Arnold Palmer

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Arnold Palmer

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The episode of The Simpsons that aired on September 25th, 2016 featured this joke about the golfing superstar, Arnold Palmer: Homer says, “I’m gonna fill a Super-soaker full of lemonade, Carl’s going to fill one with iced tea, and we’re gonna Arnold Palmer Lenny when he walks in!”

Marge responds, “Arnold Palmer Lenny? You’re going to Arnold Palmer Lenny?”

Homer clarifies, “Yeah, you see, Arnold Palmer was a golfer, and he made up this drink, where it’s not a full glass of lemonade, or a full glass of iced tea.” Seems like a pretty insignificant bit of comedy, until you consider the fact that Arnold Palmer died mere hours before the show ran. This coincidence is made even more eerie by the past tense Homer uses when referring to Palmer (“Arnold Palmer was a golfer…”).

While to some this may suggest clairvoyance on the part of The Simpsons’ writing team, it is more likely a phenomenon caused by Palmer’s extreme cultural prominence. Upon hearing the name Arnold Palmer, some think of the half-lemonade, half-iced tea blend located next to the Arizona iced tea at Eddie’s gourmet supermarket. Others call to mind the “King of Golf,” winner of 62 PGA tours and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. One of the more interesting aspects of Palmer’s career is his avid fan base: Arnie’s Army. describes them as ‘the largest non-uniformed “military” organization in existence.’

James Dodson, American sports writer, said of Palmer: “We loved him with a mythic American joy… He represented everything that is great about golf. The friendship, the fellowship, the laughter, the impossibility of golf, the sudden rapture moment that brings you back, a moment that you never forget, that’s Arnold Palmer in spades. He’s the defining figure in golf.” Arnold Palmer’s achievements did not solely reside in golf, however. He was also a business executive, acting as president of Arnold Palmer Enterprises and the Arnold Palmer Design Company, which designs golf courses and country clubs across the globe. Being a skilled pilot, he was recognized in 1999 for his contributions to aviation when a Western Pennsylvania airport renamed itself the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.

In a period spanning from 1960 to 1963, Palmer was in his very top form. In this stretch, he amassed 29 titles and $400,000. Not only was he great at golf, he was great at making golf clubs. He would tweak and create entirely new golf clubs in his workshop. He had one of the largest golf club collections in the world, many of which are originals. In 1989, he founded the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children located in Orlando, Florida. The hospital was ranked as one of the top 30 pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in 2008.

This beloved golfer left a legacy not only in sports, but in American hearts. He was one of the most important sports figures in recent history and will be missed dearly.

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