By Leighton Ginn
There are a few things I remember about Arnold Palmer from my days of covering the Bob Hope Classic celebrity field.
I hadn’t grown up with golf, so when I started covering the tournament, some of the tradition and lure was lost on me.
That was until I saw Palmer finishing his round in 2001 at PGA West. The 71-year-old Palmer shot a 71 that day, matching his age. As he approached the final hole and sank his putt, there was an ovation so large that it always stuck with me.
The top of my head, the ovation reminded me of when Robert Horry sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Sacramento Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference. It was that kind of energy and excited me, and on a golf course, nonetheless.
I never knew that was possible in golf until Palmer.
Most of the time I interviewed Palmer, he was very classy, but sheepish with his answers. He was guarded, and there was nothing that really stuck out to me.
That’s why this next memory stood out, because it was so unexpected.
On the driving range before a round, John Daly made his way. It looked like either he just rolled out of bed and came straight to the driving range, or he didn’t sleep the night before.
The other thing that really stood out was that Daly had this gigantic Big Gulp with him. I think it was 8 a.m., or around that time.
I happened to be within hearing distance when Palmer approached him and said, “You look sweet.”
My jaw dropped trying to figure out if I really heard what I thought I heard. But Palmer said what we all thought in such a fun and playful way. That’s when I really understood the Palmer charm that people of all generations loved and respected The King.
But I always did take a cue from Palmer and his fans. The main writer for the Bob Hope Classic was Larry Bohannan, and I was just one of his minion. So whenever I introduced myself, it was always a good idea to have an association with Bohannan.
So I would tell people, “You know how Arnie has his Army? I’m one of Larry’s Lackeys.