Image courtesy of Arnold Palmer Design
Golf legend and marketing genius Arnold Palmer died on Sunday, Sept. 25 at the age of 87.
While playing college golf at Wake Forest University, Palmer, also known as ‘The King,’ captured a total of 62 PGA Tour titles in his golf career. After finding victory at seven major championships, he was led to his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
Palm Beach Atlantic University’s head men’s and women’s golf coach, Craig Watson had a relationship with Palmer through association with his father.
“They played the Caribbean Tour together,” Watson said. “So I knew Arnold Palmer growing up.”
Watson will remember Palmer as an icon and for his interest in his fans.
“He was America’s favorite golfer for a long long time… and will be,” Watson said.
Although Palmer was a great success on the golf course, he is notorious for pioneering sports marketing. He had a contagious smile which landed him major marketing deals; Palmer earned approximately $7 million while competing on the golf course, and made about 50 times that from marketing.
Watson explained that Palmer came on scene at a time when television had changed from black and white to color; a lot of American television watchers became familiar with golf because of Palmer.
“Arnie was a true pioneer for the sport of golf. He made the game what it is today,” PBA women’s golf team member freshman Alex Dowd said.
CBS News Channel 12 Sports Director Matt Lincoln had the opportunity to interview Palmer multiple times while covering the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National. The way Palmer carried himself left a lasting impression on Lincoln.
“He had a smile that made you feel comfortable around him,” Lincoln said.
Lincoln believes Palmer shared the same love of life and of people which deceased Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez carried. Also, he referred to Palmer as being a grandfather figure in the golf world. Palmer was always willing to share life lessons and spend time telling stories about his experiences on and off the course.
“He was the best ambassador for the game,” Lincoln said. “He took the time with fans; took the time to grow the game.”
Lincoln is not the only one who was touched by Palmer’s presence.
“He would take the time to get to know you even if it was just for a minute or two,” Watson said.
Palmer is also widely known for his popular iced tea and lemonade drink which has been around since the late 1960s. He began capitalizing off of the drink 16 years ago when he secured a deal with Innovative Flavors and Arizona Beverage Co. In 2015, the beverage hit $200 million in sales.
According to CNN, the billion dollar worldwide golf industry happened in large part because of Palmer’s legacy.
“I’m sure he was thankful to have accomplished the greatness he reached,” Lincoln said.