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Arnold Palmer’s History

Arnold Palmer’s Biography

Arnold Palmer was one of the most charismatic and popular golfers to grace the game. His impact in the early days of golf on television dramatically raised the profile of the sport, and with it, the money and opportunities available to pro golfers.

Palmer was the son of a greenskeeper, and his father started him early in the game. As a teen, Palmer won five West Penn Amateur Championships. He played collegiately at Wake Forest, but gave up the game for several years when he joined the Coast Guard. He returned to golf in the early 1950s, and eventually won the 1954 U.S. Amateur. He turned pro five months later. Palmer led the PGA Tour in wins with four in 1957, then exploded in 1958 with his first major, the Masters Tournament. Palmer’s swashbuckling, go-for-broke style, combined with an aggressive, unorthodox swing, plus movie-star looks and charisma, immediately made him a star. He didn’t disappoint, dominating the PGA Tour into the early 1960s. In 1960, he won 8 times including the Masters and U.S. Open. At the Open, he made up seven strokes in the final round to win. In 1962, he had another 8 wins, including the Masters and British Open.

From 1957 to 1963, Palmer led the Tour in wins five times and money four times. He won four scoring titles, the last in 1967. Palmer won seven majors, all of them from 1958 to 1964, and was the first 4-time winner of the Masters. His last big year on the PGA Tour was 1971, when he won four times. The last of his 62 PGA Tour wins came in 1973, but his popularity never waned. It surged again in 1980 when Palmer joined the Champions Tour, and once again helped popularize a golf tour.

Off the course, Palmer built a business empire that included golf academies, tournament and course management companies, equipment companies, clothing lines and more. He co-founded The Golf Channel. Palmer’s endorsement deals alone kept him one of sport’s annual richest athletes into his 70s.

Palmer first visited Bay Hill Club and Lodge (see photos) near Orlando, Fla., in 1965, made his winter home there, and became owner of the club in 1975. In 1979, Palmer began hosting a PGA Tour event there, and today that tournament is known as the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Arnold Palmer was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

Tour Victories:

PGA Tour: 62

Champions Tour: 10

Major Championships:

Professional: 7

Masters: 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964

U.S. Open: 1960

British Open: 1961, 1962

Amateur: 1

1954 U.S. Amateur

Awards and Honors:

Member, World Golf Hall of Fame

PGA Tour leading money winner 4 times

PGA Tour Vardon Trophy winner 4 times

PGA Tour Player of the Year 1960, 1962

Member of 7 U.S. Ryder Cup teams

U.S. Ryder Cup captain, 1963 and 1975

U.S. Presidents Cup captain, 1996

Quote, Unquote:

Arnold Palmer: “You must play boldly to win.”

Arnold Palmer: “I never quit trying. I never felt that I didn’t have a chance to win.”

Broadcaster Vin Scully: “In a sport that was high society, he made it ‘High Noon.’ ”

Jack Nicklaus: “Arnold is the reason golf enjoys the popularity it does today. He … made golf attractive to the television-viewing public. There never has been anyone like him before in the game of golf, and there probably won’t be another like him again.”


The name for Palmer’s intensely loyal legions of fans – “Arnie’s Army” – originated at the 1958 Masters. Soldiers from a nearby Army base attended, and nearly all supported Palmer, many holding homemade signs to show their support. The name “Arnie’s Army” stuck.

Palmer has a beverage named after him: the “Arnold Palmer,” of course. See Arnold Palmer Drink for details.