The Golf Channel recently aired a three part special on Arnold Palmer, titled simply, “Arnie.” That alone speaks volumes. When you say, “Arnie,” everyone – and I mean everyone – knows who you mean.
Latrobe native Arnold Palmer cut a swath through professional golf, and life, such as is rarely seen. Combining a fearless, “charging” style of playing the game, with a powerfully magnetic personality, he was the perfect working class hero. He also had great timing, arriving on the golf scene at the advent of live televised golf tournaments.
It was the perfect match for both golf and Arnie. He shot a bolt of electricity into the sport that caused the game to explode in popularity, and the man to become a beloved icon. It has been observed that he may not be the best golfer who ever lived, but he is the most important. Huge throngs of supporters, who came to be known as Arnie’s Army, would gravitate to wherever he was on the golf course. Arnold’s impact on golf’s popularity is unparalleled in any sport. But beyond that, the true measure of the man is the love that his fans have bestowed on him. If ever hero worship rose to more than just a phrase, it is with Arnold. Arnie possesses a special quality that goes beyond being charismatic.