(Editor's note: GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 newsmakers of 2016. Take a look at why each item made our list, along with a collection of their top stories from the year. Click here for the full list and release dates.)
A spectacular full rainbow stretched over Latrobe, Pa., shortly after Arnold Palmer’s ashes were spread at his home club there.
It was like some cosmic wreath being laid over his last resting spot, because, really, flowers weren’t enough to honor this extraordinary icon’s passing.
Palmer was 87 when he died from complications of heart problems on Sept. 25. Fred Couples broke down in raking sobs after calling into Golf Channel’s live telecast the night news broke of Palmer’s death. Couples had to hang up and call back. The ache he felt resonated through the game.
Palmer was more than a great player. He was the game’s greatest ambassador. While he may not have won as many PGA Tour events as Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus or Ben Hogan, he won more intangible treasures. Really, how do you measure all the hearts Palmer won to the game? That’s his real legacy. It is what earned him the nickname “The King.”
Tributes to Palmer came pouring in shortly after his death, from great players to great caretakers of the game.
So many wonderful words were offered up to measure Palmer’s profound impact. We remember some of them here looking back at our top newsmaker in 2016:
“He looked like an athlete, a prizefighter, a middleweight. He opened golf's windows and let in some air. He lifted a country-club game, balanced it on his shoulders, carried it to the people and made it a sport. He won big. He lost big. People who didn't follow golf followed him. People who hated golf loved him. He was photogenic in the old newspapers. He was telegenic in the new medium. He was the most asked question called into the night desks on weekends: `What did Palmer do today?’ - Tom Callahan in Golf Digest
“Most of us wanted to play like Nicklaus. We wanted to be Palmer.” - Mark Whicker in the Orange County Register
“No figure in the history of American sports ever meant more to one sport than Arnold Palmer, Deacon’s son, out of Latrobe, Pa. And no figure in sports was ever loved more than Arnold Palmer was.” - Mike Lupica in the New York Daily News
“Nicklaus was greater. Tiger, too. Watson and Player won more major championships. But all of them would tell you that Arnold was the King. He loved the game. He loved competing. He loved winning. He loved people. More than anything, he loved being Arnold Palmer. It was the greatest life he could imagine living.” - Joe Posnanski at NBCSports.com
“He is on the Mount Rushmore of American Sportsmen.” - Michael Bamberger in Sports Illustrated
“Handsome and charming, his sandy hair falling across his forehead, his shirttail flapping, a cigarette sometimes dangling from his lips, Palmer would stride down a fairway acknowledging his army of fans with a sunny smile and a raised club, `like Sir Lancelot amid the multitude in Camelot,’ Ira Berkow wrote in the New York Times.” - Dave Anderson in the New York Times
“Here was Arnold Palmer: When he’d return his tournament courtesy car, he’d have washed it, gassed it and left four dozen balls in the front seat. When he’d borrow your club locker for the week, he’d leave you four shirts, four gloves and four more dozen balls. Arnold Palmer, one of the richest men in American, wrote handwritten thank you notes to the end." - Rick Reilly on Golf.com
“He was a lion before there was a Tiger.” - Ian O’Connor on ESPN.com
“Has anyone done more for our game? No one has ever come close.” - R&A chief executive Peter Dawson at Palmer’s memorial service
“Remember when Arnold Palmer touched your life, and touched your heart. Please don’t forget why.” - Jack Nicklaus at Palmer’s memorial service
“Fulfilling the simplest metric for a life well-lived, Palmer filled up a church ... But it was all the stories and moments and images contained in the collective remembrances of Palmer that had trouble fitting under the basilica’s ornately-arched 50-foot ceilings.” - Jaime Diaz on Golf Digest.com
“We loved that man as much as the man you saw on TV. There wasn’t a lot of difference.” - Sam Saunders at his grandfather’s memorial service.
March 17: Jimmy Roberts sits down with Palmer at the API
Sept. 25: News of Palmer's death at 87
Oct. 4: The memorial service
Saunders: When Dumpy was with the President
Nantz: Arnold's 'conversation' with the Queen of England
Funny and poignant moments from the service