The King, as the golf world knew him, was the most outspoken fan of the game of golf there ever was, and his profound impact on the game has never been felt more than at this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Palmer, who passed away last September, was largely responsible for bringing golf into the mainstream in the 1960’s along with other “Big Three” members Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.
Palmer was the perfect ambassador for golf: smart, handsome, business-savvy, and a true
gentleman, not to mention that Palmer was one of the best to ever the play the game. The King was a pleasure to watch, and even years after his 62 PGA Tour wins (5th all-time) and his seven major wins (T-7 all-time), Arnie was incredibly influential for the game of golf with his candid evaluations of the game, of life, and his continued dedication to the spread of the game.
Before the Pro-Am at his tournament on Wednesday, players participated in the golf equivalent of the 21-gun salute by having a large amount of pros hit consecutive tee shots at the range in Arnie’s honor.
In addition to the salute at the range, the entire week has featured numerous wonderful tributes to golf’s first pioneer, including multiple video tributes during telecasts, commercials commemorating Palmer’s life, and players wearing special clothing with Arnie’s signature umbrella emblem embroidered on.
One of the most special tributes may be the hashtag #ArnieWould, which signifies Palmer’s most enduring attribute: his impeccable character. Palmer represented the best in all of us, and the hashtag demonstrates that. The King’s extensive philanthropic work, dedication to the game of golf and to developing it for people all over the world, and pleasant and grounded demeanor was incredibly admirable to say the least.
Palmer was a model golfer as well as an American ideal. His fellow “Big Three” member Jack Nicklaus put it best when he said that “Arnold transcended the game of golf. He was more than a golfer or even a great golfer. He was an icon. He was a legend. Arnold was someone who was a pioneer in his sport. He took the game from one level to a higher level, virtually by himself,”. When it comes to influential athletes, Palmer is at the top of the list. Few have done so much for their own sport while inspiring so many (golf fans or not) to be better not only at golf but at everything.
One of Palmer’s best traits was his timeless wisdom. He had the ability to do what few others can do: put the essence of golf into words. He most famously said “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever i
nvented.” It’s only fitting that golf’s greatest pioneer has been the only person to effortlessly explain the only sport that is impossible to perfect.
Arnie taught us all that like life, golf cannot be perfected, but one can work to become the best player and person they can be.
Palmer was and always will be golf’s greatest, and though he has passed, his legacy lives on every time someone steps onto the course.