An insider chronicles the career of the great golfer.
Veteran sports reporter Callahan (His Father’s Son: Earl and Tiger Woods, 2010, etc.) has wanted to write a book like this for a long time. He’s a die-hard Arnold Palmer (1929-2016) fan and has tremendous admiration for Palmer’s “considerate heart.” He describes his subject as “equal parts humble and proud…equal parts commoner and king.” He interviewed Palmer many times and has had countless conversations with players about him. Callahan begins in 1960 because “Palmer didn’t formally become Palmer until the 1960 U.S. Open,” which he won in dramatic fashion. He won eight more times that year, including the Masters. The author traces Palmer’s career chronologically by key years. “1929” briefly covers his early years and the immense influence his father had on him and his game. He discusses Palmer’s amateur wins in chapters “1950” and “1954.” Then came “1955” and his first professional win, the Canadian Open. It was followed by 61 more PGA wins and countless others. Callahan goes into great detail describing key shots and the clubs used and pressure-filled shots he had to pull off to win a tournament. Along the way, he provides fascinating miniprofiles of lesser-known players—e.g., Don Cherry and Tommy Bolt—and discusses the competitive “vinegar” that often spilled out between Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Callahan’s lively and brisk writing style makes for an eminently readable book jam-packed with anecdotes and stories golfers will love—as well as nice tidbits, like how players used to pool purses among themselves, a “common but secret practice then.” Callahan provides a special section of personal comments from a wide variety of people who knew and loved Palmer, as well as some 80 pages of lists—tournaments and matches won, scores, earnings, statues and even streets named after Palmer.
An enjoyable book about golf for golfers who play the game and enjoy reading about its history.