Wanted to re-post as we begin the first Masters since the King’s passing last Fall. May he be smiling and lining up birdie (and eagle) putts in heaven this weekend. Billy Payne gave a beautiful tribute before the official Masters’ opening this morning, and Arnie’s friends and competitors Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player shed a tear.
The King of Golf and arguably the King of celebrity endorsements and the founding father of sports marketing has headed off to the heavens.
There were few like him and there will be few like him in the foreseeable future. May this American hero rest in peace.
Arnold Palmer was more than a flamboyant golfer. He was a brand, and the first athletic superstar in business, and it stretched over eight decades. His net worth is estimated at $700 million. Arnie earned $7 million from playing golf.
What made him a great brand man and golfer? I believe it was these six assets:
- Authentic – Arnie was Americana as personified in this renowned Pennzoil ad about an old reliable tractor run on the oil. He was approachable with autographs, smiles and handshakes. Arnie was the “salt of the earth” son of a golf superintendent from Latrobe, PA. This so evident when he bought the Latrobe CC where he grew up learning the game and working on the course. His genuine spirit of generosity drove him to give his name to the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando where he inspired the hospital team with the simple legacy that “good” was never “good enough.” He enlisted his Army to help take on prostate cancer prevention when he was diagnosed in 1997.
- Thrilling – few things were more exciting than watching Arnie make his famous charge from back in the pack. He would hitch up his pants and try to tear the cover off the ball. His charisma fired up golf fans and a generation. In 1960, He won what has been called the “best damn US Open” with a vintage charge in the final round. At Cherry Hills near Denver, he drove the first green in the final round, erasing a seven-stroke deficit to win the title. Arnie was an accomplished pilot who in 1976 set a round-the-world speed record that still stands. Taking off from Denver in and heading east, Palmer circumnavigated the globe in 57 hours, 25 minutes and 42 seconds. He only needed a first name long before Michael, LeBron and Ali.
- Charming – he was humble, modest and driven. He cared about game and cared about others. He was golf’s first international ambassador and was credited with making the US Open cool for Americans to do. He was the leader of “Arnie’s Army,” a band of loyal fans who even Coke would envy. “All Arnold Daniel Palmer did was save golf,” Sports Illustrated wrote in 1994. I loved seeing him in the recent Xarelto commercials where keep up with stars NBA’s Chris Bosch, SNL’s Kevin Nealon and NASCAR’s Brian Vickers. He still had it. Enjoy this piece about he charmed the young reporter. Bob Greene.
- Competence – in his 52 years as a professional golfer, Arnie had 95 professional wins. He won on the PGA Tour a total of 62 times, the fifth most times by a golfer. And even well into his 80s, Palmer held his spot in the world of golf by always teeing off at the start of the Master’s Tournament. He won seven majors, including four Masters and two Open Championships. His own beverage, the Arnold Palmer, sold $200 million annually, 25% of Arizona Ice Tea sales. Later in life, Mr. Palmer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, only the fifth athlete to receive it.
- Savvy – smart enough to partner with legendary agent Mark McCormack and really launch sports marketing as a business and sharp enough to team with golf and broadcast experts to start The Golf Channel. Comcast which eventually bought The Golf Channel estimated its valued at $675 million. It was the first one-sport network. He built his Bay Hill Lodge and Country Club into a favorite destination for golf and home of the prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour.
- Successful – he designed golf courses, had retail stores and even a popular drink in his name and million. There are more than 400 Arnold Palmer leisurewear stores worldwide and Arnold Palmer Designs have played a role in development of 306 courses. He was ranked as the world’s third highest-paid retired athlete last year, with estimated earnings of $40 million. Only Michael Jordan and David Beckham brought in more,according to Forbes.
So what assets make your brand successful?
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