Last night as I was watching the PGA Tour Champions playoff in Canada between Colin Montgomery and Scott McCarron, the broadcast cut to the Golf Channel studios where Rich Lerner delivered the news. Arnold Palmer had passed away at the age of 87. The announcement made an already somber day downright miserable, as I was already reeling from the news of Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez having been killed in a tragic boating accident earlier in the day.
Whenever you hear about someone’s death you tend to reflect on their life through personal memories. In my case, I was lucky to have run into Mr. Palmer at his Florida home at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando. To say I ran into him is not technically accurate. In fact, he almost ran into me – Literally! I was coming out of the lodge and walking towards the Golf Channel hospitality tent on the 9th hole during the Bay Hill Invitational a few years ago when Mr. Palmer came around the corner in his golf cart and almost ran me down as I stepped out from behind a trailer.
“Good thing the brakes still work!” – He said with his trademark smile as I stood there petrified. After gathering myself and apologizing, I added that I couldn’t think of anyone else I would rather be run over by. We shared a quick laugh and went our separate ways, and I realized I had become one of the many thousands of people that have been (almost) impacted by Mr. Palmer. (pun intended) At least I could now joke with my friends that I was almost run over by The King.
Like the countless people that watched him growing up, followed his life after competitive golf and been around him over the years, I will always remember Arnold Palmer very fondly. He leaves us with great memories and will always bring a smile to our faces. Farewell to the King, may he rest in peace.