In Remembrance of a Golfer Named Palmer

September 13, 2017

By Dave Wells

Last Appearance at Masters. Courtesy Dave Wells.

A reporter once asked actor Kirk Douglas, “Of the famous people you have known. who possessed the most personal magnetism?” The reporter then reeled off a list of celebrities that included John Wayne, Ronald Reagan and Frank Sinatra.

The reporter, obviously not a golf enthusiast, was taken aback when Douglas instantly responded, “Arnold Palmer.”

Many have said that Palmer brought the game of golf to the masses. His personal magnetism, charisma and respect for fans were a big part of that success. It’s truly impressive that Palmer, despite his celebrity and grueling schedule, patiently responded to every autograph request with a legible signature.

Memorable Quotes

Arnie Palmer died a year ago this month on September 25, 2016. He left behind a reputation as one of golf’s best players, many friends and numerous memorable quotes. On the anniversary of his passing, here are some of my favorite Arnie Palmer quotes.

“Golf is a way of testing ourselves while enjoying ourselves.”

“The more I practice the luckier I get.”

“As a friendly side bet, and if you make par without hitting the fairway, you’ve won yourself an Arnie.”

“I think the average intelligent person can learn to fly an airplane, but not necessarily become a competent putter.”

“Success in golf depends less on strength of body than upon strength of mind and character.”


The quote of all Arnie quotes probably is from the very contentious preliminary meeting that was held at Palmer’s Bay Hill Club to discuss the idea of establishing a television channel devoted to golf. Different opinions were expressed and tempers flared. However, the room became quiet when Palmer spoke. He said, “Guys, if I had not hit the golf ball through the trees a few times in my life, none of us would be here today.” The participants settled down and focused on the challenge before them. The result was the founding of the Golf Channel in 1995.

“The 10 Commandments for Golf Etiquette”

Golf Digest once asked Palmer to list his “Ten Commandments” for golf course manners. Arnie’s list included, “Turn off your cell phone.” “Always look your best.” “Repair the ground you play on.” And, “Be a silent partner.”

What was Arnie’s first commandment? “Don’t be the slowest player.”


Author with Arnie Palmer. Courtesy Dave Wells.

Learning About Friendship

I played golf with Palmer at Bay Hill on a beautiful sunny day in February 1989. It was the first time that I met him. On that day, golf’s “King,” as he was respectfully known, taught me the meaning of the word friendship.

Playing the game well had a very high priority with me. But Arnie wanted to know more about me as a person than about my game. He mentioned that he had made many, many friends while playing golf.

He was a listener. He wanted to hear your thoughts and interests before he spoke about his golfing life and accomplishments. Then, as the round continued, he would provide tips and make some remarks – some humorous and some serious about friendship. Here are four examples.

“You want two strokes a side; all you get today is a friendship.”

“The best gift you will ever receive is a friendship.”

“A very important part of the game of golf is who you meet on the golf course.”

“Be competitive, but always have fun on the golf course.”


The 19th Hole

Palmer amd Special Friend, Mulligan. Courtesy Dave Wells.

He was and is “The King” in the golfing world. Arnold Palmer will not only be remembered as a great golfer, but also as a friend to many. In 2000, he received the first Annual Payne Stewart Award. The award was based on three qualities, character, charity, and sportsmanship.

Palmer, who taught so many, learned from his father, “Deacon Palmer.” The older Palmer put a set of sawed off golf clubs in his son’s hands at age four and the rest is history. In 1955, Arnold won the Canadian Open, his first PGA victory. And do you remember, Arnie winning the Phoenix Open Invitational three years in a row? He won the tournament at the Arizona Country Club in 1961, at the Phoenix Country Club in 1962, and again at the Arizona Country Club in 1963. Amazing!

The title of Arnie’s book, published the year of his death, says it all, “A Life Well Spent.”

Another Championship. Courtesy Dave Wells.

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Author: Dave Wells

Dave Wells is retired and lives in Memphis, Tennessee. He received his B.B.A Degree from the University of Mississippi. After working as a sales executive at Schering-Plough Corporation for 31 years, he retired early to Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1992 for its beautiful weather and competitive golf. Dave has written numerous magazine articles on golfing experiences and his memorable days in Arizona before he returned to Memphis in 2002.

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1 Comment

  1. Another great article, Dave. I’m glad you included the photos, especially the one of you and The King.

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