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.
I’m sure many, like me, have wished they had some degree of charisma. But as we know, if wishes were horses, beggars would be trampled. Arnold never had to wish for charisma, as he has something far better.
Beyond his skill with a golf club, beyond the appeal of his charging style, is the appeal of the man himself. The spotlight seemed to search him out, to be attracted to him as much as his fans were. Often, people who have presence, who command attention wherever they go regardless of who else is present, are said to have charisma. We could say simply that is what Arnold Palmer possesses. But we would be wrong. For charisma is too common a commodity to describe what Arnie has. Charismatic people are essentially a dime a dozen, or maybe, these days, a buck fifty a dozen. People with the aura and appeal of Arnold Palmer come maybe once every fourth generation.
I therefore submit that the name Arnold Palmer should be assigned to something more enduring than a glass of iced tea with lemonade mixed in. Hey, I like chugging an Arnold Palmer as much as the next thirsty bloke, but Arnie’s name deserves better. I submit that the once-every-four-generations super-charisma should be named after Arnold Palmer. He embodies it, he lives it, he is it. And we should use his name as its definition.
Here are some practical ways to apply the term correctly:
- He has an air of Arnold about him.
- His Arnie aura is amazing!
- He did an Arnold Palmer on that crowd!
- His Arnie really Palmered them!
The danger, of course, is to bandy about the term too readily, to bestow it on the undeserving. None of today’s celebrities, for example, come close to having it. Johnny Depp? Merely charismatic. George Clooney? Only charming in an old school way. Katy Perry? Lady Gag Me? Pul-eeeeze!
And certainly, let’s not insult anyone by suggesting any of the current crop of politicians (of either persuasion), who seem to be suffering the effects of perhaps too much pesticide, have it. The dark side of the force, perhaps they possess, but that’s about it.
So, Arnie’s Army, let’s make our commander proud. Let’s spread his fame.
Here’s your Joe-to-Go: Honor Arnie by acknowledging his unique gift for making people love him. Spread the word, spread the name. After all, we’ve been Arnold Palmered.