Book Review: Arnold Palmer Homespun Stories of The King

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, May 12th, 2018


There have been a quite a number of books written about the late, great golf legend Arnold Palmer over the decades. However, I
think you would be hard pressed to find a better book on Arnold Palmer that gives you a more insightful understanding of the man and where he
came from than this one.
Author Chris Rodell moved to Palmer’s hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2002 and actually became a neighbor of his. He began
interviewing over 200 local residences over the next few years asking
each of them one simple request: “Please tell me your best Arnold
Palmer story.”
You can tell that writing this book was a real labor of love for
Rodell. Early on in the book I learned how he endeared himself to the
golfing legend by delivering copies of his book, Amazing But True Golf
Facts, to Palmer’s office during the Christmas holidays. This was a
page-a-day calendar… one for Palmer and one for his longtime
personal assistant Doc Griffin.
It turns out Palmer was a big fan of these unique and fascinating
facts and trivia related to the game. Griffin would tell Rodell how
much Palmer appreciated the book, but it wasn’t until 2006, while
visiting Palmer in his office for an interview, that he saw his page-a
day calendar square in the middle of Palmer’s desk. Rodell wrote that
he was floored to learn that Palmer was such a golf nut as he devoured
all these stats and trivia surrounding the game. Palmer would tell
people all the time about something he read in those daily pages.
There are a lot of poignant moments scattered throughout the
book showcasing Palmer’s willingness to go the extra mile to help
people even if he barely knew them.
This book resonated with me on many levels as I came to admire
Arnold Palmer even more than I thought I could because of the way he
treated people and his devotion to doing the right thing to assist
people in need.
I met Arnold Palmer on a few occasions and once I was fortunate
to play golf with him at his Bay Hill club in the early 1980’s. I was
always a fan, even before I took up the game. He had a way of making
you feel special and author Rodell captured that Palmer charisma in
his book.
There are so many great stories from people talking about
Arnold’s generosity especially when it involved children. I
particularly enjoyed the story involving Palmer’s dentist that’s in
the chapter Random Acts of Palmer.
Chapter 9 had Tom Ridge, the former Director of Homeland Security
following the September 11th attacks, talking about his relationship
with Palmer and the town of Latrobe. He is quoted in the book talking
about Latrobe saying,
“To me, Latrobe is one of those great central Pennsylvania
Norman Rockwell towns.” Ridge added, “We need to find a way to build
in his legacy, and Latrobe must be the epicenter.”
In Chapter 13 which is titled The Palmer Timeline I liked how the
author chronicled important dates throughout Palmer’s amazing career
starting in January and running all the way to December 31st. Each
month, and most days in that month, are highlighted with achievements
the legend accomplished and the year that he did it.
This book was such an enjoyable read that I went back after
finishing to re-read some chapters and excerpts that really stood out
to me.
There’s a great line in the book that really caught my eye. Rodell wrote,
“Arnold Palmer, the drink is one part lemonade, three parts
unsweetened tea. Arnold Palmer, the person? To me, he was one part
champagne, three parts beer. In that way, he was much like his
After reading this book it made me want to schedule a trip to
this western Pennsylvania so I could tour the town Palmer called home
and visit watering holes he frequented like the Tin Lizzy. I can’t
recommend a book any higher than this one because it has captures the
essence of the man and the surroundings that he grew up in that had a
major influence in shaping his life values.
If you were a fan of Palmer’s this book is a must for your
collection. If you have a golfer in your family this book would make
an ideal gift.
Some great photos are sprinkled throughout the book. Another
added bonus is Palmer’s longtime friend and competitor nine-time major
champion Gary Player wrote a touching foreword.
Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of The King is published by
Triumph books and is 240 pages and it’s available in both paperback
and Kindle.

Tom Ward can be contacted at


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