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 GolfDigest.com 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.
**Nice words from Jeff Babineau at Golfweek.com:
Everyone squinted to follow its ascent, and soon it vanished into the clouds. That’s what this last week has been like with Arnold Palmer. For decades, he was always here for us, bringing sunshine into everybody’s lives. And just like that, he’s gone, heading off somewhere behind the clouds.
“There wasn’t a big difference between the man you saw on TV and the man we knew at home,” Saunders said in describing his famous grandfather. “We are all here for the same reason. We all loved Arnold Palmer.”