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A Golfer's Life

Cover of A Golfer's Life

A Golfer's Life

There has never been a golfer to rival Arnold Palmer. He's the most aggressive, most exciting player the game has ever known, a dynamo famous for coming from behind to make bold last-minute charges to victory. To the legions of golf fans known around the world as "Arnie's Army," Palmer is a charismatic hero, the winner of sixty-one tournaments on the PGA Tour and still going strong on the Senior PGA Tour. But behind the legend, there is the private Palmer--a man of wit, compassion, loyalty, and true grit in the face of personal adversity.

Golf-crazy as far back as he can remember, Arnie followed his dad, "Deacon" Palmer, the head greenskeeper, around the Latrobe Country Club fairways; as a youth he played at dawn before the club members arrived (the only time he was allowed on the course); by the time he graduated from high school he was headed for the national circuit. His rise to fame was meteoric, and by the 1960s he had emerged as one of the few American athletes the public truly cared about--a vibrant, daring, handsome sports celebrity who attracted wild crowds and enormous television audiences whenever he played and whose charisma propelled the explosion of enthusiam for golf in the sixties.

Writing with the humor and candor that are as much his trademark as his unique golf swing, Palmer narrates the deeply moving story of his life both on and off the links. He recounts his friendships (and rivalries) with greats of the game, including Jack Nicklaus, his enduringly happy marriage with Winnie, his legendary charges to triumph and his titanic disasters, and his valiant battle against cancer. Returning to the Senior PGA Tour with unmatched zeal after his recovery, Palmer reminded fans of his unfaltering heroism--and the world of golf is thankful.

From small-town boy to golfing legend, Arnold Palmer has lived one of the great sporting lives of the twentieth century. Now, with the help of acclaimed golf writer James Dodson, he has created one of the great sports autobiographies of our time.

From the Hardcover edition.

There has never been a golfer to rival Arnold Palmer. He's the most aggressive, most exciting player the game has ever known, a dynamo famous for coming from behind to make bold last-minute charges to victory. To the legions of golf fans known around the world as "Arnie's Army," Palmer is a charismatic hero, the winner of sixty-one tournaments on the PGA Tour and still going strong on the Senior PGA Tour. But behind the legend, there is the private Palmer--a man of wit, compassion, loyalty, and true grit in the face of personal adversity.

Golf-crazy as far back as he can remember, Arnie followed his dad, "Deacon" Palmer, the head greenskeeper, around the Latrobe Country Club fairways; as a youth he played at dawn before the club members arrived (the only time he was allowed on the course); by the time he graduated from high school he was headed for the national circuit. His rise to fame was meteoric, and by the 1960s he had emerged as one of the few American athletes the public truly cared about--a vibrant, daring, handsome sports celebrity who attracted wild crowds and enormous television audiences whenever he played and whose charisma propelled the explosion of enthusiam for golf in the sixties.

Writing with the humor and candor that are as much his trademark as his unique golf swing, Palmer narrates the deeply moving story of his life both on and off the links. He recounts his friendships (and rivalries) with greats of the game, including Jack Nicklaus, his enduringly happy marriage with Winnie, his legendary charges to triumph and his titanic disasters, and his valiant battle against cancer. Returning to the Senior PGA Tour with unmatched zeal after his recovery, Palmer reminded fans of his unfaltering heroism--and the world of golf is thankful.

From small-town boy to golfing legend, Arnold Palmer has lived one of the great sporting lives of the twentieth century. Now, with the help of acclaimed golf writer James Dodson, he has created one of the great sports autobiographies of our time.

From the Hardcover edition.

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  • From the book

    Clear September evenings are beautiful in the little town of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, where I grew up and still live. A few days after my sixty-eighth birthday, on just such an evening, my wife Winnie and I left home and drove down the hill to the township road that hasn't changed much in the past half-century, crossed over, and started up the winding driveway of Latrobe Country Club.The driveway crosses a small brook and two fairways, the steep downhill first and the long uphill 18th. We paused to allow a couple of late finishers--two boys carrying their own bags--to hit their final approach shots on 18. Winnie reached over and took my hand and commented that I seemed awfully quiet--and was driving awfully slowly--for a man who had a big speech to make in a few minutes.

    Under normal circumstances I enjoy giving speeches, and I seldom use a prepared text, because years ago I discovered that speaking to people straight from the heart about a subject you love may be a bit more risky, but the rewards are almost always greater in the end. That's just my style, I guess--the way I prefer to play golf and the way I prefer to speak to people.

    This crowd was different, however. The occasion was my fiftieth high school reunion, and at that moment almost two hundred people from Latrobe High's Class of 1947 were gathered in the upstairs dining room or sipping cocktails on the adjacent lawn, waiting for their unofficial host to arrive and get the festivities under way.

    I hadn't seen many of these folks in over half a century--a thought that probably astounded them as much as it did me. How could that time have gone by so rapidly? Most of those in attendance, I knew, now lived other places and had come back to Latrobe from great distances. Others there were some of my closest friends on earth. But all of them had known me long before I became a famous public figure named Arnold Palmer. To them, I was simply "Arnie" Palmer, the skinny, golf-crazy son of Deke and Doris Palmer, the boy who would grow up and do well enough to buy the club where once upon a time he was permitted on the course only before the members arrived in the morning or after they had gone home in the evening.

    I peered through the windshield and watched as one of the boys made a strong swing, and I remember commenting to Winnie, as his ball flew away in the twilight toward an unseen flag up the hill, "He may like that better than he knows." I knew what that boy was feeling, because I'd hit that final shot--perhaps from that very spot--thousands of times myself over the past fifty or sixty years. And every time, it filled me with a mixture of hope and wonder.

    The boys picked up their bags and moved on. Wrapped in the spell of the game, they probably didn't have a clue or a care in the world who was watching them, and that's exactly as it should be, a tribute to this marvelous game we play. There is something magical about finishing a golf round in the dusk.

    Driving on, I admitted to Winnie that I was a bit worried about what I was going to say to the folks on the hill, and she knew why without my having to say anything more. It wasn't being sixty-eight that was chewing away at me or even the slight bittersweet feeling I often experience with September's arrival--brought on by the knowledge that another golf season is slowly winding down. The truth was, several things had happened to us in the preceding year that made this homecoming all the more poignant, and therefore somewhat difficult for me.

    She simply squeezed my hand and assured me that when it came time to speak, she knew I would do just fine.

    "Oh really?" I said,...

About the Author-
  • James Dodson is a contributing editor and regular columnist for Golf magazine and golf editor for Departures magazine. His work has appeared in GQ, Travel & Leisure, Outside, and numerous other national magazines. His columns won the Golf Writers of America Award in 1995. Dodson's first book, Final Rounds, became an instant golf classic.

Reviews-
  • The New York Times Book Review

    "Arnold Palmer has led a rich and singular life and has captured it in a wonderful book."

  • Publishers Weekly "THIS MEMOIR SHOOTS BELOW PAR. . . . Most thrilling to fans will be his shot-by-shot perspective on legendary golf matches, such as the 1960 U.S. Open, where Palmer, Hogan, and Nicklaus converged."
  • Sports Illustrated "A GOLFER'S LIFE EASILY MAKES THE CUT."
  • The Wall Street Journal "IRRESISTIBLE."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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