Category Archives: golf stories

Getting Arnold Palmer’s Autograph

I mentioned in an earlier post that I started playing golf when I was 10. That September, my Dad asked me if I wanted to see a golf tournament – see the professionals play. I said, “Sure,” so we went to the 1960 Portland Open Invitational at the Portland (Oregon) Golf Club.

When we got there, we went straight to the range to watch the players warming up. There were caddies downrange, one for each golfer, because they had to provide their own balls back then and the caddies were out there picking them up. I was worried the caddies would get hit, but their player hit shot after shot right to them. Unbelievable.

The third tee was right next to the range, so we started following some group, I forget who was in it, and on the next hole, the second hole of tournament golf that I had ever seen, one of the guys made a hole-in-one. No kidding. What fun!


Arnold Palmer was there. He had won the Masters the year before, but was a year away from becoming ARNOLD PALMER. I knew who he was, though, and on the eighteenth hole I walked into the fairway at Pop’s urging to get his autograph as he walked from the tee to his next shot.

There were no gallery ropes in those days; you just stayed a respectful distance away when the players were hitting and then followed them down the fairway.

He was walking to his tee ball and I went up to him and asked him for his autograph. He asked me kindly to wait until he was finished playing and he would sign for me. So I went up to the green and stood a good distance away to not get lost in the crowd. I waited, and waited.

I heard some commotion from the gallery around the green, so I guess something had happened. Some applause, and everything was quiet again. Not a few moments after that, here comes Arnold Palmer, alone, walking straight for me. He had said he would sign for me, he found me, and he signed.

You can’t imagine how happy I was to get his autograph, and it took me until I had grown up to realize what he had done. He had kept his promise and he had to find me to keep it. Instead of thinking that I had left, he went looking. That’s why he’s The King. You bet I still have that autograph.

Oh, yes. Palmer shot 270 to finish in fourth place, four strokes behind winner Billy Casper, Jr. Palmer won $1,150 and Casper’s first-place check was worth $2,800.

The capital “A” is 1-3/4″ high.

See also My Natalie Gulbis Story

Visit www.therecreationalgolfer.com

Hole-in-one

I was going to blog today about an analysis of tournament strength in this week’s Golf World magazine. I’ll write about that tomorrow. Something else came up.

I got a hole-in-one today. My first in 49 years of playing golf. I’ve sunk irons from the fairway before, but never from the tee.
Auburn Golf Course, Salem, Oregon, 6th hole, 58 yards, pitching wedge.
Yes, I know. 58 yards. But that doesn’t make it any easier. And there’s still a 1 on the scorecard.
So. Along with my birdie on the Road Hole (I’ll tell you about that sometime), I have a few things to talk about when someone asks me what my best shot ever was.

My Natalie Gulbis Story

One of the favorite questions to ask your golfing buddies is, what is your dream foursome? For me, that’s an easy one — Natalie Gulbis and two guys who can’t make it. I know Natalie has sex appeal, but you might not have heard that she is one of the most genuine persons you will ever meet. I want to tell you this story about her because it is so out of character for the modern-day professional athlete.

My golfing buddy and I were at the LPGA’s Safeway Classic in Portland, Oregon about five years ago or so. We would pick up one group, follow them for a few holes, then wait at the green until another group of interest showed up, follow them for a while, and so on. So the group that Natalie was in showed up and that clearly struck us as a group of interest. We went to the next tee with them after they had all holed out. She hit first and went to the back of the tee box, where we were standing, to get some bottled water out of the cooler that was there for the players.

Now it was kind of hot that day, so my buddy and I had brought water with us. There were two guys standing next to us, I’d guess in their 60s, who didn’t have any. Natalie took out her water, looked at them, and said, “You guys look kind of hot. Want some water?” They said, “Sure,” so she reached in for two more bottles of chilled water and gave one to each of them. They said, “Thank you,” she smiled and said, “No problem,” and went back to the tournament.

If you’ve ever been to a professional golf tournament, you know the players are there to concentrate on their game and not on you, but my word, you can get looked at like you’re not even there. But here is a case of a player who by nature thinks enough of other people to step out of her golfing cocoon, read the situation, and perform an unexpected act of kindness.

I thought you should know.

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.