Hook Cuts Arnie to Adam


  • Arnold Palmer, who turns 80 Thursday, came along at the perfect time. As if forged from the steel mills around which he grew up in Western Pennsylvania, Arnold embodied the can-do spirit of a nation ready to enjoy its hard-won freedom a decade after the Great War. He never, ever acted as if he was entitled to anything. He was always grateful. And no matter how much he earned, he came across as working class to the core. Has any athlete who has ever profited so handsomely from a game, looked more inclined to play it for free?

  • Steve Stricker would be my Player of the Year if he were to win one of the next two Playoff events and capture the FedEx Cup.  

  • Arnie turns 80, Jack Nicklaus 70, Tom Watson 60, Fred Couples 50, Phil Mickelson 40 and Sergio Garcia 30 all in the next year. When did Father Time suddenly get so damn impatient?

  • Greg Norman didn’t have many options with his Presidents Cup picks because guys like Rory Sabbatini and K.J. Choi have been playing so poorly. But Adam Scott is playing worse. At a time when few people believe in Scott, Norman stepped in and said, “I believe in you.” It was a nice gesture. The potential problem beyond Scott not performing well is the negative strain that could weave through the International team from the start of the week. The press will be asking Scott and Norman and the other Aussies, ‘What’s wrong with Adam? Why hasn’t he lived up to expectations?’ That’s just not a good vibe to introduce.
  • My father opened a par-3 course, a driving range and miniature golf course in Allentown, Pa., in the mid-1950s. He and his partners approached a budding star, also from the Keystone State, in hopes that the new venture could be called the Arnold Palmer Golf Center. When my dad found out the asking price, Dorneyville Golf Center was born, named for the borough on the outer edges of town. Business was slow in the early days. “It was the first fully-lighted cemetery in America,” my dad jokes. Eventually, though, it became a fixture in the Lehigh Valley area.

  • Christina Kim posing almost nude in “ESPN The Magazine” has people wondering if it’s good or bad for women’s golf. Can’t imagine with this move that she’ll convert the critics who thought she was over the top at the Solheim Cup. But Christina, quite comfortable in her own skin, will succeed where everyone else seems to have failed – in generating discussion about the LPGA.  

  • Arnie and Jack will hit the ceremonial first tee shots at the Masters next April. That’s the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on the same stage.

  • Tiger Woods is not as dominant as he once was – not as lethal with his putter, not as long with his tee ball. But I remain convinced we will still see another blistering run from him in the next two years.  

  • Never forget driving into a Champions Tour event maybe 20 years ago at Chester Valley outside Philadelphia. In the parking lot I could see from a distance a man standing at an open trunk, pulling clubs to get a feel. He looked like any guy at any muni trying to find a little something to take from the car to the course. I pulled closer. It was Arnold Palmer, the all-time everyman.

  • What a disappointing year for not only Adam Scott, but Garcia, Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas as well. Not a single victory among the four is almost absurd. How do you explain it? Lost love, poor putting and lack of focus? I’m not sure you can even call them with any conviction the best young players in the game any longer. Lucas Glover, Sean O’Hair, Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy were all better this year; though, one year, to be fair, is just a snapshot.

  • Palmer came to my hometown in the early ‘60s for an exhibition with Gary Player. They teed it up at Allentown Municipal, long enough by the standards of that era to be called the “Monster.” Palmer shot 13-under 60. The headline in the paper the next day read, “The Monster is Dead.” Arnie remembers it to this day.

  • Mentioned the Beatles and the Stones. Golfers we know grow old. But rock legends? Mick Jagger’s 66 and Paul McCartney’s 67. Think they’ll be playing to a sold out Giants’ Stadium when they’re 75? Will Keith Richards outlive them all?