For The Southsider Voice
Everyone knew Arnie.
Everyone loved Arnie.
And the tributes continue to pour in with the death of Arnold Palmer, the American ambassador of golf.
In his 87 years on God’s green Earth, Palmer was a trailblazer and a maverick for the game and the business of golf.
Those in the golfing fraternity referred to him as “The King.” But for most of the millions of adults and children who followed him, he was best known as Arnie.
The legacy that he leaves behind could fill an infinite number of encyclopedias, and it still wouldn’t be enough.
While the Jack Nicklauses and Gary Players of the world offer words of love, admiration and remembrances, it’s sometimes the smaller anecdotes that shine the brightest.
Keith Clark, president of the Indiana PGA and former pro at Hickory Stick Golf Club in the Center Grove area, passed along this gem.
Clark, now the head pro at Harrison Lake Country Club in Columbus, relayed this sparkling story that really tells all.
In 2001 when I was the head professional at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut, we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Greater Hartford Open, said Clark.
“Mr. Palmer (then 72) along with a number of former winners, including Greg Norman, was playing the Pro-Am event.
“After he finished his round he was engulfed by hundreds of people wanting his autograph.
“While signing, his pilot came up and said, ‘Mr. Palmer, your helicopter is ready.’ To which he replied: ‘Thank you son, but I don’t think it will leave without me.’
“Palmer just kept signing autographs.
“A legend he was, but more importantly, a friend to all.”