Arnold Palmer’s fall from grace is a cautionary tale about golf’s emotional safety net

There’s no surprise Arnold Palmer passed away at 87, nor that his younger brother Bill would break an often calcified golf barrier by becoming the first player to record a hole-in-one at Chambers Bay as an amateur.

Palmer was also highly-regarded as a young pro who made significant strides in his career as a player, though his relationship with Augusta National between then and now isn’t as well-documented.

Here’s a story we saw on Wednesday regarding the state of Palmer’s game, via Jamie Powell of Golf Digest.

“It’s been a long time,” Palmer said. “I had knee surgery the first two years after I got to the PGA Tour, after I was 26. So it’s been a while. I’ve played two rounds of golf in the last three years. “I’m happy to be out here. I thought there was no way I could ever practice again after all the ACL surgery. But I can play now, and it’s something that has been a long time coming.” [….] It was still a pretty good round for an 85-year-old, but he didn’t get any hero for it. There’s no hesitancy there, no worry that his name won’t be remembered after his death. [….]”Is Arnold Palmer the best player in history? Absolutely.” …. Palmer spent much of his career being criticized, for his lack of athletic acrobatics, for his lack of skill at the back of the green and for his willingness to get even the course with gutsy shots that were verboten for most other golfers. Now there are many who are happy to see him out here making an old-fashioned swing and waving that famous fist pump goodbye, at least a little bit.

And yes, he’s been down this road before. We saw some of this back in 2015, when he spent three consecutive weeks in isolation after having an “emotional reaction” to an open-air staircase for visiting players at the BMW Championship at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Ill.

He did return to play at the 2015 U.S. Open, where he won his second green jacket.

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