Arnold Palmer : A Life Well Played

Posted by khrishan on 2018-12-09

Although I play golf, I don't really know much about the game,the players or about its history. So when Arnold Palmer died on the 25th September 2018, it was only then I found out he was a legend of the sport.

My friend, who loves golf more than I do, had this book - so I decided to read and learn about this legend of the sport.

Reading autobiographies isn't really my thing - mainly because I don't particularly care about other people's lives.

Having said that, I need to read more, and this book is on my shelf. In order to get rid of it, I need to read it and write a blog post on it.

What was different about this book was that all chapters were small, like 1-2 pages small. This meant, as you were reading it, you were constantly learning more and more about different parts of Arnold Palmer's life - and not hearing about the same thing, five different ways.

The book is split into three parts:

  • Golf
  • Life
  • Business

In each of the sections below, I have made notes of the parts that resonanted with me the most.


Golf was more than a sport to Arnold Palmer, it was a way of life. He took the things that his disciplined Father taught him, into his golf and into other factors of his life.

Golf was a unique thing to each person. Arnold Palmer had a unique swing, which no one else believed could succeed (how wrong they were).

Although, he had a unique swing, he did stick to a few rules to do with his golf swing.

  • Keep your head and feet as "quiet" as possible.
  • Stick to the basics, always come back to them.
  • Have a pre-shot routine! It's having a system, custom to you.

There's no such thing a perfect round of golf... perhaps you can make the same parallels to life itself.

In order to prepare yourself for success, you have to prepare for the problems along the way.

The harder you work at something, the more it will relax you - just make sure that the work is productive.


The first line of this section was as follows :

"Life Goes On"

Although, I believe that this line was meant as 'There's more to life than golf' when Arnold Palmer said it, for me, this 'sentence' made me think of when my ex-girlfriend broke up with me.

At the time, I was on placement, and I went to work the next morning. It was like the world was still moving - whilst I was standing still. Literally, Life Goes On.

Work hard if you want to be successful. You have to make sacrifices and you have to understand the goals you want to achieve. There are no shortcuts!.

Arnold Palmer loved to give out autographs, but he never understood why people wanted to sell them on. On the flipside also, when you buy a 'signed' copy of something, how can you know if its genuine?

This made me think about the whole premise of autographs. I now think on the same lines.

Getting an autograph is a 'personal experience' - "how did the stars align for you to get this autograph?" What story can you tell?

In this day and age, selfies are the new autograph. Although they are worthless to everyone else, they will remain valuable to you.

Cancer was a big thing in the Palmer household. Arnold Palmer has prostate cancer, he lost his wife to cancer in 1999 and his daughter had cancer also.

AP served in the coast guard, but didn't go out on active duty (he trained as one of the coast guard, but built a golf course whilst serving. (yeah, I don't get it either.)


Arnold Palmer has a lot of side businesses - mainly to do with golf (Golf clubs, golf course design, golf channel etc). He also had some businesses that were completely non golf related - such as a dry cleaning business, christmas trees and cars (that one was a bad venture. This is where the "don't mix friendship with business" comes from).

People assoicated the name 'Arnold Palmer' with 'quality', hence he was successful. The question I asked myself was : "was he stretched to thin?"

He argued that he probably didn't win as many majors as he should have done, because of all the businesses he was getting involved in (his Father made the same comment on television).

Having said that, he always remembered to prioritise. There was a story in which his wife, Winnie, was on the phone complaining about something trivial (well, to Arnold it was :D). Nixon was on another phone waiting to congratulate him on a tournament win, but Arnold Palmer kept him waiting until Winnie had finished what she had to say.

Stay Grounded. This made me think about the quote below :

Image of a quote. The backdrop is of someone in a Lamborghini, whilst the foreground  ia a poor old man on a bicycle. The quote is : At the end of the day, our graves will be the same size.

AP wrote a chapter titled 'A Man's Word' - where he goes in depth as to why a 'handshake isn't enough'. AP's story was of having a bad contract with Wilson, his golf equipment provider at the time. AP was quite close with the previous president of Wilson, so much so, he gave him his word, that if things were not working for him, they would change.

However, when he retired, and the new president came about - when AP came to re-negotiate his terms, he couldn't. Essentially, there was a 'three year renewal' clause that Wilson could activate if they wanted, without AP's consideration.

The contract meant that AP couldn't earn money without Wilson's approval. He had no say on the clubs that were being sold that were brandished with his name. I've found that it's the same with cricket bats. The professional players, have better quality bats, than the ones that sell in your everyday sports store.

"A good strong grip works well in business as it does in golf.

Learn to say no!*

* finding this an important lesson I need to learn in my day job!

It is important to be a good listener.

Thanks for reading :) x