#360view: King Palmer will live on forever

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Palmer leaves a lasting legacy of a lifetime.

Seven major wins and 62 international titles — that is one heck of a career, enough to cement any player’s status in the pantheon of all-time greats.

However, in the case of Arnold Palmer, numbers are the last thing that come to mind when celebrating an extraordinary life. Known to everyone as The King, Palmer truly transcended sport. Golf will forever be in his debt for what he did on the course, and more importantly, off it.

There have been mavericks in the sport before he arrived on the scene, but Palmer really was the king of cool. His brand of golf was unique and appealed to everyone – he believed that the Balata was born to be butchered with the most vicious of swings. There never existed a shot which he thought was impossible to pull off. Add to it his handsome looks, his blue-collar appeal and his amazing connect with the fans – golf suddenly became the most aspirational sport in the United States in the mid 1950s.

Palmer was a real-life Pied Piper. Such was his persona that people were drawn to him. It started with that famous smile, and the fact that he always looked everyone straight in the eye. And he seemed to have time for everyone. Even days before his death, he’d religiously spend a dedicated hour in his office everyday, signing photographs and sending them to every fan who bothered to write to him.

There are several stories about him, but one of my favourite ones is of the time he purchased the Latrobe Country Club in 1971. That was the place where his father, Deacon, would spend hours working as a greenskeeper. As a child, Arnold dreamed of owning the place one day, and he did. It was straight out of a Hollywood script, and people loved him because he always dared to chase his dreams.

Palmer’s impact is felt in other spheres of life as well. After all, there would be no IMG, the sports marketing behemoth, if he had not agreed to let Mark McCormack represent him. What started with just a handshake is now a billion dollar business for both IMG and for Arnold Palmer Inc.

Then there was The Golf Channel. When Palmer co-founded the 24-hour golf channel, most people laughed off the idea saying dedicated sports channels did not make any business sense. Today, almost every major sport has its own dedicated channel.

Of course, Palmer’s legacy will also live on through the 300-plus golf courses he designed, including Bay Hill which hosts his annual Arnold Palmer Invitational.

But Palmer’s most significant contribution would be the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children – the two speciality hospitals in Orlando that keeps on giving the gift of life.

Henrik Stenson once told me that he considers the hospitals as Palmer’s greatest gift to people. His kids, like that of many other golfers including Tiger Woods, were born in Winnie Palmer Hospital and he even got misty-eyed talking about the children being treated at the other facility.

That Arnold Palmer would leave us one day was inevitable. But his achievements and larger than life persona ensure The King will live on forever.

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King Arnold Palmer's career in pictures

Sport360 staff 26/09/2016
The golfing world is in shock at the passing of a legend.

Arnold Palmer was one of golf’s greats both on and off the course.

Here, Sport360 looks at some of the numbers from his career following his death at the age of 87.

Share with us your memories of Palmer by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

7 – Major wins. Four Masters titles, two Opens and the US PGA puts him joint seventh on the all-time list.

52 – Official length in years of his playing career, having turned professional in 1954.

2,400 – Palmer’s first winner’s cheque (in dollars) for victory at the 1955 Canadian Open.

4,408,211 – Career earnings (in dollars) as a player on the PGA and Champions/Seniors Tours.

30,000,000 – Estimated off-course earnings.

20 – Career holes in one.

62 – Best 18-hole round at 1959 Thunderbird Invitational and 1966 Los Angeles Open.

50 – Consecutive appearances at the Masters.

734 – Career starts on the PGA Tour.

319 – Career starts on the Champions/Seniors Tour.

13 – The number of streets named after him in the United States.

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Golfing King Arnold Palmer dies aged 87

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Arnold Palmer was known as The King of golf.

Palmer captured seven major tournaments during his illustrious career, taking The Masters four times (in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964), the British Open twice (in 1961 and 1962) and the US Open once (in 1960).

His go-for-broke style enthralled fans, and he became one of golf’s first television superstars, helping propel the game into the mainstream when his rise and that of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player set the stage for the huge broadcast rights fees and prize money riches later enhanced by the success of Tiger Woods.

No cause of death was immediately given.

Palmer looked frail when he joined fellow icons Player and Nicklaus for the ceremonial first tee shot at the Masters in April, when ill-health prevented him from swinging a club.

Share with us your memories of Palmer by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

Sport360 rounds-up the tributes on social media to the legend of the game:

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