I woke up this morning to a sudden vacuum. It isn’t an exaggeration that I lived several minutes in space that felt like an empty vastness that is hard to describe in words. The departure of Arnold Palmer, as inevitable as it might be, is a fact too hard to fathom. He was the grand dad of golf and I hurt from his departure just as intensely as I did when I lost my own grandfather.
“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated,” said the great man. It is an eternal truth about golf, an immortal hymn that shall remain ringing through the lush green fields we call golf courses.
We could say nearly the same thing about Palmer too. He was a maestro who understood the masses better than any golfer that walked our planet.
Palmer was the Muhammad Ali of golf. He was successful, charming and accessible. Arnie made virtues out of making eye contact with his fans. The great man took pains to ensure that his autograph was legible, every single time he signed one.
The people that worked with him often reminded us of the fact that his writing was barely legible even to the golfer himself. But a kindergarten child could read Palmer’s autograph.
In America and even in Europe, Palmer opened a new world of opportunities for golf. He was the first real star of golf. Palmer embraced fans with a warm hearted genuineness that is hard to come by in the era of bits and bytes.
Arnold Palmer’s enormous success in the late 50s and the 60s of the previous century took golf global. The emergence of Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus created a first family, whose charm endured through into the new millennium.
In an era of instant gratification, it is hard to understand the uniquely impressive longevity of the great man. Generations of golfers benefited from the path breaking efforts of Palmer and as they came and went, he remained the beacon he always was.
The influence of Palmer will continue to permeate golf for decades to come. In that sense there is no real need to condole his passing, Palmer was only meant to be celebrated. Forever and beyond.