When you think of someone who is “cool,” a golfer isn’t usually the first type of person you think of. The current crop of PGA Tour golfers aren’t what I could consider “cool.” Some try to be, and some try way too hard, but very few, if any, have the cool factors of the golden age of golfers; the Palmers, the Sneeds, the Hogans.
Look at any old photo of Arnold Palmer and you can just feel the cool factor of The King. He knew how do dress. He had a movie star chiseled face. He was built rock solid from head to toe and his golf shirt’s sleeves were shorter show off his guns. Maybe that’s where Brooks Koepka got his too short, too tight, Nike shirt look he’s going for these days?
The ladies loved him, the guys wanted to be him, this is how “Arnie’s Army” came to be. Everybody loved him. There’s a reason, for decades, he was considered the most authentic spokesman who related to the everyman. Arnold Palmer was able to reach people of all walks of life. From the steel workers in Pennsylvania to the big wigs at private clubs, Arnold Palmer touched them all.
With his unique swing, one that defied much of what people would consider the prototype golf swing, Arnold embraced it and made it a form of entertainment. His body language thought out created a spectacle for fans to enjoy and then long for the results it produced. Arnold was all about being true to yourself and embrace your uniqueness. One of the best golf commercials of all-time is Arnold Palmer’s Dick’s Sporting Goods “Swing your swing,” commercial.
The Open Championship, or as some refer to it as The British Open, meant absolutely nothing to American golfers. Bobby Jones won it, but other than him, American golfers stayed away. It wasn’t until Arnold won it that it became a big deal in the Unites States. After he won the The Open Championship, he made all American golfers want to play in it. Arnold was the biggest driving force to making The Open Championship a global championship. Arnold made it cool to want to win in rain, sleet, and wind. Very few can do that.
As cool of a golfer Arnold was, he was an even greater man. He always embraced fans. He would personally respond to letters he received. He knew early on that the fans of golf is what will make the golf industry. There was never an autograph he turned away. If you approached him, he was eager to engage you and discuss whatever you wanted. He made sure he always made time for his fans. They were there for him and he felt it would be disrespectful if he didn’t show them his appreciation.Embed from Getty Images
Arnold Palmer’s greatness as a man was no better on display then when he created Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation that helped children and youth. That was the beginning of Arnold’s philanthropic efforts. Arnold and his wife, Winnie, created the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and babies Center. From that, numerous hospitals and clinics were created treating everything from the common cold to cancer. This was Arnold’s way of giving back to the people that had supported him for so long.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is one of the PGA Tour’s best stops. Bay Hill is a great course that produces exciting finishes. Players always turn out to pay respects to Arnold when he was alive and continue to do so since he’s passed. While the Honda Classic is the first leg of the Florida swing, it’s the Arnold Palmer Invitational that brings the biggest, strongest field of the Florida swing outside of The Players. It’s when the people up north start to smell the snow melting and head to the range to get their swings ready for April.