It was a sad day for golf when Arnie died.
It was a sad day for the country, and even the world, given the scope of his influence on sport and charity, to say nothing of sportsmanship and public demeanor.
It’s unfortunate that most of that got lost in the incessant blather leading up to 90 minutes of name-
calling by two individuals whose popularity ratings aren’t even on the same scale as Arnie’s.
He picked the wrong day to die. I would bet that, if Arnie could somehow be transported back, about 20 years younger, he could be elected president in November.
Maybe I’m wrong; maybe only the golf world remained interested 40 years after his career wound down. Certainly only the Golf Channel’s almost macabre nonstop coverage of his life was the only source of much information as the presidential debate sucked up all media oxygen.
Still, I found myself flipping to it for respite from the other channels’ constant efforts to build suspense and viewership for the big anticlimax — er — debate.
Maybe bringing Arnold Palmer into a discussion of modern politics isn’t fair (to him) or relevant; but maybe it should be. Imagine, if you will, Arnie behind either of the debate podiums facing off with the candidate behind the other one. Issues?
I have no idea what he thought about issues, or even if he did. In any case, he probably would have made as much sense as Trump or Clinton.
But if the debate was supposed to reveal character, the present candidates would have no chance. Insult Arnie? How? Bring up his failure to win the PGA? Recall some costly three-putt? The response would be a wry grin and some story about golf with Ike. Or Ford. Or Reagan. Or Bush. Or Clinton. Or maybe his around-the-world flight record. Oh, you forgot that.
Arnie was old-school. I’ve never seen a report of him being rude, or even brusque, in any public situation. He patiently signed autographs until the last fan left. He greeted strangers as if he’d known them all his life. If there were private tantrums, they stayed private.
He leveraged a single skill — hitting the hell out of a golf ball — along with an effervescent personality, into a financial complex that included golf equipment, clothing, course design, the Golf Channel, countless endorsements and other things, bringing along with him the PGA Tour and future careers of Tiger and Phil and all the rest.
He was, of course, aided in all this by longtime manager Mark McCormick and many other employees and friends. If he wasn’t a self-proclaimed genius businessman, he was a good listener and delegator. What qualities do you want in a president?
Arnie’s death and the presidential debate were obviously unrelated except through the coincidence of time, and that coincidence allowed the hyperventilation over one to diminish the importance of the other.
It’s too bad. Those of us who grew up with Arnie as a hero would like to reminisce and see tribute paid. All those younger folks who never saw him play, and to whom he was only an old guy on the sidelines or in commercials, could learn from his life, and perhaps raise their expectations of behavior from
This will probably be a lesson lost in the modern world. Patience and courtesy are vanishing virtues. Life is too fast, too electronic. Who will take hours to sign legible autographs? Who will, apparently cheerfully, allow constant interruptions in everything he does?
Politicians are a dime a dozen, pandering, begging for money, doing the expedient thing. They all begin to look alike after a while.
There was only one Arnold Palmer.