From The Inbox

A lifelong memory, courtesy of Arnold Palmer

There’s a reason why ‘Arnie’s Army’ never had a recruiting problem with golf fans and retained everyone for life: ‘The King’ displayed an uncommon brand of simple human decency

Thank you, Dan O’Neill, for sharing your story (“ ‘Arnie and me’: A story worth sharing,” May 12). Very well written.

Arnold Palmer was “The King.”

If I might, allow me to share a quick story.

It was at the Greater Greensboro Open in the 1970s. By chance, I was walking past the clubhouse and who other besides “The King” came walking out of the pro shop.

I was astounded that no one was around. I also had my heart in my throat. I somehow barely got out the words “Mr. Palmer, could I have your autograph?”

He said, “Sure, son. What do you want me to sign?”

Well, I had nothing.

He said, “Tell you what. Give me your pen and I’ll sign my bag from the pro shop.”

Well, I had no pen.

He chuckled and said, “Stay here; I’ll be right back.” The great Arnold Palmer went into the pro shop, came back with a pen, took his shirt out of his shopping bag and signed his autograph for me. He then shook my hand, smiled and said, “Have a great day.”

I’m 70 years old, and I will never forget that moment.

That’s why I cried the day he died and why tears once again appeared when I read your story.

Thank you again for sharing.

Tony C. Key
Aurora, Colo.

O’Neill captures Palmer’s appeal
I enjoyed Dan O’Neill’s article about interviewing Arnold Palmer (“ ‘Arnie and me’: A story worth sharing,” May 12).

Palmer is my all-time favorite sports figure. I am from his home state of Pennsylvania and an avid golfer for 40 years. O’Neill’s article brought a tear to my eye, reading how Palmer took the time to let O’Neill interview him after a grueling round. That is why everyone loved Arnie.

Mark Bertoldi
Wallace, N.C.

Palmer earns reputation with a generous spirit
Dan O’Neill’s article on his interview with Arnold Palmer reminded me of a somewhat similar experience that I had with Palmer (“ ‘Arnie and me’: A story worth sharing,” May 12).

The story starts with my copy of a Leroy Neiman painting, “Golf Champions.” It depicts six of the best professionals of the 20th century: Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Palmer, Gary Player, Sam Snead and Lee Trevino. My goal was to have each of them sign my print.

Now for my Arnie story worth sharing: In 1991, my wife and I were at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., to watch the U.S. Senior Open. Toward the end of the day, I saw Palmer in the parking lot, about to leave the course. I approached him to ask if he could sign my Neiman print. He readily agreed, thinking that I had it with me. I didn’t. It was in my car, on the other side of the parking lot. He politely said that he would wait for me to get it. I sprinted to my car, fetched the print and hustled back. Palmer was waiting for me. He signed his name, then chatted for a moment before leaving.

I’ve never forgotten how thoughtful, patient and genuinely gracious he was with me. I was just a golf fan, someone whom he had never met.

There is a reason why he was one of the most popular champions ever. He earned it by his generous spirit.

Brent D. Rector
E. Grand Rapids, Mich.

The essence of Arnie
Great story by Dan O’Neill (“ ‘Arnie and me’: A story worth sharing,” May 12). That is the essence of Arnold Palmer: “He meant it.”

Wayne Mills
Venice, Fla.

A lesson along the ropes, courtesy of ‘The King’
I had an “Arnie and me” experience, too (“ ‘Arnie and me’: A story worth sharing,” May 12).

It was 1971, my senior year in high school. I played on our school golf team. With two teammates, we drove on a Friday to Palm Springs from our hometown, Claremont, Calif., to attend the Bob Hope Desert Classic. Upon arrival, we made a beeline to Arnie’s group.

In those days, the galleries on the course were small, usually until the weekends. Palmer’s group had maybe a dozen people following it. After four or five holes, Palmer realized the three of us actually were “following” his group. He came over to the ropes on a tee box to say hello. With a little backup on the course, this became an extended conversation.

For the next dozen or so holes, he’d tell us on the tee box how he planned on playing the hole – the kind of drive he wanted to hit, his hopeful position on the fairway for his approach shot and where he wanted the ball on the green for a possible birdie putt.

We were floating a foot off the ground. He was a class guy to us, and he did something he didn’t have to do.

I’m still an avid golfer and always will remember that day as a highlight in my golfing career.

We went back Sunday for the final round. Palmer ended up winning that tournament in a playoff, with a birdie on a playoff hole. I was greenside, about 20 feet from the hole. The putt was struck firm and with confidence. He poured it into the hole.

Thanks for allowing me to recall this story.

Neale Hickerson
Long Beach, Calif.

It’s nice to share
Wonderful article by Dan O’Neill on Arnie (“ ‘Arnie and me’: A story worth sharing,” May 12). Great story to share.

Randall Pearson
King of Prussia, Pa.

Sweating it out with Arnie
Well done, Dan O'Neill (“ ‘Arnie and me’: A story worth sharing,” May 12). I felt as if I had been right there with you on that hot, humid August day,

Mike Lord
Naperville, Ill.

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