfer of them all. how did you come to meet him? jack: he was a speaker at the banquet of my first u.s. amateur when i was 15 years old. at that time, he got paralyzed.
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he was still walking with canes at that time. and he saw me play. last practice round, he said, i going to watch you play am tomorrow. here i a 15-year-old kid, am playing in my first amateur, and the greatest player who ever lived will watch me play. he came out and i bogey, bogey, double bogey. lost my match, but it was a great experience. he became a good friend. he was great counsel. he was a really, really good man. david: so you decided to turn professional in the year after you won the second amateur. jack: yeah. won jack: yeah. david: you decided you would make a career out of it? jack: i didn't have any more goals to do in amateur golf. i wanted to be the best i could be at playing golf. the only way i can do that is to play against the best. the only way to do that is the play against the best, play against the pros.
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david: in those days, the compensation was good but not compared to today. jack: i was making as much money selling insurance as playing golf. david: but you did -- jack: i surpassed it. david: so, as you went on, you had a rivalry with arnold palmer a bit. he was the leading golfer when you came into the pros. and then you surpassed him in many ways. what was it like in the early days when you were rising and he was at the top? jack: well, i wasn't real popular, because i started beating arnold. i wasn't popular myself because i was an arnold palmer fan. and arnold was a good guy. we got to be close friends. our wives got to be close friends. but he was, and he never really seemed to mind that i beat him more than he beat me. i'm sure he probably did inside. he never let me know it. he took me under his wing. he's 10 years older than i was. he was great to me. i have nothing but love for arnold palmer. david: in your career, you won 18 majors.
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which is the most of anybody. jack: yeah. david: tiger woods has won 15. but many people think trying to beat your record is impossible. jack: i don't know. tiger is pretty good. [laughter] jack: pretty good. david: so let's see, you won the masters six times. jack: yeah. david: is that your favorite tournament? the masters? jack: probably so. david: in the course of your career, you won more than 100 tournaments. jack: yeah. david: is that right? 18 majors, and you were the leading money winner 17 times. the leading lowest shot for a tournament for a year seven times. and there's no record and golf you haven't achieved. is that right? was there anything left for you? jack: i don't know if there's any record i haven't achieved, but my record is good. you know, you can always be better. that is the neat thing about the game of golf. no matter how good you get at something, you can be better.
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david: in terms of being better, it's hard to know how you can do better than you have done. let's ask you a couple of things. what is the key to make somebody a great golfer? is it concentration? is it physical ability? is it a combination of those things? jack: i think your mind is a big part about it. you have to believe in what you can do. you have to learn to play within yourself. i think anybody, in all walks of life, i don't care what business you are in, you need to work within yourself. and then you need to do what you can do, not what somebody else can do. and he started believing in that. and i think winning breeds winning. i was lucky, my first year i won the u.s. open. i won the biggest tournament in golf my first year out. and i believed that i could play. so all of a sudden, they said it in a littleng easier for me. david: the first year that you won the u.s. open, was that in a playoff with arnold palmer? jack: i had to fight his gallery a lot. i never had to fight arnold. he always treated me with respect.
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he treated me like a fellow competitor. and so i didn't have those issues. david: one of the most enjoyable tournaments people say to ever have watch coming anybody could have her have watched, was the 1986 masters. you were an old, old man of 46. was a reallyh, i old man. it's very young today. david: people -- no one had ever won a major over the age of 42. tiger won the masters now at 43. jack: yeah. david: 46 was considered ready for a golf cart or wheelchair, or something. jack: close. david: you were not leading the tournament until near the end. you were four shots behind with the final nine holes to go. is that right? jack: yeah, the first time i led the tournament was after 71 holes. david: ok. jack: going to the last hole. david: you were four shots behind at the final nine, did
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you think you could win? jack: i birdied 9, 10, 11. i messed up 12 little bit. but then i birdied 13. and then when i eagle 15, birdied 16 and 17, yeah, i thought i could win. [laughter] jack: because i was in the lead. david: was that the most emotional win you have ever had? jack: well, you know, it is kind of funny. i had finished playing golf by then. i won two majors when i was 40 years old. and i really just enjoyed playing golf and i wanted to be part of the game. i struck lightning in a bottle a little bit that week. and all of a sudden, i got around to the last nine or 10 holes and i remembered how to play. you get yourself in contention, and all of a sudden, much like what happened to tiger at the masters this year, when i saw the fellow start to fill up the creek at the 12th hole, he took this pretty little shot out.
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i said, tournament is over. he will remember how to play. i remembered how to play. and i remembered how to finish. that was really fun being able to do that. ♪ david: you have played with a lot of presidents of the united states. jack: i have played with a few. david: which one is the best at playing golf? jack: trump, probably. david: really? jack: trump plays pretty well. he plays a little bit like i do. ♪
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♪ david: you early in your career decided that you wanted to be involved in golf course design. and as i now understand it, you have personally designed about 310 courses. and your company has designed over 400 or so. jack: over 400, yeah. david: about 1000 tournaments have been held on these courses. they are in 46 different countries and 40 different states. so it's pretty impressive. jack: i got into it by following pete dye. pete dye was the premier golf course designer over the last 30 years or so. and pete one day called me. this was mid 1960's. he said, jack, i would like to have you come out and review a course. what do you want me to
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see? he says, i want you to critique it for me. i said i don't know anything about design. he says you know more than you think you know. i looked through the golf course, he asked me a couple things. i said i don't anything about that. he says, yeah you do. tell me what you would like to see. he did it. it peaked my interest. i got a call from charles frazier from the pines plantation from arbor town, hilton head island. they said, i would like to have you do our golf course design. i said i don't know anything about that, but i have a young guy, pete dye, that i would like to work with. i did that. i did that with pete. and about six months before the tournament, they had a heritage golf classic there since 1959. arnold won the first tournament. i loved it. i had a ball. it was tremendous. david: talking about golf, your favorite course to play of any, other than the ones you might have designed, i assume you like those the most -- jack: it's like who is your
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favorite child, the same thing. david: which ones would you say were your favorites to play? jack: well, if i had one round, probably pebble beach. i love pebble beach. the scene out there, i love the u.s. amateur there. open, threes. others out there. i just love the place. my two favorite places in the game are augustine national and st. andrews. david: when you finish your professional career, it was in 2005. your last tournament was the british open. was that emotional? jack: yeah. yeah. david: you had your family there. jack: i had my family there. they were all there. my son, steve, caddied for me. we stopped on a bridge across the 18th fairway. we didn't get a decent picture of steve because steve was crying too much.
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tom watson was crying. they are all emotional. i'm trying to figure out how to finish the golf tournament. they are out there crying on me. we had a great time. it was fun. i loved it. i did not want to finish on friday, but i did finish on friday. david: so you, your last shot was a rdie? ofk: you know, it is kind funny, because i was in make the cut that day. i got to the 18th hole. the ball had not gotten anywhere near the hole all day. and i knew that that putt, the tournament was over. no matter where i hit it, the hole would move in front of it. i started my career in a major in with apionships 1957 birdie on the first leg played. and i finished it on st. andrews with a 14 foot putt birdie. , a david: you didn't think, maybe i should stay longer? jack: i stayed long enough. david: you played with many prominent individuals over the years and prominent golfers.
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if you could pick any golfer to twosome,partner in it to som who would you pick? jack: tiger today. through the years, i never got to play with bobby jones. i knew him and really loved the man. i would love to play with jones. i would have loved -- i played quite a bit of golf with hogan. hogan was fantastic. david: you have also played with a lot of presidents of the united states. jack: i've played with a few. david: which one is the best? at playing golf? jack: well, the ones i have played with, trump is probably the best player. david: really? jack: he plays pretty well. he plays a little bit like i do. he doesn't really ever finish many holes, but he can hit the ball. he goes out and plays and enjoys it. but he has won several club championships. he can play. gerald ford, i played 50 rounds with ford. i used to play with him at the at&t every year. ford was about a 13 handicap.
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but he played to a 13 handicap. clinton, i never knew what he might do. clinton would, he might play to a 10 or a 30. but he had a nice golf swing. all these guys enjoy playing golf. i don't think any one of them were serious about the game. but they all enjoyed playing it. it's good for the game of golf to have a president of the united states, this is my game. david: when you are playing in those kinds of matches, and the ball is 10 feet away from the hole, why do people not say, put t it out as opposed to you can have it? david: i think that is a little i think that is a little bit of politics. you give me mine and i'll give you yours. that kind of routine, which is not golf. david: you have a grandson who recently at a masters par 3 tournament got a hole in one. is that an emotional thing to see your grandson get a hole in one?
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jack: that's pretty good. it was a funny story. his me is gt. gary thomas after his father. he is a junior. we went out to play nine holes. i always ask the kids if they would caddy for me every year. i said, do you want to hit a ball? he says, well none of my cousins have gotten it on the green. i said, ok. he says i would love to hit a ball. i said, you might as well hit a hole in one. he says, ok. he says papaw, i'm papaw, thinks i will make a hole in one. he says, really? day he if the next knocks it right in the hole. gary was jumping all over the place. such a great friend and role model. tom watson was jumping all over the place. david: i'd like to talk about how you and your wife have
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decided to focus your philanthropy on children's hospitals. jack: to see what has happened with these kids, i'm going to tell you one thing, it is far more important than a four foot putt. ♪
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♪ david: so when players are playing golf in a tournament, you are paired with somebody. you actually talk during when you're walking down the fairway? jack: sure. david: i thought they didn't even talk to each other. jack: the guys are good friends. arnold and i had a fierce rivalry.
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and we blew more tournaments by ourselves trying to beat each other than worrying about the field. we would get off the golf course and say we did it again. we both shot 75 while everybody else shot 65. but just the two of us tried to beat each other. we would shake hands and ask where are you going to dinner tonight. i love the golf kids today. i love watching when gary woodland finished. you don't see it on television, but you saw four or five of the other players congratulated him after. when justice thomas won the pga two years ago, ricky fowler and jordan spieth and those guys waiting for him. the guys really support each other. and they've got enough money. they are not worried about the money. they know it's a game. these guys are their friends and they enjoy it. david: in recent years, tiger woods has struggled a bit. he went 10 years between winning a major tournament. do you think today that your
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record of 18 majors can be broken by tiger? or by anybody? jack: i think so. -- is going, he could do it before tiger. the last one that tiger won was torrey pines in san diego. tiger hit it off over the place and he won the tournament. he had not had a back fusion. his swing is much better now than it was then. he has learned not to hit it hard because he doesn't want to hurt himself. and tiger's short game is fantastic. tiger is going to win a lot more tournaments. whether he will win three or four more majors, i don't know. but tiger is 43, and in the game of golf today, that is not really old. david: let's talk about philanthropy. i'd like to talk about how how you and your wife focused your philanthropy on children's hospitals. jack: well, we started, david, back in 1966. our daughter was 11 months old.
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and she started choking. and we couldn't understand why. we got her to the doctor and she would be fine. finally the doctor says, we need to get her down to the children's hospital. we went down to columbus children's hospital, now nationwide children's hospital. they found a crayon in her windpipe. i don't know what they did, but they did not have a pediatric broncoscope. they had an adult broncoscope. they broke the crayon, dropped it into her lungs. she got pneumonia. for six days she was touch and go. and as barbara and i were sitting, waiting, we said, if we ever are in a position to help others, we want it to be children. 15 years ago, the honda tournament moved up from fort lauderdale to the palm beach area. fred millsaps came to me and said, jack, what do you think of this area of children's
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charities? i looked at barbara and said, do you want to go for it? she said, go for it. we started a foundation. we have been the main beneficiary, honda, several other events. we haven't done anything large. we raised over $100 million. david: that is pretty impressive. jack: that is pretty good. [applause] david: the miami city children's hospital has been renamed in your honor. jack: miami was miami children's, and we made in association with miami children's. after a couple years, they said, we would like to be a global hospital. we would like to use the nicklaus name. and it's fantastic. to see what has happened with these kids, i want to tell you one thing, it is far more important than a four-foot putt. and i enjoy it a lot more. david: the satisfaction of winning the masters. jack: it's fantastic. david: but saving a child's life is -- jack: it's unbelievable. david: it's been a great life
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and a great inspiration for so many americans and for those around the world. thank you for everything you've done for the golf world and for philanthropy. thank you. jack: well, david, thank you for having me. i appreciate it. david: thank you very much. jack: thanks. [applause] [laughter] ♪ here, it all starts with a simple...
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