Arnold Palmer turned 82 today. Without question, he is the most important golfer who ever lived.
He was the game’s biggest star during the early days of television. His 1960 season put him in the pantheon of American sportsmen and changed golf forever.
He won his second green jacket in Augusta that April.
Two months later, he won the U.S. Open. His final round 65 at Cherry Hills helped him win his only national championship. Driving the par 4 first hole green solidified his go-for-broke image and made him a hero to golf fans around the globe.
A month later, he traveled to St. Andrews and helped resuscitate the Open Championship. American golfers had chosen not to travel to Britain to compete in the game’s oldest championship during the post-war years.Palmer changed that; his appearance encouraged other Americans to fly across the pond. Palmer finished second during his first appearance and won back-to-back titles in 1961 and 1962 at Birkdale and Troon.
His relationship with IMG founder, Mark McCormack, reshaped the way athletes were marketed to the public. Palmer became the greatest sports endorser in history.
These off-course ventures made Palmer a wealthy man. He was the first golfer to own his plane.
He has served as the game’s global ambassador for the last thirty years.