by Jeff Skinner
Last night after the Golf Channel’s Live at The Masters signed off the much hyped “Arnie” took center stage. In case you’re a golf fan that happened to be living in a cave and haven’t seen the commercials promoting “Arnie” here’s the skinny.
“Arnie” is a three part series capturing the life and times of Arnold Palmer. Now, let’s put all the Golf Channel’s cards on the table here: Arnold Palmer is the original and largest investor in The Golf Channel. Arnie, the man, not the series, is the absolute main reason there is a Golf Channel. Quite frankly, Arnie is probably the reason golf is on television in the first place.
Arnold Palmer and television were a perfect match in the ‘60’s when he came to prominence and televised sports was in its infancy. So if you are looking for a 60 Minutes style, investigative report on Arnold Palmer go look somewhere else. This isn’t a documentary as much as it is a tribute to The King. That is what I expected and to be honest it is just what I wanted.
The New York Times television critic, Richard Sandomir wanted more of a documentary. All I can say is that Richard isn’t a golfer.
I watched the first episode last night, DVR’d it and will probably watch it again as I will the rest of the series. Now, I was no member of Arnie’s Army back in the day (I was much too young) but I have come to respect and admire Arnold and the life he led. I went into watching the show knowing it would be a tribute to the most beloved man in golf and sorry, Mr. Sandomir, I ate it up.
Two portions of the first hour stuck with me. Yes, we all know that Arnie tries to answer each fan letter he receives. And I had seen a great piece on his “barn” before. But he saves each of those letters? Wow.
That barn that seems to house every golf club, golf shoe and golf bag Arnie ever touched along with a million pieces of memorabilia has to be heaven on earth for any Palmer fan.
The other unforgettable story about Arnie was retold by former PGA Tour player and current Champions Tour player and CBS golf analyst Bobby Clampett. Clampett, a California kid, tells the story of how when he was a 12 year old kid he made it to Pebble Beach in the 70’s to watch The King. Due to traffic problems he had no ride home. So what does a 12 year old Arnold Palmer fan do when he needs a ride? He walks up to The King and asks for a ride home. True to Arnie’s image, he says, “Sure kid” and gave Clampett a lift home. Unbelievable.
Sure, it’s a puff piece. Sure, we will only hear the goodness of Arnie. Sure, it will be filled with sentiment after sentiment. Hey, he’s Arnold Palmer, The King and I’ll watch every minute, maybe two or three times.
The first episode airs again today at 11:00am and 5:00pm. The next two new episodes air tonight and tomorrow at 10:00pm.