Arnold Palmer was an American professional golfer, generally regarded as one of the greatest and most charismatic players in the sport’s history. 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 made him one of the most popular and accessible public figures in history.
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 lived there during the warm months of the year, but spent the fall and winter months at his homes at Bay Hill and at the Tradition Golf Club in La Quinta, California. He had numerous active and honorary memberships in clubs throughout the world, including famed Augusta National in Georgia, St. Andrews in Scotland, Pine Valley in New Jersey, Winged Foot in New York and Oakmont in Pittsburgh.
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. 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.
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.
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 became a strong advocate of programs supporting cancer research and early detection.