Jack Nicklaus to shift focus away from Nicklaus Companies

Jack Nicklaus stepped down from day-to-day operations within his Nicklaus Companies on Thursday, announcing in a statement that he wants to focus on other things.

The 78-year-old Nicklaus will become co-chairman, while his businesses -- which include golf course design and licensing deals, among others -- will be taken over by Nicklaus Companies investor Howard Milstein, who will become executive chairman of the company.

"I have spent my life building Nicklaus Companies, and there has come a time in my life when I need to reduce my level of involvement and pursue many other things I am interested in such as charity work," said Nicklaus, who added that he is in "excellent" health.

Nicklaus has designed 415 courses open for play across 45 countries and 39 states.

Golf Digest estimated that Nicklaus made $20 million in 2016, their last estimated year.

Milstein, a billionaire banker, bought 49 percent of Nicklaus Companies for $145 million in 2007. Since that investment, Milstein has pushed Nicklaus to use his brand name outside of golf, including on an ice cream and beverage line.

Nicklaus won 73 PGA Tour events, third all time behind Sam Snead (82) and Tiger Woods (79). He won 18 majors, which is the most of all time.