No matter where you live or where you’ve played golf in the world, you’ve felt the influence of Arnold Palmer one way or another…and his legacy will live on forever.
Here are a few examples, and please share yours.
For us, certain places will always offer a distinct link to The King, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 87.
Notably, Mr. Palmer’s design company is responsible for 300-plus courses around the world, ranging from his designs at major resorts like Kapalua and Turtle Bay in Hawaii, to Reunion in Orlando, to international facilities like Tralee in Ireland (below) and Chung Shan Hot Spring, the first course built in China.
He was sometimes less hands-on than Jack Nicklaus has been in his own design career, but that back-seat philosophy helped Palmer foster the development of a number of respected architects, from late-1900s figures like Frank Duane and Ed Seay to current standouts like Thad Layton, Erik Larsen and Brandon Johnson.
When reached for comment, Layton said…
“It was an honor to have worked alongside him over the past 20 years at Arnold Palmer Design Company, sharing his enthusiasm for the game he loved through his work. His legacy will live on through the countless lives he touched along the way and the beautiful courses that bear his name.
Then, of course, there’s the King’s winter home: Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, where he could often be found schmoozing with guests in the restaurant at lunchtime.
Palmer transformed the course and its modest hotel into a cozy shrine to the gentility that will always make him such a beloved figure.
Here’s a Bay Hill memory from our friend David Baum, publisher of the Golf Odyssey travel newsletter.
I met him about three years ago in his office.
He clearly was not in great health, but was still quite jovial and could not have been more welcoming.
As you would expect, his office was adorned with an insane amount of memorabilia. He pointed to one which was an actual golf hole mounted in a shadow box with two balls in the hole. He told us the story about it.
It happened at a tournament in the days before there were TV cameras on every hole. He made a hole in one and no cameras were there to capture it.
After the round he was interviewed and he was asked how he did it. He told the media to simply come out the next day with their cameras and he would do it again.
And he did.
Here’s another story from our friend Justin Tupper, co-founder and CEO of the Revolution Golf video instruction platform…
I had the honor of caddying for Mr. Palmer during the opening of Spring Island, South Carolina’s Old Tabby Links, which he designed with Ed Seay.
It was a warm spring day (about 90 degrees) and I had a caddy jumpsuit on.
The 9th hole and 10th tee were a long way away, so when we finished on 9, there was a cart waiting to whisk him and the other players to the 10th hole.
Loads of members were getting autographs, so I got started carrying the bag towards the 10th tee.
A minute or so later, the cart caravan approached, so I stepped to the side.
When Mr. Palmer’s cart came by he told the driver to stop. He was sitting on the back of the cart and said, “Justin, jump on here with me.”
(I will never forget that because he called me by my name.)
I sat down next to him and he put his arm around me — just like your grandfather would do — and he said, “How are you doing?”
I was at a loss for words, so I just said, “I’m good — a little hot, but having a great time, Mr. Palmer.”
He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “Well, you are doing a great job.”
That moment has always stuck with me.
It was very personal and I have reflected on it a lot in life.
Many people have stories of Mr. Palmer being so warm, personable and sincere.
I’m so fortunate to have one, too, and I already miss him.
Now, we’d love to hear from you.
What comes to mind when you think of Arnold Palmer?
Did you watch him play in his prime on TV? Have you or your friends met him? Played any of his golf courses?
Please share your thoughts and read what others are saying below.