Arnold Palmer - March 22, 2012


When he wakes up on a tournament day when he is the host, Mr. Palmer said that he feels really good and the weather is great and he hopes for some great golf. The best part about being the host of the Arnold Palmer Invitational is how the event helps the hospitals in the Orlando area and all of the great things at Bay Hill although there are certainly some things that do not rank as high on his list. He also wishes that he were still competing so he could play in his tournament.

30 additional beds have been added to the neonatal unit of the Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando, Florida and Mr. Palmer said that he cannot put into words how proud he feels about that and it is wonderful that everyone at the tournament is well aware of the work that the hospital does and the fact that no one is turned away. Annika Sorenstam is just one example of someone who has been helped by Winnie Palmer Hospital and he has enjoyed getting to meet and spend time with her two kids who were both born at that hospital.

He knows that Ernie Els is on the outside looking in for the 2012 Masters and he was very hopeful that Els would win last week at Innisbrook. It was very disappointing that he did not close as well as he would have liked. He is sure that the Augusta National is rooting for Els to earn an invitation to this year’s Masters but at the same time, they cannot invite everyone and he is sure that Els understands that.

Mr. Palmer’s first trip to Bay Hill was for an exhibition in the mid-1960’s with Jack Nicklaus. From the moment he saw the natural lakes and the orange groves on the property, he fell in love with Bay Hill and everything was so attractive to him. Eventually, he decided to buy the property and it took five years to complete the purchase. He played a lot of golf in the early days at Bay Hill and those rounds gave him more reasons to love the property.

Bay Hill has hosted this event for over 30 years and in that time they have had great moments and great champions but most importantly they have been able to see hospitals be built and grow and being able to participate in that is one of the most rewarding experiences of his life. A friend of his recommended that he lend his name and time to the hospitals if he wanted to improve them and he is proud to say that the hospitals today are in wonderful shape.

A couple of years ago he changed the 16th hole back to a par 5 and the players have reacted very positively because it gives them an opportunity to make a late eagle or birdie in an effort to win a tournament. Both 16 and 4 have been changed back to par 5s from difficult par 4s. For a while, there was a great concern about having scores that were too low but those concerns do not exist anymore. There have been plenty of missed putts and missed shots on a par 72 Bay Hill as well as made putts and great moments. 16, 17, and 18 are all a lot of fun and a great way to close a tournament.

Something else that makes him very happy is the fact that MasterCard has extended its deal to sponsor his event until 2016. He is also pleased about the support that Hertz has given to his event over the years.