90 for 90: Celebrating Mr. Palmer
September 09, 2019
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- September 09, 2019
- “90 for 90” is a celebration of 90 moments from Mr. Palmer’s incredible life – one highlighted each day, for 90 days. (PGA TOUR)
Editor’s note: In honor of what would have been Arnold Palmer’s 90th birthday this year, “90 for 90” is a celebration of 90 moments from Mr. Palmer’s incredible life – one highlighted each day, for 90 days, from June 13 until his birthday on September 10, 2019.
More than just historical notes, the 90 moments showcase Palmer’s love of family and of aviation, his business acumen, his philanthropy via the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation and other efforts and, of course, his incredible golf career.
Each month, we will highlight stories that show the positive impact Palmer and the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation have on local communities. We invite you to join the celebration at www.arnoldpalmer.com as well as via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and to share your thoughts and personal Palmer memories online using #AP90for90.
Stories, photos and creative courtesy of www.arnoldpalmer.com.
#87: Pointed Us Forward
So much of Arnold Palmer’s success—both in golf and in life—had to do with his ability to look ahead.
Seeing shots no one else saw, envisioning the future of sports marketing, understanding the potential of GOLF Channel, the future of golf course design, the future of the game. In the mid 1970s, at lunch with the owner of Rolling Rock Brewery, Palmer told him he should stop bottling beer and start bottling water because one day it would be a big thing. He got that right, and so much else as well. Today the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation continues his vision, creating a brighter future for our youth because, really, that is Palmer’s legacy: moving forward. "I’m not much for sitting around and thinking about the past or talking about the past,” Palmer once said. “What does that accomplish? If I can give young people something to think about, like the future, that’s a better use of my time.”
#84: Presented by Mastercard
Arnold Palmer and Mastercard began a priceless pairing in 2004 when they joined forces for The Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
For more than 15 years, Mastercard and the tournament have brought the best of golf to audiences around the world while inspiring the next generation of players, coaches, volunteers, and fans. Supporting one of the most beloved events on the PGA TOUR, Mastercard unlocks new opportunities for cardholders and gives fans the chance to experience one-of-a-kind moments in golf—all while benefitting the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation. Together, Mastercard and The Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard will continue to champion local communities and the great game of golf—an effective and enduring testament to the legacy of Arnold Palmer.
#83: A Legendary Foundation Reborn
Among Arnold Palmer’s lasting impacts, the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation specifically is dedicated to continuing the philanthropic legacy of Palmer and his family.
As his fame rose in the 1960s and his legion of fans became known as “Arnie’s Army,” the relationship between the two naturally evolved, with fans supporting not just the golfer but causes near and dear to his heart as well. Originally called Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation, the name was changed to acknowledge the incredible work done by Winnie Palmer and the rest of the family. Today the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation is dedicated to supporting efforts on behalf of children’s health, character development, and nature-focused wellness, working with leading partners and with thousands of fans around the world to ensure that, in true Palmer spirit, every child has the chance to live a Life Well Played.
#74: Breakfast of Golf Champions
Wheaties produced another great box of cereal—and an even greater effort—when it put Arnold Palmer on the "Breakfast of Champions" in 1999 and tied his appearance to a fund-raising effort for cancer research.
From a brand known for celebrating great athletes and great efforts, the box featuring Palmer promoted a “Spoonfuls of Hope” campaign in which parent company General Mills donated money to the American Cancer Society for every card mailed in from Wheaties purchases. Palmer did a television commercial for the effort as well, pointing out that he’d faced challenges at Spyglass, Bay Hill and Pebble Beach, “But there’s one challenge I hope I never have to face again,” he offers, before asking us all, “Shouldn’t you be eating your Wheaties?”
#59: Arnold Palmer Invitational is Born
In 1966 Florida got a new pro golf tournament: the Florida Citrus Open Invitational, played at Rio Pinar Country Club just east of Orlando. Arnold Palmer won the 1971 event, and in 1979 saw the tournament moved to his Bay Hill Club, just across town.
In 2007 the event was renamed for Palmer himself, and with Mastercard as the presenting sponsor since 2004, today the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard is one of the most beloved stops on the PGA TOUR. Tiger Woods won it an astounding eight times, and with a history of champions like Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, Jason Day, Payne Stewart and, most recently, Francesco Molinari, the world-class golf it offers is matched only by its charitable impacts and its experience, with fans getting closer to the action and closer to Arnie himself, celebrating his legacy at the place Palmer called home for so many years.
#49: The Natural
Arnold Palmer’s hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, has changed a lot over the years since Arnie was born, but one piece of it will remain the same thanks to Arnold Palmer’s first wife, Winnie Palmer.
Winnie was committed to the environment, and so it was a fitting tribute to her when, two years after her death, the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve was created on a property abutting Saint Vincent College. There are nature trails and beautiful views, but the Reserve is also a community resource with an educational center dedicated to sharing the wonders of nature. Beloved by local families and visitors, the reserve embodies the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation’s commitment to nature-focused wellness and character development. As Amy Saunders, chair of the Arnold Palmer companies and one of Palmer’s daughters, wrote, “Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve has become an amazing reflection of my mother's inspiration, but with vision that exceeded any expectation of its humble beginning… She would be pleased and proud beyond expression.”
#45: Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies
When the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies opened in 2006, it marked a milestone for healthcare in the Southeast.
The first facility in Central Florida to provide emergency care exclusively for pediatrics, the elegantly designed hospital was built with healing and nurturing in mind. It houses the latest technologies and a top-notch staff dedicated exclusively to the healthcare needs of women and babies, and it does an exceptional job, with one of the highest survival rates in the country for low-birth-weight babies and numerous positive impacts that go far beyond its Orlando location. As much as it is a hospital, it is also a testament to Arnold and Winnie Palmer’s dedication to children's healthcare and success, proof that, as Arnold said, we can always “do better.”
#42: Beats Cancer
Shortly after 1997 got underway, Arnold Palmer was told that he had prostate cancer. After a moment of disbelief, shock, and anger, Palmer’s old self kicked in and he decided to fight it head-on.
“The decision was up to me, [my physicians] said. ‘Well,’ I remember replying almost without hesitation, ‘if you’re leaving it up to me, I think there’s only one thing to do. Let’s get the damn thing out.’” A few days later Palmer had surgery at the Mayo Clinic, and a few months after that Arnie was back on course, playing with Jack Nicklaus at Augusta to the delight of fans. Even if his stamina wasn’t what it used to be, he said, he’d kicked a serious foe and reaffirmed his love of life. From then on, Palmer became a fierce advocate for PSA testing and for fighting cancer—head on, just like Arnie did.
#30: Launches the Arnold Palmer Cup
On this day in 1997, one of the most prestigious tournaments in college golf handed out its first trophy when the inaugural Arnold Palmer Cup was awarded to team USA after they defeated Great Britain & Ireland 19–5.
Today the Ryder Cup-style event puts the USA against the rest of the world, and since 2018 it has been co-ed, with men and women competing side-by-side as partners. Supported by Rolex and live-streamed on GOLF Channel for the first time in 2019, the Arnold Palmer Cup is more than just a tournament. It is part of the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation’s mission to promote youth character development, modeling the values embodied by Arnold Palmer and supporting the growth of amateur/collegiate golf. With over 100 alumni who have gone on to earn cards on the PGA, European and LPGA Tours, and visiting some of golf’s finest venues, the Arnold Palmer Cup is quickly becoming one of the game’s most treasured amateur events.
#26: The Day the Army was Formed
There are a number of stories as to how the phrase “Arnie’s Army” was coined, but all of them describe the same thing: one of the greatest groups of fans in the history of sports.
The timing and place are certain: 1959, Augusta National, the Masters. Soldiers from nearby Camp Gordon (now Fort Gordon) were enlisted to man the scoreboards. These were early days for the Masters on television, and to ensure a good crowd Augusta National co-founder Clifford Roberts offered free tickets to any soldier who showed up in uniform. Plenty did, and it seemed like all of them were rooting for Palmer. Whomever came up with it, the phrase “Arnie’s Army” appeared in The Augusta Chronicle that week, and a movement was off and running. Now used to describe Arnie’s global legion of fans and members of the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation, Arnie’s Army was near and dear to Palmer’s heart. “When people ask what’s driven me all these years,” he said once, “I always give the same answer: It’s you.”
#23: Lone Sailor Award
In 2008, Arnold Palmer was honored with the Lone Sailor Award, given by the U.S. Navy Memorial to Sea Service Veterans to those “who have excelled with distinction in their respective careers while exemplifying the core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.”
“Those three words are what life is all about, as far as I’m concerned,” Palmer said at the time. “Certainly honor, courage and commitment are things that I would like to think that all young American men and women would be raised up to live by.” Palmer served three years in the United States Coast Guard, an experience he credits with helping him to mature and grow as a person. “I appreciate what the Coast Guard stands for,” Palmer said. “It’s something that’s very important to me."
#20: Joins U.S. Coast Guard
While Arnold Palmer was in his final year of college at Wake Forest University, his close friend and golf teammate Bud Worsham was killed in a car accident. Distraught and shaken, Palmer left school and joined The United States Coast Guard.
He reported for duty to Cape May in January of 1951, in what he described as the coldest, bleakest part of winter. After basic training he was kept on at the base, where he helped to train recruits and, eventually, where he built a 9-hole golf course with his hands—his first design project, of a sort. Beyond golf, though, Palmer credits the Coast Guard with helping him to develop as a man. “The knowledge that I gained, the maturity that I gained in the Coast Guard was unbelievable. It matured me,” Palmer told the Coast Guard’s Compass publication in 2012. “It made me a better person for the world.”
#6: The Day He Said "We Can Do Better"
In the mid-1980s, when Arnold and Winnie Palmer visited the neonatal intensive care unit and pediatrics wing of Orlando Regional Medical Center, they were impressed by the talent and dedication of the staff, but they were bothered by the modest facilities.
“We can do better than this,” Arnold said. “We should do better than this, for the children of our community.”
That statement led to what is today the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, the fourth-largest neonatal intensive care unit in the country, and Central Florida's only pediatric Level One Trauma Center. With the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, it's just part of the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation’s commitment to improving children’s health—and an inspiration to us all to “do better” whenever an opportunity presents itself.
#3: Every Time Arnie Helped a Child
There are few environments as thrilling as Pebble Beach Golf Links in the midst of a tournament, but for a young Roger Maltbie the crowds proved too much—until Arnold Palmer stepped in.
In the early 1960s a 10-year-old Roger went to a tournament at the famed California course and become separated from his parents. He was standing behind the second tee looking worried when, as he explained to Golf Digest years later, Arnold Palmer looked over and saw him. Palmer, who was playing in the event, asked Roger if he was OK. Maltbie explained that he’d lost his parents and was scared, and Palmer took him by the hand and said, “Come with me. They’ll see you with me.” They did, and Maltbie treasures the memory of his mother yelling “ROGER!” from the gallery as he walked down the fairway with a legend. Maltbie eventually became a five-time winner on the PGA TOUR and a golf announcer, and when he recounted the “lost” story to Arnold many years later, he said Palmer had no recollection of the event. “I think it says a lot about the man,” Maltibie said. “He’d done the same thing for other kids.”
Quotes from Golf Digest “Life of the Party” by Craig Bestrom, June 4, 2008.