And then there was Arnold Palmer.
I am afraid many of the characters I am writing about are or were golfers. I am sorry but golf was a large part of my non-business life. And, the King of them all was Arnie.
We had seen Arnold up very close in several golf tournaments, especially in the Masters. I was face to face with Arnie when he played a 4-iron shot to the 11th green at Augusta. It was a gentle slice, landing to the right of the bunker. Arnie said, “Isn’t that the worst shot you’ve ever seen?” I said that I had seen many like it. When I was President of Adcom Wire in Jacksonville, we had most of our trucking done by The Yellow Trucking Company. They had a large motor bus set up for entertaining their customers. It could comfortably hold eight golfers and their equipment. One Spring day, I was invited to be one of eight golfer to go on a day trip to Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Golf Club near Orlando. We had sandwiches and beer on the way and it was a great ride. We played the first nine holes and when my foursome got to the half-way house we ordered hot-dogs and beer, Arnold walked over from the club-house and joined us, saying ”How do you like my course?” We were thrilled to meet him as he ordered his “Arnold Palmer” drink. ( This is half and half iced tea and lemonade.) When he left, he told the attendant that our bill was on him. He was the great gentleman everyone respects.
The next time I saw him was with Doris when we were invited to a cocktail party in his honor at our club, the Champions Club in Houston. A new bank was celebrating their opening and had arranged for Arnold and our club owner, Jack Burke to each give a short speech. The hors d’oeuvres and drinks were impressive as only Champions can do and Arnold reminisced about playing in the Houston Tournaments at Champions and his long relationship with Jack Burke. Jack shepherded Arnold to each of the guests and I told Arnie I had seen him play in England and at the Master. We were each given a commemorative medal with a picture of Arnold swinging a club. A nice evening was had by all, except possibly Arnold. He remains the King of golf at 87 years of age.
2 thoughts on “Character Number Fourteen”
You have a lot in common with Arnie. You are both class acts!
I never knew you met Palmer. I have to admit Jack Nicklaus was my favorite but only by a little. I loved his intense concentration. As great as they both were, without the other, the one remaining would be the King of Golf! I always get tears in my eyes when they start the Masters with Gary Player, Jack and Arnie hitting a drive and posing for a photo with their arms around each other! It was sad to see Palmer didn’t hit a drive this year but he is having trouble with his hips, I think. I think we may have seen them at The Atlanta Classic, or maybe they skipped that one. The young new hot shot then was Johnny Miller…more of an announcer than a golfer now!
One day I hope and dream to walk the Masters course in Augusta. Alas, like the pyramids and many other “bucket list” things, I don’t think I ever will.
I did drive all the way to Palmer’s course to see Tiger Woods. I had to park at Universal and take a bus, and by the time I got there, I saw one hole of play and then it rained out…and Tiger didn’t even come – he resumed his play at The Masters after his altercation with his now ex-wife! I tried again to see Tiger by buying a Sunday ticket to the TPC Sawgrass in Ponta Vedra near Jax, but Tiger dropped out on the Friday with a bad knee. 4 hour drive each way! I guess I’ll never see him play, either!