“Arnie’s Army Says Goodbye”
How should we judge the man?
1-of Golf’s greatest has left us. Leaving us with memories of his brilliance, his business accumen, and beloved stories of all time.
Arnie Palmer has passed, leaving a legacy of accomplishment and class.
You think history, and you think of Old Tom Moore in Scotland and the founding of the British Open at the Royal & Ancient.
You remember names like Bobby Jones, the golfer and architect, the legendary Byron Nelson, the dynamic Sammy Snead.
The personalities of the eras led by Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player.
And then there was Palmer and there was Jack Nicklaus. The duo made the golf tour what it was to become.
Big events, big rivalries, must-see action, whether in the gallery or on television.
Oh they dueled, whether it was at Augusta or the Greater Hartford Open. They played every week, and they were adored by one and all. It must have been hard to be a pro in their era, and hoping the best you could do would be to finish third, something akin to the dominance that Tiger Woods enjoyed in the last decade or so.
But Arnie Palmer was so much more than a man who won 7-Grand Slam events, 4-Masters and 62-tourneys in all.
He was a fan’s man, the everyday man, who wanted to play evderyday.
He always had time for autographs and the paying public.
He was an entrepreneur, working with golf manufacturers to improve clubs and balls, in an era before anyone ever thought ot technology. He was big business too, creating and founding the idea for the Golf Channel.
He travelled the globe as a golf ambassador, but he was always comfortable at home in Western Pennsylvania, where his hometown village of Latrobe was famous for Rolling Rock Beer, the Steelers training camp, and the simple home Arnie Palmer lived in.
He did commercials for Pennzoil on his old tractor, and he bought Bay Hill outside Orlando and made it a destination point for fans who wanted to play the game on a PGA course.
The son of a groundskeeper, he bought his home country club for his father.
Arnie Palmer was to golf, what Babe Ruth was to baseball and what Muhammad Ali became out of boxing. A true-true American Ambassador.
I close my eyes, as a young fan, and I see the smile of Palmer and the laser focus of Jack Nicklaus. I see the big birdie putts they made at the most importnt times along the tourney trail.
And I will never forget growing up and hearing and reading about Arnie’s Army and the Golden Bear, what they did, and what they represented.
Arnold Palmer was an American success story, as a player and as a person. A global icon from a tiny place outside of Pittsburgh. He came from Latrobe, he will be buried in Latrobe. A proud man from the Pennsylvania highlands, who accomplished so much.