1978 Hawaiian Open
At the 1978 Hawaiian Open, I was fortunate to have an encounter with the King of Golf, Arnold Palmer. I was a Marine Sergeant stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay as the Sports Editor of the base newspaper. I was 21 years old and knew nothing about golf or golf etiquette other than the name "Arnold Palmer." I had Press passes and decided to follow him around that day with my camera. His round of golf was not up to his normal scores and I could tell he was somewhat frustrated. On the 18th green he was putting for par after a long round of golf. I had positioned myself across the green waiting to get a shot of him and his putt. He was over the ball, looked toward the cup and saw me with my camera. He backed away from his ball, posed leaning on his club, and said, "Take your photo." I said, "Yes, Sir." He then said, "Now get the hell out of my line." He laughed along with "Arnie's Army." I became a fan of Arnold Palmer that day on. He finished the round with a 74. It took a while for me to realize I had an encounter with golf royalty. I took up the game of golf a few years later and had two bucket list wishes, one to play Augusta National and the other to play a round of golf with Arnold Palmer. I achieved one of those wishes playing Augusta in 2005 a friend of Arnold's, Dan Yates, the oldest member of Augusta. I told Mr. Yates of my encounter with Arnold and he laughed and said, "Sounds like Arnold.". I told him if I ever won the lottery and money was no object, I wonder what Mr. Palmer would charge to play a round of golf with me. Without hesitation, he said, not a penny. I then realized, Arnold Palmer played golf for the love of the game. I saw Arnold at the Masters at various times, wanted to walk up and say hello and remind him of our encounter in Hawaii in 1978, but never had the chance. In my life I have met celebrities, Generals, Medal of Honor Winners, all incredible in their own right. But by far, my favorite encounter was with Arnold. Arnold Palmer, a gentlemen, an incredible golfer and role model in golf and most importantly in life. Thank you for everything you did for the game of golf and a 21 year old, who knew nothing.