Sunday, September 25, 2016

Obituary: Arnold Palmer

Golfing great Arnold Palmer, 87, passed away today. He is remembered as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.

I, along with millions of others, grew up watching him on television.

Palmer died in Pittsburgh.

He was successful in many other endeavors including golf courses, clothing, designing golf courses, flying, and of course making advertising pitches for a number of companies, including Pennzoil.

Palmer was considered one of the "big three" in golf. If you were alive during the 1960s and 1970s, especially the former, you heard his name all the time, along with the other biggies Jack Nicklaus (still arguably the greatest golfer ever, Tiger Woods notwithstanding) and Gary Player.

More about him:

Palmer was the oldest of four children born to Deacon and Doris Palmer. He received his first set of golf clubs from his father, who worked at Latrobe Country Club from 1921 until his death in 1976. Growing up near the sixth tee of the club, Palmer learned the grip and the swing from his father, as well as manners, empathy, integrity and respect.

Palmer worked nearly every job at the club before heading to Wake Forest University, where he became one of the top collegiate players. But when his close friend, Bud Worsham, was killed in a car accident, Palmer quit school and enlisted for a three-year hitch in the U.S. Coast Guard.

While stationed in Cleveland, his passion for golf was rekindled. Then, while working as a paint salesman, Palmer quickly got his game back in order and won the 1954 U.S. Amateur Championship. On Nov. 18, 1954, at 25, he turned pro and signed a contract with Wilson Sporting Goods.

His greatest stretch of golf began in 1960 and lasted four years, with Palmer winning six major championships and 29 titles on the PGA Tour. It was in 1960, at the Masters in Augusta, Ga., that a local newspaper coined the phrase "Arnie's Army," when soldiers from nearby Camp Gordon followed Palmer. Soon, non-uniformed fans across the land enlisted.

He was one of a kind. He was a class act everybody seemed to like.

New York Times:

His nickname among tour pros was the King, although he never basked in the title. But it fit. He was the first athlete to receive three of the United States’ civilian honors: the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and the National Sports Award. And he became a one-man multimillion-dollar conglomerate.

As the president of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, he supervised the design, construction and development of more than 300 new or remodeled golf courses worldwide, as well as golf clubs and clothing.

He popularized a drink known as the Arnold Palmer, a mixture of iced tea and lemonade now sold under his name on supermarket shelves.

He was a major fund-raiser for the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women in Orlando, Fla., and for Latrobe Hospital. He was the original chairman of cable television’s Golf Channel and was a longtime corporate spokesman, notably in a Pennzoil commercial featuring a tractor he had driven growing up on the Latrobe course.

After buying his first plane, a used twin-prop Aero Commander, for $27,000 in 1962, he became the first golf pro to pilot his own plane from tournament to tournament. He graduated to jets in 1966. The Latrobe airport is named for him.

The achievements off the golf course go on and on, let me tell you.

He packed a lot of living in a mere 87 years.

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