The PGA Tour stops at Bay Hill this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. As a restricted field event on the PGA Tour, only the first 70 players on the previous year’s money-list are guaranteed invitations. The host of this week’s event is none other than the King himself. Here’s seven great career moments in the life of Arnold Palmer.
1. Serving In The Military
Before “Arnie’s Army,” Arnold Palmer did actually serve his country. After leaving Wake Forest University upon the death of a close friend, Palmer enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1950 as a Yeoman and continued to serve until 1953. Though a Yeoman, Palmer participated in many matches as the Coast Guard allowed him to continue to play golf. He returned to Wake Forest and in 1954 he won the U.S. Amateur Championship.
2. 1958 Masters and Arnie’s Army
Palmer turned pro in 1955, and three years later at age 29 he won the first of his four green jackets, winning the 1958 Masters by one stroke over Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins. “Arnie’s Army” originated during the 1958 Masters, when Augusta National let military personnel from a nearby army base onto the grounds for free and they were recruited as volunteers to man the scoreboards throughout the course. The 1958 Masters was also the year that golf writer Herbert Warren Wind first used the term “Amen Corner” to describe where the critical final day’s action had occurred.
3. 1960 – The King Goes Back-To-Back
Two years after winning his first Masters tournament, Palmer won his second in 1960. Just two months later at Cherry Hills, Palmer won his first U.S. Open title by two strokes over an amateur golfer by the name of Jack Nicklaus. Palmer staged a miraculous comeback, erasing a seven-stroke deficit during the final round to win. It is remembered as a crossroads for the three primary contenders in the final round: Palmer, Nicklaus and Ben Hogan.
4. 1967- Millionaire Status
The 1964 Masters was the last of Palmer’s seven majors, but by 1967 Arnie became the first man to reach one million dollars in career earnings on the PGA Tour. That same year, he won the Vardon Trophy for the third time for lowest scoring average. He also represented the U.S. on his fourth consecutive Ryder Cup team.
5. Golf Businessman
In 1974, Palmer bought and still owns the Bay Hill Club and Lodge, which is the venue for the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. In the early 90’s Palmer played a key part in securing enough capital to launch the Golf Channel, which credited him as a co-founder of the network. Palmer and his course design partner Ed Seay have designed over 200 courses around the world.
6. The Arnold Palmer
Iced tea and lemonade – so simple, yet so amazing. According to Palmer, he was in the habit of drinking iced tea with lemonade at home, and in 1960 at the U.S. Open at the Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, he ordered the non-alcoholic drink at the bar. A woman sitting nearby overheard him, and ordered “that Palmer drink,” thus giving the beverage its name. Today it’s one of the most popular drinks sold in America.
7. Awards and Recognition
Palmer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2012. He was the first golfer to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the second golfer, after Byron Nelson, to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.