My next door neighbor, a great guy who is close to retirement and loves his golf (even has a putting green in his backyard) met Arnold Palmer when he was just a kid. Story has it that my neighbor was a guest caddie for Arnold on one hole at a charity tournament at the local country club. After driving the ball right down the middle, Arnold asked my neighbor, who was about 12 at the time, to hit his next shot. Obviously this kid was nervous and said he prefer not to because the resident pro said he had an unorthodox swing and wasn’t “very good.” Arnold insisted that he hit the ball anyway. Sure enough the kid hit the second shot right down the middle close to the green. Arnold used this as a teaching moment. With the resident pro looking on, he looked at my neighbor (the kid) and said (paraphrase), “don’t let anybody ever tell you you can’t do anything. I think you strike the ball extremely well, and I don’t care what your swing looks like – as long as you hit the ball with your club face square – which is exactly what you did.”
Even the non-sports enthusiast recognizes the name Arnold Palmer. On Tuesday, October 4th, Americans will, in spirit, be at the memorial service for a sports legend and a great philanthropist. He left a legacy that spans decades. Not since the passing of Elvis has a nation mourned “a king.”
Arnold, the son of a greens keeper, took the sport of kings and gave it to the masses. The sport of golf was personified in Arnold Palmer. He made the game better, he made golf a household word.
He is revered for his commitment to the charities he held so dear. The Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies rank among the best in the country. Arnie’s Army Charitable foundation will continue to provide funding and support to organizations that benefit the well-being of youth.
Among his many trophies are the highest civilian awards one can receive-a Presidential Medal of Freedom,and a Congressional Gold medal, Mr. Palmer won 95 professional tournaments and four separate Masters’ jackets during his illustrious career. Upon retirement, Arnie continued to remain a vital part of the golfing community. His ventures include golf course design, and a line of sportswear.
He will be missed, and he will be remembered.
Arnold has been quoted as saying “Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.”
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