I did not grow up with golf . There were no golf courses in rural Newfoundland in the 1950’s. I did not see a golf course until I was in my teens . But when I first saw golf on TV , it was Arnold Palmer that attracted me.
I was puzzled about Arnie’s army .
And then I understood.
He was a great golfer, alright, but he had an army because he was a true friend of the whole sport: the other golfers, the people who sponsored the game but most particularly the fans. He did not scratch his name on material for an autograph , he stopped, he looked at you , said hello, and then signed his name carefully so that you could read it later and know it was Arnie.
One golfer friend , Frank Noble , said this evening that Arnie never met a stranger. Others spoke of his generosity in supporting modern medicine . Tiger Woods , Jack Nicklaus and all the great golfers paid their respects , recongnizing how he changed the game of golf for the better. How he was a friend of all , lit up the room ——
He was called by all the King —-The King in the largest sense , not the narrow sense. One of generosity , openness , loving life through his beloved game. One commentator said that we all die , but only a few truly live. And Arnie was one of the few.
He wasn’t the best golfer , but he was the best person .
Sadly , there seem to be fewer Arnol d Palmers around these days .
I am reminded of a stanza from Kipling’s poem ‘If’—
‘If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with
Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!’