Arnold Palmer, a three-time USGA champion and seven-time major champion whose charismatic and charming personality helped popularize golf in the late 1950s and early 1960s, passed away on Sunday, Sept. 25 in Pittsburgh, Pa., at the age of 87.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Palmer died at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been undergoing heart tests since last Thursday.
“Arnold Palmer will always be a champion, in every sense of the word,” said Mike Davis, executive director/CEO of the USGA. “He inspired generations to love golf by sharing his competitive spirit, displaying sportsmanship, caring for golfers and golf fans, and serving as a lifelong ambassador for the sport. Our stories of him not only fill the pages of golf’s history books and the walls of the museum, but also our own personal golf memories. The game is indeed better because of him, and in so many ways, will never be the same.”
Some golfers collected more wins and major championships, but few could rival Palmer’s popularity among the masses. His go-for-broke style of play appealed to fans and his ability to engage with people inspired legions of followers that dubbed themselves “Arnie’s Army.”
Palmer was the first iconic superstar of sport’s television age, which began in the 1950s, and he connected with people like no other golfer before him. Because of Palmer, who came from humble beginnings in Latrobe, Pa., the game transitioned from an upper-class pastime to a sport accessible to the middle and working classes.
USGA President Diana Murphy:
“With heavy hearts, we mourn the loss of Arnold and recognize his life and legacy, remembering his great championship moments and his incredible humility. We are grateful for his contributions to the USGA as a champion for the game, our member program and our museum, which is named after him. He always had a twinkle in his eye, and a smile of encouragement for all of us. His history is our history, and his impact on the game transcends generations.”
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