In the golf world, if you dont have Nicklaus, you cant have JACK.

That’s the argument of Jack Nicklaus and his golf-products companies, which are suing Wilson Sporting Goods in federal court in Columbus.

Wilson, the suit contends, began using one of the game’s most famous names — JACK — on golf balls introduced late last year, without Nicklaus approval and without paying him anything.

Like “Babe” and baseball and “Magic” and basketball, “Anytime you put Jack with golf, you and everyone else knows who were talking about,” said Michael R. Reed, attorney for Nicklaus and his companies.

The use of JACK is nothing but a blatant attempt by Wilson to get the most distance from golf-ball sales after a ball endorsed by Ben Crenshaw had disappointing sales, the suit filed last week says.

Nicklaus is claiming trademark infringement and says Wilson is misleading golfers into thinking the longtime pro and course designer is associated with the balls.

Nicklaus Golf Equipment Co., the suit says, has the right to the name — it’s been making irons labeled JACK since 1997.

A spokeswoman for Wilson declined to comment yesterday.

Wilson advertises its JACK on its Web site: “If you think there’s a longer ball, you dont know Jack!” That borrows from a marketing slogan, too, according to the suit.

Nicklaus Golf has used it to sell a line of clubs: “If you dont know Air Bear, you dont know Jack.”

Nicklaus and companies want Wilson to deliver all its JACK-labeled golf balls, signs, packages, advertising, brochures and more for destruction, and for the court to order the company not to use JACK.

He and his companies also want Wilson to pay damages as yet to be determined.