Art Spander – Thanks to Arnold Palmer


Art Spander
Thanks to Arnold Palmer for 50 Masters

April 10, 2004

AUGUSTA, Ga.__Thanks, Arnie. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for the elegance, the friendliness, the class. Thanks for taking golf out of the country clubs and bringing it to the people. Thanks for acting like a gentleman even in the most difficult of times.
Thanks for allowing us to share your final round at the Masters on Friday, for letting us watch you walk the fairways a final time, for permitting us to hear the cheers and as, you came up the hill on 18, see the tears.
Thanks, Arnold Palmer, for never losing your spirit or your dedication or, even though you won four Masters and three other majors, and even though for a while you were the most recognizable sportsman in America, never losing your humility.
Thanks for Never forgetting where you came from, the steel country of Western Pennsylvania, and the way you were raised by a father who was quick with criticism and slow with praise.
Thanks for telling us you were a “”sentimental old slob,” not that we needed affirmation. We’d seen you cry before, in your last round of a U.S. Open, your last round of a British Open. But we knew how much this last round at Augusta National meant, to you and to us.
Thanks for understanding golf is only a game, and there are going to be bad days and good days and you don’t have to take out your disappointment on the fans or the media.
Thanks for parring the 15th, 16th and 17th holes on Friday, and almost parring the 18th and ripping away the years so that for a few moments we almost thought__almost__it was 1967 once again.
Thanks for living up to the responsibility so few athletes want to accept, never thinking you were more important than anyone with whom you came in contact.
Thanks for hanging in there for 50 years, even though, as Friday, you looked your age, 74, and shot 84 on a course that been lengthened and toughened so much the last few of the golfing legends even have a chance to get close to par.
Thanks for coming into the press room Friday and thanking the spectators and the media and making everyone with whom you’ve ever been associated feel they’ve been a part of your golf and your life, because in truth that’s what we have been.
Thanks for giving us a good laugh when on the 13th hole you tried to take a short cut from the woods through Raes Creek, nearly stepped on a snake and darted frantically away. Maybe you’ve lost a few yards off the tee but it was obvious you haven’t lost a step.
Thanks for living up to the expectations, for shaking every hand, signing every autograph no matter how long it took. Thanks for bringing your two daughters and your seven grandchildren to your 50th Masters and then telling us that this was the first time. Thanks for having your grandson, Sam Saunders, 16, be your caddy.
Thanks for being regal without being pompous. We called you The King, a nickname bestowed on only three others, Elvis, Richard Petty and the old 49er running back Hugh McElhanney, but you never were an elitist.
Thanks for lifting the visor from your silver hair and waving it toward every person in the galleries and toward every television viewer. Thanks for turning this golden afternoon that will stay in our minds, and hearts, perhaps forever.
Thanks for having such an impression on other golfers that Lanny Wadkins would say on CBS-TV, “”My generation should get down on its knees for what Arnold Palmer has brought to the game, not just in money but the excitement that made golf popular. No other sport lets you play with your heroes.
Thanks for battling on at Augusta, even though you didn’t make a cut since 1983. Thanks for swallowing your pride and showing up to please the fans who never cared what you shot, just that you were in the field. “”I’m through, I’ve had it, I’m done, cooked, washed up, finished,” you told us Friday, but you don’t believe it, and either do we.”
Thanks for hitching up your pants and pulling up your sleeves and slashing away with that familiar swing which made us gasp and shout, no matter where the ball ended up. Thanks for providing the Augusta crowds back in the ’60s and ’70s the reason to shout “”Hoo-ha, Arnie,” as you made those charges and the crowds of ’04 the reason to give you standing ovations.
Thanks for the joy and the pain, for eagles and double bogeys, for the come-from-behind wins in 1958, ’60 and ’62 and the come-from-ahead loss in 1961. As your old pal Bob Hope used to sing, “”You may have been a headache, but you never were a bore.”
Thanks, Arnie. It’s been wonderful.