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Aug 21

Arnie Goes in to Straighten Heartbeat

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The King, Arnie Palmer is Recuperating, Should be Out Soon

If one has the idea to wrap up the lifetime, professional or otherwise, of Arnold Palmer, an article simply won’t do it. One would need a major biographer, miles of footage and interviews, and a quiet place to consider just what kind of man he is.

Unless we intend to write a 700 pager, and delve in months of minutia, we are bound to a few highlights, and some commentary on our lifelong impressions of the man. Mine? Wow, did I get to grow up in a great era, thanks to Arnold Palmer!
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It’s easy to think that Palmer had the Midas touch, but nothing turned to gold until he made it do so. There’s no silver spoon here reserved for golfers. From childhood up, he figured it out, worked on it, and dominated his sport as an amateur and a professional – and yet, he’s more than that.

He created the modern format of the Grand Slam. He won the Masters four times, the only one to do it – he won 92 professional events in his career – and yet, he is more than that.
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As a strong, long-hitting, good-looking guy, he brought golf into the world of television, and earned the name, “the King.” As a business man, he made one shrewd decision after another, and made his life work, as many of us wish we could. He was in automotive businesses, aviation business, being an aviator himself who has flown around the world privately. His charities, many established with his first wife, Winnie, who passed away in the late 90s, stretch a mile long. His awards and achievements surrounding either the game of golf or its administration are endless – and yet, he is still more than these.

palmer 1The son of a Latrobe, Pennsylvania, groundskeeper, and the youngest Masters champion in 1958, with half of a nearby army base following him up 18 (what would become Arnie’s Army, a group civilians were later welcome to join), he was the central image of professional golf in a baby boomer’s childhood – and need I say it – he is still more than that.

Palmer is the owner of the Latrobe Country Club, Bay Hill and Lodge in Orlando, and has given a personal vibe to over two hundred courses around the world – but that’s not it, he’s still more.

My father used to say that life is a grand form of art, and that by trying to live artistically and beautifully, we give it meaning – we create masterful lives.  I think he must have been referring in some sense to Arnold Palmer, who moved through the world with such humanity that he elevated the game and evoked the best of what was possible at the moment in each person who met him. His golf did the talking – what else will? Everyone knows you can’t talk a 68, and yet so many try. A rabid competitor, he nevertheless created a collegial atmosphere, win or lose. And, for that kid growing up in the fifties and sixties? His willingness to “go for it.” If Palmer hadn’t been such a nice guy, he would have been a pirate, because he played like one. Arnold Palmer almost patented the fourth round charge.

Well, I still haven’t captured it – he’s still more than all of that. The important thing is, though, that Arnie, one of the greatest gentlemen to ever play the game, is in the hospital getting a pace-maker put in to keep his heartbeat straight, and it behooves everyone who has felt his presence in the game they love to stop and think of him for a moment, and maybe send some silent good wishes.

Funny, though – I would have thought that Arnold Palmer’s the last guy who’d need his heart straightened out.

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.