The Real Arnold Palmer Was Somehow Even More Impressive Than His Legend

Managing Editor, Sports + DIME

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ORLANDO – The driver couldn’t stop telling stories about him. He rattled off golfers he’d driven around to the Invitational, and all of them had stories too it seemed like. But did he ever meet him? Just once, he had a strong handshake, a handshake you’d always remember. Although, people he worked with at the Invitational said that last year, the handshake just wasn’t quite as strong anymore.

The driver’s favorite story was one he heard from three different players. Like many stories about a mythological figure, the truth is fluid. The truth becomes what everyone else wants it to be. As Maxwell Scott says in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

A few years back Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ quarterback, was at a charity event. A kid went up to him and asked for an autograph and a picture. Roethlisberger said no, and shooed the kid away. Here’s where Arnold Palmer comes in.

Palmer found out about the incident and talked to Roethlisberger. “Why didn’t you take the picture?” Ben said he didn’t have time and didn’t feel up to it, and Palmer stopped him right there.

“There are plenty of times I didn’t feel up to it,” Palmer said. “But I always did. And that fan, he was my grandson.”

And then Palmer asked Roethlisberger to leave the event.


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