An homage to Arnold Palmer’s well-known ‘driver off the deck’ at Bay Hill

A 74-year-old struggling to interrupt 80 shouldn’t be precisely the best stakes second in PGA Tour historical past, however then Arnold Palmer took driver off the deck and struck one of many Tour’s most memorable photographs.

By Brendan Porath

Is it odd for considered one of your favourite photographs in PGA Tour historical past to return by the hands of a participant attempting to interrupt 80 simply minutes earlier than he misses the minimize on a Friday afternoon in March? That’s simplifying the circumstances, in fact, however Arnold Palmer’s shot on the 18th gap of the 2004 Arnold Palmer Invitational is seared into reminiscence. I didn’t get to observe Palmer play golf in his prime, so this what I’m caught with largely — highlights from that prime and moments from the top of his profession. I’m glad I bought the latter, no less than, and annually the PGA Tour makes its annual cease at Bay Hill is an event to re-heat this spotlight.

I’ve watched it a dozen occasions once more this week. Right here it’s, adopted by a couple of phrases about why I discover it so charming and can by no means flip down the possibility to observe it yet one more time when it’s put in entrance of me. Let’s go to the archives:

  • Arnold Palmer’s final swing in his personal match was a driver off the deck. There is no such thing as a higher approach to exit.
  • It’s an amazing shot! Take away the 74-year-old legend holding the membership. Think about some younger participant this week hitting a low burner round a hazard to take the slope of the inexperienced for a birdie putt. It could be erotic, generate a spherical of exclamatory tweets, and may be the spotlight of the week. The shot, by itself, is value drooling over eternally earlier than we get to the context of who hit it and when.
  • The Polish poet Stanisław Jerzy Lec famously wrote, “Youth is a present of nature however age is a murals.” An older Arnold Palmer in a four-button polo is a murals. No man ever seemed higher within the four-button, and Palmer arguably seemed his finest in it when he was seasoned. That’s what he usually wore in public on the golf course and it did nothing to dispel the notion that he was one of many smoothest individuals to ever stroll the earth, prior to now when he was youthful and the current at a sophisticated age. Others would look dopey, or simply plain outdated, with a placket that glimpses the navel. He’s the uncommon exception makes you wish to commerce years for wanting that cool and care-free in outdated age.
  • The enjoyment is undiluted on his face after the shot settles and he begins strolling along with his caddie, his grandson Sam Saunders. His grin makes you begin grinning. I think about that is the face a financial institution robber makes to a co-conspirator within the getaway automotive when the moment risks have subsided and so they suppose they’ve pulled it off.
  • On the 2015 Masters, there was phrase that Palmer was having shoulder issues and won’t hit the ceremonial tee shot alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Participant. When Golf Channel’s Steve Sands requested him if he’d be there and really make a swing, an indignant Palmer responded “You’re rattling proper I’m.” I’ve to think about there was an identical indignation if his caddie steered some other play. And I wish to suppose no different play was even proposed.
  • Palmer is mythologized as this aggressive gambler, who would strive any shot from any spot. That possibly misplaced him championships he ought to have on the resume. The resume is only a piece of paper with a tally. Generally the images matter extra and driver off the deck, as a substitute of a pair safer, shorter photographs across the water and as much as the inexperienced, was the congruous play for Palmer to complete his profession at Bay Hill. It nonetheless would have been the suitable play if it went within the water or completed nowhere close to the inexperienced.
  • A 74-year-old shot 88-79 to overlook the minimize by miles however nobody remembers the scores. They rightly bear in mind the final shot. One of many best issues about golf is that you simply — and you aren’t Arnold Palmer with 4 inexperienced jackets within the closet — can play poorly or beneath what you count on of your self and have one shot or second that sticks with you, far past the rating on paper. One pured shot amidst a horrible quantity can nonetheless have you ever strolling into the clubhouse joyful as a pig in shit. Palmer clearly had nothing to show on a golf course and didn’t want this shot to go nicely. But it surely’s illustrative of the micro moments in golf that preserve you coming again.
  • This isn’t some authentic thought, however only a reminder that the moments that defy the expectations are at all times among the many finest in sports activities. The Cavs getting back from 3-1 on a 73-win Warriors workforce is extra memorable than some drab, predictable Kevin Durant title. Vince Carter is 42 years outdated and nonetheless dunking in NBA video games. These dunks are inferior to his dunks in his 20s. However the truth he’s nonetheless doing it’s extra vital than simply one other tomahawk from a present 20-something within the league. A 74-year-old Arnold Palmer shouldn’t be capable of put it pin-high from 230 yards out with water throughout the inexperienced. However he tried and succeeded and now we’ve this spotlight eternally.

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