Lynch: Arnold Palmer’s legacy is bigger than life

Mar, 2023

Arnold Palmer’s legacy is still evident at Bay Hill more than a dozen years after his passing. This week’s PGA Tour stop also bears his name. His signature is engraved on the tournament logo, with its looping “A”, and “P”, giving it an identity that Linotype characters couldn’t match.

That signature became so commonplace that it was worthless to the recipient’s sentimental memories. In the trademarked phrasing of Mastercard, Palmer’s signature is too common to be worthless. His umbrella logo, which is attached to everything from keychains to apparel, is no less common. It has been 60 years since King George VI saw a woman in Pennsylvania open a colorful umbrella. This gave him the inspiration to create what is still the hallmark of a commercial powerhouse that is unrivaled by any other golfer.

Ads code goes here

A bronze statue of Palmer is located just behind Bay Hill’s first Tee. It stands 13 feet tall, but it feels like a life-sized statue. It is 13 feet tall, but feels life-sized. Fans love to take photos of it just as much as the man it portrays. There are many images of the legend, some from his later years and others from his prime. They all show his eyes twinkling at long-forgotten mischief. Bay Hill Lodge is still as comfortable and worn as its late owner’s cardigans. It is the heart of the community that he built, and is surrounded by streets such as Masters Boulevard and Harbour Town Court. This street is where America’s national plague, McMansions, has been mostly kept at bay.

It was the ubiquitous nature of Palmer’s branding that made him famous. Palmer’s personal touch is found elsewhere. This breezeway connects the parking lot to the putting green, and separates the locker area from the restaurant. There are letters enlarged that he sent over the years, including encouragement and congratulations.

One from May 5, 2010, when Rory McIlroy won his first PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow. He wrote, “You are definitely living up to the promise,” and ended with a gentle reminder to Bay Hill to play at the next year. McIlroy would not oblige until 2015.

Kevin Kisner also received a note on his first Tour win, dated December 1, 2015, and the same, not-so-subtle reminder regarding his schedule for the spring.

The note that Tiger Woods received one day after his victory at the Tour Championship in 2007 can be viewed here. It was just one shy of Palmer’s total of 62 titles. The graceful superstar wrote that he would continue to win for many years to come.

Palmer’s numerous missives were not limited to PGA Tour success. Tom Watson was presented with one in July 2000, two years after his Senior British Open victory.

Arnie observed, “You do play especially well in the British Isles.” Inbee Park was awarded one in 2015. Inbee Park received one in 2015.

Palmer would have been 93 years old if he had not been killed. Are those letters still being written by him? Probably. But to whom?

Chris Kirk surely would have been praised for the challenges he faced on his way to winning the Honda Classic last week. Sam Saunders, Palmer’s childhood friend, was also praised for his victory over Eric Cole in the playoff. Palmer’s September 2016 death would have touched those who rose to prominence after his passing. Jon Rahm. Collin Morikawa. Jin Young Ko.

Charl Schwartzel, however? He would have been congratulated on winning LIV Golf’s inaugural London tournament last summer. His ability to keep his focus despite distractions was praised, such as when Greg Norman, his CEO, dismissed the grisly murder of a Washington Post journalist (on orders from his boss) and said, “We all make errors.”

Palmer was a great encourager of young players. After his LIV win at Bangkok, would that have been extended to Eugenio Chácarra? Palmer may have expressed regret at not reading in Sports Illustrated about Norman’s clever play to attract talent with guaranteed riches straight out of college. But there weren’t many bloodthirsty autocrats in the game back then.

Brooks Koepka won in Jeddah. How about a nice note? Maybe with some parenthetical praise of how it was to finally see Peter Uihlein as a playoff competitor after a decade of bouncing around on tours. As he liked Dustin Johnson, he would have been moved to praise his captaincy of the 4 Aces in last fall’s victory at Trump Doral alongside Messrs. Reed Perez, Gooch and Perez, who are leaders among men.

Palmer was not faced with the dilemma of whether or not to write these letters. However, he already expressed his feelings in a way that was convenient for him. In 1994, Norman attempted to start a breakaway circuit. Palmer spoke out against him at a players meeting and pointed out that the “Big Three” — Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus — had plenty of opportunities to pursue lucrative new directions, but chose narrow self-interest. He was 65 years old at the time and brought his immense reputation against a man whose character is now exposed.

Arnie liked money. Arnie liked money. He had a lot of it, and he wasn’t fond of spending it. He didn’t talk much about it. The Bay Hill breezeway pinned the letters, but none of them mention the amount the winners won. His eponymous tournament now has a $20 million prize pool, making it another weapon in the cash arms war that is disfiguring professional golf. Bay Hill has not been able to maintain his legacy in this respect.

logopng-1 (FPH) started as a small business. Yet it has now transformed from being an internet golf blog to a golf industry leader. FPH is now the best online resource for golf.

Copyright ©2022 Fly Pin High

Web design by 702 Pros