Tuesday, the world collectively remembered Arnold Palmer – but did you know ‘The King’ played a round here in Western New York?
“Arnie shot five-under par here at Lancaster (67),” Lancaster Country Club manager Mark Maier said. “Old 18 was a par three and he was within five inches of a hole in one in front of a crowd of 6500 people.”
Naturally, Palmer was in a group with ‘The Golden Bear’, Jack Nicklaus. The group was doing a tour around the country -- going from city-to-city spreading golf’s popularity in the mid 1960’s.
“He (Palmer) built the game of golf. He made it. He was an icon. He drew people to it, he created the popularity.”
Coincidentally, Maier once worked for Palmer, managing some of his Western New York golf clubs. Over the years Maier played a few rounds of golf with Palmer, occasionally bumping into him at meetings. Like many, Maier said Palmer was one of the most genuine men he’s ever met.
“It was just the humor, and the way he would put you at ease. He was interested (in) that conversation at that point and time, as a human being. To me, it reasserted that someone that strong of an icon could be that genuine of a person.”
That sentiment was echoed by broadcaster Jim Nantz, who spoke at Palmer’s memorial service. He asked the packed church “How could somebody that big could have so many friends? How did he manage that? It blows my mind how he was able to keep all of us somehow in the loop. What a special talent. What an enormous heart.”
Palmer certainly left an impact on both those who knew him and those of us who admired from afar.
“Golf has got a big void right now not having a person like Arnold Palmer,” Maier concluded.
He’s right, but the sport is in a better place because of Palmer – there’s no denying that.