The King Turns 80

Sept. 10, 2009

Former Wake Forest standout Arnold Palmer is celebrating his 80th birthday today, Sept. 10. Take a look at some of the photos from the Wake Forest archives and check out some of the other ways Palmer's birthday is be being celebrated.

Photo Gallery

  • PGA Tour's images and impact of Arnold Palmer

  • Arnold Palmer's 80 most significant moments.

  • USA Today photo galleries and video commending Arnold Palmer at 80 years.

  • The Golf Channel's photo gallery and tribute to Palmer's birthday.

  • The Pittsburgh Pirates Celebrated Palmer's 80th Birthday earlier this week.

  • 18 Life Lesson Quotes by Arnold Palmer.

  • Arnold Palmer's Official PGA Tour Profile

    Arnold Palmer is one of the most recognizable and important American athletes of the last century. He was a top professional golfer on the PGA Tour, winning 62 events throughout his long career. Palmer captured seven major titles, including four Masters titles, two British Open titles and one U.S. Open Championship. He was named the PGA Player of the Year in 1960 and 1962 and won the PGA Tour's Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average in 1961, 1962, 1964 and 1967. He was a member of seven Ryder Cup teams, amassing a 22-8-2 record and was captain of the 1963 and 1975 teams. Palmer was named Sports Illustrated's "Man-Of-The-Year" and awarded the Hickok Professional Athlete of the Year in 1960.

    After his PGA Tour career, Palmer helped get what is now called the Champions Tour off the ground and would go on to win 10 events on the tour. The 2004 Masters marked the 50th consecutive year that Palmer competed in the event. He was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 1980 as a charter member and was also awarded the PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.

    Palmer was born September 10, 1929 in Latrobe, Pa. His father Mildred worked at Latrobe Country Club and introduced a young Arnold to the game. Palmer was a natural and had a true love for the game of golf. He won five West Penn Amateur Championships before he attended Wake Forest University.

    It was at Wake Forest that his skill and competitiveness began to shine. Palmer captured the 1949 and 1950 Southern Conference individual championships along with medalist honors at the 1949 and 1950 NCAA tournament. He led the Wake Forest team to a Southern Conference team title in 1950. Palmer left Wake Forest for a stint with the Coast Guard after his good friend Bud Worsham died in a car accident. Palmer returned to win the inaugural Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 1954.

    Although his athletic achievements are long and impressive, Arnold Palmer is perhaps best known for his personality and interaction with fans. Palmer helped to greatly increase the popularity of golf and the PGA Tour as television began to broadcast events nationally. Palmer was such a popular figure that his fans were dubbed "Arnie's Army" as they followed their hero in droves along golf courses across the country. Palmer is considered a true gentleman and ambassador for the sport. His rivalries with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player brought an excellent display of golf and sportsmanship.

    Arnold Palmer has not only been successful on the golf course but took on many business endeavors outside of his professional life. Palmer became president and owner of Latrobe County Club, the same course he grew up on. He also is the president and principal owner of the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida. He hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a PGA tour event that is held at the Bay Hill Club. He is also the head of two larger businesses. Arnold Palmer Design is a golf design company based out of Bay Hill that has designed over 200 golf courses worldwide and is currently designing the new on-campus golf facility at Wake Forest. Arnold Palmer Enterprises is an organization involved with global commerce mainly focused on the automobile and aviation industry.

    During Palmer's successful amateur days, he met Winifred Walzer at a tournament in Eastern Pennsylvania. The two were married shortly after he turned professional in the fall of 1954 and Winnie traveled with him when he joined the pro tour in early 1955. Winnie died of cancer on November 20, 1999. Palmer and his second wife, Kathleen (Kit) Gawthrop were married in a private ceremony in Hawaii on January 26, 2005.

    The Palmer family consists of two daughters -- Peggy Palmer Wears, of Durham, NC, and Amy Palmer Saunders, of Bay Hill, FL; five granddaughters, Emily Schneider (1/27/81), Katherine Anne Spears(9/2/82), Anne Palmer (9/14/84) Saunders, Anna Flexer Wears (2/24/97) and Peggy's stepdaughter, Nicola Wears (4/15/82), and two grandsons, Samuel Palmer Saunders (7/30/87) and William Gray Palmer Wears (10/16/94), and two great grandchildren, Charlotte Winifred Spears (7/12/07) and Samuel James Schneider (12/19/07). Palmer's second wife has three children - son Al Gawthrop III and daughters Lynn Bouck and Blair Miller, all living in the Denver area - and seven grandchildren. Arnold's brother, Jerry, who succeeded their father as course superintendent at Latrobe CC, and sisters, Lois Jean Tilley and Sandra Sarni, live in their home area in Western Pennsylvania. Jerry is now general manager of Latrobe CC and all Palmer properties there. Their mother, Doris, passed away in 1979 after a long, brave battle against crippling arthritis.

    Family information obtained from www.arnoldpalmer.com

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