Arnold Palmer Golf Management Our Company |  Private Clubs |  Public Courses and Golf Specials   

ARNOLD PALMER...A BIOGRAPHY

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 family patriarch 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.

His popularity and success grew with the tremendous golf boom in the latter half of the 20th Century to heights few ever anticipated and they have been recognized in countless ways over the years. Certainly each contributed to the other, a fact given recognition when he was named "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. Sixty-two of the victories came on the U.S. PGA Tour, starting with the 1955 Canadian Open.

Besides the magnificent performance record, his magnetic personality and unfailing sense of kindness and thoughtfulness to everybody with whom he comes in contact have endeared him to millions throughout the world and led to the informal formation of the largest non-uniformed "military" organization in existence -- Arnie's Army. Seven of his victories came in what the golfing world considers the four major professional championships. He won the Masters Tournament four times, in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964; the U.S. Open in spectacular fashion in 1960 at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver and the British Open in 1961 and 1962. He came from seven strokes off the pace in the final round in that U.S. Open win and finished second in four other Opens after that. Among the majors, only the PGA Championship eluded him. He finished second in the PGA three times.

Arnie's springboard to professional fame and fortune was his victory in the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1954. He turned professional a few months later. His hottest period was a four-year stretch from 1960 to 1963 when he landed 29 of his titles and collected almost $400,000 at a time when the purses were minute by today's standards. He was the leading money-winner in three of those years and twice represented the  in the prestigious Ryder Cup Match during that time, serving in 1963 as the victorious captain.

It was also during this period that his rapidly-growing business interests got their start, through the impetus of Palmer himself and with the guidance and efforts of his business manager, the late Mark McCormack, and his wide-ranging organization. 
Arnold is president of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, a multi-division structure encompassing much of his global commercial activity that is centered in Cleveland . He has been involved in automobile and aviation service firms over the years and still is the principal owner of a car dealership in his Latrobe (PA) hometown.

Arnold is president and sole owner (since 1971) of Latrobe Country Club and president and principal owner of the Bay Hill Club and Lodge,
Orlando, FL , which he and a group of associates acquired in 1970. Bay Hill hosts the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, on the PGA Tour. In 1999 Arnold and a group of investors purchased the famed Pebble Beach golf complex on the California coast. He also is tournament professional and member of the board of directors of Laurel Valley Golf Club, Ligonier, PA , with which he has been affiliated since its founding in the late 1950s.

Palmer is consultant to The Golf Channel in
Orlando , which went on the air on cable networks in January, 1995. Another important facet of his activities involves the Arnold Palmer Design Company, which is based at the Bay Hill Club. Since the mid-1960s, Palmer has put his stamp on more than 200 new courses throughout the nation and world. His modest business empire and golfing activities keep Palmer on the move much of the year, most of the travel in his Cessna Citation X jet aircraft with Arnold at the controls when aboard. He was recognized in 1999 for his contributions to aviation and his Western Pennsylvania community when the Westmoreland County Airport at Latrobe was renamed the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport . He is a member of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority. 

Palmer was born on
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 still lives there during the warm months of the year, but spends the fall and winter months at his homes at Bay Hill and at the Tradition Golf Club in La Quinta, California . He has numerous active and honorary memberships in clubs throughout the world, including famed Augusta National in , St. Andrews in , Pine Valley in New Jersey, Winged Foot in New York and Oakmont in Pittsburgh. 

The golfing great has been the recipient of countless honors, the symbolic plaques, trophies and citations scattered throughout his personal, club and business worlds, the epitome coming in 2004 when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush at a White House ceremony. He has received virtually every national award in golf and after his great 1960 season both the Hickok Professional Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year trophies. He is a charter member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and a member of the American Golf Hall of Fame at
Foxburg, PA, and the PGA Hall of Fame in Florida . He is chairman of the USGA Members Program and served as honorary national chairman of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation for 20 years. He played a major role in the fund-raising drive in the 1980s that led to the creation of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women in Orlando, now a part of the Arnold Palmer Medical Center . A long-time member of the board of directors of Latrobe Area Hospital , he staged a major annual fund-raising golf event for that institution for six years that led to the formation of the Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation. 

The saga of Arnold Palmer began when he was four years old, swinging his first set of golf clubs, cut down by his father, Milfred J. (Deacon) Palmer, who worked at Latrobe Country Club from 1921 until his death in 1976, much of that time as both golf professional and course superintendent. Before long, Arnie was playing well enough to beat the older caddies at the club. He began caddying himself when he was 11 and worked at almost every job at the club in later years. 

The strongly-built young man concentrated on golf in high school, soon was dominating the game in Western Pennsylvania and twice won the Pennsylvania high school championship He won his first of five West Penn Amateur Championships when he was 17, competed successfully in national junior events and went to Wake Forest University (then College), where he became No. 1 man on the golf team and one of the leading collegiate players of that time. Deeply affected by the death in an auto accident of his close friend and classmate, Bud Worsham, younger brother of 1947 U.S. Open Champion Lew Worsham,
Arnold withdrew from college during his senior year and began a three-year hitch in the Coast Guard. His interest in golf rekindled while he was stationed in Cleveland . He was working there as a salesman and playing amateur golf after his discharge from the service and brief return to Wake Forest when he won the U.S. Amateur in 1954 following his second straight victory in the Ohio Amateur earlier that summer.

It was during that period that he met Winifred Walzer at a tournament in
Eastern Pennsylvania . They 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. Mrs. Palmer died of cancer on November 20, 1999. Mr. Palmer and his second wife, Kathleen (Kit) Gawthrop, were married in a private ceremony in Hawaii on January 26, 2005. He underwent successful prostate cancer surgery in 1997 and has become a strong advocate of programs supporting cancer research and early detection.

The Palmer family consists of two daughters -- Peggy Palmer Wears, of Durham, NC, and Amy Palmer Saunders, of Windermere, 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). Mr. 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. 
 
DG 1/1/07

ARNOLD PALMER'S PROFESSIONAL CAREER SUMMARY 1955 THROUGH 2005

Earnings - Regular PGA Tour $2,130,239
Earnings - Senior PGA Tour $2,277,972
Earnings - Foreign/International/Non-Tour $2,345,108
Total competitive Earnings $6,753,319
(Excludes pro-ams, skins game)

VICTORIES: 92 (Tour-61; Foreign/International-19; Seniors-12)

INDIVIDUAL RECORDS

Best 18-hole Round: 62, 1959 Thunderbird Invitaional, fourth round; 1966 Los Angeles Open, third round

Best Opening Round: 64, 1955 Canadian Open; 1962 Phoenix Open; 1970 Citrus Open; 1970 Greensboro Open; 1971 Westchester Classic

Best Second Round: 63, 1961 Texas Open

Best Third Round: 62, 1966 Los Angeles Open

Best Fourth Round: 62, 1959 Thunderbird Classic

Lowest Score, First 36 Holes: 130, (67-63), 1961 Texas Open

Lowest Score, First 54 Holes: 195, (64-67-64), 1955 Canadian Open

Lowest 72-hole Score: 265, (64-67-64-70), 1955 Canadian Open

Biggest Victory Margin: 12, 1962 Phoenix Open

Most Consecutive Birdies: 7, 1966 Los Angeles Open, third round

Holes-in-One: 19, three in PGA Tour Events, four on Senior PGA Tour, one in Japan

All-Time Low 18-hole Score: 60, Latrobe Country Club, September 1969

SPECIAL GOLF ACHIEVEMENTS

PGA Player of Year - 1960 and 1962
PGA Tour Leading Money Winner - 1958, 1960, 1962, 1963
Vardon Trophy - 1961, 1962, 1964, 1967
Ryder Cup Team - 1961, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1971, 1973; Capt. - 1963, 1975
Chrysler Cup Team and Captain (Senior Golf) - 1986-90
Presidents Cup Captain - 1996
UBS Cup Team and Captain - 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

PROFESSIONAL VICTORIES

1955 - Canadian Open
1956 - Insurance City Open, Eastern Open
1957 - Houston Open, Azalea Open, Rubber City Open, San Diego Open
1958 - St. Petersburg Open, Masters Tournament, Pepsi Open
1959 - Thunderbird Invitional, Oklahoma City Open, West Palm Beach Open
1960 - Bob Hope Desert Classic, Texas Open, Baton Rouge Open, Pensacola Open, Masters Tournament, Open Championship, Insurance City Open, Mobile Open, Cup (Partner: Sam Snead)
1961 - San Diego Open, Phoenix Open, Baton Rouge Open, Texas Open, British Open Championship, Western Open
1962 - Bob Hope Desert Classic, Phoenix Open, Masters Tournament, Texas Open, Tournament of Champions, Colonial National Invitational, British Open Championship, American Golf Classic, Cup (Partner: Sam Snead)
1963 - Los Angeles Open, Phoenix Open, Pensacola Open, Thunderbird Classic, Cleveland Open, Western Open, Whitemarsh Open, Australian Wills Masters, Cup (Partner: Jack Nicklaus)
1964 - Masters Tournament, Oklahoma City Open, Piccadilly World Match Play Championship, Cup Partner (Jack Nicklaus)
1965 - Tournament of Champions
1966 - Los Angeles Open, Tournament of Champions, Australian Open, Houston Champions International, PGA Team Championship (Partner: Jack Nicklaus), Cup (Partner: Jack Nicklaus)
1967 - Los Angeles Open, Tucson Open, American Golf Classic, Thunderbird Classic, Piccadilly World Match Play Championship, World Cup (Partner: Jack Nicklaus), World Cup International Trophy (Individual Title)
1968 - Bob Hope Desert Classic, Kemper Open
1969 - Heritage Classic, Danny Thomas Diplomat Classic
1970 - PGA Team Championship (Partner: Jack Nicklaus)
1971 - Bob Hope Desert Classic, Citrus Open, Westchester Classic, PGA Team Championship (Partner: Jack Nicklaus), Lancome Trophy
1973 - Bob Hope Desert Classic
1975 - Spanish Open, British PGA Championship
1980 - Canadian PGA Championship, PGA Seniors Championship
1981 - USGA Senior Open Championship
1982 - Marlboro Senior Classic, Denver Post Champions of Golf
1983 - Boca Grove Senior Classic
1984 - PGA Senior Championship, Doug Sanders Celebrity Pro-Am, Senior TPC, Quadel (Boca Grove) Classic
1985 - Senior TPC
1986 - Unionmutual Classic
1988 - Crestar Classic

Total Victories: 92

Key
PGA Tour (62)
Senior Events (12)

AWARDS

Golf 

Charter member, World Golf Hall of Fame,
Pinehurst, NC , 1974
American Golf Hall of Fame,
Foxburg, PA
PGA Hall of Fame,
Palm Beach Gardens, FL , 1980
All-American Collegiate Golf Hall of Fame, Man of Year, 1984
Ohio Golf Hall of Fame, 1992
Phoenix Open Hall of Fame
Bob Jones
Award, Golf Association, 1971
Walter Hagen Award, International panel of selectors
William D. Richardson Award, Golf Writers Association of , 1969
Charles Bartlett Award, Golf Writers Association of , 1976
Herb Graffis Award, National Golf Foundation, 1978
Gold Tee Award, Metropolitan (NY) Golf Writers Association, 1965
Golf Digest “Man of Silver Era”, 1975
Old Tom Morris Award, Golf Course Superintendents Association of , 1983
Golfer of Century,
New York Athletic Club, 1985
Commemorative Honoree, 1987 Golf Digest Commemorative Seniors Tournament
Golfer of Decade (1958-67), Centennial of Golf, Golf Magazine, 1989
American Senior Golf Assosciation National Award, 1989
Chicago District Golf Association Distingushed Service Award, 1989
Ambassador of Golf Award, World Series of Golf, 1991
Bing Crosby Award, Metropolitan (NY) Golf Writers Association, 1992
Memorial Honoree, Memorial Tournament, 1993
PGA of Distinguished Service Award, 1994
Distinguished Service Award, Tri-State Section, PGA of , 1996
Centennial Award, Golf Associations of
Philadelphia , 1996
Francis Ouimet Award, Francis Ouimet Caddie Scholarship Fund,
Boston , 1997
Lifetime Achievement Award, PGA Tour, 1998
Golfer of Century,
Western Pennsylvania Golf Association, 1998
Donald Ross Award, American Society of Golf Course Architects, 1999
Golf Newsmaker of Century, Golf World, 1999
Ike Grainger Award, USGA, 2000
Golf Family of Year, National Golf Foundation, 2000
Payne Stewart Award, PGA Tour, 2000
Dave Marr Award, Novell
Utah Showdown, 2000
National Golf Course Owners Association Award of Merit, 2001
Golden Anniversary Award, Metropolitan (NY) Golf Writers Association, 2001
Tri-State PGA Hall of Fame, 2002
50th Anniversary ACC golf team, 2003
Dave Marr Shell Award, Houston, 2004

General Sports

Associated Press Athlete of Decade – 1960-1969
Hickok Professional Athlete of Year – 1960
Sports Illustrated Sportsman of Year – 1960
Dapper Dan Award,
Pittsburgh – 1960
Pennsylvania ,
Western Pennsylvania , Westmoreland County , Cambria County, North Carolina , Florida 
Sports Halls of Fame
Wake Forest Hall of Fame
Sports Appreciation Trophy,
Atlanta AC CC, Atlanta , 1990
Athletes Who Changed Game, Sports Illustrated’s 20th Century Sports Awards,
New York , 1999
Top 10 Male Athletes, 50th Anniversary,
Atlantic Coast Conference, 2003
Roy Firestone Award,
Los Angeles , 2004
Alfond Award of Excellence,
Rollins College , Orlando , 2004

General

Arthur J. Rooney Award, Catholic Youth Association,
Pittsburgh , 1977
Dapper Dan Man of Year,
Pittsburgh , 1960
Lowman Humanitarian Award,
Los Angeles
Distinguished Pennsylvanian, 1980
Partner in Science Award, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
Theodore Roosevelt Award, National Collegiate Athletic Association
Business Leaders Award, Northwood Institute
National High School Sports Hall of Fame
Ellis Island Medal of Honor,
New York , 1986
Gold Medal,
Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, 1988
Order of Eagle
Exemplar, Sports Academy , 1989
Van Patrick Career Achievement Award,
Dearborn, MI , 1990
Eagle on World Award, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of 
New York , 1990
Pathfinder Award, Youthlinks
Indiana , 1992
Outstanding American Award,
Los Angeles Philanthropic Foundation, 1992
National Sports Award,
Washington , 1993
Sports Legends Award, Juvenile Diabetes Association,
Pittsburgh , 1993
Humanitarian Award, Variety Club International, 1993
“Good Guy” Award, American Legion National Commanders, 1993
Man of Year,
Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, 1994
Ford Achievement Award,
Dearborn, MI , 1994
Golden Plate Award, American Academyh of Achievement, 1995
History Makers Award, Historical Society of
Western Pennsylvania , 1995
Community Service Award, Latrobe Chamber of Commerce, 1995
Reagan Distinguished American Award, Jonathan Club,
Los Angeles , 1996
Lifetime Achievement Award, March of Dimes Athletic Awards, 1998
Caritas Award,
Richstone Family Center , Los Angeles , 1998
Spirit of Hope Award, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, 1998
James Ewing Layman’s Award, Society of Surgical Oncology,
Orlando , 1999
Harold A. Stewart Amicus Libri Award,
Adams Memorial Library, Latrobe, 1999
Patriot Award, Congressional Medal of Honor Society, 2000
George Bush Three Amigos Inspiration Award, Houston, 2001
Great Ones Award, Jim Murray Memorial Foundation,
Los Angeles , 2001
Paul Harris Rotary Club Award, Orlando, 2002
Great American Award, Starkey Hearing Foundation,
Minneapolis , 2003
Presidential Medal of Freedom, White House, 2004
Order of Merit,
Lisbon , 2005
Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award, 2005
Spirit of Hope Award, Adelphoi , 2006
Mid-Florida Business Hall of Fame, Junior Achievement, 2006

ACADEMIC HONORS

Honorary Doctor of Laws,
Wake Forest University , Winston-Salem, NC
Honorary Doctor of Humanities,
Thiel College , Greenville, PA
Honorary Doctor of Laws, National
College of Education , Evanston, IL
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters,
Florida Southern University, Lakeland, FL
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters,
St. Vincent College , Latrobe, PA

BOOKS AND VIDEOS

Arnold Palmer’s Golf Book, 1961 
Arnold Palmer’s Complete Book of Putting, 1986
Portrait of a Professional Golfer, 1964
Play Great Golf, 1987-89 (book, videos)
My Game and Yours, 1965, revised 1983  
The Arnold Palmer Story (video)
Situation Golf, 1970
Arnold Palmer, A Personal Journey (by Thomas Hauser with
Arnold Palmer), 1994
Go For Broke, 1973
Arnold Palmer’s Best 54 Holes of Golf, 1977
Arnold Palmer, A Golfer’s Life (w/James Dodson), 1999  
Playing by the Rules, 2002 
Memories, Stories and Memorabilia, 2004

INTERVIEWS

Interview with Charlie Rose, August 2011