Palmer's common touch revolutionised golf


Arnold Palmer was the son of a greenkeeper who became one of the greatest talents the world of golf has ever seen.

News of Palmer's death at the age of 87 has left the sport in a state of mourning for one of its most respected, skilful and amiable players.

The tributes have flooded in their droves. Pioneer, icon, legend, take your pick of the superlatives that have deservedly been used to describe 'The King'.

Palmer's record speaks for itself. Seven major wins - including four Masters titles and two Open Championships, 62 PGA Tour trophies and over 90 tournament victories in total.

He formed one third of the legendary 'Big Three' alongside the great Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player that dominated golf during a golden era in the 1960s.

The memories of his achievements will live long in golfing folklore. His brilliance at the final day of the 1960 U.S. Open, where he overturned a seven-shot deficit by recording six birdies in the last seven holes, coined the 'Palmer Charge' term.

There was also the sight of his immense strength uprooting a bush during his victory at the 1961 Open at Royal Birkdale.

Palmer's losses were as notable as his wins. In 1962, he could only watch on as Nicklaus won the first of his record 18 majors at the U.S. Open in a play-off despite the hordes of 'Arnie's Army' doing their best to roar their star to glory - some claiming the harsh treatment aimed at Nicklaus actually acted as a detriment to Palmer.

In 1961, an unbelievable collapse at the Masters - where he played into a bunker at the final hole - saw him snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as Player adorned the Green Jacket for the first time.

But Palmer accepted those setbacks with the unerring grace and humility that set him apart from the rest.

He will be fondly remembered not just for his outstanding achievements, nor his powerful, graceful, swashbuckling style of play that brought spectators in their droves to follow his every brilliant move.

Palmer revolutionised golf with his natural charisma, good looks and amiable personality.

Those traits were crucial in bringing golf to sport's mainstream during the evolution of the television era and helped pave the way for the global spectacle the game has become today.

Palmer embodied what it meant to be a true people's champion. There were no airs and graces as a result of his success on the course, and he was well known to enjoy a drink and a cigarette.

He was also daring in his approach to the game. In an age when many Americans shunned the arduous journey across the Atlantic to play The Open, Palmer embraced it.

It is no exaggeration to say that Palmer was pivotal in re-establishing the profile of golf's oldest major and helping expand the game's global appeal.

Palmer will rightly be celebrated for his lengthy list of accomplishments and his incredible talent on the course.

But, just as importantly, he will be remembered for the humility and warmth he showed off the fairways and greens.

His is a great loss to golf and the wider sporting world. Long live 'The King'.