I have few regrets in this life, but one of them just became real Sunday. I never had the opportunity to meet “The King,” Arnold Palmer.
Mr. Palmer passed on Sunday after being in declining health for several months. I saw it from a distance via television as he grew increasingly physically challenged despite his wonderfully positive mental outlook.
Arnold’s legacy, aside from my almost daily viewing of the Golf Channel that he co-founded, sharpened for me when I did a feature on his restaurant in LaQuinta in the Coachella Valley. It is the only restaurant to bear his name—he and his advisors choose not to expand or franchise the restaurant. https://wp.me/p7kVZd-o7
I learned that he had a home in La Quinta and frequented his restaurant. The menu has his favorites such as meat loaf, pot roast, baby back ribs and filet beef stroganoff as well as a Latrobe, Pa (his home town) banana split and his favorite ice cream with berries.
We ate there twice—once for a feature for my web site (www.acesgolf.com) and once on our own. As you would expect, it has plenty of memorabilia and both public and private dining rooms in addition to the bar and a wonderful patio.
Since our first experience there, I have dreamed about being down there in in January or February when Arnold frequented La Quinta.
That will not be because timing just did not work.
One observation from the restaurant that says much about Arnold—there were many exclusive and expensive wines on the menu, but those bearing Arnold’s own brand (in partnership with Luna) were reasonably priced at around $30. The chardonnay lists for $18, while the cabernet sauvignon lists for $15. It speaks to Arnold’s humble beginnings and his touch and willingness to engage throughout his life with the everyman and the everywoman and treat them as he would want to be treated.
As Golf Channel has chronicled, his impact will go on for generations—he set the plate for the incredibly prosperous and charitable PGA Tour today. And his philanthropic efforts are an amazing legacy and were established well before the current day efforts of some technology titans such as Bill and Melinda Gates.
Mr. Palmer gave back throughout his life and used his fame to benefit so many other people.
His world-wide business interests transcended golf—he and his agent, the legendary Mark McCormack, pioneered sports marketing.
One of his divisions was golf course design. I have had the pleasure of playing a few of his designs (Dayton Valley east of Carson City in Nevada, which is an absolute bargain for a course that has hosted PGA qualifiers since 1995) as well as Classic Club in Palm Desert. (One Eliquis commercial was filmed at Classic Club.)
The Palm Desert track is one of my favorites among a bundle of excellent publicly accessible courses in the broader Coachella Valley. Like Dayton Valley, Classic Club features water hazards on many holes. It was originally planned as a housing development, but there’s nothing built there other than the club house and restaurant. https://acesgolf.com/palmer-designed-classic-club-features-plenty-of-water/