Altvater: Long live ‘The King’Written by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Arnold Palmer will celebrate his 84th birthday Sept. 10 at his home in Latrobe, Pa.
Palmer brought professional golf onto television sets all across the land and drew working class America to the game of golf.
A cigarette dangling from his lips, a tug at the waist of his trousers and his “go for broke” style enamored men and women alike.
He bridged the gap between Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan and brought golf into the modern era.
He won his first official PGA Tour tournament at the 1955 Canadian Open. The last and 62nd win of his career came in the 1973 Hope Desert Classic.
Along the way he won seven major championships, including four Masters’ Green Jackets. Augusta National and Arnold Palmer will be forever linked in golf history. He, along with Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus, serve as honorary starters on Thursday morning of Masters week.
Through various endorsement agreements with Fortune 500 companies, Palmer is still annually one of the highest grossing sports figures in America.
Throughout his life he became close friends with entertainers as well as politicians. Bob Hope and President Dwight Eisenhower were frequent golfing partners.
Palmer has also been recognized off the golf course. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Palmer’s golf design company was founded in 1972 and has built more than 300 golf courses worldwide. He is most proud of his Bay Hill Golf Club in Orlando and has made it his winter residence for many years. Bay Hill also hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational every March and is a favorite among tour professionals.
He was instrumental in the foundation and development of the Golf Channel. It was the first cable channel dedicated solely to covering golf.
The man even has a drink named in his honor.
Arnold Palmer achieved the “American dream” with charisma, style and a strong work ethic. But perhaps his most important work will continue long after “The King” is gone.
He has passionately donated his time, money and talents to the growth of the Arnold Palmer Medical Center. The medical center includes the 158-bed Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the 285-bed Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.
Palmer and his former wife, Winnie, became associated with the hospital in the mid 1980s and has helped to raise millions of dollars for the facilities. No child is refused treatment and thousands of families have benefited and will continue to benefit from treatment provided by the Arnold Palmer Medical Center.
Arnold Palmer was a child of the Great Depression and fully understands the gifts he has received throughout his lifetime. He signs every autograph with precision, meets every eye with a warm friendly wink and greets everyone as a long-lost friend.
Happy Birthday, Arnold. Long Live the “King.”
Tags: Arnold Palmer, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Childre, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Arnold Palmer Medical Center, Bay Hill Golf Club, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Fred Altvater, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, The Back Nine, Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies