Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer is many things to many people: world-famous golf immortal and sportsman, highly-successful business executive, prominent advertising spokesman, skilled aviator, talented golf course designer and consultant, devoted husband, father and grandfather and a man with a down-to-earth common touch that has made him one of the most popular and accessible public figures in history.

Palmer was born September 10, 1929 in Latrobe, a small industrial town in Western Pennsylvania at the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, some 50 miles east of Pittsburgh. He swung his first set of golf clubs at the age of four under the tutelage of his father, Milfred J. (Deacon) Palmer, who worked at Latrobe Country Club from 1921 until his death in 1976. Arnie was soon playing well enough to beat the older caddies at the club.

He won his first of five West Penn Amateur Championships when he was 17, competed successfully in national junior events and enrolled at Wake Forest College in 1948. At Wake Forest, Palmer became the No. 1 man on the golf team and one of the leading collegiate players of that time. Palmer was the medalist at the Southern Conference golf championships in 1948 and 1949. He won the 1948 tournament with a 36-hole score of 145 at Pinehurst No. 2. Palmer repeated in 1949 by firing a 136 at Winston-Salem's Old Town Club. Palmer took top individual honors at the NCAA Championships in 1949 and 1950.

Deeply affected by the death of his close friend and classmate, Buddy Worsham, younger brother of 1947 U.S. Open champion Lew Worsham, Palmer withdrew from college during his senior year and began a three-year hitch in the Coast Guard. His interest in golf was rekindled while he was stationed in Cleveland. Palmer was working there as a salesman and playing amateur golf after his discharge from the service and brief return to Wake Forest, where he won the inaugural ACC championship in 1954.

A winner of 62 PGA Tour events, Palmer won four Masters titles, two British Opens and one U.S. Open.

His popularity and success have grown with the tremendous golf boom in the second half of the 20th century. Certainly each contributed to the other, a fact given recognition when he was named the "Athlete of the Decade" for the 1960s in a national Associated Press poll. Before, during and after that great decade, the famous golfer amassed 92 championships in professional competition of national or international stature by the end of 1993.

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