Sept. 21-26, 2021 Whistling Straits, Kohler, WI
Aon Defining Decisions

The Nicklaus-Jacklin Award

The PGA of America, Ryder Cup Europe, and Aon present a first-of-its-kind award to honor one player from both the U.S. and European teams who best embodies the spirit of the Ryder Cup. The Nicklaus-Jacklin Award will go to the players who see the bigger picture and who make better decisions critical to sportsmanship, teamwork and performance.

About the Award

In golf as in business, better decisions define us. The Nicklaus–Jacklin Award presented by Aon is named after the famous 1969 ‘Concession’ by Jack Nicklaus, when he conceded a two-foot putt to Tony Jacklin for a halved match. The award commemorates the type of sportsmanship, teamwork and sound, strategic decision-making that attracts people to the game. At the 43rd Ryder Cup, Ryder Cup and Aon will introduce a new award that is inspired by the decisions of yesterday and defined by the decisions of today.

Award Selection

The Nicklaus–Jacklin Award presented by Aon will be given at the conclusion of the Ryder Cup. The recipient of the inaugural award will be selected by a committee consisting of: Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin, past European and U.S. Ryder Cup Captains, Aon’s Carlo Clavarino, and representatives from Sky Sports and NBC Sports. Selection will be based on players’ decision-making relative to: sportsmanship, teamwork and performance.

Nicklaus-Jacklin Award Defining Decisions presented by Aon
The Nicklaus-Jacklin Award presented by Aon represents everything the Ryder Cup stands for. In this four (4) part series, we take a look back at the some of the most defining Ryder Cup decisions around the awards three pillars: sportsmanship, teamwork, and performance.
Course Insights presented by Aon
In the lead up to the 43rd Ryder Cup, Aon, Luke Donald and Jim “Bones” Mackay deliver key course insights that inform players’ strategy and decision-making at Whistling Straits.
  • This may appear to be a benign par-4 as an opening hole at the Ryder Cup, but nerves will be incredibly high for the players on the first tee. The key decision will be whether to take the conservative approach in foursomes or singles, which will involve players hitting a shorter club from the tee into the wider part of the fairway or an aggressive approach in foursomes that may see players take the driver and leave themselves a shorter second shot into the green.
  • A great match play hole, player’s strategic approach could be determined by the format of the match. If you don’t hit the fairway on a Pete Dye-designed golf course, you are going to be in jail, and this hole is the epitome of that.
  • Players cannot afford to miss the green left from the tee with the deep bunkers and dunes. The play is to favor the right side, and even a miss to the right is still a manageable up and down, at worst a bogey. A miss to the left and players are looking at a big number.
  • It’s essential to hit the fairway here, and as a result, some players will be forced to play conservatively off the tee and lay the ball back with a 3-wood. While Whistling Straits isn’t a traditional links course, it does have some elements and the ground game and low ball-flight can prove to be rewarding. Based on pin location, there are some opportunities where those Open Championship style shots can come into play.
  • This is a great risk-reward par-5. The key decision will be around whether players choose to go for the green in two or take the more conservative approach and lay-up. This will be interesting to match based on the format and the decision players make in foursomes, fourballs, and singles. As with most Pete Dye courses, he has identified a location where players can bail out with a mistake, which is long and right. Short or left will result in trouble.
  • This short dogleg right hole can bring in a ton of different strategies and is a terrific match play hole given the variety of ways it can be set up. The green is well protected and if the pin is located back right, it will make it very difficult for players to attack the green. This could lead to some players laying up and leaving themselves anywhere from 80-115 yards left if they can get enough spin with their second shot to leave the ball close to the hole.
  • This long intimidating par-3 has trouble in every direction. From multiple bunkers and Lake Michigan hugging the right side of the green to the hilly terrain and more sand trouble to the left, a conservative approach might be the only play. Players should look to aim for the sloped left side of the green to allow their ball to feed back towards the center. A pin location on the right edge of the green would take a miraculous, high-risk shot to have a birdie look.
  • Correct club selection is vital for success on this hole. A blind tee shot will force players to pick a safe target line on the left side of the fairway to avoid a severe drop-off and trouble on the right. Despite the scenic look at Lake Michigan for players’ second shots, playing conditions, and another smart club choice both will have to be strategically assessed to have any chance of safely getting on in two.
  • As players head back towards the clubhouse before the turn, the 9this very much a scoreable hole. It is essential to hit the open fairway off the tee with a potentially blocked second shot with a tree 100 yards short of the green if a player is too far right. Compared to the other greens at Whistling Straits, the 9this quite narrow making the backend of this hole tricky. Seven Mile Creek to the right and dunes to the left create a tight aiming location for the approach shot.
  • This short par-4 has a high-risk reward decision for players and their caddies. The aggressive approach looking to drive the green is definitely in play, but the dangerous fairway pot bunker can ravage that plan quickly.
  • This lengthy par-4 entices players to hit driver but at a great risk. On top of the distance factor of this hole, sand truly is a threat all over.
  • Don’t let the short distance fool you, execution of safely landing a ball on the green will be tough. This downhill tee shot and incredibly difficult green force players to hit a perfect shot especially with a back right hole location, one of the smallest landing zones on the course.
  • This down hill short par-4 can be reachable with a favourable wind. Picking a line towards the left and finding the fairway is important to avoid the dunes with potentially difficult lies.
  • Depending on match status, players may be seen going for it all by cutting the corner and landing their tee shot close to the green.
  • As players are coming in on the home stretch, this is arguably the hardest par-4 at Whistling Straits. An elevated tee shot is demanding and failure to hit the fairway can find your ball in a buried bunker if the left side is not favored.
  • 16 is the shortest par-5 at the Straits, inviting players to use drive off the tee. Historically most Ryder Cup matches are decided on the 16th hole of competition, so it is sure to bring excitement.
  • Varying wind can cause players to hit anything from 3 to 6 iron. Hole location will also be a deciding factor with front right being blocked by a tall mound. A back left hole can lead to real excitement with the green releasing hard right to left.
  • A blind tee shot will surely add to the immense pressure of the final hole of the Ryder Cup. A target line to the right is safe but leaves players with a lengthy approach shot in. If the situation demands a more aggressive line, a 270-yard carry over sand dunes and bunkers will be needed if aimed towards the left side of the fairway.
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Enter your email address to receive updates on changes in rankings and important announcements.
We appreciate your interest in and excitement for The Ryder Cup. We will be sharing important updates as they become available.
There has been an error in your submission. Please try again.