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Old trees lining the fairways at Bay Hill Golf Club

Arnold Palmer’s Impact on Golf Travel

September 26, 2016

Whether you called him “Arnie”, “Arnold” or “The King” or whether you ever met him personally, Arnold Palmer had a profound impact on everyone whose ever put a tee into the turf. He epitomized everything great about the game of golf. From his integrity and class in victory or defeat to his “go-for-broke” style, Palmer was golf’s greatest ambassador.

Palmer’s impact on every aspect of the popularity of golf is legendary. For those who love to travel and play golf, Palmer had an impact in large and small ways.

Here are some interesting ways Arnold Palmer helped propel the concept of golf travel:

Returning the British Open to prominence with Americans – Believe it or not, no American golfers played in the 1959 British Open at Muirfield. Palmer loved British Isles golf and he played in the 1960 Open and encouraged other American pros to make the long trip and play in the tournament. His influence and persuasiveness paid off and America’s biggest golf stars started showing up. Eventually, the British Open became must see television for American spectators who became increasingly enamored with links golf and some of the most legendary courses in the world. Not surprisingly, they wanted to play courses on the British Open rotation and other great layouts and they didn’t mind traveling overseas to do it. After all, if it was worth it to Arnie, it was worth it to them.

The Golf Channel – Palmer was one of the founders of The Golf Channel in Orlando, Florida. Many scoffed at the idea of a 24-hour channel devoted exclusively to golf, but it caught on because the experts couldn’t measure the passion most golfers have for the game. The Golf Channel brought the world into our living rooms by broadcasting European Tour events and other tournaments around the world. Seeing some of these fabulous courses whetted the appetite of travelers and encouraged them to travel and play in exotic locales around the world. Moreover, shows like “The Big Break”, which went on location to places like the Bahamas further encouraged golfers to travel. Finally, The Golf Channel regularly features golf travel experts like Matt Ginella, who extoll the virtues and benefits of golf travel.

Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Florida – Palmer was one of the forerunner’s of the modern day golf resort concept, which put an emphasis on great golf, lots of amenities and exceptional service. He spent his winters at Bay Hill, a residential/resort community in southwest Orlando, and took great pleasure at mingling with visiting golfers from around the world. He always wanted to make sure they enjoyed his golf courses, lodge and restaurant as much as he did.

Global golf course design – Palmer designed hundreds of golf courses around the world. He was instrumental in negotiating a deal to build the first golf course in China. People travel from around the world to play Palmer designs like Tralee Golf Club in Ireland, Turtle Bay Resort in Hawaii, Le Pavoniere Golf Club in Italy and Angel Park Golf Club in Las Vegas to name a few.

He made travel look fun, accessible and fashionable – One of Palmer’s most memorable and high-profile endorsements was with Hertz Rent-A-Car. In the commercials, Palmer always made traveling look fun and exciting. Palmer was a pilot for more than 50 years and set the stage for other golfers who started traveling on their own.

An Arnold Palmer, please – No matter where you travel in the world, you can order an “Arnold Palmer” and just about everybody will know you want Arnie’s favorite concoction, sweet tea and lemonade. In many ways, Palmer’s simple drink invention made the world seem smaller and friendlier just like Arnie did.