There is a rising junior golf star in the state of Utah who has a super swing, a thirst for tournament competition, and a love of the game that keeps him coming back to the course each day.
He’s just 8 years old and his name is Nicklaus Miller. He spends around four hours each day practicing, playing and working on his game. He will be going into the third grade next year.
He’s the son of Todd Miller, a Justin-Siena High School graduate and former CIF Northern California champion who is the Director of Golf for the men’s team at BYU.
Nicklaus’ grandfather is Johnny Miller, a two-time major champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member who retired in 2019 after working as the lead golf analyst for NBC Sports for 29 years.
Nicklaus is named after one of the greatest players in the game – Jack Nicklaus, the winner of a record 18 majors, a five-time winner of the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year award, and an eight-time leading money winner on Tour who has been honored with the Bob Jones Award and the Payne Stewart Award during his career.
“My dad and (Jack Nicklaus) have always had a good relationship,” said Todd Miller. “It’s fun for our family, as far as golf goes – to have the best of both worlds with the Desert Fox (Johnny Miller) and the Golden Bear (Jack Nicklaus) in one kid. It adds some significance to the name, to our family.”
After hearing that Todd and his wife, Shannon, named their son Nicklaus, the Millers got a letter and a few items in the mail from Jack Nicklaus and his wife, Barbara.
“They sent him a cool little care package with different stuff, with the name Nicklaus on there,” Todd recalled. “He had his own bath towel with his name on there.”
Jack Nicklaus was “pretty touched” upon hearing the announcement of Todd and Shannon’s son’s first name, said Johnny Miller.
“I called Jack and I told him. He liked that,” said Johnny Miller.
Nicklaus Miller has a very good record so far in the Salt Lake City Local Tour of U.S. Kids Golf tournaments this year. He has four wins and a second-place finish. His lowest score is a 4-under-par 32 – a nine-hole round that featured two eagles and two birdies – for a first-place finish in the boys 8-year-old division of a U.S. Kids Golf event at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club on May 8. It’s a course, located in Lehi, Utah, that Johnny Miller designed.
“Everything just went perfect for him that day,” said Todd Miller. “He made the putts. He was hitting his driver perfect and getting some great iron shots into some of the par-5s. It was just a really fun round, especially because my dad designed that course.
“For him to be able to call his papa and say, ‘Hey, I shot 4-under-par on your course,’ that was pretty fun for him.”
Nicklaus Miller is part of a very talented and well known golf family.
Johnny Miller and his family were the recipient of the 1997 Jack Nicklaus Golf Family of the Year Award, presented by the National Golf Foundation. Miller is an eight-time Emmy award nominee who will receive the Lincoln Werden Golf Journalism Award by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association in June. The award is presented to a writer, broadcaster, photographer, artist or other individual for outstanding contributions in the field of golf journalism, according to metgolfwriters.org.
“It’s fun to have another generation of Millers that love the game,” Todd Miller said in a phone interview earlier in May. “To see Nick really enjoy it and just love competing and love practicing, it’s fun to look forward and go, Hey, we have another Miller that hopefully will compete throughout high school and college, and if he has that aspiration to play professional golf, kind of carry on my dad’s name.
“It’s fun watching him get better every single day. It does make me proud.”
Johnny Miller is a 25-time champion on Tour, with major titles coming at the 1973 U.S. Open and 1976 Open Championship. He won Kaiser International Open Invitational titles at Silverado Resort and Spa in 1974 and 1975. He won AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am titles in 1987 and 1994.
He is the tournament host of the Safeway Open, a Tour event at Silverado, and also works as a course designer. He is a co-founder of the Utah Junior Golf Association and serves as the organization’s honorary chairman. He and his wife, Linda, have 24 grandchildren.
Todd Miller earned honorable mention All-America at BYU in 2004 and was Academic All-America and Academic All-Conference for the Cougars in 2005.
Todd, along with his three older brothers, John Jr., Scott and Andy, all played their junior golf out of Silverado. They learned the game from their dad as well as their grandfather, Larry Otto Miller.
“Kids like to do different stuff. My dad never pushed the game on us,” said Todd Miller. “We just naturally enjoyed playing golf and competing. I haven’t pushed it on any of my kids.”
Andy Miller also won an individual CIF Northern California title at Justin-Siena. He went on to star at BYU, as he was a four-time NCAA All-American and a three-time All-Conference player. He was inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame. He works as the design director at Silverado.
He won an event on the Nationwide Tour, where he played from 2002-03. He then played on the PGA Tour from 2003-04.
Scott Miller also played golf at BYU.
A love for sports
Nicklaus Miller goes year-round with sports, playing basketball and soccer, and spending a few hours each day with his dad at the Riverside Country Club golf course in Provo, Utah. It’s BYU’s home course. Nicklaus plays from a forward tee, on a course that is shorter in overall length, due to his young age.
He started out at golf at 4-years old.
“He was always picking up a club, just like all of us when we grew up,” said Todd Miller. “He really just got into it in the last year and a half that he really started playing more and more tournament golf, with the USKids. He gets to love it more and more.
“It’s fun for me to work with him. When you start at this age, you develop good habits, you’re going to be a pretty golf golfer, if you keep on practicing. He’s got good genes for it.
“I’m kind of more reserved. He’s got a little more of his papa’s blood in him, where he kind of pops the collar sometimes, he likes to pull up his socks. He likes to have a little flair when he plays golf, which is a little different than me. It’s kind of fun to watch that.”
Nicklaus Miller plays in U.S. Kids Golf events. The organization offers more than 1,600 tournaments in 60-plus markets, for youth ages 5 to 14. Players compete in local community events, and have the opportunity to advance to state, regional and World Championships.
“U.S. Kids Golf was started as a family business desiring to stay true to the mission and purpose of bringing kids into the game. Because providing the right equipment needed to be coupled with improved programs, coaching, and opportunity for competition, like other organized sports, the Foundation was started,” the organization reports on its website, foundation.uskidsgolf.com.
“The vision of families spending time together outdoors and playing golf is our true passion, and many people throughout the golf industry have joined us in our efforts. We are thankful for our role in giving kids the lifelong game of golf.”
“Local Tours are designed for the beginning competitive golfer, as each event provides a fun environment where kids can develop their skills,” according to foundation.uskidsgolf.com.
Nicklaus Miller has placed in other nine-hole U.S. Kids Golf tournaments in the boys 8 division:
* First place at Soldier Hollow Golf Course-Silver Course, Midway, Utah, 1-over-par 37.
* First place at Mountain View Golf Course, West Jordan, Utah, 3-over-par 39.
* First place at Rose Park Golf Club, Salt Lake City, Utah, 5-over-par 41.
* Second place, Valley View Golf Course, Layton, Utah, 11-over-par 47.
“He’s enjoying it,” said Johnny Miller, who is one of the owners of Silverado Resort. “He’s playing it like a game, not like his life depends on it, which is nice. He just loves it. Except for Sundays, he’s out there at the golf course every day for like four-hours plus. That’s the way I was. That’s the way Todd was. That’s the way all my boys were.
“Golf is like a passion. Todd does a good job with him and I help him out a little bit, too, when I can. Nicklaus is going to be good. He already is good. But he’s going to be really good, I think.”
Todd Miller said the plan is to enter Nicklaus in some Utah Junior Golf Association events during the summer. Nicklaus gets to spend time with the BYU team at practice, as he joins his dad at the course.
“He has a good time with those guys. He knows them all real well, talks to them on the putting green. He has putting matches with them. He already plays with them,” said Todd Miller. “He’s got all those good players around him all the time. He’s around a lot of good people that know a lot about the game.”
Todd and Shannon Miller have three other children – Kate, 14; Jane, 12; and Molly, 5. They all like to play golf.
The advice that Johnny Miller passes on to young Nicklaus Miller is to make sure you brush the grass, hold your finish, swing at the target, and strive for good tempo.
“Nicklaus is doing really well,” Johnny said. “He has his own swing. We don’t mess around with his swing too much.”
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