It was a pleasant morning in late November 2009, when I made my way to Bay Hill in Orlando, to meet the legend himself. I was excited to meet him and at the same time a bit nervous. I was meeting one of the big three of golf, someone who had transformed the game forever with his charisma on and off the course. Naturally, there was a lot of aura around him. Arnold Palmer was one of the pillars of modern golf and his famous handshake with Mark McCormack of IMG started a partnership which would transform the business of golf forever. A business of golf that the current generation is benefitting from.
As we settled into our lunch meeting at the clubhouse restaurant, my host spoke at great lengths about the prospect of golf in India. He was curious to know if the youngsters were taking to the game in good numbers. Although he was not able to make it to India to see his golf course design in person, he was very involved in the design process and would constantly want to know how it had shaped up. He commented about how he was not initially in favour of planting too many trees on the golf course. Sipping on a popular Arnold Palmer branded iced tea / lemonade, I explained that summers in India are very hot, and golfers would look to walk and take a breather under the trees. He spoke slowly and softly and with a sparkle in his eyes, perhaps knowing what his legacy would be.
Golf has lost one of its greats and we mourn the passing of the legend. As tributes pour in from all quarters and the world honours his extraordinary life, I will remember my interaction with him, although brief, with fond memories.