Golf remains the beating heart at PGA National. Though there’s no strict relationship, the PGA of America offices are here, and some of its finest tournaments have played out over the Champion.
In this Ryder Cup year it’s worth recalling the 1983 thriller, when Nicklaus was the U.S. captain. Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins remembers it well, since the outcome hinged on one of his shots.
“It came down to the last two singles matches. Tom Watson was playing Bernard Gallacher, and he was going to win.” Which meant it was up to Wadkins, playing Jose Maria Canizares. “The strange thing was that I felt I had outplayed Jose all day but had nothing to show for it.”
With his teammates watching, Wadkins was down one hole at the last par-5 needing to win the hole, halve the match and secure the Cup. Canizares left his third shot short, leaving Wadkins an 82-yard wedge shot.
“It was huge, but I hit it a foot from the hole, and that was that. Tom Kite ran up and slapped me on the back; I turned to say something and nothing came out. That’s probably the most nervous I’ve ever been.”
Everyone on the American side was jubilant. Nicklaus fell to his knees in the 18th fairway and kissed the divot that Wadkins made.