Arnold Palmer died yesterday at the age of 87. He was a great golfer and probably a greater man.
Palmer is known for bringing a certain flash and panache to golf, a sport that can be rather stuffy and old-fashioned.
Before Palmer came along, golf was very much a country club game for the white and wealthy. But Palmer, the son of a golf pro and groundskeeper from Pennsylvania, brought a working class attitude and a badass swagger to the green.
Tributes have poured in from all over the sports world and beyond for Palmer. He was a man of powerful personality and little stories and anecdotes of Palmer have filled social media and news outlets over the past day.
One particular story from a couple decades of Palmer playing a round of golf with Jack Nicklaus and young gregarious 20 year old from Stanford named… Tiger Woods.
Tiger wasn’t even professional yet, but he already had an incredibly polished game. After the round Nicklaus, the all-time leader in major championships, and Palmer agreed that Tiger Woods was a special player.
“Arnold and I walked off the golf course, and we both agreed that you could take his Masters titles and my Masters titles and add them together, and this kid should win more than that.”
This was high praise coming from the two greatest golfers in history. Tiger Woods would go on to captivate the minds of golf fans for almost two decades.
However, this story is not about Tiger Woods’ promise, it is about who won that day. Like any good golfers, Nicklaus, Palmer, and Woods had a wager on the line.
When asked about taking a young amateur golfer’s money, Palmer said:
“He will make plenty,” Palmer said. “I’ve got to get mine while I can. It’s tough out there.”
Cheers, King. We’ll miss you.