Palmer, Peruvian Alpaca And The New API Winner's Sweater

Mercifully the Arnold Palmer Invitational is almost here and what is still a very good field--minus some megastars--will play for a purse greater than The Open's with a three-year PGA Tour exemption to the winner. Still, as John Feinstein and I discussed on Golf Central's Alternate Shot segment today, the event and sponsor Mastercard, doing all it can to ensure a healthy event over the long term, could use schedule help down the road.

But for now let's table those concerns and celebrate the best thing about winning this year's API: the red alpaca sweater going to the winner that Dave Shedloski reported. I confirmed today--only pinning down the toughest stories--that this is a permanent API change.

Finally a tournament loses the winner's sport coat!

We all associate the red cardigan sweater with Arnold Palmer, but many of us don't know the full story on alpaca and how Palmer changed the way these animals were bred and raised.

While he endorsed and had a licensing deal with Robert Bruce Clothing, Palmer's love of the sweaters inadvertently changed Peruvian alpacas due to his preference, as alpaca breeder Mike Safley explained to Modern Farmer's Andrew Amelinckx:

“It revolutionized color in the highlands of Peru because you couldn’t dye black fiber pink, so they had to have white alpacas to get the pastel colors to make these sweaters,” Safley says. “Within ten years it changed from being 90 percent colored animals to 90 percent white because they bred exclusively for white. That color mix still holds today.”

They aren't cheap!

But kudos to whoever thought to make this the new way to crown the Arnold Palmer Invitational winner.