Hitching a ride on the back of a golf cart, we meandered up a sloped path to the front entrance of a house. An office, technically. Arnold Palmer’s office.
It sits a minute’s cart ride from Latrobe Country Club in Latrobe, Pa., tucked away and heavily shaded, adorned with his signature umbrella logo and the American flag.
Both exterior and interior are modest and mostly white, but the inhabitants are brilliant. Each small section of the office has its display: books here, medals there; SI covers on one wall, odes to the Ryder Cup on another.
We were there as part of the Latrobe Classic, in which a number of patrons pay to play Palmer’s Bay Hill on a Sunday and then fly charter to Latrobe on Monday for another 18 and a chance to meet the man. The proceeds go to the Alexander Center for Neonatology at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, Fla.
Gary Williams, George Savaricas and a small production crew were there for live Golf Channel reports and to do a sit-down interview with Palmer, in his office. I was there to tag along, tweet out Monday’s activities and gather material for our extensive, online Palmer features.
Eagerly, yet cautiously, milling about the premises, we discovered Palmer’s office room in the back as well as a memorabilia room. The latter was filled with thousands of clubs (mostly Callaways), machinery to modify said clubs, framed flags and artifacts from his beloved Pittsburgh sports teams.
The greatest part was: Most all of it was accessible. We didn’t plumage through his used clubs or go uninvited into his office, but history was just laid out to be touched. A Masters trophy sat innocuously on a table. A shelf against the back wall of the office contained trophies from winning the 1954 U.S. Amateur, 1960 U.S. Open, 1962 British Open and 1980 U.S. Senior Open, and a Ryder Cup replica from the 1995 dinner.
And then there was Mr. Palmer. He was gracious enough to shake hands and pose for pictures.
I don’t get out of the office much nowadays, mostly by choice. But I like to make it count when I do.
In 2010, it was a trip to St. Andrews for a prep piece on the Open Championship. In 2011, it was a trip to New Orleans for a five-year, follow-up feature on golf in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2012, it was a trip to Sam Snead’s home for our celebratory features on the 100th anniversary of the births of Snead, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. Last year, it was a trip to Boston for a series of stories on the 100th anniversary of Francis Ouimet’s U.S. Open triumph. This year, it was a visit to Arnie’s office.
There’s nothing like experiencing history: playing the Old Course, talking about Ouimet with his family, handling the clubs used by Snead and the trophies won by Palmer.
I guess when you don’t do much outside your cubicle, it makes writing a piece like this pretty easy. But I imagine if I traveled extensively and covered Tour events on a regular basis, these would still be my favorite moments.