Arnold Palmer, considered to be one of the greatest professional golfers to ever pick up a club, passed away on Sunday night.
He was 87 years old.
It’s difficult to even know where to begin in describing Palmer’s iconic career, both on and off the course.
He won seven majors… he played The Masters for 50 straight years… and he co-founded The Golf Channel, while also being IMG’s first-ever client.
It was The Golf Channel that announced Palmer’s passing on Twitter:
While Palmer’s ailments were never made public, he appeared more frail than usual in March when he served as host of his annual PGA tournament, which was held at his Bay Hill Club & Lodge outside Orlando, Florida.
A few days earlier, he said he would no longer hit the ceremonial first tee shot at The Masters, which he had done every year since 2007.
Palmer hailed from Latrobe, Pennsylvania and attended Wake Forest University on a golf scholarship.
At age 24, he went from selling paint and residing in Cleveland to winning the 1954 U.S. Amateur at the Country Club of Detroit.
He has referred to that victory as "the turning point in my life."
A charismatic and beloved figure in the world of sports, Palmer captured seven major tournaments during his Hall of Fame career. They were:
The Masters four times (in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964), the British Open twice (in 1961 and 1962) and the U.S. Open once (in 1960, when he rallied from seven strokes down in the final round to take the trophy from fellow legend Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus).
Palmer won 62 times overall on the PGA Tour, earning the adulation of fans around the country for his go-for-broke style.
“We loved him with a mythic American joy,” said Palmer biographer James Dodson, adding:
“He represented everything that is great about golf. The friendship, the fellowship, the laughter, the impossibility of golf, the sudden rapture moment that brings you back, a moment that you never forget, that’s Arnold Palmer in spades.
"He’s the defining figure in golf.”
Palmer’s fan base became known over the years as Arnie’s Army and it was comprised of followers who were grateful that Palmer defied the notion that golf was a purely elitist sport.
Even non-golf fans are likely familiar with Palmer, thanks to his signature drink: The Arnold Palmer is a half-and-half combination of iced tea and lemonade that he mixed in his kitchen for years.
His company has been selling its own brand since 2001, while an ad depicing him dispensing one in an ESPN cafeteria (above) was a very popular SportsCenter spot.
Palmer also had a thriving golf course-designing business and piloted his own plane.
The legendary golfer was one of the 13 original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974; moreover, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
Palmer’s wife of 45 years, Winnie, died in November 1999 at age 65 from ovarian cancer.
He married Kathleen "Kit" Gawthrop in 2005; survivors also include two daughters and a grandson, Sam Saunders, who plays on the PGA Tour.
We send all of Palmer’s friends, family members and loved ones our condolences.