This week we honor Arnold Palmer as our HeroVet. We first profiled Arnie as a TopVet in 2014, but with his passing last weekend, we had an opportunity to celebrate his substantial charitable activities and award him HeroVet status posthumously. It is only when we look at Palmer’s whole life, on and off the course, do we realize how special a man he was -- from helping to build hospitals, popularizing the game that he loved so dearly to being recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
He was a role model for all and made golf a national sports favorite with the rise of television. The likes of the Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Jordan Spieth can all trace their gratitude back to Arnie and what he has done for the game.
In 1959, when television was the high-tech trend of the day, organizers at the Masters in Augusta were eager to show big TV crowds at golf’s first major. Palmer was defending champion and no doubt the biggest draw for any newbie. So when Augusta National’s co-founder Clifford Roberts thought of giving free tickets to GIs at his former installation, Camp Gordon (now called Fort Gordon), our troops all flocked to following Arnold Palmer. “Arnie’s Army” was born!
“I can’t remember another time, other than my stint in the Coast Guard, when so many uniformed soldiers surrounded me. A year later, when I won my second Masters title, I thanked the ‘army’ of supporters who came out to follow me,” Palmer said on his personal website, arnoldpalmer.com.
And the rest was history.