Arnold Palmer Has Died & The Legendary Golfer Will Be Remembered As One Of The Game's Best
Legendary golfer and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Arnold Palmer died Sunday at the age of 87. A world-famous icon who won almost every national award in golf, Palmer became a popular sensation in the 1960s and went on to win 62 PGA tour titles throughout his career. Famous for hob-knobbing with U.S. presidents, Palmer also lent his name to the Arnold Palmer, a popular drink consisting of half lemonade and half iced-tea.
Palmer's entertaining style of play and everyman persona is often credited with making competitive golf, once an activity confined to elite circles, a sport for mainstream consumers. He chain smoked on the course, hitched his pants up to his knees and swung at the the ball in an exciting, larger-than-life manner that endeared a lot of viewers who hadn't previously cared much for the sport. Nicknamed "The King," he was known for being gracious and kind to his legion of fans, who called themselves "Arnie's Army."
In addition to his popularity amongst the masses, Palmer had quite a following with U.S. presidents as well. At the age of 28, he became a close friend of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and proceeded to hit it off (no pun intended) with almost every other president since then, including Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, both presidents Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.
Palmer was the only golfer to have a PGA tour named after him while he was still alive. He was awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the two highest honors civilians can receive from the U.S. government, and was also an avid pilot. His last public golf shot was in 2015, when he delivered the ceremonial tee shot at the British Open.
While Palmer is most famous for his golfing prowess, he has widespread name recognition outside the sport as well, because there's a popular beverage named after him. According to legend, Palmer was at a cafe with a friend in the late 1960s, and asked the server to pour him a drink that was half lemonade, half iced-tea. After Palmer ordered, his guest asked the server to give her "that Arnold Palmer drink," and the rest is history.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Palmer died in Pittsburgh at UPMC Shadyside. He had been scheduled to undergo heart surgery the next day.