Golden Bear pays a surprise visit to the Florida House

Budget, what budget?

Minutes after passing a $74 billion state spending plan – one that needs to be negotiated with the Senate before it becomes reality anyway – the Florida House of Representatives got a chance to do something really important on Friday:

Host golf legend Jack Niclaus for a resolution honoring the Palm Beach County resident for his service to the sport and to the Sunshine State.

In the House well, Nicklaus described his history with the Florida as he told how his father brought the family south from Ohio for vacations when he was a child, including a trip to Naples at age 11, when he golfed here for the first time after being introduced the sport a year earlier.

He’s golfed plenty of times here since, of course, and has helped plenty of others to do so as well. Nicklaus told the House there are 33 golf courses in Florida his company has designed, about 10 percent of the total number of courses Nicklaus Cos. is responsible for in 39 states and 36 countries.

Those courses have anchored real estate developments and spurred tourism, Nicklaus said, but, more importantly he hoped, they “showcased our beautiful state in the best possible way.”

So, what did the Ohio native cite in particular about the state he’s lived in for six decades?

Besides the golf-friendly weather?.

“A nice bonus, no state income tax,” Nicklaus said. “With that, we became happy Floridians.”

Nicklaus and his wife, Barbara – who accompanied him Friday – drew standing ovations from representatives and spectators before the resolution was presented. And he thanked the lawmakers in turn.

“Thank you for this tremendous honor and your continued leadership in this great state,” he said. “Keep up the good work.”

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