As I listened to one celebrity after another pay tribute to the recently deceased golfer, Arnold Palmer, yesterday afternoon, I recalled my own brief encounter with this legend of the links.
For Christmas one year I’d purchased club house passes for Studly Doright and my dad to Arnie’s Bay Hill tournament in Orlando, FL. We lived in Melbourne, FL, at the time, so we were only an hour away from the course. I have to confess that when I purchased the tickets a part of me was secretly hoping that I’d get to attend at least one day of the tournament. As it happened I ended up using the passes more than Studly and Daddy did.
Now, I’m not a golfer. I’m the furthest thing from a golfer anyone could possibly imagine. But I grew up watching the great golfers on television with my dad, and Arnold Palmer almost seemed like a member of the family. So much so that when he walked up beside me as I sat in the lower stands on the tenth hole at Bay Hill and took a banana from a bowl near the tee box that I just smiled and nodded and he smiled and winked back before teeing off.
It wasn’t until later that it hit me I’d been in the presence of greatness. In retrospect I wish I’d said something witty or golfy, but maybe, just maybe he thought to himself, “That was one cool chick. I should have offered her part of my banana.” We will never know.