Several years ago The Legends Golf Tournament was held at The Hills golf course in Austin. So off I went to get autographs, armed with a Down Home Ranch baseball cap and sharpie pen.
Lots of famous player there and I managed to get Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin and Arnold Palmer to sign the cap (which we later sold at the annual Gala).
But the highlight of my day was walking side by side for three holes with The King, Arnold Palmer. I didn’t say a word of course, I know my golf etiquette. But just walking next to a man that had almost singlehandedly changed golf around the world was a treat. His charm, ordinariness and respect for his thousands of fans were unmatched.
The last hole we walked was a par 3 and Arnie selected the club, stuck the ball and it was perfect . . . in length, but not direction. It landed pen high, just to the right, but on the caliche cart path. As we walked up to the ball it was, as always, surrounded by fans waiting to see the great man hit his second shot. The crowd parted, Arnie saw the ball on the caliche, paused and said, “When this was still a gentleman’s game, one of you would have thrown my ball on the green.” The crowd roared in laughter. He was still the favorite, still playing the crowd and beloved of many of us who came to admire and care for a man we’d never get to meet in person.
Arnold Palmer, Sept. 10, 1929 – Sept. 25, 2016. RIP