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March 14, 2007
JOE CHEMCYZ: Thank you for coming. We welcome our host, Mr. Arnold Palmer. Mr. Palmer, it's great to be back here again. We have a name change, we have a new trophy over here. Players have talked wonderfully about the golf course again this year and the setup. Again we thank you for having us as your guests.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, thank you very much. It's great to have you and I'm happy to see this roomful of people. That's pretty nice.
I can remember the first time we had a press conference here for the Invitational, and I don't think there were quite as many people here.
Well, what would you like me to talk about? The golf course? The name change? My daughters are in the back of the room, are responsible for that.
JOE CHEMCYZ: Start with the golf course.
ARNOLD PALMER: Okay. (Laughter) The golf course is about as good as we can get it, I'll tell you that. The rough is tough, as you've obviously been hearing from the players.
Generally the golf course is in excellent condition. I suppose that the major things that are going to be talked about are the rough and the condition of the golf course, but the other thing is No. 4 being converted to a par 4, and 16 to a par 4, both were par 5s.
Is that something that we are going to hang with forever? I can't really tell you that. We're trying to give it a test to see how the reaction of the guys on the TOUR and see what they feel about it. And I'm looking to see how it plays as a par-70. We think it might add a little spice to the tournament, a little interest, and of course that is our primary goal to get people interested in what's happening out there.
4 is going to be a tough par 4. But originally when I first started with this golf course, 4 was a par 4, and we moved the tees back and made it a par 5. So we are now going to try it back in it's original state, a par 4.
16 is the same way. It was originally a par 4, and we built some tees and made it a par 5 and now we're going to check it out as a par 4. And then I'll see what the reaction of the players might be and we'll go from there. Because into next year, we are going to make some major physical changes in the golf course, and not the entire golf course, but on a few holes we will make some actual physical changes. That will happen in the summer of '07, so it will be ready for those physical changes in '08.
Par-70, if I were to make a prediction, I would probably predict that the scores will be much the same as they have been in the past years. I don't think we'll see a lot of major changes. The only thing that we'll see that might be a little different is the fact that the players won't be as many under par as they have been in the past. I think I can talk about the trophy a little bit.
Again, my daughters have inaugurated the trophy change and you all are welcome to look at it. We will be giving a replica of that to the winner. It will be a smaller-type trophy. And it's a change. It's something that we wanted to do and here it is.
What else. I'll just open it up to questions. We can get further that way.
Q. Back in the mid 60s when you were coming to Florida and renting a home down in Coral Gables, what was it about this golf course and this area that intrigued you and attracted you, when there were so many other areas in Florida where people were more likely to go back in the 60s?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, that's a good question. When I was in -- when I first started playing the TOUR so I could be ready for the TOUR, I went to South Florida to practice and to work on my game. Those two gals that I was talking about were babies then, and I used the Country Club of Miami generally for a practice area and played there. It was nice. I enjoyed it.
But as the years went on and it got more and more crowded down south, I decided that I wanted to go to a more rural place. I really wanted to find a place that was not so heavily trafficked, and wasn't primarily a recreational- or resort-type city.
And I looked on the West Coast and I looked on the East Coast up-and-down. And just by fortune of habit, we landed in Orlando for the Carling tournament, and that was in, what, about '62. And I liked the area. I liked the Winter Park area and the orange groves and the fresh water. And I kind of marked it in my mind as a place that I would like to look at. And I came back in the years following.
In 1965, the Chamber of Commerce, Orlando Chamber of Commerce invited me to come and play an exhibition here at Bay Hill. They invited me and invited Jack Nicklaus, Dave Regan and Don Cherry and that was the foursome for the exhibition. I played Bay Hill for the first time and fell in love with it. It was very rural, and it really was rural. It was out in the so-called "sticks." The only thing that was out here was orange groves, Dr. Phillips, snakes, a few birds, but a lot of really wonderful freshwater, pristine and the water and the orange groves really attracted me.
And there were a group of owners from Nashville and they owned this place and had just built it, and they were -- I won't say they were cheap; they were frugal as far as what they put into the golf course. I saw an opportunity to really do something, so I asked them if they would like to sell it. And their answer was, "No, we would like you to be a partner with us."
Well, there were ten partners at the time. And I said, "No, I don't think so." I said, "I'm afraid I couldn't deal with ten other people. But I would like to buy it from you."
Well, I had two real estate attorneys work for five years to get that deal done, and finally 1969 I got the deal done and took over Bay Hill. And I couldn't have been happier, but the condition of the golf course and the surroundings was very meager. But it was just what I was looking for. It was quiet, it was about a 15-, 20-minute drive to downtown, which was great, small town, farming town, the whole thing.
Well, you know most of the story from there. Less than two years later, Disney announced that they had bought 27,000 acres and were going to put a theme park here. And at the time, you know, like a lot of things, you don't really take it too seriously; I didn't. They had no idea what was going to happen and what has happened would happen.
And of course all of my friends and people that knew me thought I was really smart, (laughter) because I knew something from the inside; well, I didn't. I had no idea, and was really looking for a quiet place to just do a nice golf course and little, and here we are. That's the story.
Q. How soon after you acquired Bay Hill did you start thinking you would like to host your own golf tournament, and how long did it take to come together? As you know, Tiger's going to have his now, and that seemed to come together awfully quick. Just wondering from your standpoint what that was like for you.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, first of all, one of the reasons that this was attractive, and answering the question that I was on a few moments ago, was the fact that the tournament was at Rio Pinar. I could drive across town and play a golf tournament and come home, and I enjoyed that, too.
At the time I had really in the early days, I wasn't sure that that would ever happen, what you have referred to. But the tournament wasn't going very fast, and it was sponsored by the orange groves and the citrus people, and they had had it for a number of years, and it wasn't really making a lot of progress.
So one of the guys from the tournament said, "Arnie, would you be interested in taking over the tournament?" And after, I consulted for a little bit and decided that that would be a pretty good idea.
So 29 years ago, we had our first Bay Hill Invitational, and we've been going ever since; this being our 29th year. And it's worked out pretty well. As you know, the first tournament was a $100,000 tournament, and that was about the average on the TOUR in those days. Of course as you know, this year we're $5.5 million. That's a reasonable progress in 29 years. (Laughter).
Q. Considering still the lowest score wins a tournament, does it matter to you, matter to the event, the prestige, the tradition of a tournament, whether a minus-five or a minus-15 wins the event?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I'm not panicked about it either way. I think the one thing in the back of my mind was to make the golf course challenging. And we will continue to do that as time goes on. We will continue to make some changes in the golf course as we go year-to-year, and only for the purpose of making it interesting and making it a good golf course.
I would like to, oh, one day and not too many years away do a total sub-air system under the greens and redo some of the greens, which we did about six or seven years ago. And we have some -- I have a couple of what I would call fairly major changes for '08, and one will be on 3 and the other one will be on 6.
You know, I don't want to make all of the changes at once. I would like to just do something a little different and upgrade it a little each year. And that's what I'm looking forward to.
Q. Can you talk about the name change itself, apparently it took a little cajoling and arm-twisting for you to put your name on the trophy and on the tournament itself.
ARNOLD PALMER: Actually I wasn't even aware that that was in the works. My daughter, Amy, I think called me out west. I was in California. They had been talking about doing a name change and she called me to ask if I would let them go on with the thought of changing the name to the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And I said go ahead. It wasn't a real arm-twisting thing.
While I was playing, I would have never allowed it. That was one of the -- that was the first stipulation for not making any name change. I liked the Bay Hill Invitational logo. But when I stopped playing, then that sort of opened the door for the possible name change.
Q. I'm going to throw two at you since I might not get this mic back. What changes are you thinking about doing on those two holes, and my second question would be, you and Jack I think combined to win six out of seven Masters starting in 1960. I think Phil and Tiger are on a similar roll right now. Why do you suppose that is; what are their attributes that make them so hard to beat there?
ARNOLD PALMER: Okay. Your two questions, first the changes in the holes, I will probably move the green at 6 across the water and back of the green and beautify that wooded area there. Keep it as natural as I can but beautify it.
One of the other changes immediately would be to move 3-tee back to the railroad tracks. If you recall where the railroad tracks were -- oh, you're a youngster. You don't know about all of that stuff.
Q. That was back when this place was still in the sticks.
ARNOLD PALMER: Yeah, well, that would keep them from even -- that would keep even the longer hitters from hitting it across the corner of the lake at 3. They would have to play it into the neck of the hole, which is something that when the golf course was built, people didn't drive it across that lake.
Now, of course, if a guy is long and he hits it and pulls it a little bit, he still can pull it -- he can hit it far enough to carry it over that corner.
We will fix that. (Laughter) They won't be able to pull it and carry it across that lake. Well, we've had some guys drive it on the fringe of the green or in the sand traps around the green there, and as I say, that won't happen anymore. Those are the changes that I'm anticipating for '08.
The Masters, that subject, my answer to that was, it was fun. Winning and even though I didn't win every year, I had fun and was close to winning a lot of years in a row, and Jack was in there doing his thing at the same time.
Q. Could you talk about, you mentioned when you first took over this tournament many years ago, can you talk about the aspects of what it was like to run a tournament back then versus what it's like to run a tournament now?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, there is absolutely no comparison to what has transpired in 29 years. We can just start with the prize money, $100,000 versus $5.5 million. That's a pretty major thing, and of course the thing that always scared me a little, playing at the same time as I was trying to get a tournament started was sponsors and people that would be interested in this area. Rio Pinar and the Citrus Open, I would say they had modest success over the years; not really successful, and for a number of reasons I suspect. There weren't a lot of people here, and it just doesn't gather a lot of steam and the fields were modest. Although, I played, but a lot of the guys chose not to come to central Florida.
That has all changed now. And with the attractiveness of the area, and then in addition to all of the things that are now available here, whether it be Universal, Disney or all of the other things that are happening here, it's a fairly -- I would say it's one of the most attractive places on the TOUR to come to and play short of the major championships like Augusta and the Open.
And we're seeing that and a lot of the guys are enjoying bringing their families here and coming and playing. I think those things were major. The staff and the volunteers in the early days, you know, a couple hundred people total involved in putting together a tournament. And really a small executive staff, not a huge executive staff. Gene, our guy that does tournament services, was about the only guy who was here as far as building and constructing amenities to the golf tournament. He was a part-time guy and one of my guys. He just stuck with me.
Well, of course, that has changed dramatically. He has a staff of, God, I'm not even sure how many he has now, probably 30 guys for the tournament and he does -- in the area of tournament services, he does about 30 tournaments a year around the United States, and that all originated right here. This was the first one that he did. And then the staff at the Club, the score boards, all of the things that have happened over those years; the numbers have become humongous as far as what they do.
And then of course the hospital and what happened there. About I guess '84, '85, the hospital was suggested and that became a major part of what I was doing, and that was helping get funds and create things that would let this Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women begin. And we opened that in '89, well, that is also a major part of what I do and what we do each year here.
An example, you know, the PGA TOUR has a policy; well, we're grandfathered from the past on that policy, but at the same time, we do our charitable work in conjunction with the hospital, the tournament and the golf course. We have direct from the tournament somewhere in the area of $10 to $15 million over the years to the hospital, and the total amount that has been granted to the hospital from the amenities and the things that we do. We have a Champions for Children each year which we give this club to the operation; we pay for everything and give the proceeds from three days to the hospital. That's about $1 million a year, $800,000 to $900,000, $1 million each year. And that has grown to close to $15 million.
The hospital now has changed from the Arnold Palmer Hospital For Children and Women to the Arnold Palmer Medical Center, and that Medical Center now involves the original hospital which is being totally renovated already at this point in time. And then the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Babies is brand new, sparkling. It's one of the most modern hospitals in the world for -- and just as an idea, in 2006, the Winnie Palmer Hospital in the Medical Center had 12,552 babies born. And that's a part of all of the things that we do here, too.
The other thing, you just can't imagine what it takes to do. We have now the Martin Emergency Trauma Center, which is a 33-bed emergency trauma center for children and women. Unbelievable. You don't hear those things much anymore. It's brand new and that goes with the other two hospitals to make the medical center. Then we have Buck Brown and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. And this is all on the same campus. It's right downtown. I say that; if you have an opportunity and you really want to know what's going on around here, have a look at it and see. It's pretty magnificent.
And MasterCard, and the sponsors over the years and MasterCard has taken a very heavy interest in the hospital and what we do, and they are helping us make it even better. And as our sponsor, we can't thank them enough for what they do.
And I could go on and on, I don't want to bore you, but that's the answer to some of the questions.
Q. You and Jack Nicklaus are some of the handful of tournament hosts to host invitationals or limited-field events. Curious in your mind, what is the benefit of hosting a smaller field, is it a benefit for the course, exclusivity of the tournament, what in your mind has been the biggest impetus for having an invitational?
ARNOLD PALMER: It attracts more interest and it attracts a lot of interest with the players. If you're able to do a good tournament, and we like to think that we do a good tournament. And it creates an interest among the players who want to come and win this golf tournament.
This year, we have had, oh, I think 70 -- is that fair, Doc -- letters, over 100 letters to be invited to play in this tournament. And that makes it an attractive situation. When that many people want to come and play, no qualifying, nothing, they have to be invited. It's interesting. And this does change the format of the general run of all the tournaments. And for that reason, the invitational is an attractive situation.
Q. Since last year when you decided to sort of announce your retirement from competition, are you any closer to deciding on whether to be an Honorary Starter in the Augusta? And also, Gary Player is going to be playing his 50th this year, any temptation to try to push that record out one more?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, Gary Player is going to do whatever he can to top whatever I've done. (Laughter) That includes living longer or whatever. (Laughter).
Am I thinking about doing that? I'm thinking about it. I'm giving it some very careful consideration now that I have stopped playing competitively. And you know Augusta is one of my very favorite places, and of course Bill Payne is a good friend, and I think he is a great guy to have in as the chairman.
So as of this day, I am really giving that some serious consideration. It isn't that I have anything against doing it. I just want it to be the right time when I decide to do it, that's all.
Q. Is it consideration for this year or for maybe next year?
ARNOLD PALMER: It's in consideration, period.
Q. A couple of questions. One, has the TOUR talked to you about trying to make the Invitationals more uniform and maybe raising the number of players in the field so that they would all be across the board? Because there seems to be an emphasis also on a shorter regular season and giving players enough starts during the course of the year.
ARNOLD PALMER: They haven't indicated to me that they want to increase or decrease the number. We don't have a gate on how many players are going to be in the tournament simply because we don't know how many are going to qualify. We at one point had 133 players in our field. At this point I think there's 120. So you never know. The guys withdraw. They get hurt. I talked to Jim Furyk; he's had some trouble with his wrist. He'd love to be here, but he's in New York having his surgeon check him out. You know, he doesn't want a lot of ballaballoo about it. I'm always interested in my guys.
Other guys have had things. Daly had a little problem with his rib cage I guess and so on. And then some personal problems. So we went from what was 133 players to 120 and that sort of -- if we set a number, if we had a number that was kind of perfect, that would be pretty close to the number that we would like to see, 120.
Q. And a follow on Gary, no matter how many years he intends to play the Masters, what has he done for the game do you think as it relates to the number of international players we see now? Is he kind of their guy, their example?
ARNOLD PALMER: I think Gary has made a wide contribution to international golf. He is a never-ending guy that travels all the time. I wouldn't do what he does to tell you the truth. He is traveling -- he's probably going around the world seven times this year. (Laughter) And he's flying commercially. (Laughter) I wouldn't do that. (Laughter).
But he is a hard worker. He's a great guy. So whatever he does is sort of -- I think it's great. And he has led a great thing for the international golf, which is something that I tried to create when I went to the British Open in 1960. That was part of the theme of what I wanted to do was see more international golf. Did I ever think that it would be in less than 50 years as huge and as competitive as it is? I'm not so sure. But I think it's wonderful and I think it will get bigger and better.
And of course I think that something that we will see in the very near future, are more and more golf courses in China. I built the first golf course in China. And we'll see more and more golf courses in Russia; that's happening now. You can call them whatever you want, the type governments, whether it's Communist or Socialist or whatever, democracy; the wealth of the world is enjoying the game of golf now, and we are going to see more and more golf courses. I'll be probably building a golf course in St. Petersburg, Russia. I'm building one in Beijing. Doing Asia quite a lot and that's where I'm going. And Gary Player is doing the same thing and so is Jack Nicklaus. So we're competing.
Q. You're just on different planes, apparently?
ARNOLD PALMER: Yeah, we fly different airplanes.
Q. That leads me to my first on the subject of Jack, you've had a healthy rivalry through the years, which do you think will prove to be the tougher stretch of holes, the final three here at Bay Hill, or the Bear Trap that we just saw at PGA National?
ARNOLD PALMER: (Sitting back in chair). I thought you and I were friends, Rich. (Laughter).
I think that they are both pretty trying, and as I said, I've made 16 a par 4 here to see if we could create a little additional excitement. We'll see if it doesn't work that way, we'll try to do something that will make it work better. 18, as you know, is good and 17 is good. And we haven't made any real physical changes in any of those three holes, and they have made some physical changes at PGA, which is good. I don't have a problem. And obviously their tournament was very successful.
Q. Second question relates to No. 16. Some of the players have said that it actually will take the excitement away; that they feel fans want to see birdies made down the stretch rather than players grinding to make pars. You obviously feel a little bit differently?
ARNOLD PALMER: We'll see. That's my answer. We'll see. I may make some physical changes in 16 if what we're doing this year doesn't work. Because I want the guys to be happy. You know, I'm open to having the hole as it is, make it a par 5 again. If I could get the county to let me go out in that lake a little further, I would put that tee back out on the lake and make it a par 5 again.
Q. This is a bit of a silly question but I've been curious for a long time, I grew up watching you and Jack Nicklaus, Gene Littler and Billy Casper compete at all of the major tournaments, and you guys were able to compete and win without wearing hats. I've been thumbing through the last couple of years of the PGA TOUR Media Guide, and looking at the head shots of all of the winners of each tournament, everyone wears a hat. No one plays ever without a hat. I wonder if you think that's a fashion statement, a greater awareness of sun damage and skin cancer, or is there some other factor involved? And I wonder of the seven majors that you won, how many of those final round on Sundays did you wear a hat or not?
ARNOLD PALMER: Rarely. But that's a good point. And I have a feeling about it. I think that -- unfortunately I think the people would like to see the guys. And I watch them like you do and like everyone does. I see the hat pulled way down over their head and their sunglasses, and it's hard to tell who you're looking at.
So my feeling is that a little more open exposure to the sun and to the dangerous of skin cancer and are what have you isn't so bad. As you say, I never wore a hat or sunglasses on the golf course in my life -- well, I won't say never because there was a couple of occasions when I did.
And I'm very aware of the cancer dangers. But I'm also aware that the people like to see and know who they are watching. So I have a bit of a problem with the fact that a lot of people can't see and don't know who the guys are.
Q. Do you think Jack would have ever been called the "Golden Bear" if he played in this era?
ARNOLD PALMER: He'd have been the Golden Bear whatever. It's a natural. It's just the way it is. It's like Arnie's Army. Jack didn't really intentionally create it. It happened. The fans made it happen. And the same thing with Arnie's Army; the fans made it happen.
I think there's less probability of that sort of thing happening if you try to create it than if you just let it happen naturally.
Q. How much golf do you actually play now, and I assume, has it gotten less and less? Have you found a need to find other outlets for your competitiveness?
ARNOLD PALMER: Yeah, the outlet is doing golf courses and creating different type golf courses, what we will call premiere golf courses. And I'm involved in that.
How much do I play? I go out on the golf course with a set of clubs a lot. I don't play much golf. (Laughter) And that means, I think you can read between the lines there.
My golf is -- I could use all kind of words, but that's just not pleasing. I don't get the snap in the shots that I want, and when I play in front of people as I'm going to do today, I'm embarrassed, because I don't hit the shots that I used to hit. You know, I always felt in my playing days that when I had a shot or I hit a few bad shots, if I really tightened my belt and got down to it, I could hit a shot that I wanted to hit. That doesn't happen anymore, and that's embarrassing to me.
Q. I wanted to follow up on Steve's question from earlier about the run that you and Jack had at the Masters. Do you see the same qualities in Tiger and Phil and the same possibilities of that becoming a similar rivalry at Augusta?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I think it helps the game to have that kind of a rivalry. The more we can talk about Phil and his golf and the challenge to Tiger, I think that's good. I certainly have no problem with that being created, whether it's Charles Howell or whoever it is.
Of course, you know, they are all different people. They have different approaches. Tiger has his approach and obviously it's quite good. Or at least you all say it is. And Phil has his approach and has been pretty successful and just recently started winning majors, and if he continues, that's going to be a challenge to whomever he's playing against, whether it's Tiger or Charles Howell or some of the young guys that are just winning tournaments now.
But I think the competition is what it's all about, and the fact that it gets interesting and particularly for these young guys that are coming along now. I don't see Tiger backing off for a while.
Q. I think it was a year ago, your grandson, Sam played in the field as an amateur. This year one of his teammates at Clemson, Kyle Stanley, is playing having won the Southern Amateur. Have you seen Kyle play, and what do you think of his game, and why do you think -- or why do you like having some of these young and up-and-coming players playing in the field?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I think in answer to your question, Sam has got his hands full right now at Clemson. He's playing a lot of tournaments. He's studying very hard to stay in school and do the things that he should do and I just talked to him a few moments ago. He was very enthusiastic about his golf and just had some interesting things happen to him in the last couple of weeks that I won't talk about, but if you need them we will.
The young man from Clemson that is playing, I talked to him the other day. He's a good player. I think that I like having an amateur or two who can qualify to play here either by invitation or otherwise, and it creates an additional interest.
You know, we considered inviting the young man from Hawaii (Tadd Fujikawa) that did so well out there in the early part of the year. And if he continues, we may invite him to play as an amateur in our tournament.
But amateurs, I'm still very heavy on amateur golf. I just like to see these young people come along, I like to see them stay in school, get their education before they jump into the professional ranks.
I can only go by what I look at when I see these young people, and I can go back to my own course and I was a slow learner and a slow maturer. It took me a while to mature. And the fact that I didn't even start the TOUR until I was 25 years old wasn't bad because I had a lot of fun in those 24 years.
Then I got on the TOUR and I worked and I worked hard and it was something that paid off. I think that if we can convince young people to give themselves a chance before they jump into the professional ranks. I've talked to guys that have jumped into the TOUR, or professionalism, and are now back applying for their amateur status back or getting it back. And had they known then what they know now, they would have never jumped into it. They would have given themselves a chance to see what it's really like, and then know whether they want to do it or not.
You know, it just isn't a piece of cake. I see these young guys, and sure, there are more of them today than there's ever been in our history. But there's also more guys fading out that are going back to whatever they were doing. They are either club pros or they are selling for their father or cutting fairways, or they are doing something that isn't as attractive as they thought being a professional golfer would be.
JOE CHEMCYZ: Speaking of youth, I think the youngest member of the press core has a question.
Q. Mr. Palmer, how can kids get involved in a sport like golf that is so expensive to play?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, that's a good question. My father was a golf professional. He started as a worker on the golf course and dug ditches and dug his way into the management of golf courses. And he learned to play through a Scottish pro that was the pro at the club where he was working, and then he eventually game the superintendent and the golf pro at the club. And that was many, many years ago and when I was being raised, my sister was being born and my mother didn't know what to do with me. So my father took me to the golf course, and that's how it all started.
Q. Two questions. You mentioned your father, and this is the last golf course that he played; did you ever lose the desire to have your father be proud of what you've done and to now have this tournament named after you? And the other question maybe is the desire to have had a U.S. Open played at Bay Hill, did that ever get close through the years, and are you disappointed with that and have you given up on that hope?
ARNOLD PALMER: You either have a hell of a memory or you just read a book. (Laughter) I didn't know many people knew that I was once interested in having the U.S. Open come to Bay Hill. And I did. I had a big, deep interest. For obvious reasons it was not appropriate and probably in the immediate future won't be appropriate.
But I would not be surprised if we wouldn't see an Open come to Florida. I guess I generalize by saying that. And that was my thought about Bay Hill because I thought that the golf course, and still do, was appropriate for a National Open. It's not something that is likely to ever happen only because of the logistics of having it here now. And what we have is certainly I think very good. But I do think that we will see a U.S. Open in the State of Florida in the near future.
Q. And your father having played his last round of golf here, and now this tournament is named after you, is there any significance in the fact that he enjoyed this course and back at a time when maybe someone might have said, "What are you thinking about buying this place in the middle of the sticks?"
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, he did play, he played 27 holes of golf here the day he died. And Doc was with him. They came from Latrobe for a holiday and they played, how many days, four or five days -- two days. Well, he played 27 holes of golf the day he died. He was not a guy that was outgoing necessarily. If you were his friend, you were his friend, and it was not hard to figure that out.
But just in my case, you know, he was never a flatterer. He never spent a lot of time telling me I could play golf. He might if he really got excited about my game, he would say, "That was pretty good, Boy." That's it. (Laughter).
Q. Mr. Palmer, you've seen a lot of changes over your career from being a boy to retirement from the game, what changes would you like to see to the game overall, maybe if you have one or two that really stand out in the near future?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well (looking down at watch) I don't have enough time. (Laughing.)
But there are certain things that I would love to see happen in the game, and they are not likely to happen in the near future. But there is certainly a movement in the direction that I'm going, and the one is the most recent adoption of the back to V-grooves versus square grooves. I think it took me a long time to convince Dick Rugge that they needed to look at the square groove situation simply because of the way these guys hit the golf ball, and hit it in the rough -- unless the rough is like this rough, there's no big deal because the square grooves are almost like hitting it oust the fairway. So that's one of my wishes; that the V-grooves would come back to a reality in golf.
I suppose that the second one that I would like to see is the golf ball. I'd like to see the golf ball slowed down. Just to help keep from having to do the exaggerated things that we are doing now to golf courses. You know, I just opened two golf courses on the west and they are both 7,600 yards. Well, somewhere along the way, we've got to kind of curtail that, pull it back a little bit. That would be another wish that I would have.
As far as golf equipment is concerned, I think it's exciting that we can build golf equipment and do new things. I certainly don't have a problem with that. It's like building golf equipment that is new and I look at it and I love it. But it's like these kids we see out here playing the TOUR, and I can say kids because my children are their age, my grandchildren are almost their age. The fact that they are physical, they work out, they do a lot of physical exercises, I like that. I think that's something that we need to encourage them to continue to do.
And, oh, I could go on making wishes. The other thing finally is that I think that -- and we shouldn't put a number on it. We shouldn't say that they have to be 21 years old before they can turn pro. I think that I would like to see kids become more aware of learning a little bit about life as a young person before they jump into the professional ranks. I can't tell you how many I've seen that have really, I won't call it ruined, but curtailed a lot of activities that they might have enjoyed if they had not jumped into the professional ranks so quickly in their life.
JOE CHEMCYZ: We thank you, Mr. Palmer. Thank you for your time.
End of FastScripts