Cameo Tietje ‘18
Arnold Palmer, the king of golf, died at age 87 on Sept. 25 due to heart complications. The U.S. Golf Association said “he inspired generations to love golf by sharing his competitive spirit, displaying sportsmanship, caring for golfers and golf fans and serving as a lifelong ambassador for the sport”. Palmer, part of the “Big Three” (with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player) won 62 titles on the PGA tour, ending in 1973. He claimed four victories at the Masters, two at the British Open, and one at the U.S. Open. He also finished second four times in the U.S. Open, and he was runner up three times in the PGA Championship. In the 1960s, Palmer won six major championships and 29 titles on the PGA tour. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2012, which are the highest civilian awards given in the United States. The King of Golf became one of the most well-known sports figures in the late 1900s. Palmer made numerous public appearances and appeared on television, which helped him take golf to the masses. By earning virtually every national award offered, he earned the title “Athlete of the Decade” in the 1960s.
Palmer’s father worked at Latrobe Country Club, where he got his first set of golf clubs. Palmer learned the basics from his father, from gripping a club to basic manners. He looked up to his father as a role model, someone from whom he learned the most far-reaching aspect of his life, golf. Later, Palmer attended Wake Forrest University and became one of the top collegiate players. “Arnold Palmer was the everyday man’s hero,” Nicklaus said. “From the modest upbringing, Arnold embodied the hard-working strength of America.” While being a symbol for the common man, Palmer became one of golf’s best athletes, as well as an experienced aviator, businessman, philanthropist and talented golf course designer. Because golf is a middle/upper-class sport, he was able to socialize with people in high power positions, such as Eisenhower, Nixon and both Presidents Bush.
Palmer’s reach was far; he coined the term “Arnold Palmer,” the half-iced tea, half-lemonade beverage, and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for charities. He also played a major role in fundraising for hospitals and cancer research. Palmer cared for the common folk and he showed his support for them. He made people feel that they could be as successful as he was through their own perseverance. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “Golf made you famous, but your tireless efforts to save lives, not your short game, will make you immortal.”