27 September 16  |  Golf   |  

Golden Ocala Manager Recalls Arnold Palmer’s Kindness, Friendliness

Professional golfing legend Arnold Palmer may not have strolled across the gentle slopes of Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club’s famed 18-hole championship golf course with club in hand and his famed good nature, but his engaging charm and his cheerful demeanor lingers in the hearts of those who remember him.

Palmer died Sept. 25 in Pittsburgh. He was 87. Known for the way he interacted with fans and friends and his business acumen and philanthropy, Palmer rose to become one of golf’s greatest players and one of professional sports’ legendary gentlemen.

Golden Ocala general manager Joe Donnelly encountered the Palmer charm in late 2000 when Donnelly went to Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lounge in Orlando for lessons. Earlier that memorable day, Donnelly and his three friends met Palmer on the course that afternoon.

Palmer rode up in a golf cart to the foursome on the course to greet the players. Palmer shook their hands and asked how their day was going. “We just could not believe he walked right up to us,” Donnelly said.

Palmer Joined Golfers At Bay Club Lounge Table

But it was Palmer’s visit later that made the most indelible mark in Donnelly’s memory. “We were sitting downstairs (at the Bay Hill lounge) and we were sitting at a table. He walked to our table and asked us how our day was and how we were doing.”

Although the four were already fans, the friendly encounter with the king of golf that day reinforced their impressions and their esteem for Palmer. “You got chills from it. Arnold Palmer is the reason golf professionals are here today.”

Arnold Palmer

One of the players had a camera and asked the bartender to take a photo of them with Palmer. Palmer happily obliged and Donnelly later sent the photos to Palmer to get his signature. About three weeks later, the photos were returned with each personalized and individually signed. Donnelly proudly keeps the 8½x12 photo on display as a keepsake of his meeting with Palmer.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Palmer spent more than $100,000 a year in returned postage and has kept every fan letter he has received. “That’s what you hear about him.”

Palmer won seven majors, 62 PGA Tour events, the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open, according to National Public Radio.

“Arnold Palmer will always be a champion, in every sense of the word,” the U.S. Golf Association stated. “He inspired generations to love golf by sharing his competitive spirit, displaying sportsmanship, caring for golfers and golf fans, and serving as a lifelong ambassador for the sport.  Our stories of him not only fill the pages of golf’s history books and the walls of the museum, but also our own personal golf memories.  The game is indeed better because of him, and in so many ways, will never be the same.”

Come enjoy the beauty of our 18-hole championship course designed by Ron Garl. The course has recreated tribute holes from the some of the world’s finest courses including Augusta, Royal Troon, Baltusrol, Muirfield and St. Andrews. And enjoy a cold Arnold Palmer – the tea and lemonade beverage Palmer made famous – at the clubhouse after your play.

Our Golf Shop has clubs, clothing and a wide variety of golf accessories, stocking only the finest in the sport. Come and experience the sport of golf at its finest. Keep up with all of the latest news from Golden Ocala by following us on Facebook and Twitter.