Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer Biography.com

Golfer(1929–2016)
Arnold Palmer, nicknamed "the King," is a former champion golfer and is considered one of the sport's all-time greats.

Synopsis

Arnold Palmer was born on September 10, 1929, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The son of a country club groundskeeper, Palmer was the first golfer to win the Masters Tournament four times and is generally regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of men's professional golf. Nicknamed "the King," in a career that spanned more than five decades, Palmer won over 90 tournaments during his career including winning the Masters four times. He was also an early trailblazer in sports marketing which earned the likable athlete huge paychecks off the course from a variety of product endorsements and appearance fees throughout his life. He trademarked his name and logo in 1968. Palmer died in 2016 at the age of 87.

Early Years

Arnold Daniel Palmer was born on September 10, 1929, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The son of a golf pro, Palmer picked up the sport as a toddler after his father, Milfred J. "Deacon" Palmer, shortened a set of regulation clubs so that his son could use them.

The game came easily to Palmer, and by the time he was 17, he'd already captured two state interscholastic championships. He eventually earned a golf scholarship to Wake Forest University, where he won three Atlantic Coast Conference Championships.

But Palmer's life took an unexpected and tragic turn in 1950, when his close friend and teammate, Bud Worsham, was killed in a car accident. His death so rattled Palmer that he quit college his senior year and joined the U.S. Coast Guard, embarking on a three-year hiatus from golf.

By 1954, however, Palmer had returned to the game and quickly resumed his old form. That year, he won the second of two consecutive Ohio Amateur Championships as well as the U.S. Amateur title. By the fall of 1954, he'd turned pro.

Pro Career

Arnold Palmer enjoyed decent success during his early years on the tour. He captured the 1955 Canadian Open for his first pro victory, and picked up a scattering of other wins over the next two years.

But it was the 1958 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, that launched the young golfer to fame. Palmer took home the title—making him the tournament's youngest champion at the time—and ended up finishing the year No. 1 on the money list, with $40,000.

By the early 1960s, Palmer was the world's best and most successful golfer. Between 1960 and 1963, he won an astounding 29 titles and took home more than $400,000 in prize money. He also served as captain of the winning U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1963, and captained the team again 1975.

In all, Palmer won 93 titles. He won seven major championships, including four Masters and two British Opens.

Palmer's last major win came at the 1964 Masters. The victory made Palmer the first golfer to win the Masters Tournament four times (1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964). Yet, even as his dominance on the tour began to fade, Palmer still remained golf's biggest money winner for several years. In 1968, he became the first golfer to eclipse $1 million in total purse winnings.

In later years, Palmer enjoyed several big victories on the Senior Tour, including the 1980 PGA Seniors Championship and the 1981 U.S. Senior Open.

Successful Pitchman

Outside of golf, Palmer proved to be a successful businessman. Over the years, he invested in automobile and aviation companies. Perhaps most notably, though, he became one of the sports world's all-time greatest pitchmen. By the late 1990s, it was reported that he was taking in more than $20 million in endorsement deals annually.

Personal Life

Palmer married his first wife, Winifred Walzer, whom he'd met at a tournament in Pennsylvania, in 1954. The couple went on to have two daughters together and remained married until Winifred's death in 1999. In 2005, Palmer married Kathleen Gawthrop. 

On September 25, 2016 Palmer died at the age of 87.

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