Just 88 years ago, the “King” was born. No, it’s not Elvis. We are talking about Arnold Palmer who as a golfer became one of America’s true heav-yweight sports figures. He died in 2016. No doubt he was part of the movement that put golf into its premier standing now. Palmer truly walked (and golfed) with presidents and kings, but didn’t lose the common touch. Even if you don’t play golf, I’ll bet you know who he was.
Now at the height of golf season, we can celebrate his contributions to the game and life in general with these 40 facts about him.
1. He made hitching up your pants cool. 2. He brought big-time golf to Or-lando, turning the minor Florida Citrus Open into the Arnold Palmer Invita-tional. 3. He signed a zillion autographs – all of them legibly. 5. He served three years in the U.S. Coast Guard and worked as a paint salesman after getting out. 6. The Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando is ranked among the “Best Children’s Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Re-port. 7. In 2014, he made $42 million in endorsements and other income, according to Forbes.
8. He rallied from seven shots behind on the final day to win the 1960 U.S. Open. 9. He designed the first golf course built in China. 10. You can order an “Arnold Palmer” in restaurants worldwide – it is half iced tea and half lemonade. 11. He owned his own winery. 12. He refused any market-ing overtures to make an Arnold Palmer wine comprised of half Chardon-nay and half Cabernet Sauvignon.
13. He broke 100 for a round of golf when he was 7. He shot 71 in his first high school golf match. 14. When he turned 37, Dwight D. Eisenhower flew to Latrobe, Pennsylvania to deliver a surprise birthday greeting.
15. He met his first wife, Winnie, on a Tuesday and asked her to marry him four days later. 16. They were married 45 years until her death in 1999. His would be father-in-law boycotted the wedding because he doubted Arnie could make enough to support a family, but his net worth when he died was $675 million.
17. He played in 50 Masters tournaments and won seven majors. 18. He became a pilot to help overcome his fear of flying. 19. He was the last golfer to look debonair with a cigarette dangling from his lips.
20. He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. 21. He’s the only sports figure to have both. 22. He had 62 PGA Tour wins. 23. When arch villain Goldfinger was cheating while playing golf against James Bond in the 1964 film, Sean Connery’s caddie said, “If that’s his original ball, I’m Arnold Palmer.”
24. His father was a lowly club pro, so Arnie wasn’t allowed to swim in the club pool. 25. He swam in the creek that supplied the pool water and joked that he urinated in it. Later he bought the golf course that wouldn’t allow him to swim as a kid. 26. There were only two rooms in the house he grew up in that had heat! 27. He really did drive that tractor seen in the Pennzoil commercials.
28. He helped start the Golf Channel. 29. He was honorary national chairman of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation for 20 years. 30. He made eye contact with fans. 29. He was Associated Press Athlete of the Decade for 1960s. 30. Kirk Douglas was asked of all his famous ac-quaintances, who had the most personal magnetism. His answer – Arnie.
31. In 1976, he set a round-the-world speed record in a Learjet that still stands – 57 hours, 25 minutes, 42 seconds. His around-the-world record flight would have finished sooner, but he stopped to refuel in Sri Lanka and rode an elephant. He also piloted a Boeing 747 before they were in commercial service.
32. He had a hole-in-one just nine years ago. 33. He was confident enough to wear pink before it was fashionable. 34. He expected men to take off their hats when they went indoors. 35. Gerald Ford’s first act after leaving the presidency was playing a round of golf with Palmer.
36. The Latrobe airport is named after him. 37. He designed more than 300 golf courses around the world. 38. Nike’s “LeBronold Palmer” sneak-ers are named for him and LeBron James.
39. After first seeing Palmer’s jerky swing, Gene Sarazen said Palmer wouldn’t amount to much of a golfer.
40. And finally, he had his very own Army.
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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