Legendary golf pro Arnold Palmer passed away from heart failure. He was 87. Palmer was admitted to a Pittsburgh hospital on Thursday after having complications, and the condition became progressively worse over the weekend, according to published reports and Arnold Palmer Enterprises. Palmer is and will always be touted as one of the most successful golfers to ever step onto a course. His legacy dates back to 1954 after winning the United States Golf Association Amateur Championship. A year later, he started picking up numerous awards on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour. Interestingly, he signed a deal with a management firm, which led to endorsements. This marketing made Palmer the face of golf. “It is not an exaggeration to say there would be no modern day PGA TOUR without Arnold Palmer,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem in a statement. “There would be no PGA TOUR Champions without Arnold Palmer. There would be no Golf Channel without Arnold Palmer. No one has had a greater impact on those who play our great sport or who are touched by it.”
The exact number of tournaments he won is the reason for his legendary status. Palmer won the Masters, the U.S. Open, and piled on 90 wins during his career. This elevated golf into another realm, instead of being looked at as just a hobby in the sports world. Palmer made the sport competitive, fun, and helped enlarge its fan base and television coverage. British Open was never mandated for golfers until 1960 when the Latrobe, Pa., native made his appearance. Only 30-years-old at the time, Palmer made the hassle of traveling to Europe worth the trip. Many golfers frowned upon attending the Open due to the limited purse of 3,500 dollars. Taking on the 36-hole qualifier was simply not with effort since players could make over 14,000 back in the United States. In order for Palmer to pave the way for the sport to go worldwide, he was told he had to go internationally.
His father gave some sage advice on making this a reality, Yahoo Sports reported in 2013. “My father said, ‘If you’re going to be a great player, you’re going to have to play internationally, you’re going to have to win internationally,’ “That was my motivation.” His father, Deacon Palmer, worked at a country club and showed his son how to play. He played with the caddies on a 9-hole golf course as a kid, and before the members would arrive, he would get more practice in, soon he was playing with the older boys and started defeating them on the course, and he gained a reputation until he became a caddie. While in high school, on the Latrobe High School golf team Palmer continued his legacy. He only lost once, and was convinced that Arnold was a natural after winning Western Pennsylvania Amateur titles. Palmer went on to accept a scholarship at Wake Forest College in North Carolina in 1947, and dominated golf competition. Palmer never finished college as he joined the Coast Guard in 1950. However, he picked up his clubs four years later to begin his journey as a golf legend. Palmer’s shining personality made him a pitchman for products, like Quaker State oil, and becoming the face of his own ice tea. Professional Jack Nicklaus said “Arnold Palmer was the everyday man’s hero, he told CNN. “From the modest upbringing, Arnold embodied the hard-working strength of America.”
After hearing the news, several celebrities tweeted about the legend. John Daly tweeted: The Legends of all Legends in the game of golf! RIP my friend, always loved u and always will! God Bless my Friend! Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reacted to the news of Palmer’s death, calling it “really sad news” in a tweet. Even George W. Bush, an avid golfer, released a statement on his hero. For all who love the game of golf and love to see it played, there has never been a sight quite like Arnold Palmer walking down the fairway toward the 18th green. The announcer Vin Scully once said, ‘In a sport that was high society, Arnold Palmer made it ‘High Noon.’ Laura and I are saddened by Arnie’s death and send our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and fellow fans. He was a great American whose friendship – and swing thoughts – will be missed.”
They are not the only ones who will miss Palmer. Fans formed to create “Arnie’s Army” during his illustrious career, a name coined by a reporter from The Augusta Chronicle and it just stuck with followers and the media. “Before I finished my playing career I think every newspaper, magazine, or television station that covered golf used the phrase at least once,” Palmer shared.
Palmer was legend in his charity work with Mountain Mission Schools where he donated money for residential care for children. The school provides food, shelter, and educational opportunities for those who can’t afford it. Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation also provides financial support to institutions and organizations that help children, youth, families, the environment and the communities in which we live. Additionally, since the 1960s Palmer and his wife, Winnie, have been contributing their time and resources in helping others such as being a spokesperson for the March of Dimes, and using the Palmer Foundation as a tool to make a difference in the lives of others. This is truly legendary.
This has been a rough year for many fans of celebrities. The loss of Palmer is as equally as disappointing to many. He will be missed for his charisma, heart, and changing the face of golf forever. Tiger Woods also offered his thoughts on a man that helped pave the way for so many others. “Thanks Arnold for your friendship, counsel and a lot of laughs. Your philanthropy and humility are part of your legend.” Humility is a rarity today in sports stars one can only hope the generations that follow Palmer will follow his lead on and off the green. We say “thank you,” and once again “farewell” to another legend.