It is not hyperbole to say that the golf’s place within popular culture today is due in large part to the powerful presence of Arnold Palmer. He was an integral part of the game’s explosive growth in the 1960s.
His timing was impeccable – as television proliferated and became a major part of the American landscape, it needed a star. And Palmer, who won the game’s biggest events with a boldness and charisma not previously seen, was the perfect star.
He had an everyman quality to him that appealed to the masses. His passion on the course, dramatic whirlybird follow-through and fierce animation was different from the cool intensity that the game’s greats before him had cultivated.
With his thick forearms and wasp waist, he was a sweaty, 5-10, 165-pound blue collar dynamo who joyfully made golf an athletic event – and fans from all walks of life could not get enough. “Arnold Palmer did not play golf, we thought,” wrote Hall of Fame member Dan Jenkins. “He nailed up beams, reupholstered sofas, repaired air conditioning units. He was the most immeasurable of all golf champions.”