There are some things in life that will never be easy, and losing an icon is one of them. On Sept. 25, 2016, the world said goodbye to Arnold Palmer, a professional golfer who is known as “the King” among the golfing community. According to a statement from his company, he passed away while awaiting cardiac surgery at a hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Palmer was eighty-seven years old and widely-loved by both the golfing community and his large family; consisting of his second wife, his two daughters, his six grandchildren, and his several great-grandkids. Prior to his death, he created a legacy for himself that will last for decades.
Palmer was born on Sept. 10, 1929, in Latrobe, PA, not far from where he passed away. At an early age, his father began teaching him how to play the sport that would later change his life forever. When Palmer began playing golf, it was not nearly as popular as it is nowadays; the Golf Channel did not exist yet, nor did the PGA Tour. Palmer is largely accredited for golf’s current popularity. After winning the United States Golf Association Amateur Championship in 1954, he began playing professionally as one of the first sports stars that could be seen on television. According to CNN, the combination of his incredible golf skills, his unique fashion sense, and his genuine kindness helped “craft a new definition of what it means to be a star athlete” and ultimately widened golf’s appeal to audiences. Palmer closed out his career with sixty-two PGA Tour victories, ten Champions Tour victories, and the champion title at four Masters Tournaments.
His passing has shaken the public, and it is not just due to his success in golf. Palmer was also known for being a genuinely good human being. His biographer, James Dodson, recalls Palmer being one of the most generous, kindest, and funniest people he had ever met. “Arnold was the most charismatic, down-to-earth person I've ever been around, and I've spent a lot of time around famous people,” Dodson says.
Palmer did not play golf just for the sake of being famous; he played golf because he loved it. There was nothing phony about his celebrity status, and this is apparent in the way he spoke. “When I was a boy learning to play golf in my hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, I never could have imagined that one day I'd have an army of fans or that people would call me 'the King' of the sport I love,” Palmer once said. This genuine love for his career is one of the many reasons that while Arnold Palmer may be gone, he will most certainly never be forgotten.