Arnie: Sharing personal stories of Palmer


Golf Channel interviewed more than 100 people in making the "Arnie" documentary. Here are several interviewees who know Palmer in various capacities, sharing their favorite personal stories.

David Marr, son of Dave Marr, on Palmer as U.S. Presidents Cup captain: "One day, he felt like the team needed a little more bonding than had been going on. ... He told the bus driver to pull over at this sports bar. Tiger (Woods), Davis (Love), Fred Couples pile into this sports bar. There’re two or three people in the bar and see the U.S. Presidents Cup team piling in the door, and here comes Arnold in as well. They had this unbelievable half an hour of pingpong and pinball and just bonding. ... Arnold realized we’ve got to get back to the bus and this guy came over and stopped him for an autograph. He said ‘Sorry, no autographs; I’m not signing.’ If you know Arnold, that’s an unusual thing for him. Everyone piled back on the bus. Arnold gets on and says, 'You know what, I got to hit the bathroom, one quick sec.' He went back in and signed that autograph for that guy.”

Writer Dan Jenkins: "We thought Ken Venturi was what Arnold became. Venturi had won four tournaments on Tour his first year out. ... Jay Hebert, of all people, looked up at me and said, ‘Ken Venturi is not the next great player.’ I said, ‘He’s not? Who is?’ He said, ‘Arnold Palmer is.’ I asked why and he said 'Because the guy makes six birdies and six bogeys and one day he’s going to eliminate those bogeys,' and he did. Jay was right.”

Dana Wallace, server at Latrobe CC: “He’ll say ‘Are you OK?’ He always knows your name - he takes the time to know your name - he always asks how you’re doing and if there’s anything he can do for you.”

Zimbabwean Nick Price on Palmer helping him obtain permanent residence in the U.S.: “Arnold wrote me the most beautiful letter about vouching for my credibility to get my green card, so it wasn’t too difficult to get my green card when he wrote the letter.”

Writer Chris Rodell: "There was a story we were doing and one of the questions was about Gary Player bragging about his fitness regimen. I asked (Palmer), ‘Gary Player’s out there saying that he has this great fitness regimen; he doesn’t drink alcohol; he doesn’t eat bacon and he does all these push-ups.’ I saw Mr. Palmer rolling his eyes and I asked him, 'What is your fitness regimen, Mr. Palmer,' and he goes, 'Well I drink a hell of a lot of Ketel One Vodka.' He starts with that and then he gets back on track later and goes ‘But I think it’s important for people to have good exercise; Gary’s doing the right thing.’ It’s still gnawing at him in the middle of the next question; he interrupts me and he says, 'Oh, and Gary Player eats bacon when no one’s watching.’”

Meeting Arnie: Personal stories about the King

Click here for the full collection of 'Arnie' stories

Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench: "We were downtown in Minneapolis at a pairings party. Maybe we’d been over-served, but I wasn’t driving so that’s the best part about it. I’m sitting in the back (of the vehicle) with Arnold Palmer and all of a sudden woop, woop, woop, here comes the blue lights. These police officers come up and said, ‘Can we have … Arnold Palmer? Jesus Christ, it’s Arnold Palmer! Come and see.’ (The officer) says, ‘Where do you guys wanna go?’ and they got in front of us and we went. It was like Arnold Palmer had once again walked on water.”

Baseball announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson: "I remember Arnold had to go get some gum surgery up in Latrobe and he came back (to Bay Hill) and couldn’t swing the club 'cause of the stiches. We were on the 17th tee and he comes out in his golf cart and he’s got his putter with him. We have to wait, and we’re the last group of the day, so we watch him go to the 16th green. He wants to play so bad and he can’t. … That was one of the most indelible pictures that I can remember: Arnold Palmer by himself on the 16th green, late in the day. The man who made golf and he’s pissed because he can’t play."

Biographer Thomas Hauser on Palmer trying to win the 1962 Colonial: "He was reading a putt at a crucial moment in the tournament, and some little boy made some noise and Arnold stepped away and stopped. Then went back, addressed his putt again, and the boy started to make noise again. The mother put her hand over the son’s mouth to shut him up, and Arnold stepped back again, looked over, went over, and actually patted the boy on the head and said, ‘Hey, don’t choke him; it’s not that important.’ That was Arnold."

Gabe Monzo, executive director at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, Pa.: "We’re standing on No. 2 (at Latrobe CC). Short hole, about 90 yards long. Needless to say, I hit it about 50 yards. I had a pitching wedge in my hand and I looked up and Mr. Palmer is standing behind the green. It took me five shots to get to that green from 50 yards out. I walked up to the green and he put his around around me and says, ‘Gabe, I’m real proud of you.’ I said, ‘Why is that, Mr. Palmer?’ He says, ‘Because I know you’re not golfing; you must be working hard.’”

Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament director Scott Wellman: "I walked him to his car. He got in his car, he turned on the engine, and another gentleman came up to the car, knocked on the window with his young son and said, ‘I’m sorry, Mr. Palmer, but could you give my son an autograph?’ Arnold turns the car off, signs the autograph, and the gentleman said, ‘Thank you so much, you’ll never know how much this means to me.’ And Arnold looked at him in all sincerity and said, ‘No, sir, thank you for asking me for the autograph.’ That’s Arnold Palmer.”