With the passing of Arnold Palmer, CSN's Kevin Walsh looks back on an unforgettable encounter he had with the golf legend
I am so sad. Arnold Palmer has died. He made me feel so special at Pebble Beach in 2000. pic.twitter.com/bRTerTV9eD— Kevin Walsh (@kevinwalshtv) September 26, 2016
It was May 2000. I had just finished playing golf at Pebble Beach. I walked out of the clubhouse and a Lincoln Town Car pulled up to the putting green, Arnold Palmer hopped out. It was as if he’d fallen out of the sky.
I had my tape recorder with me and asked if I could ask him a few questions about being a caddy in his younger years in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
“Yes, but I have only about five minutes,” he said.
I was very nervous and having trouble putting the cassette tape into the recorder. He eventually took it out of my hands and did it for me.
My nerves were gone.
So we’re talking and the door to The Lodge bursts open and a guy yells “Hey Arnold! We’re in the bar having a beer!”
“Well,” Arnold yells back, “Order me one!”
Arnold was hard of hearing. He saddled up next to me, and tilted his head so I could talk right into his ear. I couldn’t believe I was talking directly into Arnold Palmer’s ear. He was practically stepping on my feet. He wore tiny hearing aids that were only visible if you were as close as I was.
After ten minutes of talking, I reminded him that he had friends waiting, and a beer that was probably warm by that time. He wanted to make sure that I had enough. I did and I was beaming. I’m not sure my feet touched the ground on the walk back to the car.
Arnold Palmer brought a country-club sport to the masses with a hard-charging style, charisma and a commoner's touch. At ease with both presidents and the golfing public, and on a first-name basis with both, "The King," died Sunday in Pittsburgh. He was 87.
Alastair Johnson, CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, confirmed that Palmer died Sunday afternoon of complications from heart problems.
Palmer ranked among the most important figures in golf history, and it went well beyond his seven major championships and 62 PGA Tour wins. His good looks, devilish grin and go-for-broke manner made the elite sport appealing to one and all. And it helped that he arrived about the same time as television moved into most households, a perfect fit that sent golf to unprecedented popularity.
Beyond his golf, Palmer was a pioneer in sports marketing, paving the way for scores of other athletes to reap in millions from endorsements. Some four decades after his last PGA Tour win, he ranked among the highest-earners in golf.
On the golf course, Palmer was an icon not for how often he won, but the way he did it.