At my age I get very concerned when an Era ends, and yesterday an Era ended for me. I worshiped Arnold Palmer. He was a winner, he was a great golfer (in spite of his swing), and above all he was a marvelous human being.
When I was discharged from the Navy in 1960, at age 21, I began my college career, and also took up the game of golf. I was never really great, nor consistant, but in my prime I could go around most courses under 82. My greatest golf story was when two of my golfing buddies and I played Pebble Beach. For the first four holes I carded birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie (five under). I came out of the fifth hole even and went for 115 pops that fateful day. I wiffed my first T shot playing with my father-in-law to be, who was an All-American basketball player, and a pretty solid golfer. I couldn’t find a hero in myself on the golf course, so I looked to Arnie.
Arnold Palmer won 62 tournaments during his career on the PGA Tour. Widely considered one of the greatest golfers of all-time, Palmer captured seven majors that included four Masters wins from 1958 to 1964 and two British Open titles. He never won the PGA, which haunted him his entire career from 1958 to the day-before-yesterday.
I remember joining Arnies Army and following him whenever he came to town to play. One day in 1966, at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Palmers twosome was waiting for the groups ahead, he was 10 feet from me, and I said to him, “Arnie, I think you got this one today.” He gave me a big smile and walked over to me. We actually chatted for about two minutes, he thanked me for my support and walked back to his ball. He took a swing; that God aweful, loopy, flat, three-quarter swing, of his; and whacked the ball still to the pin. He characteristically hitched up his pants, turned and winked at me and strode off. I’ll miss you Arnie.