Mem­o­ries of Palmer at lo­cal golf club

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Pete Ban­nan pban­nan@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @pe­te­ban­nan on Twit­ter

The sports world was sad­dened to learn the death of golf­ing leg­end Arnold Palmer, who died Sun­day evening.

Palmer was well known to many Ch­ester County golfers for his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the early years of the PGA Se­nior Tour at Ch­ester Val­ley Golf Club in Malvern.

The tour­na­ment, orig­i­nally United Hos­pi­tals Se­nior Golf Cham­pi­onship and then the Bell At­lantic, was held at Ch­ester Val­ley from 1985 through 1997.

“It’s such an emo­tional day,” said Mary Ann Saleski, tour­na­ment direc­tor for all 13 years it was held at the Ch­ester Val­ley. “He was the best, such a great Penn­syl­va­nian. It was an amaz­ing time for golf at Ch­ester Val­ley.

It was the first year he was el­i­gi­ble (turn­ing 50) and it was our first year hold­ing the event.”

Saleski said Palmer and his first wife, Win­nie, were anx­ious to help with phil­an­thropic ef­forts.

Once Palmer com­mit­ted to the event, Saleski said, other play­ers fol­lowed.

“He was a proud Penn­syl­va­nian and was do­ing it for his home state,” she said.

Long­time Ch­ester Val­ley mem­ber, Wayne LeSage, who is re­search­ing the his­tory of the tour­na­ment at Ch­ester Val­ley, said Palmer played the course eight times - 1985, ’86, ’87, ’89 and ’90. In 1991 the event was held at White Manor while Ch­ester Val­ley was be­ing re­fur­bished, and Palmer re­turned in 1992, 1993, and 1994.

Palmer’s best fin­ish was a tie for third in 1985.

In the May 20, 1985 is­sues of the Daily Lo­cal News, it was re­ported Palmer fin­ished in a tie for third with Miller Bar­ber at 141, one stroke over par. Don Jan­uary won the $30,000 first prize with Al Bald­ing in sec­ond.

“He was re­ally close in 1992, he shot 69’s on the first two days, then had a ter­ri­ble Sun­day. Af­ter that he was get­ting older,” LeSage re­called Mon­day. “He did so much for the game. He loved the course, the fact that he came eight times to the same course was pretty im­pres­sive.”

LeSage, who grew up around the course, was a cad­die when he first saw Palmer.

“It was amaz­ing, he al­ways com­manded such a big­ger crowd,” he said. “That was the for­ma­tive mo­ments of the se­nior tour. He used to make so much ex­tra time when he was done with his round, he didn’t stop un­til he was fin­ished sign­ing au­to­graphs for ev­ery­one. He’d give you a wink and sign it. It was so dif­fer­ent from how other play­ers would re­act, they’d sign a few and move on.”

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHO­TOS

Above and at left, Arnold Palmer walks the fair­ways at Ch­ester Val­ley Golf Club dur­ing the Bell At­lantic Clas­sic. Palmer died Sun­day evening.

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