Arnold Palmer receives Congressional Gold Medal

September 12, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

Golfing legend Arnold Palmer became just the sixth athlete to receive the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony in his honor Wednesday in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

"I am very humbled," Palmer said at the end of the 1 hour, 15 minute ceremony.

John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, along with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid were involved in the presentation of the medal to Palmer. Jack Nicklaus and country music singer Vince Gill, along with two Republican and two Democratic members of the Senate and House, also took part in the ceremony.

Commissioner's statement
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem on Arnold Palmer receiving the Congressional Gold Medal:

"Arnold Palmer is a legend both on and off the golf course and we are deeply appreciative that Congress has recognized his achievements and his character in giving this prestigious award. His impact on players, tournaments, fans, sponsors, sports television, volunteers and perhaps most importantly on communities where he worked, lived and competed cannot be measured but is deeply felt and will continue have a tremendous impact for generations."

"Arnold Palmer was the everyday man's hero," Nicklaus said during his speech. "From the modest upbringing, Arnold embodied the hard-working strength of America ... The game has given so much to Arnold Palmer but he has given back so much more."

The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- which Palmer received in 2004 -- are the highest civilian awards in the United States. The Congressional Gold Medal dates back to the American Revolution. Each medal is created by the U.S. Mint individually to honor the individual and achievements for which the medal is awarded.

Sponsorship by two-thirds of the membership of the Senate and House is required before the bill goes to committee. The Gold Medal legislation for the Palmer medal was enacted and signed by President Barack Obama in 2009 as Public Law 111-65 in recognition of Palmer's service to the nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship in golf.

"I'm particularly proud of anything the House and the Senate agree on," Palmer joked.

Of the more than 200 people who have received the Congressional Gold Medal, the other athletes include: baseball's Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson, track and field's Jesse Owens, boxing's Joe Louis and another golf legend, Byron Nelson.

Noting that two of those six were golfers, Palmer said, "I like to think and truly believe golf and golfers promote human values."

List of Findings
In the text of Public Law 111-65 to give Arnold Palmer the Congressional Golf Medal, here are the nine findings cited by Congress
(1) Arnold Palmer is a world famous golf professional, a highly successful business executive, a prominent advertising spokesman, a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, and a man with a common touch that has made him one of the most popular and accessible public figures in history.

(2) Arnold Palmer amassed 92 championships in professional competition of national or international stature by the end of 1993, 62 of which came on the Professional Golf Association Tour.

(3) Arnold Palmer's magnetic personality and unfailing sense of kindness and thoughtfulness have endeared him to millions throughout the world.

(4) Arnold Palmer has been the recipient of countless honors including virtually every national award in golf and both the Hickok Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year awards, and he was chosen Athlete of the Decade for the 1960s in a national Associated Press poll.

(5) Arnold Palmer has received numerous honors outside the world of sports, including the Patriot Award of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the Golden Plate award of the American Academy of Achievement, and the United States Navy Memorial Lone Sailor Award.

(6) Arnold Palmer was honored by the United States Golf Association with the opening of the Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History on June 3rd 2008.

(7) Arnold Palmer served his country for 3 years in the United States Coast Guard and was among those chosen to address the Joint Session of Congress on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

(8) Arnold Palmer served as Honorary National Chairman of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation for 20 years and played a major role in the fund-raising drive that led to the creation of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Childrenin Orlando and the Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation in his Western Pennsylvania hometown.

(9) Arnold Palmer remains active in tournament golf, although he retired from competition in the major championships on April 14, 2002, when he played the last of his 48 Masters Tournaments, where he was given an emotional standing ovation as he finished the 18th hole.

Rep. Joe Baca of the 43rd district in California, who has played golf with Palmer, said, "Although he doesn't not feel comfortable being called the King of Golf -- and he truly is the King of Golf -- Arnold Palmer is royalty. Royalty in the eyes and hearts of those that he has helped."