By Chuck Ross
“Arnold Palmer, the champion golfer whose full-bore style of play, thrilling tournament victories and magnetic personality inspired an American golf boom, attracted a following known as Arnie’s Army and made him one of the most popular athletes in the world, died on Sunday, according to a spokesman for his business enterprises,” reports The New York Times.
Palmer was 87.
The Times continues, “From 1958 through 1964, Palmer was the charismatic face of professional golf and one of its dominant players. In those seven seasons, he won seven major titles: four Masters, one United States Open and two British Opens. With 62 victories on the PGA Tour, he ranks fifth, behind Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan. He won 93 tournaments worldwide, including the 1954 United States Amateur.
“But it was more than his scoring and shotmaking that captivated the sports world. It was how he played. He did not so much navigate a course as attack it. If his swing was not classic, it was ferocious: He seemed to throw all 185 pounds of his muscular 5-foot-10 body at the ball. If he did not win, he at least lost with flair.”
Says Golf Digest, “Arnold Palmer, by acclamation the most important golfer in the game’s history, died Sunday at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center of complications from heart problems at the age of 87. He had been admitted to the hospital on Thursday and was scheduled to undergo a surgical procedure for his heart on Monday morning.”
To read a piece I wrote in tribute to Palmer several years ago titled “To Play the Game With an Unreachable Perfection: Arnold Palmer, My Dad, My Brother and Me,” please click here.