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FULL NAME: Arnold Daniel Palmer
BIRTHDATE: Sept. 10, 1929
BIRTHPLACE: Latrobe, Pennsylvania
NICKNAME: The King / Arnie

 


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ARNOLD PALMER

Every sport has one quintessential player who transforms the game from pastime to art form, a person who attracts public attention by presence alone. In the world of golf, this person is Arnold Palmer.

Arnold Palmer is many things to many people...world famous golf immortal and sportsman, highly-successful business executive, prominent advertising spokesman, skilled aviator, talented golf course designer and consultant, devoted family patriarch and a man with a down-to-earth common touch that has made him one of the most popular and accessible public figures in history.

His popularity and success grew with the tremendous golf boom in the latter half of the 20th Century to heights few ever anticipated and they have been recognized in countless ways over the years. Certainly each contributed to the other, a fact given recognition when he was named "Athlete of the Decade" for the 1960s in a national Associated Press poll. Before, during and after that great decade, the famous golfer amassed 92 championships in professional competition of national or international stature. Sixty-two of the victories came on the U.S. PGA Tour, starting with the 1955 Canadian Open.

Besides the magnificent performance record, his magnetic personality and unfailing sense of kindness and thoughtfulness to everybody with whom he comes in contact have endeared him to millions throughout the world and led to the informal formation of the largest non-uniformed "military" organization in existence -- Arnie's Army. Seven of his victories came in what the golfing world considers the four major professional championships. He won the Masters Tournament four times, in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964; the U.S. Open in spectacular fashion in 1960 at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver and the British Open in 1961 and 1962. He came from seven strokes off the pace in the final round in that U.S. Open win and finished second in four other Opens after that. Among the majors, only the PGA Championship eluded him. He finished second in the PGA three times.

Arnie's springboard to professional fame and fortune was his victory in the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1954. He turned professional a few months later. His hottest period was a four-year stretch from 1960 to 1963 when he landed 29 of his titles and collected almost $400,000 at a time when the purses were minute by today's standards. He was the leading money-winner in three of those years and twice represented the U.S. in the prestigious Ryder Cup Match during that time, serving in 1963 as the victorious captain.

It was also during this period that his rapidly-growing business interests got their start, through the impetus of Palmer himself and with the guidance and efforts of his business manager, the late Mark McCormack, and his wide-ranging organization. Arnold is president of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, a multi-division structure encompassing much of his global commercial activity that is centered in Cleveland. He has been involved in automobile and aviation service firms over the years and still is the principal owner of a car dealership in his Latrobe (PA) hometown.

Arnold is president and sole owner (since 1971) of Latrobe Country Club and president and principal owner of the Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando, FL, which he and a group of associates acquired in 1970. Bay Hill hosts the annual Bay Hill Invitational, presented by MasterCard, on the PGA Tour. In 1999 Arnold and a group of investors purchased the famed Pebble Beach golf complex on the California coast. He also is tournament professional and member of the board of directors of Laurel Valley Golf Club, Ligonier, PA, with which he has been affiliated since its founding in the late 1950s.

Palmer is consultant to The Golf Channel, based in Orlando, which went on the air on cable networks in January, 1995. Another important facet of his activities involves the Palmer Course Design Company, in which he is associated with Ed Seay, past president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Since the mid-1960s, Palmer has put his stamp on more than 200 new courses throughout the nation and world. His modest business empire and golfing activities keep Palmer on the move much of the year, most of the travel in his Cessna Citation X jet aircraft with Arnold at the controls when aboard. He was recognized in 1999 for his contributions to aviation and his Western Pennsylvania community when the Westmoreland County Airport at Latrobe was renamed the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. He is a member of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority.

Palmer was born on September 10, 1929, in Latrobe, a small industrial town in Western Pennsylvania at the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains some 50 miles east of Pittsburgh. He still lives there during the warm months of the year, but spends the fall and winter months at his homes at Bay Hill and at the Tradition Golf Club in La Quinta, California. He has numerous active and honorary memberships in clubs throughout the world, including famed Augusta National in Georgia, St. Andrews in Scotland, Pine Valley in New Jersey, Winged Foot in New York and Oakmont in Pittsburgh.

The golfing great has been the recipient of countless honors, the symbolic plaques, trophies and citations scattered throughout his personal, club and business worlds, the epitome coming in 2004 when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush at a White House ceremony. He has received virtually every national award in golf and after his great 1960 season both the Hickok Professional Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year trophies. He is a charter member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and a member of the American Golf Hall of Fame at Foxburg, PA, and the PGA Hall of Fame in Florida. He is chairman of the USGA Members Program and served as honorary national chairman of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation for 20 years. He played a major role in the fund-raising drive that led to the creation of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women in Orlando in the 1980s. A long-time member of the board of directors of Latrobe Area Hospital he staged a major annual fund-raising golf event for that institution for six years that led to the formation of the Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation.

The saga of Arnold Palmer began when he was four years old, swinging his first set of golf clubs, cut down by his father, Milfred J. (Deacon) Palmer, who worked at Latrobe Country Club from 1921 until his death in 1976, much of that time as both golf professional and course superintendent. Before long, Arnie was playing well enough to beat the older caddies at the club. He began caddying himself when he was 11 and worked at almost every job at the club in later years.

The strongly-built young man concentrated on golf in high school, soon was dominating the game in Western Pennsylvania and twice won the Pennsylvania high school championship He won his first of five West Penn Amateur Championships when he was 17, competed successfully in national junior events and went to Wake Forest University (then College), where he became No. 1 man on the golf team and one of the leading collegiate players of that time. Deeply affected by the death in an auto accident of his close friend and classmate, Bud Worsham, younger brother of 1947 U.S. Open Champion Lew Worsham, Arnold withdrew from college during his senior year and began a three-year hitch in the Coast Guard. His interest in golf rekindled while he was stationed in Cleveland. He was working there as a salesman and playing amateur golf after his discharge from the service and brief return to Wake Forest when he won the U.S. Amateur in 1954 following his second straight victory in the Ohio Amateur earlier that summer.

It was during that period that he met Winifred Walzer at a tournament in Eastern Pennsylvania. They were married shortly after he turned professional in the fall of 1954 and Winnie traveled with him when he joined the pro tour in early 1955. Mrs. Palmer died of cancer on November 20, 1999. Mr. Palmer and his second wife, Kathleen (Kit) Gawthrop were married in a private ceremony in Hawaii on January 26, 2005. He underwent successful prostate cancer surgery in 1997 and has become a strong advocate of programs supporting cancer research and early detection.

The Palmer family consists of two daughters -- Peggy Palmer Wears, of Durham, NC, and Amy Palmer Saunders, of Windermere, FL; five granddaughters, Emily (1/27/81), Katherine Anne (9/2/82), Anne Palmer (9/14/84) Saunders, Anna Flexer Wears (2/24/97) and Peggy's stepdaughter, Nicola Wears (4/15/82), and two grandsons, Samuel Palmer Saunders (7/30/87) and William Gray Palmer Wears (10/16/94). Mr. Palmer’s second wife has three children – son Al Gawthrop III and daughters Lynn Bouck and Blair Gawthrop, all living in the Denver area. Arnold's brother, Jerry, who succeeded their father as course superintendent at Latrobe CC, and sisters, Lois Jean Tilley and Sandra Sarni, live in their home area in Western Pennsylvania. Jerry is now general manager of Latrobe CC and all Palmer properties there. Their mother, Doris, passed away in 1979 after a long, brave battle against crippling arthritis.

ACADEMIC HONORS
Honorary Doctor of Laws, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC
Honorary Doctor of Humanities, Thiel College, Greenville, PA
Honorary Doctor of Laws, National College of Education, Evanston, IL
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Florida Southern College, Lakeland, FL

AWARDS in GOLF

  • Charter member, World Golf Hall of Fame, Pinehurst, NC - 1974
  • American Golf Hall of Fame, Foxburg, PA
  • PGA Hall of Fame, Palm Beach Gardens, FL - 1980
  • All-American Collegiate Golf Hall of Fame, Man of Year - 1984
  • Ohio Golf Hall of Fame - 1992
  • Phoenix Open Hall of Fame
  • Bob Jones Award, U.S. Golf Association - 1971
  • Walter Hagen Award, International panel of selectors
  • William D. Richardson Award, Golf Writers Assn. of America - 1969
  • Charles Bartlett Award, Golf Writers Assn. of America - 1976
  • Herb Graffis Award, National Golf Foundation - 1978
  • Gold Tee Award, Metropolitan (NY) Golf Writers Assn. - 1965
  • Golf Digest "Man of Silver Era" - 1975
  • Old Tom Morris Award, Golf Course Supt. Assn. of America - 1983
  • Golfer of Century, New York Athletic Club
  • Commemorative Honoree, 1987 Golf Digest
  • Commemorative Seniors Tournament
  • Golfer of Decade (1958-67), Centennial of Golf, Golf Mag. - 1989
  • American Senior Golf Association National Award - 1989
  • Chicago District Golf Assn. Distinguished Service Award - 1989
  • Ambassador of Golf Award, World Series of Golf - 1991
  • Bing Crosby Award, Metropolitan Golf Writers Assn. - 1992
  • Memorial Honoree, Memorial Tournament - 1993

PGA Tour wins

  • 1955 Canadian Open
  • 1956 Insurance City Open, Eastern Open
  • 1957 Houston Open, Azalea Open Invitational, Rubber City Open Invitational, San Diego Open Invitational
  • 1958 St. Petersburg Open Invitational, The Masters, Pepsi Championship
  • 1959 Thunderbird Invitational, Oklahoma City Open Invitational, West Palm Beach Open Invitational
  • 1960 Palm Springs Desert Golf Classic, Texas Open Invitational, Baton Rouge Open Invitational, Pensacola Open Invitational, The Masters, U.S. Open, Insurance City Open Invitational, Mobile Sertoma Open Invitational
  • 1961 San Diego Open Invitational, Phoenix Open Invitational, Baton Rouge Open Invitationa
  • Texas Open Invitational, Western Open, The Open Championship
  • 1962 Palm Springs Golf Classic, Phoenix Open Invitational, The Masters, Texas Open Invitational, Tournament of Champions, Colonial National Invitation, The Open Championship, American Golf Classic
  • 1963 Los Angeles Open, Phoenix Open Invitational, Pensacola Open Invitational, Thunderbird Classic Invitational, Cleveland Open Invitational, Western Open, Whitemarsh Open Invitational
  • 1964 The Masters, Oklahoma City Open Invitational
  • 1965 Tournament of Champions
  • 1966 Los Angeles Open, Tournament of Champions, Houston Champions International
  • 1967 Los Angeles Open, Tucson Open Invitational, American Golf Classic, Thunderbird Classic
  • 1968 Bob Hope Desert Classic, Kemper Open
  • 1969 Heritage Golf Classic, Danny Thomas-Diplomat Classic
  • 1970 National Four-Ball Championship
  • 1971 Bob Hope Desert Classic, Florida Citrus Invitational, Westchester Classic, National Team Championship
  • 1973 Bob Hope Desert Classic

Other regular career wins

  • 1954 U.S. Amateur
  • 1955 Panama Open, Colombia Open
  • 1960 Canada Cup (with Sam Snead)
  • 1962 Canada Cup (with Sam Snead)
  • 1963 Australian Wills Masters Tournament, Canada Cup (with Jack Nicklaus)
  • 1964 Piccadilly World Match Play Championship (England, but not a European Tour event at that time), Canada Cup (with Jack Nicklaus)
  • 1966 Australian Open, Canada Cup (with Jack Nicklaus), PGA Team Championship (with Jack Nicklaus)
  • 1967 Piccadilly World Match Play Championship (England, but not a European Tour event at that time), World Cup (team with Jack Nicklaus and individual)
  • 1971 Lancome Trophy (Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche, France, but not a European Tour event at that time)
  • 1974 Spanish Open (European Tour)
  • 1975 Penfold PGA Championship (European Tour)
  • 1980 Canadian PGA Championship

Senior PGA Tour wins

  • 1980 PGA Seniors' Championship
  • 1981 U.S. Senior Open
  • 1982 Marlboro Classic, Denver Post Champions of Golf
  • 1983 Boca Grove Classic
  • 1984 General Foods PGA Seniors' Championship, Senior Tournament Players Championship, Quadel
    Senior Classic
  • 1985 Senior Tournament Players Championship
  • 1988 Crestar Classic

Other senior wins

  • 1984 Doug Sanders Celebrity Pro-Am
  • 1986 Union Mutual Classic
  • 1990 Senior Skins Game
  • 1992 Senior Skins Game
  • 1993 Senior Skins Game

Miscellanea

Palmer was one of the founders of The Golf Channel.

The Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando, Florida is named after Palmer.

Palmer once put his name to a video game, Arnold Palmer's Tournament Golf, released for the Sega Mega Drive console in 1989.

One of Palmer's favorite drinks allegedly is a combination of half iced tea and half lemonade, a drink which is often referred to as an "Arnold Palmer" in his honor. It is now available under the name "The Original Arnold Palmer Tee" (sic)

Palmer also had a favorite sandwhich he called a Saturday which was a Peanut butter and jelly sandwich where one side is refrigerated and one side with peanut butter is toasted. The toasted bread is usually wheat bread while the refrigerated piece of bread is typically potatoe bread.

Palmer underwent successful prostate cancer surgery in 1997

Palmer is a 33° freemason

GENERAL AWARDS

  • Associated Press Athlete of Decade - 1960-69
    Hickok Athlete of Year - 1960
  • Sports Illustrated Sportsman of Year - 1960
  • Western Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Westmoreland County,Cambria County, North Carolina, Florida Sports Halls of Fame
    Wake Forest Hall of Fame
  • Arthur J. Rooney Award, Catholic Youth Assn., Pittsburgh PA
  • Dapper Dan Man of Year, Pittsburgh, PA - 1960
  • Lowman Humanitarian Award, Los Angeles, CA
    Distinguished Pennsylvanian - 1980
  • Partner in Science Award, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
  • Theodore Roosevelt Award, National Collegiate Athletic Association
  • Business Leaders Award, Northwood Institute
    National High School Sports Hall of Fame
    Gold Medal
  • Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters - 1988
  • Sports Appreciation Trophy, Atlanta AC CC, Atlanta, GA - 1990
  • Van Patrick Career Achievement Award, Dearborn, MI - 1990
  • Eagle on World Award, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York - 1990
  • Pathfinder Award, Youthlinks Indiana - 1992
  • Outstanding American Award, Los Angeles Philanthropic Foundation- 1992
  • National Sports Award, Washington, D.C. - 1993
  • Sports Legends Award, Jr. Diabetes Foundation, Pittsburgh - 1993
  • Humanitarian Award, Variety Club International - 1993
  • "Good Guy" Award, American Legion National Commanders - 1993

GOLF BOOKS AND VIDEOS

  • Arnold Palmer's Golf Book, 1961
  • Portrait of Professional Golfer, 1964
  • My Game and Yours, 1965 revised 1983
  • Situation Golf, 1970
  • Go For Broke, 1973
  • Arnold Palmer's Best 54 Holes of Golf, 1977
  • Arnold Palmer's Complete Book of Putting, 1986
  • Play Great Golf, 1987-9 (book, videos)
  • The Arnold Palmer Story, 1991 (video)

GOLF NEWS

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