GET INTO GOLF: Goodbye to a King who changed the world |

GET INTO GOLF: Goodbye to a King who changed the world

This April 7, 2011, file photo shows Arnold Palmer reacting after his ceremonial tee shot before the first round of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga. Palmer, who made golf popular for the masses with his hard-charging style, incomparable charisma and a personal touch that made him known throughout the golf world as "The King," died Sept. 25, 2016, in Pittsburgh. He was 87.
Associated Press | AP

Hail to the King!

We watch things, but, candidly, we cannot completely grasp it all. What type of a personality, a persona, does it take to change a culture, if not change the world? We call Elvis Presley the King of Rock n’ Roll. Michael Jackson was the King of Pop. They brought something new that changed everything.

Arnold Palmer was not ‘one in a million,’ he was one of a kind.

He wasn’t born into royalty. His father was in charge of the maintenance crew as the course superintendent at a club in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Latrobe was an industrial town and a good amount of his early years were spent on dad’s lap on the seat of a tractor.

While attending Wake Forest University, his best friends were killed in a car accident, Arnold dropped out of school never to return. This tragedy, however, inspired a formative direction. Arnold would continue playing golf and after a stint in the Coast Guard, was crowned the U.S. Amateur champion in 1954.

According to Palmer, the victory gave him the confidence he needed to play professionally. The rest is, as we say, history. Palmer would go on to win 95 times and earn 18 awards only bestowed up the best, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (our Nation’s highest civilian honor) and the Congressional Golf Medal, awarded to persons “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture.”

The White House came calling and golf became the basis for spending quality time with nearly every President since Eisenhower. But, his influence wasn’t limited to the States as foreign dignitaries around the world would look visit with the leading apolitical figure or country.

Our game grew by leaps and bounds during his playing years. Golf tournaments were first televised in the mid 1950’s and Palmer became the swashbuckling hero to millions. The crowds that followed him in person and through the media were so committed, they became known as “Arnie’s Army.” This would vault if not completely change the relationship with athletes and marketing.

The most prolific of these would be his ‘name sake.’ All you have to do is walk into any restaurant or bar and (although some get a little tongue-tied) say, “I’d like an Arnold Palmer.” You will receive a beverage filled half with lemonade and half with iced tea.

As we are thankful and appreciate the life and memories of this remarkable man, let’s consider a few of his thoughts.

“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.”

“Concentration comes out of a combination of confidence and hunger.”

“The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.”

Knowing all of this and yet not fully knowing the influence that Arnold Palmer has in our lives, this next thought from Robert Browning takes on even more meaning, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.”

In respectful memory of Arnold Palmer.

John Renslow is a PGA Class A Professional and Instructor at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at

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