Celebrities Reflect On Arnold Palmer's Legacy
Chris O'Donnell, Wayne Gretzky, Jim Nantz and others discuss their interactions with Arnold Palmer, and what made him so loved.
Released on 9/26/2016
The first time I met Arnold Palmer
was I was about 15 years old.
I did an industrial film for Sears.
He was there, you know, sponsored by Sears,
and I was like a little child actor.
So, I have a picture with him
and I have a golf ball he signed for me.
Cut to ten years later, I was playing in the Lexus Challenge
and it was only 12 Senior Tour players and 12 celebs,
and I got Arnold as my partner,
and it was the most amazing draw of all time,
I mean, it just felt so lucky.
It was a unique format because my score
counted for their purse.
And I'll never forget, we were playing on a par 5,
and Arnold was having some trouble,
and I had hit a good drive and I had a my 3-wood out,
I was ready to hit, and Arnold was kinda slashing around,
and I was like, No, No, give me my wedge,
we got, I'm actually gonna lay it up.
And he saw me from across the fairway and came running over,
He's like, Hey! Don't you lay up on me!
I was like, Okay, Mr. Palmer.
He's like, Hit the 3-wood!
And so, I hit the 3-wood, and I don't even
remember what happened, I was just so, so shocked.
But it was so classic Arnold, you know,
always going for broke and not playing out of fear.
The only other Arnold story that I always laugh about,
at the Bob Hope we were playing one time,
we were signing autographs for people,
he saw me signing autographs and he looked here, he goes,
What the hell is that?!?
I go, It's my signature.
He goes, Well, sign it so they can read it.
'Cause if you've ever seen Arnold's signature, it's perfect.
And he was really offended by my, my signature,
so, I worked on it after that.
[Jim Nantz] I was doing a Pittsburgh Steelers game
a few years ago, and I called him up and said,
Hey, I've got a free afternoon, mind if I drive up
to Latrobe, see you?
Come on up.
Went up to the house, no gate, no posse of people
around him to insulate The King.
Arnold and Kay.
And after an hour visit, it was time to get back in the car,
and Arnold walks me to the car.
I come down the driveway, and I just happened
to take one last look up at the house, and I'm glad I did.
There was Arnold at the top of the driveway, waving goodbye.
Now, there are a lot of people that are big,
even more so, they think they're big,
I don't know how many would have that scene
right there play out.
That's Arnold Palmer.
That's the kind of man he is.
[Patrick Reed] First time I ever played in Bay Hill,
it was early in the morning, I walk in,
I go right into the locker room and, you know,
get on my shoes and go straight across the hall
to where Justine is and family dining
to get breakfast before I go out.
I don't get even take two steps into the door
and he's sitting there. First thing he says to me is,
Mr. Reed, please take your hat off.
And I'm like, I didn't quite get there fast enough,
I literally was two steps inside the door
and, you know, I took off my hat, and it just shows you
how much respect he has, you know,
for not only golf but everybody.
[Wayne Gretzky] I was fortunate enough when I retired
and my manager at the time, Mike Burnett,
told me one day we have an opportunity
that we're gonna play the four of us,
McCormack and Mr. Palmer and Mike Burnett and myself,
and we played Bay Hill, and one of the par 3s
was over water.
Mr. Palmer said, You know, I think it's a 3-iron.
His caddy said, No, no, Mr. Palmer, it's a 2-iron.
And he hit hit 3-iron short and he hit in into the water.
And his caddy said, I told you, Mr. Palmer, it's a 2-iron.
And he put another ball down on the ground,
and he hit the 3-iron and he knocked it in for a three.
[laughing] And he looked at the caddy and said,
I told you it was a 3-iron.
And I was like, Oh, my goodness, this is one
of the greatest things I've ever seen in my life.
[Jim Nantz] More than ten years ago,
I was at a career crossroads.
I was offered a chance to be a host
on one of the morning television shows.
It happens to be Arnold's last round
competitively at Augusta.
And I'm waiting for him on the practice putting green,
just steps off the first tee,
and here he comes out of the back of the clubhouse,
the human tunnel was formed,
the ovation is building as Arnold makes his way up
and graciously acknowledges everyone,
and, as he's making his way up to the putting green,
he see me and he goes
and he starts coming my way, and he said,
Have you made your decision yet?
And I said, Yes, I have.
I'm staying in sports. I love my job too much.
This was the childhood dream.
And he said, You made the right decision.
He said, Was it a hard decision?
I said, It was and I'll tell you why.
My dad was still alive but deep in the throes
of that dark abyss known as Alzheimer's.
And I said, It was the first time I faced
such a crucial life decision,
that I couldn't turn to my dad and say,
Hey, tell me, I want to hear what you think.
You did hear your dad.
And he leaned over and he said, He was right there.
He's in your heart always.
And I thought, Wow.
Roy came over, son-in-law, and said,
Hey, we gotta go.
Arnold had been shaking every hand on the way
and he hadn't even practiced a putt.
And Arnold said, Okay, let me just drop three.
He dropped three balls, he was twelve feet away from the cup
and went, Boom, in the hole.
Boom, in the hole. Boom, in the hole.
And off he went for one last journey around Augusta.