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 man 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, 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.”
A native of Alexandria, Minnesota, Tom Lehman began his career on the Nationwide Tour and then PGA TOUR after garnering All American honors as a member of the University of Minnesota golf team. His performance during the 1990’s propelled him to the upper echelon in professional golf, winning five PGA TOUR events including the 1996 British Open; four Nationwide Tour events; and two international victories. Among his many professional achievements, Lehman was a member of three Presidents Cup teams; two Ryder Cup teams – including 2006, when he served as Captain; the 1996 World Cup team; and two Dunhill Cup teams.
Beginning in 1996, Lehman used his experience on the PGA TOUR and his eye for design to collaborate on projects with many top golf course designers, including Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry, Arnold Palmer, the PGA TOUR Design Group and John Fought. While working with Fought, Lehman met Chris Brands, who had spent the previous 13 years collaborating with Fought. In 2003, Lehman worked with Brands to establish Lehman Design Group. Since that time, the company has designed a portfolio full of award-winning layouts including Washington National in Seattle, WA; Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Ghost Creek and Witch Hollow courses near Portland, OR; Arroyo Trabuco in Mission Viejo, CA; Somerby Golf Club in Byron, MN, site of the Nationwide Tour’s Rochester Area Charities Showdown at Somerby; and The Gallery Club in Tucson, AZ, co-designed with John Fought, host of the World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play Championship.
A longtime philanthropist, Lehman helped to create the Dayton’s Challenge (now the Marshall Field’s Challenge) benefiting the Lehman Family/Children’s Cancer Research Fund at the University of Minnesota – a fully endowed fund dedicated to finding a cure for childhood cancers. In recognition for his many charitable activities, Lehman was awarded the Byron Nelson Prize by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas at the 2007 EDS Byron Nelson Championship – awarded to a person or organization in the golf world who best exemplifies the ideals of “giving back” that Byron Nelson personified.