TPC River’s Bend Architect: Arnold Palmer
The name Arnold Palmer has become synonymous with the game of golf. Winner of the Donald Ross Award from the American Society of Golf Course Architects for his significant contributions to the game, Palmer was the first individual in the modern era to be both a tournament player and golf course architect.
During a historic career spanning more than 50 years, Arnold Palmer amassed 92 professional championships, including four Masters championships, two British Opens, the U.S. Open and 10 PGA TOUR Champions victories; played on six Ryder Cup teams; and won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average four times. His most prolific years were 1960-1963, when he won 29 PGA TOUR events in four seasons – earning him numerous accolades including “Sportsman of the Year” from Sports Illustrated and the coveted Hickok Athlete of the Year Award in 1960, as well as “Athlete of the Decade” from Associated Press . In 1967, he became the first player to reach $1 million in career earnings on the PGA TOUR.
On his way to becoming one of the greatest golfers of all time, “The King” – who competed in the Masters tournament an unprecedented 50 consecutive times – built up a wide fan base, often referred to as “Arnie’s Army.” In addition to being the recipient of virtually every national golf award ever bestowed, Palmer is credited with single-handedly helping to bring golf out of the elite country clubs and into the consciousness of mainstream America – leaving an indelible mark on the game of golf as well as an extraordinary legacy for future generations.
In 1971, while remaining a threat in professional golf, Palmer leveraged his knowledge and experience playing many of the best golf courses in the world to form Arnold Palmer Design Company, then known as Palmer Course Design, with his longtime friend, Ed Seay. Since that time, Arnold Palmer Design Company has created more than 300 of the world’s most eminent golf layouts including Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Florida; The Tradition Club in La Quinta, California; Ireland’s K Club – the host to the 2006 Ryder Cup; and Spring Island in Okatie, South Carolina, in addition to modifications to Bay Hill Club and Lodge, home of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Laurel Valley in Pennsylvania, which was recently ranked one of the top 50 golf courses in the country.
Palmer is intimately involved with every project, applying a design philosophy that aims to “utilize the natural environment with a light-handed approach to design great golf courses,” and to “maintain an ecologically sound environment that brings tradition and an extraordinary experience to the game, connecting golfers to the land.”