The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

June 15, 2014

HERTZEL COLUMN: Wise words of Arnold Palmer ring true on Father’s Day

MORGANTOWN — The U.S. Open was playing out its final holes on Sunday, which was Father’s Day, when a post from a friend on Facebook a couple of weeks back came back into mind.

It had been posted by a writing acquaintance out of Los Angeles, John Strege, himself a one-time baseball writer who had evolved into someone who learned they don’t play golf once the sun goes down and you don’t have to catch a midnight flight out of LAX to fly to Pittsburgh for a game the next day after losing three hours out of your life to the time change.

Strege offered an item from the Golf Magazine that was extraordinary not only in its subject matter, but in which the professional golfer authored it.

First we will let you read the letter, dated on May 23 of this year:

Dear Nate:

I understand from your brother, Adam, that you are quite a golfer and a great younger brother. I hear you’ve won several tournaments, including the Massachusetts Division II Tournament. Congratulations!

As you graduate from High School and continue on to Stonehill College, I think you will find life to be enjoyable and fulfilling if you follow this advice:

• Courtesy and respect are timeless principles, as well as good manners.

• Knowing when to speak is just as important as knowing what to say.

• Know how to win by following the rules.

• Know the importance of when and how to say thank you.

• Never underestimate the importance of a good education.

Good luck in college and study hard.


Certainly, this is good advice coming from anyone.

But the person who took the time to author this letter is someone you may have heard of.

It was signed:

Sincerely,

Arnold Palmer


One can only imagine the look upon Nate’s face upon receiving the letter, probably unaware that his brother, Adam, had written to the golfing legend that is Arnold Palmer.

But to get a response and one at such a high level as the response Palmer wrote?

This was hardly your typical celebrity response. In fact, it wasn’t even a response offering him advice on his golf game. It was a well thought out life lesson, the kind of lesson every kid should be given as he leaves home and heads for college.

What athlete do you know that would go to this trouble, that would personally answer such a letter?

That is what makes Arnold Palmer different and always has. Recently The Golf Channel carried a biographical special on Palmer, and what may have made the biggest impression on me was that it showed a warehouse where he has kept every piece of correspondence that he has received over the years … no make that decades, for the man is 84 and has been in the spotlight the world over since the 1950s.

It was noted that Palmer responded to all who sent objects to be autographed, even those which did not come with a return envelope and postage. It was estimated that he spent more than $100,000 in making such responses.

Time, apparently, has not changed Palmer’s values in any regard. As successful as he was as an athlete, as successful as he was as a businessman, creating the market for athlete endorsements, as much an ambassador as he became around the world, he kept the same values his father had given him as he grew up not 100 miles from here.

And you know, reading this letter on Father’s Day, that he had to also have been a wonderful father to his two daughters and grandfather to their children.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

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