Arnold Palmer's 90th Birthday: Plans Still Very Much In The Works For His Memorabilia

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September 10th, 2019 would have been Arnold Palmer’s 90th birthday and you’ll want to check out #lifewellplayed as the day goes to see some tributes to the King. (The Empire State Building will also be lit in the Palmer umbrella shades.)

While many fine stories will undoubtedly be posted, Roxanna Scott’s Golfweek update on Palmer’s memorabilia and some of the plans floated for displaying them. I vote for a permanent Bay Hill museum, but I don’t have a vote.

Scott reminds us of this year’s display at Bay Hill:

There are a few options Podany and his team are considering. The obvious one would be to create an archive or museum to learn more about Palmer’s life either in Latrobe or at Bay Hill. During this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, fans could see some of his trophies, clubs and other curated memorabilia that told stories of his days playing at Wake Forest, serving in the Coast Guard and winning seven major championships. The experience, which included a short film about Arnie’s career, reached thousands of fans during tournament week, said Cory Britt, vice president of strategic affairs for Arnold Palmer Enterprises and the Palmers’ foundation.

Arnold Palmer No. 2 Of Top-Earning Celebs Who Have Passed

Zack O'Malley Greenburg summarizes the Forbes list of deceased celebrity earners and while Michael Jackson's catalog continues to sell, Arnold Palmer's brand continues to thrive a year since his passing.

Greenburg writes:

Golf legend Arnold Palmer claims the No. 2 spot with $40 million. Barely a year after his death, more than 400 stores still sell Palmer-branded apparel in Asia, and AriZona Beverages produces 400 million cans of its Arnold Palmer line annually. Peanuts creator Charles Schulz ranks third with income of $38 million—MetLife recently retired Snoopy and Charlie Brown from its ad campaigns, but the cartoonist’s contract does not expire until 2019.

"The Other Arnold: Palmer's daughter reflects on the chasm between the brand and the man"

Carve out a few minutes for Michael Bamberger's story on Peg Palmer if you haven't already. A year after her father's death, the 61-year-old is celebrating her father's legacy but also lamenting many things, from the production values of her father's funeral to the $25,000 designated for Doc Giffin in the estate. Mostly, however, she fears the Arnold Palmer "brand" will "subsume any real sense of whom her father was."

It's a fascinating read on many levels and clear the 61-year-old has no interest in tainting her father's legacy. However, she's not a fan of some.

The power, the fame, the money, at some point it distorted who he was," Peg said. "Marketing turned Daddy into somebody who was pretty bland, and he was not bland." Mark McCormack and Alastair Johnston and the company they worked for, IMG, comes up often in her conversations. McCormack, the founder of IMG, was a marketing genius. Johnston got the deals signed and tracked the numbers. Peg finds Johnston, a native Scot, to be opaque and cold in their business dealings. But her standards are outside the norm. She is uncommonly giving and open.

For all of her concerns expressed, there was also this endearing image of her father:

"He put the time into his clubs because he loved doing it—he was a man who did what he loved. My dad was a manly man, kind of macho, kind of a chauvinist, but he was also a very creative person. The workshop gave him a chance to be creative. It wasn't mindless repetition. It was part of a process. He was at his most focused, his most engaged, his most peaceful, when he was in the workshop. It was a tonic for him. He liked seeing sparks fly, he liked all the stimuli of the workshop.

"Working on the clubs also kept him in touch with his working-class roots. I think my dad really celebrated the working class, and he felt connected to people who did things for themselves, as he did. That helped him be the architect of his own destiny. Doing things with his own tools, with his own hands, that was part of his identity.

Giffen Speaks As Anniversary Of Arnie's Passing Approaches

Josh Sens of catches up with Doc Giffen, close friend, confidante and trusted assistant to Arnold Palmer as the September 25th anniversary of The King's passing approaches.

There are so many ways we miss people who were close to us after they’re gone. But is there anything in particular you miss about Arnold?

I should point out that Arnold was here in Latrobe about five-plus months a year, and in Florida the other six-plus months. And I did not spend time with him in Florida, only when he was here. Over the five-plus months, we would get together not every day but several times a week, when it was convenient. Usually around 4:30 or quarter to five in the afternoon, he’d say, "Come on up to the house and we’ll debrief." So I’d go up there, maybe with the two secretaries and another guy from the office, possibly joined by some of Arnold’s golfing buddies. We’d just sit around talk and have cocktails. A lot of the times, Arnold would make the drinks for us. Often, there was golf on television, or in some cases, a Western would be on. Arnold was a big fan of Western movies and novels

Video: New And Incredible #ArnieWould Ad For The Open

Given that he won here in 1961 and in doing so, re-validated The Open at a time when it was not at peak strength. And still so soon after his passing, this is obviously a sentimental week for Arnold Palmer fans who have two nice tributes to enjoy.

The R&A has a tribute to him at the 18th (and to Roberto de Vicenzo), while the club has commemorated his epic shot at the 16th (then the 15).

And this new Mastercard ad set to run during The Open is especially well done.


DVR Alert: Arnold Palmer's Final Television Interview Sunday

The final round of The Masters starts Sunday at 2 pm ET, but the warm-up shows should be incorporated into your viewing schedule.

Jim Nantz Remembers has become a staple of the pre-final round Masters viewing and this year's is extra special given that it turned out to be Arnold Palmer's last television interview.

Nantz told writers on CBS's conference call of how the option was placed before his friend Mr. Palmer to do a chat following the 2016 Masters honorary starters shots. After that special moment with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, Mr. Palmer gave Nantz the thumb's up that he was up for it, CBS raced to set up Butler Cabin and Nantz relayed how, when the lights went on, The King provided over 20 minutes of great stories and memories.

The full press release description for Sunday's show airing from 1-2 pm ET on CBS:

Arnold Palmer.  JIM NANTZ REMEMBERS AUGUSTA: ARNOLD PALMER – HIS LAST VISIT TO THE MASTERS relives Palmer’s years at Augusta National, beginning with his first victory in 1958 through his emotional final walk to the 18th green in 2004.   The one-hour special includes segments narrated by the other two members of the “Big Three” – Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, along with a segment narrated by the player most often compared to Palmer’s go-for-broke style of play, Phil Mickelson

Prior to that at 12:30 pm ET Sunday, Bill Macatee sits down witih Phil Mickelson to detail his Masters wins and I've heard throgh the grapevine that it's a fascinating chat for any Masters fan.

The full press release description:

THE MASTERS: PHIL! is an inside look at the remarkable career of Phil Mickelson, framed by his three memorable victories at the Masters.  From his first swings as a toddler at his family’s San Diego home to his unforgettable trio of Masters victories, Mickelson has enjoyed a career spanning three decades to become one of the game’s most beloved champions cementing his place among golf’s greats.

WGC's The Only Reason Arnold Palmer's Event Faces Hurdles

I think we all hate dwelling on the future of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in the year following The King's passing. But Palmer was a businessman who loved and nurtured this event. So discussing its past, present and future would presumably resonate with him even as he would undoubtedly be uncomfortable taking attention away from the players.

Jeff Babineau did a super job for summing up Wednesday's ceremony at Bay Hill to remember The King, but also reflected on how far this event has come and where it may go without Palmer.

I loved this anecdote:

The API, which moved to Bay Hill from nearby Rio Pinar (Florida Citrus Open) in 1979, has come quite a long way. The purse has been bumped to $8.7 million, and this week’s winner not only will leave $1.56 million richer, but will receive a three-year PGA Tour exemption, not the usual two a winner grabs.

This week’s event will celebrate the everyday fan who connected with the blue-collar likes of Palmer, with large public grandstands now sitting up close to seven of the course’s greens.

It’s a far cry from Year 1 at the then-named Bay Hill Citrus Classic in 1979, when the makeshift grandstand that sat behind the 18th green was borrowed from nearby Boone High School.

That little nugget is a perfect reminder that is was events like the Bay Hill Citrus Classic, the Western Open, the Los Angeles Open, the Houston Open, the Bob Hope and on and on we can go with 10-12 events that built and stabilized the PGA Tour.

And with too much regularity, the focus of these events revolves around their weaker-than-normal fields, their strange new dates or their difficulty in attracting a sponsor. Nearly all have been adversely effected by many factors, but it's the creation of World Golf Championship events that consistently tops all side-effects.

We all understand the globalization of golf and market forces, but when those forces so adversely impact even an event nurtured by a modern sports legend. it's time for all current players and executives to take a hard look at the tour's purpose. Because if this is, as they say, about playing opportunities and charitable dollars, it's these core founding events that deserve to be treated as kings.

Video: The King's Augusta National Yardage Book

I can't think of a better way to kick off Bay Hill week than this great stuff from Amanda Balionis inside Arnold Palmer's office sharing The King's handcrafted, homemade, small batch ANGC yardage book:


Consternation Growing Over API's Lack Of Star Power

It's a strange state of affairs when Billy Horschel is a voice of PGA Tour reason, especially after he said he would have passed on playing in the WGC Mexico had he qualified. Somehow, the event carried on.

But it is fascinating to see Horschel join the likes of Louis Oosthuizen and Henrik Stenson in highlighting the lack of star power likely at next week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, the first without The King.

Even with multiple tributes planned, including a 13-foot tall statue of Palmer, the stars are passing.

Will Gray with some of the other player comments about what is shaping up as a weak field next week in Orlando.

Doug Ferguson considered the convoluted road to Augusta, altered by the location and placement of two World Golf Championship events. He also talked to Rickie Fowler who is contemplating a pass on the easy money and points of the WGC Match Play for the API.

And given Steve Stricker's comments Tuesday at the Valspar Championship, Tiger Woods is not a likely last minute contestant either. Bob Harig reports.

NYT: Sam Saunders Reflects On His Grandfather

The New York Times' Karen Crouse catches up with Sam Saunders, who had a dreadful fall when he lost both of his grandfathers while also having to withdraw from the Tour Playoffs to care for his ill child, Ace.

But Saunders is back playing the Tour and able to reflect with great strength about what must be such a tough topic: his unexpected last call with grandfather Arnold Palmer.

The entire story is excellent and worth your time, but this stood out:

He was caring for Ace on Sept. 25 when Kelly reminded him to check in with Palmer, who was in a hospital in Pittsburgh preparing for surgery.

Saunders knew his grandfather would appreciate hearing from him. Since the death in 2003 of Mark McCormack — Palmer’s friend and business manager, who slipped into a coma after going into cardiac arrest while having minor surgery at a dermatologist’s office — Palmer had stubbornly resisted any medical procedure that required anesthesia, including hip replacement.

“For a guy who seemed so tough, he was scared of that,” Saunders said.

Palmer answered on the first ring, and their brief conversation sounded no alarms with Saunders, who said he was caught completely off guard when his father called a few hours later to relay the news that Palmer, 87, had died.

Palmer's "Sweetest Win Ever" Came At The Hope

Really fun deep dive read here from Jim McCabe, in a special to, writing about Arnold Palmer's final PGA Tour win.

It came at a special Bob Hope Classic that brought Jack Nicklaus to the desert and one that Palmer would call "the sweetest ever."

A teaser:

Palmer and Nicklaus were together on the tournament’s eve to break ground on a golf course project they were co-designing (now Ironwood Country Club), but they were miles apart in Round 1 at Indian Wells.

In the Los Angeles Times, the great Jim Murray called Palmer and Nicklaus “the prime minister and emperor of golf,” but it didn’t appear as if they were competitors any more, at least not until Palmer outscored Nicklaus, 66-70, in the second round at Tamarisk Country Club.   
That left Nicklaus at 134, three ahead of Palmer and a Monday qualifier named Allen Miller. Joked Miller: “What are all those unknowns doing up there with me?”   
“The Hope” was competing for space in the L.A. Times with the legendary Steve Prefontaine, who beat Marty Liquori in the mile at the Times Indoor Games.

The King: Doc Giffin's Missing The Beep is rolling out a story per day from their special tribute issue honoring Arnold Palmer, whose passing will be remembered as golf's defining moment of 2016.

This Q&A with longtime sidekick Doc Giffin suggests, as you'd expect, it's been tough without The King around.

In the days since Arnold's death, what has it been like in the office without him?

It's different. In the past, sometimes he'd beat us in. But in recent years, the staff—myself and three others—we'd be here ahead of him, and always anticipate him coming around the back of the building in his golf cart. He'd drive it down from the house at 10 or 10:30 and beep the horn when he was coming.

You miss the beep.

Yeah, I miss him coming into the office and saying, "Good morning! Well, what do you have for me today?" Miss the beep.

Review And Roundup: Arnold Palmer Memorial Service

Let's get the predictable headline out of the way: it was a tribute fitting for a king. In this case, The King. 

A nice blend of speakers mostly adhered to family wishes to keep things light, and those who didn't (unintentionally) offered those feeling emotional a few moments to collect themselves before another speaker would have you laughing or crying.

Emcee Charlie Mechum offered comfort, class and humor and gentle ground rules. Lorenzo Reyes of the USA Today explained his this account:

The service spanned two hours and 19 minutes, and allowed guest speakers to share their memories and describe how Palmer impacted their lives and the game of golf.

“I’d like to suggest that the tone and the mood for this service is best exemplified by the image of him striding up the fairway with that iconic smile, hitching up his pants, and giving it a thumbs up,” former LPGA commissioner and close Palmer friend Charlie Mechem said. “That’s what I want you to think about all day today.”

While every speaker brought something special to the proceedings, though Jack Nicklaus, grandson Sam Saunders, Jim Nantz and aviation pal Russ Meyers stood out for capturing the best things about Arnold Palmer, while Vince Gil's memories and rendition of Carole King's You've Got A Friend had attendees like Tom Watson singing along.

Doug Ferguson notes for AP in a short story on the service,

The service at Saint Vincent College in Palmer’s hometown was filled with just as much laughter and warmth from stories of the most significant player in the modern game. The basilica at the college was packed with golf’s biggest names from around the world.

Jaime Diaz was present and wrapped up the service in this story.

The scene before his memorial service at the bucolic campus, only two miles from where Palmer learned to play golf at Latrobe C.C., also contained contrasts. The nearly 1,000 who would enter the lovely basilica were somber as they shuffled in, but also carried a palpable energy. It was the power of memory.

Fulfilling the simplest metric for a life well-lived, Palmer, who died on Sept. 25 at age 87, filled up a church. Actually, another 5,000 watched the service via closed circuit at other locations on the campus, making Palmer’s gathering even larger than the 3,000 that attended Payne Stewart’s service at the First Baptist Church of Orlando in 1999. But it was all the stories and moments and images contained in the collective remembrances of Palmer that had trouble fitting under the basilica’s ornately-arched 50-foot ceilings.

Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette live-blogged the service and captured many of the great lines delivered.

Sam Saunders’ touching tribute and final phone call just an hour before his grandfather passed:

Jim Nantz, who knew Palmer well, understandably struggled with his emotions in ways we've never seen, but battled through to tell some epic stories in grand fashion. All 17 minutes of his eulogy:

And here is Jack Nicklaus, who apologized for reading from a script, but as you'll see he did so for practical reasons.