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.