USGA Museum Giving Visitors Chance to Connect With ‘The King’
November 22, 2016
By David Shefter, USGA
Since his passing on Sept. 25, the golf world has gone to great lengths to celebrate the life of legendary golfer Arnold Palmer.
Golf Channel ran around-the-clock programming the day after the 87-year-old’s death from heart failure. A beautiful and moving memorial service was held on Oct. 4 in Palmer’s hometown of Latrobe, Pa., highlighted by eulogies from longtime friendly rival Jack Nicklaus, World Golf Hall of Fame member Annika Sorenstam, CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz and grandson Sam Saunders, who competes on the PGA Tour.
Wake Forest University, Palmer’s alma mater, honored him across all of its intercollegiate sports programs. The football field was adorned with his signature umbrella logo and a sticker with that same logo was added to the team’s helmets.
The USGA Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History features a room dedicated to “The King,” with many artifacts and memorabilia from his hall-of-fame career, including the visor he tossed into the gallery after winning the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club in suburban Denver. The museum is continuing the celebration of this transcendent sports figure who served as the ambassador for the USGA Members program since its inception in 1975.
Visitors at the USGA Museum will find a small table near the information desk featuring a condolence book for people to pen a message to Palmer. Kim Gianetti, the museum’s manager of education and outreach, said once the book is completely filled, the USGA will donate it to Palmer’s family. It’s a way for fans to offer one final tribute to a person who touched so many people, on and off the course.
A California couple happened to be visiting the museum on the day of Palmer’s memorial service and wrote their thoughts in the book. “The memory of a lifetime,” wrote Gene and Jan Blakeslee, of Monte Sereno.
Another visitor, Myles Reardon, of Danvers, Mass., penned a memory that dated back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s era, saying it was “one of the happiest weekends of my life” when “I met you and your father at Latrobe Country Club.”
Palmer, who first broke onto the national scene in by winning the 1954 U.S. Amateur at the Country Club of Detroit, resonated equally with the average Joe and those in high society. His achievements on the course were dwarfed by his success off it. While Palmer won seven major championships, his ability to connect with people made him one of the most engaging and recognizable individuals in the world. Companies flocked to have Palmer endorse everything from motor oil to luxury watches to passenger airlines. He also designed nearly 300 golf courses, including Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla., the site of the 1991 U.S. Junior Amateur won by Tiger Woods; the Bay Course at Kapalua Golf Club, site of the 1998 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links; and the Golf Club of New England in Stratham, N.H., which hosted the 2012 U.S. Junior Amateur.
Palmer’s charitable causes included the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in his adopted hometown of Orlando.
The USGA Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. It is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for seniors, but USGA members pay only $5. Children between 13 and 17 pay $3.50 and those under the age of 13 are admitted for free.
Palmer Coin Set for Sale
Museum visitors have an opportunity to purchase a limited-edition Arnold Palmer coin set featuring five memorable moments from his career. A total of 500 sets were created and each one comes with a certificate of authenticity.
The five moments are Palmer’s 1954 U.S. Amateur victory; his 1960 U.S. Open triumph in which he rallied from seven strokes off the lead in the final round to win at Cherry Hills; his 1981 U.S. Senior Open victory; his Dec. 18, 1975 visit to the White House, when he presented President Gerald Ford with the first USGA membership; and the Nov. 17, 2005 groundbreaking ceremony for the Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History.
USGA Members receive a discount.
The coin sets are only available for purchase at the USGA Museum.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.