Arnold Palmer, pride of Wake Forest
3 min read
Palmer was born in Latrobe, Penn. Sept. 10, 1929. He attended Wake Forest College back when it was in Wake Forest. The college moved to Winston-Salem in 1956. Palmer played for Wake Forest’s golf team on a scholarship in 1947. Before Palmer arrived, Wake Forest’s men’s golf team was known as one of the worst teams in the Southern Conference. During his collegiate career at Wake Forest, Palmer led the Deacons to three straight Southern Conference titles. Within that same time, Palmer also won the NCAA national championship in 1949, which was the college’s first individual national championship in school history. Palmer repeated as the individual medalist the next year. “No alumnus ever has had a bigger impact on Wake Forest University as an ambassador, role model, benefactor and friend than Arnold Palmer,” said Wake Forest University President Nathan O. Hatch. “Julie and I will always remember his kindness, his gracious hospitality, his love for golf and its culture of respect and fair play — as well as his love for Wake Forest. He was a true gentleman.” Palmer made an impact on the local community through the scholarship fund he established to honor his friend and college golf teammate Buddy Worsham. Palmer’s former college roommate died in a single-car accident while returning from a dance in Durham on N.C. 98 in 1950. Worsham was the one who recruited Palmer to join him at Wake Forest. Palmer noted that Worsham was “the reason I went to Wake Forest.” Following the accident, Palmer left school and returned home to Latrobe. He eventually returned to finish his fall semester before the Christmas break. Then in January, Palmer enlisted in the United States Coast Guard, where he served for three years. After returning from his military service, Palmer won the 1954 U.S. Amateur Championship. That kick-started his professional golf career as he joined the PGA tour in 1955. Palmer won 95 golf tournaments in his professional career. He won the U.S. Open in 1960 and the British Open in 1961 and 1962. Palmer is also a four-time winner of the Masters. Palmer made history when he became the first person to make $1 million playing golf. Palmer returned to the town of Wake Forest for a number of commemorations, as well as to visit longtime friends he made while in college. In the fall of 2003, Palmer revisited the town of Wake Forest for the dedication of the Arnold Palmer Sports Collection at what is now known as the Wake Forest Historical Museum located at 450 N Main St. Although Palmer’s time at Wake Forest was short, he helped put the college’s men’s golf team on the national map and elevated them to heights that were never reached before.