‘IT’LL BE THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK, AND I’LL THINK,
WHY AREN’T THESE KIDS IN SCHOOL?’
Ignoring the rules of personal space and taking turns. Shoving. Using outdoor voices in golf’s churchy setting. Inducing children to get signatures for them, making it impossible not to be reminded of Fagin and Oliver Twist; and now, profanely insulting one of the most popular sportsmen in the world.
But decorum ruled when AP went to the ropes, and “Please” and “Thank you” filled the air, in part because The King signed everything for anyone. An estimated three million autographs in his lifetime. Legibly: big A, big P, and the 10 attached little letters were even and distinct; it’s no surprise or coincidence that Sam Saunders, Arnie’s grandson, has the clearest signature on tour. At home in Latrobe, Pa., Palmer dutifully autographed items by the truckload, and returned to senders on his own dime. It cost him a fortune.
Palmer was dogmatic on the subject. As Peter Jacobsen recalled, Arnie would put down his glass of Ketel One on the rocks, twist of lemon, and instruct his young friend to always be nice. Don’t scribble your name, for God’s sake. Sign a golf ball if they want (which is a pain; try it). Don’t come off the 18th green mad; people don’t care if you just shot 60 or 80. And don’t disrespect the guy who is obviously going to sell your autograph.