Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Wonder Friend. Wonder Friend Wonders, “Who was Arnold Palmer?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Wonder Friend!

Have you ever played 18 holes? Did you finish under par? Maybe you even shot a hole-in-one. Many people agree that a round of golf is a great way to spend a sunny day. If that includes you, then you’ll likely recognize the name at the center of today’s Wonder of the Day. Who are we talking about? Arnold Palmer, of course!

Who was Arnold Palmer? Only one of the most accomplished golfers of all time! Many credit Palmer with making golf more popular among everyday people. For a long time, it was a sport common among more affluent players. But golf became appealing to a wider audience who watched Palmer play.

While Palmer was growing up in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, his father worked at the local country club. Palmer was allowed to play golf at the club’s course, but only when members weren’t around. As such, he practiced in the early morning and late evening when the club was closed. 

It was during these practice sessions that Palmer developed his unique golf swing, which many would later call “awkward.” As a teenager, Palmer joined his high school’s golf team and won Pennsylvania’s high school golf championship twice. He went on to a successful career as a professional golfer, winning his first Masters Tournament in 1958.

In all, Palmer would win 92 tournaments in his career. He was the first golfer to win the Masters four times. In 1968, he also became the first to claim a million dollars in prize money. It came as no surprise when the Associated Press named Palmer the Athlete of the Decade for the 1960s.

Just how popular was Arnold Palmer? His fans were so devoted that they became known as “Arnie’s Army.” They showed up in droves at his tournaments, carrying signs that showed their support for the athlete. This was unprecedented in the golf world, in which fans are more known for the quiet “golf clap.”

Palmer didn’t only set himself apart on the golf course. He was one of the first golfers to become a true celebrity. He also added to his flair by becoming a licensed pilot and flying his own plane to golf tournaments. Palmer also became a businessman and raised two daughters with his wife, Winnie.

Later in life, Arnold Palmer purchased the Latrobe Country Club where he had once practiced before and after hours. In 1980, he was inducted into the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Hall of Fame. He was also named Golfer of the Century in 1996.

Palmer passed away in 2016, leaving behind a strong legacy in the golf world. Today, many people also enjoy a drink named after him—the “Arnold Palmer.” It’s a mixture of iced tea and lemonade and was a favorite of the golfer’s.

Have you ever played or watched golf? Some think there’s nothing better than a beautiful day spent on the golf course. Others would rather play putt-putt or mini-golf. Whatever your preference, there’s a style of golf for just about anyone!

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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