Arnold Palmer’s Off-Course Legacy
The Golden Bear. The Great White Shark. El Matador.
Some nicknames are just synonymous with the game of golf. But no moniker is more recognized and revered than golf’s greatest ambassador’s: Mr. Arnold Palmer, The King.
Although his 62 PGA TOUR victories and his seven major championship triumphs are awe-inspiring, his achievements away from the golf course – including his charity work and business ventures – have earned him even more respect than his trophy collection.
In honor of the four-time Masters champion’s enduring legacy, the Golf Channel will air a three-part series entitled Arnie, beginning on Sunday, April 13th, immediately following the network’s annual Live From the Masters coverage.
To prepare for the series, and celebrate the living legend, let’s take a look at The King’s off-course legacy.
The King of Philanthropy
For almost a quarter of a century, Palmer has worked tirelessly to use his fame and financial resources to provide exceptional healthcare to women and children. On his 60th birthday, September 10, 1989, the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women opened in Orlando, Fla. A 158-bed facility, the hospital is now dedicated entirely to children, with specialties ranging from pediatric cancer to gastroenterology, and is regularly ranked as one of the nation’s best by publications like U.S. News & World Report.
In 2006, another medical facility, the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, was opened in Orlando. Named after his late wife, the hospital is one of the nation’s largest facilities devoted to the medical care of women and their newborns. It also features the fourth largest neonatal intensive care unit in the United States.
Palmer is also dedicated to prostate health, a medical issue that is particularly personal to him, as he is a prostate cancer survivor. To help other patients with the disease, he supported the development of Rancho Mirage, Calif.’s Arnold Palmer Prostate Center, which offers counseling and support groups, among other patient-oriented programs – all in the heart of the Coachella Valley.
Entrepreneur at Heart
A true entrepreneur in every sense of the word, Palmer is arguably the most successful businessman in golf, as proven by his annual earnings. With businesses ranging from car dealerships to restaurants, Palmer earned $40 million last year, behind only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, without competing in any professional golf tournaments.
Palmer’s entrepreneurial spirit began before he even realized it when he ordered a concoction of iced tea and lemonade in Palm Springs, Calif., back in the 1960s. A customer noticed the drink he had purchased and asked for one as well, calling it “a Palmer,” which began the near 50-year tradition. Although the drink became popular throughout the world, Mr. Palmer never profited from it until Arizona Beverage Co. began to develop the “Arnold Palmer Tee,” which is now one of the country’s best-selling iced teas.
He decided to further commit to the beverage industry by developing his own premium wine company, with selections ranging from Chardonnay to a California Cabernet Sauvignon. He has also created his own fine dining experience. Arnold Palmer’s Restaurant, located in La Quinta, Calif., specializes in dishes like meatloaf sliders, seared scallops and Australian rack of lamb.
A little-known fact: Arnie also oversees the production of his own magazine, Kingdom, which is distributed to each member of every course he has designed in the United States, featuring profiles, course reviews, and instructional tips. He also owns a golf tournament services company, which provides leaderboards, starter boxes, tee and green signs, and other supplies to corporate outings and professional golf tournaments.
And staying true to his roots, he also owns the golf course his father, a grounds superintendent, helped build in his hometown of Latrobe, Pa. Now known as Arnold Palmer’s Latrobe Country Club, the golf course provided Palmer the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the game, while caddying and working there as a teenager. To this day, he remains actively involved in the community, and even owns Latrobe’s Buick and Cadillac dealer, Arnold Palmer Motors.
Golf’s Greatest Ambassador
As a result of his hospital and cancer treatment center developments, contributions to countless charities, and entrepreneurial spirit, Mr. Palmer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009, becoming just the sixth athlete to ever receive the honor. As golf’s greatest ambassador, we feel each of the medals was well-deserved. Put simply, there is no finer gentleman in the golf industry than Arnold Palmer. His legacy – in golf, business, and charity – will live on forever.
Thank you, Mr. Palmer, for your contributions. You are the epitome of what a role model truly represents, for people of all ages, whether they call themselves a golfer or not.