This past Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the passing of Arnold Palmer. To this day and undoubtedly into the future, Palmer will influence many golfers on and off the course. Although he is primarily known for his accomplishments playing golf, the impact he made on the lives of others is why we should celebrate his life.
The first experience I ever had with Palmer was in 2010 at a golf tournament at Southpointe Country Club. He was 81 years old at the time and was standing on the putting green talking to players and volunteers, so I decided to go up and talk to him.
Extremely nervous, I walked up to the golf legend and asked for his autograph. He accepted the request, asked me my name and shook my hand. Although my interaction with him only lasted a minute, I will never forget how humble and classy of a man he was that day.
Born in 1929 in Latrobe, PA, Palmer managed to win 62 total PGA Tour events, ranking him fifth of all-time. These included four Masters Championships, two Open Championships and one U.S. Open Championship. Over his lifetime, he was also awarded with a Golf Hall of Fame induction, a PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award and a Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year honor.
While experiencing great successes on the course, Palmer was always known for his charismatic, down-to-earth personality that “made golf cool,” according to Jack Nicklaus, the all-time leader in PGA wins.
Off the course, Palmer made many charitable donations to hospitals that are still in use today. Hosting an event in 1979, he helped raise $30 million dollars for Orlando Regional Medical Center. On his 60th birthday, he opened the Arnold Palmer Medical Center. Today, the medical center is part of one of the largest facilities in the United States dedicated to women and children.
Palmer was also the president of Latrobe Country Club and Bay Hill Club and Lodge. The Bay Hill Invitational, a PGA Tour event hosted every year at Palmer’s club in Orlando, raises money for the hospitals Palmer helped found.
Additionally, Palmer authored 12 books including “A Life Well Played,” which is still used today to help golfers of all skill levels with their mental game.
In 2012, Palmer was recognized by Allegheny College with an Honorary Degree for his life’s work. With all of these accomplishments, Palmer remained humble and loved by a strong following — commonly known as Arnie’s Army.
Today, one can donate to Arnie’s Army to raise money for the women’s and children’s hospitals in Palmer’s name. Posthumously, he continues to influence the lives of golfers and non-golfers across the country with his charitable efforts.
Palmer represented Pennsylvania and the game of golf with unwavering class and charisma. Today, he should be recognized not just for his achievements on the course, but more for what he did off the course. Palmer is one of the most influential athletes ever in American sports and for all the right reasons.
Correction, October 7, 2017: This article incorrectly claimed Arnold Palmer had won three PGA Championships.