We lost an important one this weekend
Published 5:55 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Arnold Palmer, the Grandfather of Golf, passed away in Pittsburgh on Sunday. He was 87.
This is the man with seven major wins under his belt, 62 on the PGA Tour and a staggering 95 pro victories throughout his brilliant career. He was so original, so pure and charismatic in the way he played the game and paved the way for players like Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Greg Norman, Tiger and today’s greats like Jordan Spieth and Jason Day.
Each and every one of those players has an identity on the tour, a loyal fan base and their own promotions, marketing deals and sponsors.
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But none of them, as players and as people, are as timeless as Arnie. He’s the first player to earn a $1 million on the PGA Tour.
Everyone knows his name, but if you somehow don’t, you at least know his drink.
One of my favorite “This is ESPN” commercials showed two anchors waiting in line behind Arnie in the ESPN cafeteria. Arnie goes back and forth from the sweet tea fountain to the lemonade fountain, mixing the two in his glass. As he walked away with his caddie, the anchors stare in awe.
“That was awesome,” says Steve Van Pelt.
I’ve never seen a swing that was more recognizable than Arnie’s. I wouldn’t call it graceful or pretty. It was more of a ruthless strike, fast and aggressive, with a high finish not often seen in players these days. Whatever he was doing, it worked.
He played well, and he looked good doing it.
To me, Arnie in the 1960s is the spitting image of classic, timeless masculinity. A strong jaw, tight haircut, well-fitted polo with the collar loosely unbuttoned, and of course, that lit cigarette that dangled from his lips.
His smile lit up rooms, his personality was huge and his heart was unforgettable.
There have been countless articles, columns, video segments and memorials for Arnie in his remembrance. And rest assured, the golf world will never forget this man and his contributions to the game.
The real way to honor his legacy, however, would be with a Ryder Cup win.
I know he’s in heaven right now, with a line of people just waiting to play a round with him.