Golf Channel’s primetime television event, Arnie, begins with the questions: “How do you tell a story of a life that’s larger than life? How do you find a way to put together all the memories, all the accomplishments, all the impact? And do what a story is supposed to do? And ensure it lasts forever? Someday – even decades – maybe centuries from now, they’ll hear the name Arnold Palmer and they’ll want to know everything.”
Arnie showcases how the golfing legend revolutionized and transcended the game to become one of the most beloved figures in sports history. Arnie, a three-night television event, will air on consecutive nights at 10 p.m. ET from Sunday, April 13, following Golf Channel’s Live From the Masters, through Tuesday, April 15.
Golf Channel spent the last year traveling with Palmer, collecting interviews from more than 100 people, sifting through hundreds of hours of archived film – including hours of Palmer family video that has never been seen before – and shooting in locations around the world to create television’s definitive story of the most influential man to ever pick up a golf club.
“Mr. Palmer is an American icon, but what makes him so special is that he is absolutely genuine, especially through his ability to truly connect with everyone he meets,” said Mike McCarley, president of Golf Channel. “To document the full impact of his life and legacy would be virtually impossible; however this project is an ambitious attempt to capture the influence he has in golf and sports as part of popular culture.”
Arnie spans Palmer’s entire life to the present, from his early childhood through his amateur and professional golf careers, his various off-the-course enterprises and the legacy he has left in his wake. Throughout this project, golf’s iconic legends, family, business partners, colorful personalities and two U.S. Presidents recount the great stories that created the cultural phenomenon around the man affectionately known as “The King.”
“… that’s the secret to life, you know, to have something to look forward to every day and every minute. And it’s the next shot he’s thinking about and that’s something we can all really remember about our lives is on the golf course. You’ve already made the ones you made, you can’t undo them, take the next shot, make it work, that’s the way Palmer made us feel.” – President Bill Clinton
Arnie was produced by 13-time Emmy Award winner and former NBC Sports feature producer Israel DeHerrera, whose work has been seen on broadcasts of Super Bowls, Olympics and golf’s major championships; and written by Peabody Award recipient and 18-time Emmy Award winner Aaron Cohen, associated with acclaimed sports documentaries for HBO, as well as for NBC, ESPN, NFL and MLB. Additionally, five-time Emmy Award winner Mason Seay is associate producer. Seay’s late father, Ed, was Palmer’s course design business partner for more than 30 years.
“Instead of just telling an incredible story, we wanted to capture special moments to showcase what Mr. Palmer has meant to the game of golf and why he has been so beloved for more than 60 years,” DeHerrera said.
The three parts of Arnie feature:
- “Arnie & His Army” – Sunday, April 13 at 10 p.m. ET following Live From the Masters – This first episode recalls the people who influenced Palmer and instilled the values of integrity and human kindness that helped make him the man he has become both on and off the golf course, with special tribute to his parents Deacon and Doris. This retrospective ranges from stories of Deacon teaching him how to grip a golf club to his early days on the PGA TOUR with his first wife, Winnie, as they raised a family together to those who helped build Palmer into a worldwide brand. And this brand was built around a man who never fails to acknowledge his fans or sign an autograph, an autograph famed for always being legible. Palmer believes if you are going to take the time to sign, make it right, which is a philosophy he has ingrained in other sports superstars. The first hour also delves into Palmer’s influence on sports marketing. Before Michael Jordan and Nike there was Arnold on his tractor touting the benefits of Pennzoil motor oil. He was the first athlete who had any kind of significant influence on popular culture, an influence that continues to this day. In fact, his range of influence has been unrivaled – evidenced in part by the fact that he could perform as a spokesperson for Pennzoil while, concurrently, serving as an ambassador for the luxury Rolex brand.
“The first time I saw Arnold Palmer was at the Ohio Amateur in 1955 and it was pouring rain and I looked outside and there was this guy out on the range hitting these screaming long irons, and I asked the pro, ‘Who is that?’ and he said ‘That’s Arnold Palmer.’ And I said, ‘Oh, that’s Arnold Palmer.’” – Jack Nicklaus
- “Arnie & His Majors” – Monday, April 14 at 10 p.m. ET – The second episode remembers Palmer’s competitive career, his go-for-broke style and his ups and downs at golf’s major championships. Covered are his amateur victories, including the U.S. Amateur in 1954, which he calls his most important win ever; his four Masters titles in a span of only seven years; the thrills of his U.S. Open victories and how winning the Open Championship in 1961 at Royal Birkdale changed that major championship forever in the minds of American players. Also explored is Palmer’s challenging history with the PGA Championship – the only major he never won.
“Some people have forgotten about his career a little bit, and they just know he’s ‘The King,” they don’t realize, that this guy was amazing, he played like a Seve Ballesteros, Lanny Wadkins, myself, and Phil Mickelson all wrapped up into one. There wasn’t a flag stick he wouldn’t go at; there wasn’t a drive he didn’t try to squeeze out there in a tight area. My dad told me if you want to be the best, you’ve got to be willing to do what other guys aren’t willing to do, and that was Arnold Palmer.” – Johnny Miller
- “Arnie & His Legacy” – Tuesday, April 15 at 10 p.m. ET – The concluding hour delves into the legacy of Arnold Palmer and his influence on popular culture, which stretches way beyond the links. Despite his last win on the PGA TOUR coming 40 years ago, according to “The Golf Digest 50” money list, Arnold Palmer had his best-year ever in earnings in 2013 and was the third-highest earner off of the golf course, behind only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. This placed Palmer second behind Michael Jordan on Forbes’ list of highest-paid retired athletes in 2013. The Arnold Palmer brand has launched a wide range of businesses, including a lifestyle designer label in the Asian marketplace with more than 400 retail outlets, a self-titled iced tea-lemonade beverage, golf course design and management firms, and even a cable television network by co-founding Golf Channel nearly 20 years ago. And his long-standing relevance in popular culture continues to have an impact, evident by the fact that he was just as likely to have his photo taken with Hollywood starlet Esther Williams as a 17-year-old in 1947 as he was with supermodel Kate Upton as an 83-year-old in 2013. He has always had the ear of golfing U.S. Presidents starting with his special friendship with President Dwight Eisenhower and the admiration of Hollywood icons like Bob Hope and Johnny Carson. And Palmer has reached the echelons of the rich and famous without compromising his core values throughout his life, which are on display with his many charitable endeavors that have raised millions of dollars for charities, including the world-renowned Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando and hosting the PGA TOUR’s Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at his Bay Hill Golf Club and Lodge.