Arnold “The King” Palmer- 87 Years Young

arnold-palmer-pictureThe passing of the legendary Arnold Palmer on September 25th, 2016 was shocking news to all golfers and enthusiasts. Arnold Palmer died at 87 years of age, on Sunday evening in a Pittsburgh hospital while awaiting cardiac surgery.

To those of you who do not know this great man, you may have heard or even drank the Arnold Palmer’s iced tea. The sweetness of an Arnold Palmer iced tea very accurately describes the life of the legend himself. He not only transformed the game of golf but  through his kindness, he gained many fans including myself. Mr. Palmer won over 90 professional tournaments in his career, including 7 majors (4 Masters, 1960 US Open, 1961 and 1962 British Opens). He also was the first golfer to ever make $1 million playing golf.

Arnie’s dominance of the sport was actually not the key factor that helped him attract his own special group of followers called “Arnie’s Army”. Arnie’s Army was a bunch of diehard fans that followed and cheered him on, no matter if he won or lost.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said that it would not be an exaggeration to say that without Arnold, the modern PGA Tour would have never been what it is today. Arnold Palmer changed the way sports stars made money.

Arnold Palmer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (highest civilian honor bestowed by the President of the United States) in 2004 and the Congressional Gold Medal (the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States Congress) in 2012.

Additionally, a PGA Tour event was renamed for Arnold Palmer in 2007. The Arnold Palmer Invitational is played every March at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida. I had the opportunity to play at Bay Hill when I was 11 years old and was in awe at the immaculate condition the golf course was in. Every bunker was raked clean and almost every divot in the fairway was repaired. There were absolutely no ball marks on the green, so they were rolling true and fast.

This past summer I qualified for the 116th US Amateur Championship (basically the US Open for amateurs), which was held at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. One of the participants’ gift was an audiobook and it had greetings from past USGA (United States Golf Association) Champions that won at Oakland Hills Country Club. Mr. Palmer won the US Senior Open there in 1981 and I will never forget his kind and encouraging words in his greeting to all of the participants at the US Amateur Championship.

 

 

 


Tiger Woods tweeted: “Thanks Arnold for your friendship, counsel and a lot of laughs. Your philanthropy and humility are part of your legend. It’s hard to imagine golf without you or anyone more important to the game than the King.” Tiger was an 8-time Arnold Palmer Invitational champion and undoubtedly has very close ties with “The King” himself.


Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer’s best friend and rival, wrote a very beautiful message honoring Arnold Palmer and posted it on his Facebook page:

“I just got the news at about 8:45 that Arnold had passed. I was shocked to hear that we lost a great friend—and that golf lost a great friend.

At this point I don’t know what happened, and I suppose it is not important what happened. What is important is that we just lost one of the incredible people in the game of golf and in all of sports. My friend—many people’s friend—just wore out. I know he was in Pittsburgh trying to find out how to make himself better. That’s what Arnold has always tried to do. He has always been a fighter and he never gave up on anything. He didn’t give up even now. Maybe his body did, but I know Arnold’s will and spirit did not.

I wish I had another chance to talk to him, but I am so glad we talked a couple weeks ago on his birthday (Sept. 10), when he sounded great. So Barbara and I are just in shock and incredibly saddened. Our hearts, thoughts, prayers and sympathies go out to Kit, his kids, grand-kids, great grandchildren, and his entire loving family.

He was one of my best friends, closest friends, and he was for a long, long time. I will miss him greatly.

Arnold transcended the game of golf. He was more than a golfer or even great golfer. He was an icon. He was a legend. Arnold was someone who was a pioneer in his sport. He took the game from one level to a higher level, virtually by himself. Along the way, he had millions of adoring fans—Barbara and I among them. We were great competitors, who loved competing against each other, but we were always great friends along the way. Arnold always had my back, and I had his. We were always there for each other. That never changed.

He was the king of our sport and always will be.”


Former President George W. Bush, who presented Arnold the Presidential Medal of Freedom, said in a statement: “He was a great American whose friendship – and swing thoughts – will be missed.”


 

RIP Arnold Palmer (1929-2016)

“The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.”-Arnold Palmer “The King”