The Arnold Palmer Invitational was contested last week at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida, a private golf resort owned since 1974 by Arnold Palmer. The tournament has been run under Palmer since 2007 and has had several different names prior. As a restricted field event on the PGA Tour, only the first 70 players on the previous year’s money list are guaranteed invitations. Palmer is famously known as “The King” because of the enormous galleries that would follow him (Arnie’s Army). He is also considered one of the most influential people in golf, responsible for bringing the current popularity to the game. To be invited to play in his tournament in an honor as well as a tribute to his contributions in the sport.
Palmer’s Golf Swing
Arnold’s golf swing is not what you would consider conventional. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Palmer learned the game from his father, Deacon, who was the Head Golf Professional at Latrobe Country Club. Deacon encouraged his son to hit the ball hard and far. (If you are a youngster today and want to have success in tournament golf, this is a must.) Another important fundamental his father insisted upon was a correct grip, and most would say his is one of the best of all time. Palmer was also not one to make a change. “I really did not make any swing changes in my career,” he said in 2011. “I started with a pattern when I started playing the tour, and I stuck with it until today.” Palmer encourages people to “swing their own swing” and not get caught up on the current trend. Probably the biggest characteristic of Palmer’s swing was his helicopter finish. Even the untrained eye could tell that there was something unique about it. Palmer’s finish had a purpose. During his career, Palmer fought hitting a hook. As I have preached many times before, what we do in the swing after the ball is hit has a huge influence on what happens before we hit it. Palmer’s high helicopter finish was to hold off the release of the clubface to fight his hook. This is a good lesson for those of you who fight hooking the golf ball.
Iced Tea and Lemonade
Most everyone in his or her life will have an Arnold Palmer (iced tea and lemonade). TV commercials like the one with Mark Stefanhagen poke fun at this iconic drink. Palmer describes how the drink became so famous, as reported in USA Today. “My wife made a lot of iced tea for lunch, and I said, ‘Hey babe, I’ve got an idea. You make the iced tea and make a big pitcher, and we’ll just put a little lemonade in it and see how that works.’ We mixed it up, and I got the solution about where I wanted it and I put the lemonade in it. I had it for lunch after working on the golf course. I thought, ‘Boy, this is great, babe. I’m going to take it when I play golf. I’m going to take a thermos of iced tea and lemonade.’” Palmer then goes on to tell the story about when he was in a Palm Springs restaurant, ordered the drink to his specifications and was overheard by a woman sitting nearby. “I want an Arnold Palmer,” she told the waitress. “I want what he ordered.” And that was how the Arnold Palmer was invented.
The King’s contribution to the game is priceless. It would be hard to imagine where golf would be today without him. I hope that Palmer has influenced your game in one way or another. I know that I will pay the King his respect. He paved the way for me to teach the game I love for a living.
Darren deMaille is the Head Golf Professional at The Bridge in Bridgehampton. Prior to The Bridge, Darren worked at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida and The Country Club of Fairfield in Fairfield, Connecticut. Darren has had many top 100 instructors influence his philosophy but most of his principles are based on Jack Nicklaus’ way to play golf.
Follow Darren deMaille on Twitter: @tenminutegolf