Mr. Palmer passed on Sunday, a day before a planned surgical procedure and several months after his health issues had worsened. I saw it from a distance via television as he grew increasingly fragile physically despite his wonderfully positive mental outlook.
I have been seriously engaged in the golf industry for the last eight years and followed it as a fan for more than twice that long. Arnold’s legacy, aside from my almost daily viewing of the Golf Channel that he co-founded, sharpened for me when I did a feature on his restaurant in LaQuinta in the Coachella Valley. It is the only restaurant to bear his name—he and his advisors choose not to expand or franchise the restaurant.
I learned that he had a home in La Quinta and frequented his restaurant. The menu has his favorites such as meat loaf, pot roast, baby back ribs and filet beef stroganoff as well as a Latrobe, Pa (his home town) banana split and his favorite ice cream with berries.
We ate there twice—once for a feature for my web site (www.acesgolf.com) and once on our own. As you would expect, it has plenty of memorabilia and both public and private dining rooms in addition to the bar and a wonderful patio.
Since our first experience there, I have dreamed about being down there in in January or February when Arnold frequented La Quinta.
That will not be because timing just did not work.
One observation from the restaurant that says much about Arnold—there were many exclusive and expensive wines on the menu, but those bearing Arnold’s own brand (in partnership with Luna) were reasonably priced at around $30. It speaks to Arnold’s humble beginnings and his touch and willingness to engage throughout his life with every man and woman and treat them as he would want to be treated.
As Golf Channel has chronicled, his impact will go on for generations—he set the plate for the incredibly prosperous and charitable PGA Tour today. And his philanthropic efforts are an amazing legacy and were established well before the current day efforts of some technology titans such as Bill and Melinda Gates.
Mr. Palmer gave back throughout his life and used his fame to benefit so many other people.
So I will lift an Arnold Palmer today in salute to The King.