I was proud to be part of the millions of people who watched and rooted for Arnold Palmer and as in this picture, lined up to get his autograph. I had to fight Sid Hartmann for his attention, which was not easy but I got the autograph. This was in the early 80’s, I think at the Senior Open at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minneapolis. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Arnie grew up and lived until this past weekend when he died, in Latrobe, a small city outside of Pittsburgh
I graduated from high school in 1961; that year, Arnie won the following tournaments: San Diego Open Invitational, Phoenix Open Invitational, Baton Rouge Open Invitational, Texas Open Invitational, Western Open and the British Open.
I was a fan for life. My big moments; I had lunch at the Latrobe Country Club with his first wife, Winnie. Or rather, a friend took me to lunch there and Winnie was around welcoming guests and knew my friend. She didn’t really eat lunch with me but she did sit down at the table with us for a moment or two.
And I shared a drink with Arnie during the US Amateur Open at Oakmont Country Club in 1969. Ok, I didn’t actually share a drink with him. I was a clubhouse Pinkerton guard and watched him visit with the bartender. I should have paid more attention to other matters, such as the stolen golf bags, taken from the club house. That led the coverage of the tournament in the Pittsburgh Press the next day.
Before hearing of his death yesterday, Sunday, I was in fact, drinking his iced tea. And I am proud to be a member, along with millions of others all over the world, of Arnie’s Army. And unlike fans of other sports figures, Arnold Palmer kept in close touch with all of us, and he touched all of us, especially now, that he is gone.
Short video about Arnold Palmer at the New York Times today.