ARNIE: WHAT THE KING LEFT BEHIND He had no peer. With the exception of Jackie Robinson & baseball and Muhammad Ali & boxing, no other 20th century sports figure created such an extraordinary tapestry of life influence…with that Something Special…so simple, so mysteriously wonderful, so healing, so encouraging, so mesmerizing and, yes, so easy to accomplish.
Arnie touched people. literally. Yes, Arnie’s prowess on the Fairways and Greens made him an idol of the golf world. Arnie’s Army loved his energy, passion, go-for-it play. He was a slick, riverboat gambler with a Driver or a putter in his hands. When He slammed a Drive down the fairway at Augusta National, cinched his pants, gave a wink to a fan and boldly charged the fairway, everybody knew Arnie was charging!
Beyond all we came to vicariously know, feel or read about Arnie, there was something so deeply humane and good about the man, that was present everywhere he went. He simply loved to give a touch to people! Arnie would grab and hold a fan’s hand. He’d collar his Caddie. When he walked the gauntlet from a Green to the next Tee through a corridor of adoring fans, Arnie’s hands wiggled frantically on both side…touching…touching…touching!
We loved Arnie because he touched us. The warmth of his humanity transcended his athletic skills. And, yes, a small, but well-known measure of his contribution to 20th century American culture can be identified in his simple concoction for the common man, The Arnold Palmer.
No, I never walked a fairway with Arnie, but he walked into my heart long ago. 17 years my senior, Arnie shaped his personal life’s Back Nine into a masterpiece of Goodness…loving people with a touch.
I believe good men dig deep on their Back Nine to find ways to touch the lives of those they love. Yes, a man’s best Back 9, in my opinion, is meant to be rich with care, appreciation, hugs, handshakes, smiles and gratitude. It CAN happen if we learn to carry an inner compass, a True North position, to move through the Back Nine of life. And what is that True North? Arnie found it. As a matter of fact, I am confident Arnie played his entire 18 holes knowing…it takes a simple touch… your life in mine… to experience the mysterious magic that binds the human spirit .
Arnie, The King, came our way! We who loved him know we are better people because he did.