CARLSBAD, Calif. – Jim Flick, a golf instructor for more than 50 years whose clients included Tom Lehman and Jack Nicklaus upon joining the Champions Tour, died Monday of pancreatic cancer, his family said. He was 82.
Flick taught golf in 23 countries and directed programs such as Golf Digest's Schools and ESPN Golf Schools. He was director of instruction at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz., for 20 years and wrote five books, the most recent one titled, "Jack Nicklaus, Simply the Best." Nicklaus sought out Flick in 1990 to help with his game after his longtime coach, Jack Grout, had died. They co-founded the Nicklaus-Flick Golf Schools, which operated from 1991 to 2003.
Lehman spoke to Flick on Sunday before winning the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Desert Mountain.
A native of Bedford, Ind., Flick began playing golf at age 10. He attended Wake Forest on a basketball scholarship and roomed six months of his sophomore year with Arnold Palmer, who was a junior. Flick turned pro after he graduated in 1952 and tried tournament golf until realizing his career was in teaching.
Flick was PGA Teacher of the Year in 1988, and he was inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame and the Southern Ohio PGA Hall of Fame in 2002. Golf World magazine selected him as one of the top 10 teachers of the 20th century.
In a recent interview with Golfweek magazine, Flick said he was concerned with too many golfers trying to achieve a perfect swing.
"We've let the game be taken over by science," he said. "Golf is an art form. The golf swing is an athletic movement. Becoming mechanical and robotic is the worst thing you can do."
Lehman sought him out in 1990, when he was struggling in the minor leagues of golf. He thought about Flick through the final round at Desert Mountain, where he closed with a 65 for a six-shot win to become the first player to win the Schwab Cup in consecutive years.
"The last hole, I know that he was probably watching today," Lehman said Sunday. "I felt quite certain that that was probably the last driver he was ever going to see me hit and I wanted to make it a good one. And the last 7-iron he will ever see me hit, and I wanted to make that a good one. And the last putt, and I wanted to make that putt. I didn't want to make it simply because I want to win by six. I wanted to make it for him."
Funeral arrangements were pending. Flick is survived by his wife, Geri, and five children.