Story By: Richard Thomas
Photos By: Benjamin Rogers
It’s hard to imagine the golfing world without the legendary Arnold Palmer. It’s not just another name like Player or Nicklaus, he is a true icon that changed the face of the game and the face of the golf marketing world. There is not a place you can go without something Arnold Palmer. Forget about going to a restaurant somewhere and not hearing someone at some point order a Arnold Palmer to drink. Amazing right? That’s the type of legacy the name has brought to the world.
Arnold Palmer died Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh, his longtime spokesman and friend Doc Giffin. Palmer was 87. He most recently had heart complications that led to the passing in his sleep.
“I’m just so heartbroken about it,” Giffin said. “As much as Arnold Palmer meant to the world, he meant that much and more to me.”
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Arnold Palmer, golf’s greatest ambassador,” the United States Golf Association said in a statement. “Arnold Palmer will always be a champion, in every sense of the word. He inspired generations to love golf by sharing his competitive spirit, displaying sportsmanship, caring for golfers and golf fans and serving as a lifelong ambassador for the sport.
“Our stories of him not only fill the pages of golf’s history books and the walls of the museum but also our own personal golf memories. The game is indeed better because of him and, in so many ways, will never be the same.”
You know you have left your mark when President Obama makes a statement about your passing. Obama, an avid golfer joked at times about his tips he had taken from Palmer over the years.
“With his homemade swing and homespun charm, Arnold Palmer had swagger before we had a name for it. From a humble start working at the local club in his beloved Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to superstardom as the face of golf around the globe, Arnold was the American Dream come to life.
Along the way he racked up win after win – but it wasn’t his success that made him King. Arnold’s freewheeling, fearless approach to the game inspired a generation of golfers and, for the first time on TV, enthralled an audience across the world. Sure, we liked that he won seven majors, but we loved that he went for it when he probably should have laid up.
That spirit extended beyond the links where he gave freely of himself and poured everything he had into everything he did: from building hospitals to personally responding to countless letters from his fans. And he did it all with a grin that hinted maybe he had one more shot up his sleeve.
Today, Michelle and I stand with Arnie’s Army in saluting the King.”
With his countless Masters appearances, until the last time he hit that legendary course, Palmer made the difference to the golfing world that everyone will never forget.
Whether you just watch the game on tv, or actually hit the links, there is a pretty good chance that you will encounter something this legendary man did for the game.
Goodbye, old friend, we will miss your smiles, your knowledge and most importantly, the moments you gave this sport that changed it forever as we know it today.