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This is the famous Rob Noel Jack Nicklaus story (got to play with Nicklaus four or five times, this was the first). The year was 1997, and this story has been requested by many who have been sending me texts and calls. Not sure if my typing skills will do it justice. In 1996, I finished 69th on the Money List, which provided an exemption into the Memorial Golf Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. This was a big deal, its Jack's tournament. It's early spring and I'm on the range at Doral. I see Steve Nicklaus with his dad's bag. I get up the courage to walk over and ask if it's possible to play a practice round at Memorial with his dad. He tells me "I don't know, why don't you ask him". I didn't see it, but Jack walked up right behind me. After dropping a number two in my pants, I look at Mr. Nicklaus with my voice cracking, "Hi my name is Kelly Gibson and I qualified for your tournament this year. Do you think it would be possible to play a practice round with you at Memorial?" He replies, "I know who you are, and great playing. How's New Orleans?" I say "Great." I think he realizes how nervous I am based on the fact that my legs were shaking and a number 2 was just dropped in my saddle. He then says "Tuesday, 8am, Muirfield Village, 1st tee. We will play." I couldn't breath. I immediately leave the range and call my instructor Rob Noel, and say "get ready we are playing with the Golden Bear." Fast forward to May, Rob Noel and I are standing on the tee at 7:45am and up walks Omar Uresti and Woody Austin. They are like "hey what's up?" and I say "I'm playing with Jack" they respond "we are too". Not sure who was more nervous, the pros, Rob Noel or the caddies. We would eventually find out. Tee shots are in the air and I absolutely bombed mine 30 yards pass Nicklaus we are both in the middle of fairway. Jack hits a five-iron to about eight feet. I hit my eight-iron 30 feet left of pin high, its the first sign of problems for Rob and I. Next hole, tough driving hole, I hit this one 35 yards past Nicklaus and the pros. As we walk down the middle of the fairway, Jack looks right at Rob Noel with the stare only the Bear could give and says (in a very high pitched voice) "How much money have y'all made this year?" Rob Noel, who is a cajun from Abbeyville, LA, started choking on his boudin. He looks at Nicklaus and says in a cajun accent "Driving is not his problem, everything else is." Not sure if Nicklaus thought that was funny. As fate would have it, Nicklaus and I were partners in a $20 nassau. I eagled the 7th and Nicklaus birdied the 9th to win the front 9. On the 10th, things really got interesting for Rob. I was actually playing pretty good, and Nicklaus had this constantly perplexed look on his face. Well, we are about to find out why. I bombed another drive on #10 and I pushed my 9 iron 25ft. right of the pin, had mostly been hitting pulls all day. I say out loud, "there it is the reverse of what I have been doing. I gotta figure these short irons out." Nicklaus is about 10 yards in front of us, he whips his head around and stares right at Rob, then he begins to walk toward us and says (high pitched voice) "what are going to tell him?" Rob is now choking on boudin, cracklin, jambalaya, and everything else. Rob says, and I quote, "Well, um, well, um, ummm. He needs to keep the club in front of his chest longer as he rotates left." Nicklaus looks at him with such disappointment, and says (high pitched voice) "NOPE! He is not down-cocking enough" He turns around and walks off. I'm confused, I'm embarrassed, and I'm playing decent. I look at Rob and I say "What is down-cocking?" Rob with tears in his eyes says "I have NO idea." I then reply, "I guess we are both screwed." Not sure I hit another green in regulation, in fact I'm pretty sure I didn't. Back to the bet, we were $40 up on the 18th tee. The boys give us the aloha press for $40, its now an $80 hole. Nicklaus pushes his drive in the right rough, he is going to have to chip out. There are about 500 people following us, and I nail my drive again right down the middle. I say out loud to play to the crowd, "Never saw it, were did it go?" To my surprise, Nicklaus responds (high pitched voice) "It's right down the middle." I quickly reply, "Jack, I know were it is. I'm just saying I never saw it." He says, "No ones ever done that to me before." I say, "Today is you're lucky day." Jack chips out 50 yards short of the green, and is still loving the business I gave him on the tee. He gets over the top of my caddy and Rob, and says "don't hit this in the trap like the previous hole." I was done, launched my 8 iron into the right bunker, plugged lie. He looks at Rob while laughing at us. It was funny if not embarrassing. There are about 1,000 people standing behind the green because that night Gary Player was going to be inducted into the Memorial Hall of Fame. Everyone is watching Mr. Nicklaus from 50 yards out. Pin is middle-right, Woody Austin is out of the hole, Omar hits it just over the pin in the back fringe. Nicklaus stands there commanding the stage like a champion, hits a wedge a little bit past the pin left, it starts to spin, catches the slope and goes right in the hole. The crowd is going absolutely bonkers. I quickly pick-up my ball and go over to Omar and I say, "Don't you dare chip this in the hole and ruin my story." Omar proceeds to horse-shoe his chipshot. We win $80. Nicklaus invites us in for lunch as we sit down to order, he says "boys pay up." It was an amazing day that Rob Noel and I will never forget. Jack Nicklaus is one of my idols in life, and I can't ever thank Rob Noel enough for the impact he had on my career, he built a pretty strong golf swing that lasted quite a while. #JackNicklaus #RobNoel

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