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|Literary Masters, Inc.
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Long Island, New York 11971
|A Golfer's Life Arnold Palmer
|Author: Arnold Palmer
Paperback: 420 pages
List Price: $10.59
Availability: In Stock at
Barnes & Noble
From his first steps onto the public stage, this true icon of
sport exuded an aura more inviting than off-putting, and his
substantial record--92 titles worldwide, four Masters
championships, a U.S. Open crown, and back-to-back British
Open victories--speaks for itself.
So does his autobiography. It is friendly, chatty, honest,
passionate, long on spirit, and deft with the anecdotes it
shares. As a storyteller, Palmer is as down the middle with
the failures and hard times as he is with the remarkable
triumphs. He writes thrillingly about golf at its most
competitive; probingly about his rivals, particularly Ben
Hogan and Jack Nicklaus; revealingly about the extended
slump that followed the '64 Masters, his last win in a major;
fairly and nobly about his own legendary status; emotionally
about his family and his complex relationship with his father;
and quite movingly about both his and his wife's battles with
cancer: "The very word . . . used in the same sentence as
Winnie's name struck cold terror in my heart."
How well-written it is. It minimized many warts, but there is
still some bite to it. Arnold Palmer defines what charisma is.
Charisma has nothing to do with skill, he was not the most
skilled or accomplished golfer. His talent and achievements fall
short of those of Nicklaus, Hogan and even Gary Player. Yet
the most important golfer in the last 50 years.
A few years ago I was watching a Senior tournament. My wife
came by and became enraptured by what was on. That was
extremely odd, she usually does not watch golf. She asked me
who the man on the screen was that was so fascinating. It was
The portraits that Palmer draws of his parents, especially of his
father, are wonderful. His stories of growing up are wonderful
and I feel a good sense of the man and his roots. And he spares
no words in discussing the death of his best friend while he was
at school at Wake Forest, a death he still somewhat blames
Palmer brings up an interesting theory about his career, that
his decision to stop smoking played a factor in it. Nicotine
creates a dependency, physical and psychological, no doubt
about it. Palmer feels that cigarettes helped him concentrate.
But I admire him for not starting again, even if it cost him some
strokes. So do his grandchildren and his fans, if he had not
stopped, he would not be here today.
Palmer talks about several people in the golf world at length.
He speaks highly, yet evenhandedly, of Clifford Roberts and
the Masters. I daresay that there are others who would not
agree with that opinion.
It is obvious that Arnold did not get along with Ben Hogan, but
few people did. Hogan was a hard man and while Palmer
speaks highly of Ben's skills, you can see that he did not like
The section about Nicklaus is fascinating. There is a major
rivalry in many ways between the two of them; there is no
question about it. Palmer makes some very astute
observations about their divergent styles and personalities.
There is much greater kinship with Gary Player and the stories
about Player are quite funny.
People have tried to analyze Palmer's appeal for years. One of
the ideas is that he comes across as a blue-collar worker in a
rich man's sport. It was him that drew fans across income and
class lines. To many people, Arnold Palmer is old-line
establishment. He was a close friend of Eisenhower, and of Bob
Hope. The book slows when he talks of the rich people he is
Palmer is not overly introspective, so he does not try analyzing
his popularity very much. He does say that he loves to
perform, to show off and entertain people. He talks of his joy
the first time that happened. A section of Feinstein's "A Good
Walk Spoiled" discusses Palmer from a fan's perspective and
also from a fellow player's. It gives a different perspective on
At the time this book was written, his wife Winnie had been
diagnosed with cancer. She is no longer with us and my heart
aches for Mr. Palmer and his loss. Palmer also talks little of his
fight with cancer and the remarkable recovery he has made.
Nor does he talk about all the money he has raised for research
of prostate cancer.
There is very little about his daughters as well, or his family life
beyond his early married days. In an ESPN show, one of those
daughters said on-camera that her dad loved being Arnold
Palmer. There are countless people who can testify of how nice
a man he is.
*****__ A Customer
About the Author
While his peak playing time was some 30 plus
years ago, Arnold Palmer remains a beloved
figure and a symbol of the grace of golf.
He grew up poor in Youngstown, Pa, where
his father eventually became course
superintendent and head pro at the Latrobe
Country Club. From the time he could hold
an iron, Palmer spent as much time as
possible playing the game with his "Pap,"
a hot-tempered disciplinarian.
On seeing Babe Didrikson Zaharias play,
Palmer realized "how great it would be to
make lots of people, complete strangers,
Ooh and Aah over a golf shot."
After attending Wake Forest on scholarship
and spending some time in the Coast Guard,
Palmer went on the amateur circuit, barely
stopping for a honeymoon with Winnie, his
wife of nearly 50 years.
The rest is history, including his first
victories on the tour, his relationship with
rival Jack Nicklaus, his friendship with
Dwight Eisenhower, and the decline of his
game in the mid-1960s.
Most thrilling to fans is his shot-by-shot
perspective on legendary golf matches, such
as the 1960 U.S. Open, where Palmer, Hogan
and Nicklaus converged.