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June 3, 2008

Rand Jerris

Arnold Palmer

Jim Vernon

CHRIS WIGHTMAN: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the long-awaited day for us here at the United States Golf Association as we're excited to reopen the USGA Museum, featuring the new Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History.
My name is Chris Wightman. I'm the managing director of communications here at the USGA. I'm pleased to be hosting you here today, a wonderful day here at Far Hills.
I'd like to welcome you, the members of the media. I'd like to thank you for your support for the lead-up to this event and hopefully the coverage coming afterwards. Really appreciate it. You folks have been great.
I'd also like to welcome our speakers on today's panel. Joining us we have Dr. Rand Jerris, director of museum and archives. Many of you know, over the last three years especially, he's put a lot of his heart and soul into what you've seen. We're really, really excited to have him here.
Joining and is Mr. Jim Vernon, president of the executive committee. Jim is just back from the Curtis Cup at St. Andrews where he had a tremendous experience taking part in that event. That was something that was very special. He'll kickoff in a second with a few words.
Finally, I don't think our last guest needs an introduction. I'll let the presenters at the ceremony this afternoon do the proper introductions. I'm very happy to have Mr. Arnold Palmer here as well.
Now Jim Vernon would like to kick off the conference with just a few opening remarks.
JIM VERNON: Thank you very much, Chris. I will make it short.
I want to thank you all for coming out to Far Hills on what is obviously a very special day for the United States Golf Association. We are proud to say that the USGA Museum, featuring the new Arnold Palmer Center For Golf History, is the world's premiere institution for the study and education of golf history.
It is America's first and oldest sports museum. I read this morning that one of you wrote that we are trying to be the Cooperstown of golf. Given the fact that we were first, we prefer to think that Cooperstown is trying to be the Far Hills of baseball. But it is the preeminent place for golf enthusiasts and visitors of all ages. We look forward to welcoming many people to this museum.
With today's reopening, after our $20 million renovation and expansion of the museum, we hope the museum will offer greater understanding of golf's cultural significance, its traditions, its values. I hope many of you will tour the museum and get as much out of it as I have in my first tour through.
As Chris noted, we are very proud to have Arnold Palmer here. We are very proud that his name is on this center.
ARNOLD PALMER: Thank you. It's great to be here. I toured the museum and was very impressed with what has happened there. Of course, I guess there's so many assets out of it that I got a kick out of. I could go to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones. There's so many things there that had an influence on my life, particularly when I was a young man.
The USGA was a major factor in my life, and one that I just had a great deal of respect for, the people that were involved that were operating that little program in there, along with the people that were the various officers of the USGA through the years.
I can't thank them enough for the compliment they've given me, and certainly the opportunity to be here today and to have a part in what's going on is something that I value very highly.
CHRIS WIGHTMAN: We'll take questions at this point.

Q. Mr. Palmer, your impression of the new painting that was done? Is that the first time you had seen it completed?
ARNOLD PALMER: No, it's not the first time. I have known Jim Chase actually through communications without ever seeing him or the work that he has done, but knew that he was doing it through telephone conversation. I couldn't imagine what it was going to be like until I saw it about two or three years ago. It was absolutely an astonishing piece of work. 14 years of working to do that. The patience and diligence that he has shown by doing that is unbelievable.
I don't know how many of you looked at that work that he's done, but you should take a look at it. Imagine working on something like that for 14 years over a golf pro. Pretty astonishing work.

Q. Rand, are there any plans, when you talk about the new museum and library, to promote an understanding of the game, any plans for institutional ties for research, supportive grants, conferences? Any sort of plans there?
RAND JERRIS: We started a publishing program with National Geographic a couple years ago. We've done two books with them now. We really look forward to continuing that relationship with them to develop a regular publishing program, scholarship on the history of the game.
We're also exploring, and hoping to launch this next year in 2009, having an annual conference where papers could be presented about the history of the game.
So I think we're looking at a number of opportunities to reach out, to really more actively promote scholarship and interest, whether it's through the new research center, which is very prominently positioned in the new building. We're really inviting people to come in and use the assets, or through the website. We're digitizing, at a rate of 25,000 pages a year, early periodicals and books for the library. We'll accelerate that digitization so we can take the research collections and make them available to scholars and researchers around the world.

Q. Mr. Palmer, when you looked at the new exhibits, saw the stories of American golf told through the people who drove them, the champions, what memories most quickly sprung to your mind of the accomplishments of your prime?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, that was kind of what I was referring to a little earlier. I suppose one of the things that is very prominent in my mind right now is the fact that the British Open is at Birkdale this year. Seeing Walter Hagen and some of the slogans he has said over his life, the fact that I won the Open at Birkdale, that was a very fond reminder to me because the first phone call I had after I won the Open at Birkdale was from Walter Hagen. And the fact that I was a poll bearer in his funeral, not many people know that. From time to time through the years I talked to him on the phone. I saw him occasionally - not a lot. But I suppose one of the surprises, again, was that he expressed an interest in having me as a poll bearer in his funeral.
Seeing Ike, some of my really good friends that are up in that hall, is something that's pretty exciting for me. Certainly I'm thrilled to have an opportunity to see it and to have my name on it.

Q. Mr. Palmer, can you update us a bit on your status with the prostate cancer foundation that you are involved in helping to support?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, as you know, I'm pretty involved with cancer research, prostate cancer particularly. Of course, I suppose you could say I'm pretty involved in the research, the continuing research, of prostate cancer.
I work with people at the Mayo Clinic, various cancer organizations around the country. Of course, one of the things that's probably most prominent and most noted is the fact that I do encourage people, men particularly, to get examinations. With all the research and things that are going on, they're finding some wonderful things that will help cure cancer. But the first and most noted thing is early discovery of cancer. That for the moment is still the biggest thing, biggest cure I suppose, you could find for cancer. I work pretty hard in that department.

Q. Mr. Palmer, when the typical visitor goes through the Arnold Palmer room, spends a few minutes looking at all the exhibits, what would you like them to come away with from their visit?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I suppose the thing that is most important to me is the fact that I have been involved in golf, with the USGA, for so many years. I think about the Open, the various championships that they have done, the people who have been working with the USGA through all these years.
I'm reminded of Oakmont Country Club, which I have been a member of for many years, have spent many tournaments at Oakmont. I think about that. I think of people like Fred Brand, who was a great guy, a great partner in the USGA. Those things are things that, in my youth, were very, very important.
Of course, since I'm on that subject of Oakmont, I started playing Oakmont when there wasn't any trees there (laughter). I grew up and Oakmont grew up, grew a lot of trees. I'm still around to see no trees again. I think that's a major thing (laughter).

Q. How gratifying is it to have your name on a museum while you can still enjoy it and still come in and see it?
ARNOLD PALMER: See it (laughter).
Well, of course, the first time, when I was asked if I would go along with this room and the idea, I was very flattered. Fred Ridley was the president at the time and I was extremely flattered. Now to be here and see this in reality is one of the great thrills of my life.
To think that a man, a professor of college, took 14 years to do what Jim Chase did with that sculpture that he has done, it's unbelievable. This is a major championship for me.

Q. Most athletes, particularly when they're young, have no idea of legacy. They're not thinking of how they will be remembered. When did you in your career begin thinking about how you were going to be remembered?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, it's difficult for me to answer. As I've heard said by other people before me, the game of golf has been has just been an unbelievable experience and life for me. I just hope that when I leave, I leave it better than I found it.

Q. Rand, do you have any Indiana Jones stories about acquiring the artifacts? Any one piece that took a lot of time to get, your proud to have it here?
RAND JERRIS: I think one of the things I'm really excited about is the Francis Ouimet irons on display in the first gallery. We have had a relationship with the previous owners for about 30 years. Back in the 1980s they had contacted Janet Seagle, who was our first curator. She was my mentor. I was going through the files about two years ago and found a letter from these owners to Janet saying, We want you to know we have the irons of Francis Ouimet used to win the 1913 U.S. Open. I Googled them, found them on the Internet. They still lived in the same house in the same town in Connecticut. Reached out, started a conversation with them. It took about a year of and a half before we were able to negotiate a deal to acquire the irons for the collection.
There's great pieces out there. Sometimes it does, it just takes 25, 30 years of a relationship with owners to get them comfortable with what you're doing.
Having the Palmer Center, having Arnold's name on this wonderful building, really helped them to understand we were doing something significant here and encouraged them to go ahead and agree to turn them over to us.

Q. Arnold, anything left in the garage or attic that you think should belong here?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I think there are a lot of things in Latrobe. My family calls me a pack rat. I think before it's all said and done, as you say, 30 years, I don't know how long I'm going to hang around, but I'm going to try to hang around a while. But when I go, there will be a lot of stuff come here, I have a feeling.

Q. Arnold, one of the cases in there celebrates your longevity in the game. I know you're very proud of that. How did you go so long without developing any serious injuries? Tiger's knee is in the news now, for instance.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I can't say that I didn't have some injuries. I had what I thought was a hip problem. It became kind of ugly in 1969, when I had to withdraw from the PGA Championship. I did everything I could to find out what it was and how to correct it, and actually never did.
I suppose that was probably the only major situation that I've had, which I've been very fortunate.
I think one of the things that it taught me, one of the things in my life that I found helped with prevention of major injuries, was exercising and doing various type exercises. I don't say that's a cure-all. I just say that your chances of having a game-stopping injury is less if you do a lot of exercises and keep yourself in reasonably good physical condition.

Q. Tiger's situation, the knee surgery for the third time on the same knee, in your mind do you have any concerns with how long he will be able to play?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I had a similar knee operation probably 20 years ago. I did much the same as he's doing now. I was playing golf probably eight weeks after the surgery, the meniscus situation. I haven't had really any problem with it since. I'm aware that it was there.
I think that, as far as he's concerned, he is physically so fit that I would think his condition will allow him to get back into it. I don't see there's any real reason why it should prevent him from doing anything he wants to do.
CHRIS WIGHTMAN: Thank you, Arnold. Thank you, Rand, Jim. Appreciate your time. We appreciate your attendance. Thank you for being here.

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