The impact of Arnold Palmer on golf cannot be measured in pars or birdies. The impact of Palmer outside of sport transcends conventional human measurements. The man was called ‘The King’ by fans, and arguably, he lived up to that nickname in every facet of his life.

Palmer was one of the first captivating faces of golf. He is known for bringing popularity to the sport. His passion and flare for the sport defined what golf is today. From the recognizable hair glistening in the sunlight as he walked down fairways, to his practice of mixing iced tea and lemonade, Palmer was iconic.

Palmer was known for his electric swing, which zigged while other swings zagged. His powerful yet elegant swing is best described as a masterpiece.

That magnificent swing led Palmer to rack up 95 professional wins, including seven major championships. His three-way rivalry with Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus is one of the most compelling storylines in golf history. Palmer’s participation in the rivalry helped elevate the magnitude of major tournaments to the level of importance that they enjoy today. These majors, particularly The Masters Tournament, was the scene of historic finishes by the trio.

Look no further than a course in our university’s backyard to see how powerful Palmer’s company truly was. Palmer won his very first PGA Tour event, the 1955 Canadian Open, at Weston Golf and Country Club in Etobicoke, Ontario. Nestled along the banks of the Humber River, Weston has a statue of Palmer holding the 1955 Canadian Open Trophy, which sits adjacent to the club house before the first tee. The first hole is named in honour of Palmer. Pictures of Palmer are abundant upon the clubhouse walls. Palmer simply winning a tournament there has defined one of the most prominent courses in Canada. That’s the type of mark Palmer was able to leave.

For all his endeavours on the course, Palmer’s impact outside of the golfing community is not to be forgotten. Not many people can boast having a drink named after them, and yet Palmer finds himself in that exclusive club, as his name is given to the mixture of iced tea and lemonade. His charitable contributions remind us that Palmer appreciated his status and strived to use that influence to make the lives of others better. His foundation is known for its work with the children’s hospital in Orlando that also bears his name.

Palmer will always be remembered as the person who brought golf to the mainstream, while living life off the course with the same passion and respect that he was known for on the course. Palmer is no longer with us, but his spirit lives within every drive, chip, and putt.

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