A Few Moments With Mr.
March 27, 2008
By Rand Jerris, USGA
Far Hills, N.J. - We're opening the doors to the new
Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History in just a couple
short months. It's been three years of intense work,
with a tremendous effort put forth by every individual on
the project team. We'll soon have a state-of-the-art
facility that will allow us to better care for the
USGA's impressive collections of historical
memorabilia. We'll also have a new research center, new
storage areas, and new exhibition galleries where we will
display hundreds of artifacts that have never before been
shared with our visitors.
But for me, the most significant aspect of this project is
the opportunity it provides to honor one of the game's
truly outstanding gentlemen. For more than 50 years, since
he won his first USGA national championship at the Country
Club of Detroit in the 1954 U.S. Amateur, Arnold Palmer has
been a friend to the USGA. He's the only individual to
serve as National Chairman of our Members program. And for
more than 30 years he's supported our efforts as a
trusted member of the USGA Museum Committee.
I'll never forget the first time I met Mr. Palmer. It
was during the 1990 U.S. Senior Open in Ridgewood, N.J. A
new portrait of Mr. Palmer had been created, and I was
fortunate to receive an invitation to attend the unveiling.
A sizeable group had gathered to celebrate the occasion -
USGA dignitaries, club officials, friends of Mr. Palmer -
and me, a college student working that summer as an intern
in the Museum.
At some point during the latter half of the gathering, Mr.
Palmer noticed me standing quietly off in the corner, where
I had stationed myself simply to observe. He concluded his
present conversation, strode over, extended his hand, and
introduced himself. I was floored, to say the least. We
spent the next 10 minutes chatting - not about golf, not
about his career, but about me. He wanted to know who I
was, what I did for the USGA, where I went to school.
Arnold Palmer is my father's hero. As I was growing up
and learning to play the game, my dad spoke of him often,
always with great admiration and always with reverence. And
now I understood why. With so many prominent people
present, Mr. Palmer took the time to make me feel welcome
and important. I've been with the USGA now for close to
20 years. And I've since had numerous opportunities to
spend time in his company. But that first encounter remains
the most memorable.
But the fact of the matter is this - that the longer I am
involved with the game, the more I have learned that my
experience is by no means unique. So many people I
encounter have similar stories to tell of a man who is so
generous with his time and goodwill. Yes, Mr. Palmer is one
of the greatest ever to have played the game. But his gift
to golf extends far beyond his accomplishments on the
course. Far more important, it is his character - the
grace, dignity, warmth, and respect that he shows and
shares with everyone he encounters.
And so I'm proud to be a part of a project that honors
and celebrates such an extraordinary person. When Mr.
Palmer comes to Far Hills on June 3 to help us open our new
museum, I hope that he will feel the gratitude and warmth
that we, his fans, have always felt for him.
Dr.RandJerrisis the Director of theUSGAMuseum. For questions or comments, e-mail him at