Rest in piece, Arnold Palmer: the golfer left a lasting legacy

Image: Twitter
Image: Twitter

The punches just keep rolling in 2016, as yet another icon has passed, with the death of legendary golfer Arnold Palmer this past Sunday, September 25th, 2016 at the age of 87.

Palmer’s cause of death was a result of complications from cardiac troubles while waiting for heart surgery in his Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Known as “the King” of golf, Arnold Palmer was one of the most transformative and charismatic athletes in not only golf, but all sports.
Arnold Palmer was one of the first superstar athletes in the modern age of sports, with exciting victories and a charming personality that ended up sparking the original golf boom that spawned his devout following better known as “Arnie’s Army” which made him one of the most popular athletes in the world.

Palmer’s most dominant win stretch during his time on the PGA (professional golf association) ran from 1958 to 1964. Throughout those seven years, he won seven major titles: four Masters, a US Open and two British Opens.

While Palmer’s competitive accomplishments were certainly outstanding, Palmer will forever be remembered as the first professional golfer to earn $1 million on the professional circuit, though that was never his primary desire. Palmer had been quoted on multiple occasions as wanting nothing more than to “be remembered for bringing golf to a worldwide audience.”

Palmer’s legacy will forever place him as one of the titan’s of golf, with legendary battles with fellow golfing legends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

It’s natural to revisit Palmer’s competitive career when looking back at his life, but his athletic prowess was only one side of the proverbial “coin” that was his life – Palmer was a personality before the age of social media and a celebrity obsessed culture was the norm.  Playing in a sport where most of its participants are considered to be some of the tackiest dressers, Palmer went against the grain, being named one of GQ Magazine’s “50 most stylish men of the past 50 years,” and included on Esquire’s list of the “75 best-dressed men of all time.”

He was a magnetic force of celebrity and sport, and one of the first major convergences of the two realms. He had garnered so much influence and adulation amongst “Arnie’s Army” that his favorite drink concoction that he took to the course with him every day – a thermos filled with iced tea and lemonade – became a widely loved beverage, and was subsequently named after him, leaving yet another cementing mark on his legacy.

Arnold Palmer was widely loved by all, and adored even by his rivals. Palmer was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest honor for an American civilian) in 2004, along with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2012. Palmer passed away at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hospital while awaiting cardiac surgery. He was 87.

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Sean McHugh

Sean considers himself a poor man's polymath and finds solipsism amusing. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @mchugh_sean, or not. That's fine.