Success in this game depends less on strength of body than strength of mind and character. ~Arnold Palmer
The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done. ~Arnold Palmer
September 10, 1929 – September 25, 2016
Being a Latrobean, I grew up around the legend of Arnold Palmer. I was even honored by witnessing the man behind that legend in passing at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, and driving passing his house to find him retrieving his mail. Not to mention, everyone knows at least one person with an Arnold Palmer story, always a benevolent encounter. I’m not saying we were BFFs, I mean he didn’t know me, but when you’re from the same close-knit area like Latrobe, you’re automatically friends by default.
The news was blowing up all day today with stories, memories and past images of “The King”. Rightfully so, he earned the kind words and the fame that accompanied him. He definitely brought pride to Latrobe. Whether you were a golfer or not, he was respected and a household name.
Why was Arnold Palmer so famous, not just locally, but around the world? I mean, besides having a drink named after him. Seriously? You bet the Arnold Palmer, consisting of half ice-tea and half lemonade. In addition, he won numerous events in golf, dating back to 1955, on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour. What really made him a household name came from being the first superstar of the sport’s television age. A man after my own heart, a true marketer.
Mr. Palmer knew how to market himself and take his talent, along with his charm and good looks, to reach the masses. Unlike a lot of superstars today, he wasn’t a troublemaker or a bad boy. Nope, he was a positive role model and he was very appreciative of his own success, coming from humble beginnings. His dad was a green-keeper at the local club where he took an interest in golfing.
Mr. Palmer even served our country in the United States Coast Guard. That alone speaks volumes about him and his character.
I was not alive during the height of Arnold Palmer’s career, nor am I a golfer, but according to Wikipedia:
Palmer’s most prolific years were 1960–1963, when he won 29 PGA Tour events, including five major tournament victories, in four seasons. In 1960, he won the Hickok Belt as the top professional athlete of the year and Sports Illustrated magazine’s “Sportsman of the Year” award. He built up a wide fan base, often referred to as “Arnie’s Army”, and in 1967 he became the first man to reach one million dollars in career earnings on the PGA Tour. By the late 1960s Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player had both acquired clear ascendancy in their rivalry, but Palmer won a PGA Tour event every year from 1955 to 1971 inclusive, and in 1971 he enjoyed a revival, winning four events.
Granted these are just some of his accomplishments, which continued throughout his entire life.
After hearing the news of The King’s passing, my heart sank a little. He really was a staple in our community. The next thought that came to mind? We’re going to be bombarded with celebrities. I remember when Arnold’s first wife, Winnie passed away. The biggest news was George H.W. Bush was spotted in K-Mart purchasing a belt for the funeral.
Arnold Palmer wasn’t a man in everyone’s face, riding the edge of controversy and reality television, but he was friend to many far and wide, high and low. In my opinion, that made him a true legend.
While I don’t have the fame, nor the fortune of Arnold Palmer, I’m still very proud to announce Thrill of the Hunt is a Latrobe company, and I’m looking forward to the day when I join our prestigious line up local celebrities and keep the good name of Latrobe alive.
God Speed to all of Arnold Palmer’s friends and family. Rest in peace.
10/3/16 – Recently, I heard a fun story about Arnold Palmer from my cousin John Olczak. He said his dad, my Uncle Frank, my Grandpap Chester’s brother, and the other brothers caddied together with Arnold Palmer at the Latrobe Country Club when they were younger. Apparently, they always had to keep track of Mr. Palmer because he would sneak way to hang out on the putting green and practice, instead of caddying.
It just goes to show Arnold Palmer was meant to be a golfer. He had a natural talent that I’m guessing was driven by a true desire and a love to play the game.