On June 18, 1960, Arnold Palmer shoots a 65 to win the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, Colorado.
Palmer, from Ligonier, Pennsylvania was the son of a golf pro at the Latrobe Country Club in nearby Latrobe. His father taught him the game during the club’s off hours, as the young Palmer was not allowed to play when members were present. The training paid off: Palmer won the 1954 National Amateur while at Wake Forest College, then turned pro in 1955. As a professional, Palmer appealed to golf’s blue collar fans, who identified with his working class upbringing in Pennsylvania steel mill country. At the 1958 Masters, Palmer’s gallery included local Army cadets, and the phrase “Arnie’s Army” was coined to describe his legions of fans on and off the course. Palmer won the Masters that year, cementing his golf stardom in the burgeoning age of televised sports.
In 1960, Palmer won his second Masters, which gave him momentum going into the U.S. Open. After three rounds, however, Palmer was tied for 15th, seven shots behind Mike Souchak. Down but not out, he started the last round with an amazing four birdies in a row on his way to a record-tying 30 on the front nine. This put him in the race for the title alongside 47-year-old Ben Hogan, vying for his fifth U.S. Open title, and Hogan’s playing partner, Jack Nicklaus, a junior at Ohio State who shot a 282 for the tournament, an amateur record. Palmer parred the last four holes for a 35 on the back nine and a total score of 65 to win his first and only U.S. Open title.
Palmer was named PGA Player of the Year in 1960, and again in 1962. Over the course of his career, he won the Masters four times and the British Open twice. In 1968, Palmer became the first golfer to earn $1 million in a year. He remained one of the richest athletes in the world well into his 70s because of sound investments and a variety of profitable endorsements.
Palmer died in September 2016, in Pennsylvania. He was 87 years old.
Arnold Palmer: Biography of 'The King'
Arnold Palmer was one of the most successful and popular golfers in the sport's history. He helped widen the appeal of golf beginning in the 1950s, then helped establish the Champions Tour in the early 1980s.
Fast Facts: Arnold Palmer
- Occupation: Professional golfer
- Nicknames: The King, Arnie
- Born: September 10, 1929 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania
- Died: September 25, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Key Accomplishments: Won 62 PGA Tour tournaments, including four Masters, one U.S. Open and two British Opens.
- Spouses: Winifred Walzer (married 1954-1999) Kathleen Gawthrop (married 2005-16)
- Children: Two daughters
- Famous Quote: "You must play boldly to win."
As if there were any doubt: There is no other King.
Palmer died Sunday afternoon of complications from heart problems. He was 87. He was admitted to UPMC Hospital in Pittsburgh on Thursday for some cardiovascular work, then weakened.
His death brings back waves of memories of his finest performances, none more so that the comeback at Cherry Hills that came during an era when the final 36 holes were played on Saturday and the break between the third and fourth rounds was long enough to grab lunch.
Palmer asked sports writers Bob Drum and Dan Jenkins how far they thought a 65 might go in the final round. It would leave him at 280.
“Doesn’t 280 always win the Open?” Palmer asked.
“Yeah, when Hogan shoots it,” Jenkins replied.
Drum’s response: “Won’t do you a damn bit of good.”
Palmer was so mad, he said, he couldn’t finish his hamburger.
The exchange with Drum “set the fire off inside, not that it wasn’t there,” Palmer said. “All I know is, I was pretty” upset.
He hit a few practice shots, went to the first tee, and a few hours later, he had his third major championship and first at the U.S. Open.
This June 19, 1960, file photo shows Arnold Palmer pointing to his name on the press tent scoreboard showing his four-under-par total, for 72 holes, during the National Open golf tournament at the Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, Colo. The most famous U.S. Open comeback began with a question from Arnold Palmer in 1960 at Cherry Hills in explaining how he could rally from a big deficit.
Arnold Palmer rips off his hat as he drops the final putt that gave him the National Open championship in Denver, Colo. in this June 18, 1960 photo. "I was seven strokes back and really pumped up, ready to go," Palmer recalled. Palmer was voted 33rd of the top 100 athletes of the century by a selected panel assembled by The Associated Press.
Rick Collier, Associated Press file
Arnold Palmer tosses his cap on the 18th green after winning the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, Colorado.
President of the USGA John Clock presents the U.S. Open trophy to Arnold Palmer, left, at the Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, Colorado on June 18, 1960.
Paul Vathis, The Associated Press
In this Sept. 9, 1960, file photo, President Dwight Eisenhower, right, enjoys a laugh with Arnold Palmer before they played a round of golf together in a foursome at the Gettysburg Country Club, Gettysburg, Penn. Former president Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose passion for golf helped to boost its popularity after World War II, was selected Friday, June 26, 2009, to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He will be the first U.S. president in the Hall of Fame when he is inducted posthumously Nov. 2 at the World Golf Village.
FILE - In this June 17, 1962, file photo, Jack Nicklaus right, and Arnold Palmer turn to leave the 18th green at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa., after Nicklaus won the U.S. Open golf tournament in a playoff. The epic 1962 U.S. Open, a pivotal moment in one of golf's most celebrated rivalries, is what the USGA delivered producer Ross Greenburg to create a one-hour documentary. This is the 50-year anniversary of Nicklaus' playoff win for the first of his record 18 major championships. "Jack's First Major" will be the first USGA film shown on network television, broadcast by NBC Sports on June 17 before its final-round coverage of the U.S. Open.
Arnold Palmer, left, U.S. Open and Masters champion, chats with his wife Winnie and father, Milford "Deke" Palmer at the first tee before starting second round play in the British Open Golf Tourney at St. Andrews, Scotland, in this July 7, 1960 photo. A two-hour documentary by The Golf Channel titled ``Arnold Palmer: Golf's Heart and Soul,'' premieres Oct. 28.
Popular veteran golfer Arnold Palmer is shown at Cherry Hills Country Club following a lengthy press conference, Tuesday, June 14, 1978, Denver, Colo. He is a sentimental favorite in this years U.S. Open, scheduled to start on Thursday having won that title in 1960, the last time the Open was held at Cherry Hills.
Brian Brained, The Denver Post
Arnold Palmer tees off from the second hole during the opening round of PGA golf championship at Cherry Hills Country Club & Golf Course in 1985.
Arnold Palmer hits the first shot to begin the 75th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday, April 8, 2011.
Scott Audette, The Associated Press
Tiger Woods, left, is helped into the his jacket for winning the Bay Hill Invitational by tournament host Arnold Palmer in this March 18, 2001 in Orlando, Fla. The Bay Hill Invitational has become a boon for Woods, who can make history this week by becoming the first player on any tour to win the same tournament five straight years. From the time his streak began in 2000, Woods is 65 under par at Bay Hill and has won his four titles by a combined 20 strokes.
Gene J. Puskar, The Associated Press
Golf legend Arnold Palmer starts his round at the 66th Semiro PGA Championship at Laurel Valley Golf Club, in Ligonier, Pa., Thursday, May 26, 2005.
Phelan M. Ebenhack, The Associated Press
Tiger Woods, left, and Arnold Palmer share a laugh during the trophy presentation after Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament in Orlando, Fla., Monday, March 25, 2013.
John Leyba, The Denver Post
Arnold Palmer interview and a Q&A to kick off the 2009 Palmer Cup to be held at Cherry Hills Country Club. The tournament will offer up the the best collegiate golfers from Europe to play against the best golfers from the United States.
Stew Milne, The Associated Press
Golf legend Arnold Palmer tees off at the 15th hole of the Rhode Island Country Club during the first round of the CVS Pharmacy Charity Classic in Barrington, R.I., Monday, July 9, 2001.
Matthew Thayer, The Associated Press
Arnold Palmer reacts after his drive off the Wailea Gold Course's third hole finds a bunker Sunday, Jan. 5, 2006, during pro-am play of the Champions Skins golf tournament in Wailea, Hawaii.
Chris O'Meara, The Associated Press
In this March 23, 2014, file photo, Arnold Palmer talks during a news conference before the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla. Golf Channel has spent more than a year producing what might be the most important project in its 20-year history a three-part documentary on golf's most endearing figure. "Arnie" will be shown on three consecutive nights beginning April 13, the night after the final round of the Masters.
Ben Stansall, AFP/Getty Images
Winner of The Open in 1961 and 1962, US golfer Arnold Palmer plays from the 1st tee during the Champion Golfers' Challenge on The Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland, on July 15, 2015, ahead of The 2015 Open Golf Championship which runs July 16-19. 28 Seven groups of four Champion golfers with a combined 46 victories in golfs oldest Championship, compete in a four hole challenge, the winnings going to the charity of the winning team's choice.
Amy Sancetta, The Associated Press
Arnold Palmer, winner of four Masters championships and making his 50th appearance, gives the thumbs up to spectators at the third green during practice for the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA., Tuesday, April 6, 2004. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
Other victories Palmer will be long remembered for:
1954 U.S. Amateur:
A 24-year-old Palmer beat Bob Sweeney to win the National Amateur golf championship in Detroit, Michigan on August 28, 1954. The match pitted a graying millionaire playboy against the upstart Palmer in what many dubbed a battle of the classes.
1955 Canadian Open:
Palmer captured the Canadian Open championship, his first PGA Tour victory, at the Weston Golf Club. Palmer set a record that held for many years as the lowest score— he finished -23 — in Open history. To celebrate Weston’s 75th anniversary in 1990, a Skins game was held featuring Arnold Palmer, Mark Calcavecchia, Ray Floyd and Dave Barr.
Palmer arrived at the Masters with eight titles but very little professional major championship experience. He had yet to play in a British Open or PGA Championship, and had finished tied for seventh a year earlier at the Masters. A third-round 68 vaulted him into a tie for the lead with Sam Snead.
Palmer and Ken Venturi, who was three strokes back, were paired for the final round, and Venturi trailed by just one stroke by the 12th hole. Then Palmer’s tee shot to the par-3 hole landed behind the green and plugged. Palmer believed he was entitled to relief because the ball was embedded, and Venturi agreed.
But the rules official on the scene did not. He ruled Palmer had to play without relief. There was an argument, Palmer eventually played the ball and gouged it out of the turf, hitting a poor chip past the hole, then two-putting for a double-bogey 5.
Venturi had made par and assumed the lead. But Palmer announced he was playing a second ball and made par.
Venturi has always believed Palmer played the second ball incorrectly.
“There was never a question in my mind that I wasn’t right about the 12th hole,” said Palmer, who went on to win by a shot over Fred Hawkins and Doug Ford and by two over Venturi.
Palmer birdied the final two holes to win by one stroke over runner-up Ken Venturi. It was the second of Palmer’s four Masters victories and the second of his seven major titles.
Palmer, age 30 at the time, also won the U.S. Open in 1960 and was the runner-up at the British Open.
Palmer was the sole leader after all four rounds and was the second wire-to-wire winner at the Masters, following Craig Wood in 1941. Subsequent wire-to-wire winners were Nicklaus in 1972, Raymond Floyd in 1976, and Jordan Spieth in 2015.
1961 British Open:
Palmer won the first of two consecutive British Open Championships by finishing one stroke ahead of Dai Rees. He’d been runner-up the year before in his first Open, but the 1961 victory was the fourth of his seven major titles. He was the first American to win the Claret Jug since Ben Hogan in 1953.
Palmer won the first three-way Masters playoff — beating defending champion Gary Player and Dow Finsterwald — for the third of his four titles at Augusta National. Palmer shot a 31 on the back nine to finish at 68 on Monday, three strokes ahead of runner-up Player. It was Nicklaus’ first appearance at the Masters as a professional.
1962 British Open:
Palmer’s second major championship of the year — and No. 6 of his career — was a runaway at the British Open at Troon Golf Club in Scotland. He finished at 12 under par, six shots ahead of runner-up Kel Nagle — and at least 13 strokes better than anyone else in the field.
Terrific from start to finish, Palmer easily wrapped up his fourth Masters title for his seventh — and final — major championship. No one had won four times at Augusta National until Palmer reached that number thanks to three rounds in the 60s, followed by a closing 70 that was plenty good enough: He beat runners-up Nicklaus and Dave Marr by six strokes.
Arnie: Palmer timeline through the decades
(Editor’s note: Sept. 10, 2014 is Arnold Palmer’s 85 th birthday. We celebrate Golf Channel’s co-founder over multiple articles, which are linked to throughout this story, focusing on all aspects of his remarkable life and career. Click here for the complete list.)
A look at Arnold Palmer's life on and off the course, by decade (courtesy Golf Channel research department):
•1929: Arnold Palmer is born in Latrobe, Pa. (Sept. 10)
•1933: Swings a golf club for the first time. The club was cut down by his father, Deacon Palmer, the longtime professional and course superintendent at Latrobe Country Club
•1940: Begins caddying at Latrobe CC
•1946: Wins first of five West Penn Amateur Championships
•1947: Arrives on campus at Wake Forest
•1949: Wins first of two (1950) NCAA individual championships
•1951: Enlists in U.S. Coast Guard
•1954: Wins U.S. Amateur at Country Club of Detroit
•1955: Wins Canadian Open at Weston Golf & Country Club in Toronto, first of his 62 career PGA Tour wins
•1958: Wins Masters for first time
•1958: Meets President Eisenhower for first time at Laurel Valley Golf Club in Pa.
•1960: Wins second Masters by one shot over Ken Venturi
•1960: Wins U.S Open at Cherry Hills by shooting a final-round 65 to overcome a seven-shot deficit
•1961: Wins first career Open Championship at Royal Birkdale
•1961: Buys first airplane, a twin-prop Aero Commander, for $27,000
•1962: Wins third career Masters in a playoff over Gary Player and Dow Finsterwald
•1962: Wins second consecutive Open Championship at Royal Troon
•1963: Leads U.S. to Ryder Cup victory as a playing captain at East Lake Golf Club
•1964: Wins Masters, his last of seven major titles
•1968: Becomes first PGA Tour player to surpass $1 million in career earnings
•1970: Associated Press announces that Palmer is the Athlete of the Decade (1960s)
•1971: Wins USGA’s Bob Jones Award
•1971: Wins Bob Hope Desert Classic to win for the 17 th consecutive year on Tour (tied with Jack Nicklaus for most all time)
•1973: Wins Bob Hope Desert Classic for fifth time. It is the last of Palmer’s 62 PGA Tour victories
•1974: Inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame as part of orignal class
•1976: Purchases Bay Hill Club & Lodge with group of associates
•1980: Wins PGA Seniors’ Championship (now Senior PGA Championship) in his first Champions Tour start
•1981: Wins U.S. Senior Open at Oakland Hills Country Club to become first player to win U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open
•1988: Wins Crestar Classic, his 10th and final Champions Tour title
•1989: Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children opens in Orlando, Fla. (on Sept. 10, his 60th birthday)
•1993: Makes 574 th and final cut of his PGA Tour career in Nestle Invitational (now Arnold Palmer Invitational) at Bay Hill
•1994: Plays last U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club
•1995: Plays last Open Championship at St. Andrews
•1996: Winning U.S. captain in the second Presidents Cup at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club
•1999: Westmoreland County Airport in Latrobe is renamed Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
•2000: Recipient of inaugural Payne Stewart Award (along with Jack Nicklaus and Byron Nelson)
•2004: Makes 50 th consecutive Masters start, which is the 734 th and final start of his PGA Tour career
•2004: Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush
•2007: Becomes Masters honorary starter
•2008: USGA dedicates Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History in Far Hills, N.J.
•2009: Awarded Congressional Gold Medal
•2012: Receives Congressional Gold Medal in ceremony (awarded in 2009)
•2016: Palmer dies at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh at age 87 (Oct. 25)
The first U.S. Open was played on October 4, 1895, on a nine-hole course at the Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island. It was a 36-hole competition and was played in a single day. Ten professionals and one amateur entered. The winner was Horace Rawlins, a 21-year-old Englishman, who had arrived in the U.S. earlier that year to take up a position at the host club. He received $150 cash out of a prize fund of $335, plus a $50 gold medal his club received the Open Championship Cup trophy, which was presented by the USGA.  
In the beginning, the tournament was dominated by experienced British players until 1911, when John J. McDermott became the first native-born American winner. American golfers soon began to win regularly and the tournament evolved to become one of the four majors.
Since 1911, the title has been won mostly by players from the United States. Since 1950, players from only six countries other than the United States have won the championship, most notably South Africa, which has won five times since 1965. A streak of four consecutive non-American winners occurred from 2004 to 2007 for the first time since 1910. These four players, South African Retief Goosen (2004), New Zealander Michael Campbell (2005), Australian Geoff Ogilvy (2006) and Argentine Ángel Cabrera (2007), are all from countries in the Southern Hemisphere. Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell (2010) became the first European player to win the event since Tony Jacklin of England in 1970 three more Europeans won in the next four editions, making it only three American wins in the 11 tournaments from 2004 to 2014.
U.S. Open play is characterized by tight scoring at or around par by the leaders, with the winner usually emerging at around even par. A U.S. Open course is seldom beaten severely, and there have been many over-par wins (in part because par is usually set at 70, except for the very longest courses). Normally, an Open course is quite long and will have a high cut of primary rough (termed "Open rough" by the American press and fans) undulating greens (such as at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2005, which was described by Johnny Miller of NBC as "like trying to hit a ball on top of a VW Beetle") pinched fairways (especially on what are expected to be less difficult holes) and two or three holes that are short par fives under regular play would be used as long par fours during the tournament (often to meet that frequently used par of 70, forcing players to have accurate long drives). Some courses that are attempting to get into the rotation for the U.S. Open will undergo renovations to develop these features. Rees Jones is the most notable of the "Open Doctors" who take on these projects his father Robert Trent Jones had filled that role earlier. As with any professional golf tournament, the available space surrounding the course (for spectators, among other considerations) and local infrastructure also factor into deciding which courses will host the event.
The U.S. Open is open to any professional, or to any amateur with a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 1.4.  Players (male or female)  may obtain a place by being fully exempt or by competing successfully in qualifying. The field is 156 players.
About half of the field is made up of players who are fully exempt from qualifying. The current exemption categories are:  
- Winners of the U.S. Open for the last ten years
- Winner and runner-up from the previous year's U.S. Amateur and winners of the previous year's U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur
- Winner of the previous year's Amateur Championship
- The previous year's Mark H. McCormack Medal winner for the top-ranked amateur golfer in the world 
- Winners of each of Masters Tournament, Open Championship and PGA Championship for the last five years
- Winners of the last three Players Championships
- Winner of the current year's BMW PGA Championship
- Winner of the last U.S. Senior Open
- Players who win multiple U.S. PGA Tour events during the time between tournaments, provided the tournaments each offer 500 or more points to the winner.
- Excludes opposite-field events.
The exemptions for amateurs apply only if the players remain amateurs as of the tournament date, except for the U.S. Amateur. On August 5, 2019, the USGA announced a rule change stating a player may turn professional and still retain his U.S. Open exemption. Note that this tournament typically takes place after the collegiate season has ended, so players may turn professional immediately after their last collegiate event (typically the end of the NCAA final of their senior year) in order to maximize the number of FedEx Cup points they may score before the August cutoff. 
Before 2011, the sole OWGR cutoff for entry was the top 50 as of two weeks before the tournament. An exemption category for the top 50 as of the tournament date was added for 2011, apparently in response to the phenomenon of golfers entering the top 50 between the original cutoff date and the tournament (such as Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler in 2010). 
Through 2011, exemptions existed for leading money winners on the PGA, European, Japanese, and Australasian tours, as well as winners of multiple PGA Tour events in the year before the U.S. Open. These categories were eliminated in favor of inviting the top 60 on the OWGR at both relevant dates.  Starting with the 2012 championship, an exemption was added for the winner of the current year's BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour's equivalent of The Players Championship. 
Potential competitors who are not fully exempt must enter the Qualifying process, which has two stages. Firstly there is Local Qualifying, which is played over 18 holes at more than 100 courses around the United States. Many leading players are exempt from this first stage, and they join the successful local qualifiers at the Sectional Qualifying stage, which is played over 36 holes in one day at several sites in the U.S., as well as one each in Europe and Japan. There is no lower age limit and the youngest-ever qualifier was 14-year-old Andy Zhang of China, who qualified in 2012 after Paul Casey withdrew days before the tournament.
USGA special exemptions Edit
The USGA has granted a special exemption to 34 players 52 times since 1966.  Players with multiple special exemptions include: Arnold Palmer (1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1994), Seve Ballesteros (1978, 1994), Gary Player (1981, 1983), Lee Trevino (1983, 1984), Hale Irwin (1990, 2002, 2003), Jack Nicklaus (1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000), Tom Watson (1993, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2010). 
Irwin won the 1990 U.S. Open after accepting a special exemption. In the 2016, a special exemption was extended to former champion Retief Goosen (2001, 2004).  In 2018, a special exemption was extended to former U.S. Open champions Jim Furyk (2003) and Ernie Els (1994, 1997). 
The purse at the 2017 U.S. Open was $12 million, and the winner's share was $2.16 million. The European Tour uses conversion rates at the time of the tournament to calculate the official prize money used in their Race to Dubai (€10,745,927 in 2017).
In line with the other majors, winning the U.S. Open gives a golfer several privileges that make his career much more secure if he is not already one of the elite players of the sport. U.S. Open champions are automatically invited to play in the other three majors (the Masters, The Open Championship (British Open), and the PGA Championship) for the next five years. They are also automatically invited to play in The Players Championship for the next five years, and they are exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Open itself for 10 years.
Winners may also receive a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, which is automatic for regular members. Non-PGA Tour members who win the U.S. Open have the choice of joining the PGA Tour either within 60 days of winning, or prior to the beginning of any one of the next five tour seasons.
Finally, U.S. Open winners receive automatic invitations to three of the five senior majors once they turn 50 they receive a five-year invitation to the U.S. Senior Open and a lifetime invitation to the Senior PGA Championship and Senior British Open.
The top 10 finishers at the U.S. Open are fully exempt from qualifying for the following year's Open, and the top four are automatically invited to the following season's Masters.
Up to 2017, the U.S. Open retained a full 18-hole playoff the following day (Monday). If a tie existed after that fifth round, then the playoff continued as sudden-death on the 91st hole. The U.S. Open advanced to sudden-death three times (1990, 1994, 2008), most recently when Tiger Woods defeated Rocco Mediate on the first additional playoff hole in 2008. Before sudden-death was introduced in the 1950s, additional 18-hole rounds were played (1925, 1939, and 1946) to break the tie. When the playoff was scheduled for 36 holes and ended in a tie, as in 1931, a second 36-hole playoff was required.
Since 2018, the USGA adopted a two-hole aggregate playoff format, after consulting fans, players and media partners. Sudden death will still be played if the playoff ends tied. 
Year Champion Score To par Margin of
Venue Location 2021 Jon Rahm 278 −6 1 stroke Louis Oosthuizen 2,250,000 Torrey Pines Golf Course
San Diego, California 2020 Bryson DeChambeau 274 −6 6 strokes Matthew Wolff 2,250,000 Winged Foot Golf Club
Mamaroneck, New York 2019 Gary Woodland 271 −13 3 strokes Brooks Koepka 2,250,000 Pebble Beach Golf Links Pebble Beach, California 2018 Brooks Koepka (2) 281 +1 1 stroke Tommy Fleetwood 2,160,000 Shinnecock Hills Golf Club Shinnecock Hills, New York 2017 Brooks Koepka 272 −16 4 strokes Hideki Matsuyama
2,160,000 Erin Hills Erin, Wisconsin 2016 Dustin Johnson 276 −4 3 strokes Jim Furyk
1,800,000 Oakmont Country Club Plum, Pennsylvania 2015 Jordan Spieth 275 −5 1 stroke Dustin Johnson
1,800,000 Chambers Bay University Place, Washington 2014 Martin Kaymer 271 −9 8 strokes Erik Compton
1,620,000 Pinehurst Resort
Course No. 2
Pinehurst, North Carolina 2013 Justin Rose 281 +1 2 strokes Jason Day
1,440,000 Merion Golf Club
Ardmore, Pennsylvania 2012 Webb Simpson 281 +1 1 stroke Graeme McDowell
1,440,000 Olympic Club
San Francisco, California [a] 2011 Rory McIlroy 268 −16 8 strokes Jason Day 1,440,000 Congressional Country Club
Bethesda, Maryland 2010 Graeme McDowell 284 E 1 stroke Grégory Havret 1,350,000 Pebble Beach Golf Links Pebble Beach, California 2009 Lucas Glover 276 −4 2 strokes Ricky Barnes
1,350,000 Bethpage State Park
Farmingdale, New York [b] 2008 Tiger Woods (3) 283 −1 Playoff Rocco Mediate 1,350,000 Torrey Pines Golf Course
San Diego, California 2007 Ángel Cabrera 285 +5 1 stroke Jim Furyk
1,260,000 Oakmont Country Club Plum, Pennsylvania 2006 Geoff Ogilvy 285 +5 1 stroke Jim Furyk
1,225,000 Winged Foot Golf Club
Mamaroneck, New York 2005 Michael Campbell 280 E 2 strokes Tiger Woods 1,170,000 Pinehurst Resort
Course No. 2
Pinehurst, North Carolina 2004 Retief Goosen (2) 276 −4 2 strokes Phil Mickelson 1,125,000 Shinnecock Hills Golf Club Shinnecock Hills, New York 2003 Jim Furyk 272 −8 3 strokes Stephen Leaney 1,080,000 Olympia Fields Country Club
Olympia Fields, Illinois 2002 Tiger Woods (2) 277 −3 3 strokes Phil Mickelson 1,000,000 Bethpage State Park
Farmingdale, New York [b] 2001 Retief Goosen 276 −4 Playoff Mark Brooks 900,000 Southern Hills Country Club Tulsa, Oklahoma 2000 Tiger Woods 272 −12 15 strokes Ernie Els
Miguel Ángel Jiménez
800,000 Pebble Beach Golf Links Pebble Beach, California 1999 Payne Stewart (2) 279 −1 1 stroke Phil Mickelson 625,000 Pinehurst Resort
Course No. 2
Pinehurst, North Carolina 1998 Lee Janzen (2) 280 E 1 stroke Payne Stewart 535,000 Olympic Club
San Francisco, California [a] 1997 Ernie Els (2) 276 −4 1 stroke Colin Montgomerie 465,000 Congressional Country Club
Bethesda, Maryland 1996 Steve Jones 278 −2 1 stroke Tom Lehman
Davis Love III
425,000 Oakland Hills Country Club
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 1995 Corey Pavin 280 E 2 strokes Greg Norman 350,000 Shinnecock Hills Golf Club Shinnecock Hills, New York 1994 Ernie Els 279 −5 Playoff Colin Montgomerie
320,000 Oakmont Country Club Plum, Pennsylvania 1993 Lee Janzen 272 −8 2 strokes Payne Stewart 290,000 Baltusrol Golf Club
Springfield, New Jersey 1992 Tom Kite 285 −3 2 strokes Jeff Sluman 275,000 Pebble Beach Golf Links Pebble Beach, California 1991 Payne Stewart 282 −6 Playoff Scott Simpson 235,000 Hazeltine National Golf Club Chaska, Minnesota 1990 Hale Irwin (3) 280 −8 Playoff Mike Donald 220,000 Medinah Country Club
Course No. 3
Medinah, Illinois 1989 Curtis Strange (2) 278 −2 1 stroke Chip Beck
200,000 Oak Hill Country Club
Rochester, New York [c] 1988 Curtis Strange 278 −6 Playoff Nick Faldo 180,000 The Country Club
Brookline, Massachusetts 1987 Scott Simpson 277 −3 1 stroke Tom Watson 150,000 Olympic Club
San Francisco, California [a] 1986 Raymond Floyd 279 −1 2 strokes Chip Beck
115,000 Shinnecock Hills Golf Club Shinnecock Hills, New York 1985 Andy North (2) 279 −1 1 stroke Dave Barr
103,000 Oakland Hills Country Club
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 1984 Fuzzy Zoeller 276 −4 Playoff Greg Norman 94,000 Winged Foot Golf Club
Mamaroneck, New York 1983 Larry Nelson 280 −4 1 stroke Tom Watson 72,000 Oakmont Country Club Plum, Pennsylvania 1982 Tom Watson 282 −6 2 strokes Jack Nicklaus 60,000 Pebble Beach Golf Links Pebble Beach, California 1981 David Graham 273 −7 3 strokes George Burns
55,000 Merion Golf Club
Ardmore, Pennsylvania 1980 Jack Nicklaus (4) 272 −8 2 strokes Isao Aoki 55,000 Baltusrol Golf Club
Springfield, New Jersey 1979 Hale Irwin (2) 284 E 2 strokes Jerry Pate
50,000 Inverness Club Toledo, Ohio 1978 Andy North 285 +1 1 stroke J. C. Snead
45,000 Cherry Hills Country Club Cherry Hills Village, Colorado 1977 Hubert Green 278 −2 1 stroke Lou Graham 45,000 Southern Hills Country Club Tulsa, Oklahoma 1976 Jerry Pate 277 −3 2 strokes Al Geiberger
42,000 Atlanta Athletic Club
Duluth, Georgia [d] 1975 Lou Graham 287 +3 Playoff John Mahaffey 40,000 Medinah Country Club
Course No. 3
Medinah, Illinois 1974 Hale Irwin 287 +7 2 strokes Forrest Fezler 35,000 Winged Foot Golf Club
Mamaroneck, New York 1973 Johnny Miller 279 −5 1 stroke John Schlee 35,000 Oakmont Country Club Plum, Pennsylvania 1972 Jack Nicklaus (3) 290 +2 3 strokes Bruce Crampton 30,000 Pebble Beach Golf Links Pebble Beach, California 1971 Lee Trevino (2) 280 E Playoff Jack Nicklaus 30,000 Merion Golf Club
Ardmore, Pennsylvania 1970 Tony Jacklin 281 −7 7 strokes Dave Hill 30,000 Hazeltine National Golf Club Chaska, Minnesota 1969 Orville Moody 281 +1 1 stroke Deane Beman
30,000 Champions Golf Club
Cypress Creek Course
Houston, Texas 1968 Lee Trevino 275 −5 4 strokes Jack Nicklaus 30,000 Oak Hill Country Club
Rochester, New York [c] 1967 Jack Nicklaus (2) 275 −5 4 strokes Arnold Palmer 30,000 Baltusrol Golf Club
Springfield, New Jersey 1966 Billy Casper (2) 278 −2 Playoff Arnold Palmer 26,500 Olympic Club, Lake Course San Francisco, California [a] 1965 Gary Player 282 +2 Playoff Kel Nagle 26,000 Bellerive Country Club St. Louis, Missouri [e] 1964 Ken Venturi 278 −2 4 strokes Tommy Jacobs 17,000 Congressional Country Club
Bethesda, Maryland 1963 Julius Boros (2) 293 +9 Playoff Jacky Cupit
17,500 The Country Club
Brookline, Massachusetts 1962 Jack Nicklaus 283 −1 Playoff Arnold Palmer 17,500 Oakmont Country Club Plum, Pennsylvania 1961 Gene Littler 281 +1 1 stroke Bob Goalby
14,000 Oakland Hills Country Club
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 1960 Arnold Palmer 280 −4 2 strokes Jack Nicklaus (a) 14,400 Cherry Hills Country Club Cherry Hills Village, Colorado 1959 Billy Casper 282 +2 1 stroke Bob Rosburg 12,000 Winged Foot Golf Club
Mamaroneck, New York 1958 Tommy Bolt 283 +3 4 strokes Gary Player 8,000 Southern Hills Country Club Tulsa, Oklahoma 1957 Dick Mayer 282 +2 Playoff Cary Middlecoff 7,200 Inverness Club Toledo, Ohio 1956 Cary Middlecoff (2) 281 +1 1 stroke Julius Boros
6,000 Oak Hill Country Club
Rochester, New York [c] 1955 Jack Fleck 287 +7 Playoff Ben Hogan 6,000 Olympic Club
San Francisco, California [a] 1954 Ed Furgol 284 +4 1 stroke Gene Littler 6,000 Baltusrol Golf Club
Springfield, New Jersey 1953 Ben Hogan (4) 283 −5 6 strokes Sam Snead 5,000 Oakmont Country Club Plum, Pennsylvania 1952 Julius Boros 281 +1 4 strokes Ed Oliver 4,000 Northwood Club Dallas, Texas 1951 Ben Hogan (3) 287 +7 2 strokes Clayton Heafner 4,000 Oakland Hills Country Club
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 1950 Ben Hogan (2) 287 +7 Playoff Lloyd Mangrum (2nd)
George Fazio (3rd)
4,000 Merion Golf Club
Ardmore, Pennsylvania 1949 Cary Middlecoff 286 +2 1 stroke Clayton Heafner
2,000 Medinah Country Club
Course No. 3
Medinah, Illinois 1948 Ben Hogan 276 −8 2 strokes Jimmy Demaret 2,000 Riviera Country Club Pacific Palisades, California [f] 1947 Lew Worsham 282 −2 Playoff Sam Snead 2,500 St. Louis Country Club Ladue, Missouri 1946 Lloyd Mangrum 284 −4 Playoff Vic Ghezzi
1,833 Canterbury Golf Club Beachwood, Ohio 1942–1945: Cancelled due to World War II 1941 Craig Wood 284 +4 3 strokes Denny Shute 1,000 Colonial Country Club Fort Worth, Texas 1940 Lawson Little 287 −1 Playoff Gene Sarazen 1,000 Canterbury Golf Club Beachwood, Ohio 1939 Byron Nelson 284 −4 Playoff Craig Wood (2nd)
Denny Shute (3rd)
1,000 Philadelphia Country Club
Spring Mill Course
Gladwyne, Pennsylvania 1938 Ralph Guldahl (2) 284 E 6 strokes Dick Metz 1,000 Cherry Hills Country Club Cherry Hills Village, Colorado 1937 Ralph Guldahl 281 +1 2 strokes Sam Snead 1,000 Oakland Hills Country Club
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 1936 Tony Manero 282 −2 2 strokes Harry Cooper 1,000 Baltusrol Golf Club
Springfield, New Jersey 1935 Sam Parks Jr. 299 +11 2 strokes Jimmy Thomson 1,000 Oakmont Country Club Plum, Pennsylvania 1934 Olin Dutra 293 +13 1 stroke Gene Sarazen 1,000 Merion Golf Club
Ardmore, Pennsylvania 1933 Johnny Goodman (a) 287 −1 1 stroke Ralph Guldahl 1,000 North Shore Country Club Glenview, Illinois 1932 Gene Sarazen (2) 286 +2 3 strokes Bobby Cruickshank
1,000 Fresh Meadow Country Club Queens, New York 1931 Billy Burke 292 +4 Playoff George Von Elm 1,750 Inverness Club Toledo, Ohio 1930 Bobby Jones (a) (4) 287 −1 2 strokes Macdonald Smith 1,000 Interlachen Country Club Edina, Minnesota 1929 Bobby Jones (a) (3) 294 Playoff Al Espinosa 1,000 Winged Foot Golf Club
Mamaroneck, New York 1928 Johnny Farrell 294 Playoff Bobby Jones (a) 500 Olympia Fields Country Club
Olympia Fields, Illinois 1927 Tommy Armour 301 Playoff Harry Cooper 500 Oakmont Country Club Plum, Pennsylvania 1926 Bobby Jones (a) (2) 293 1 stroke Joe Turnesa 500 Scioto Country Club Columbus, Ohio 1925 Willie Macfarlane 291 Playoff Bobby Jones (a) 500 Worcester Country Club Worcester, Massachusetts 1924 Cyril Walker 297 3 strokes Bobby Jones (a) 500 Oakland Hills Country Club
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 1923 Bobby Jones (a) 296 Playoff Bobby Cruickshank 500 Inwood Country Club Inwood, New York 1922 Gene Sarazen 288 1 stroke John Black
Bobby Jones (a)
500 Skokie Country Club Glencoe, Illinois 1921 Jim Barnes 289 9 strokes Walter Hagen
500 Columbia Country Club Chevy Chase, Maryland 1920 Ted Ray 295 1 stroke Jack Burke Sr.
500 Inverness Club Toledo, Ohio 1919 Walter Hagen (2) 301 Playoff Mike Brady 500 Brae Burn Country Club
West Newton, Massachusetts 1917–1918: Cancelled due to World War I 1916 Chick Evans (a) 286 2 strokes Jock Hutchison 300 The Minikahda Club Minneapolis, Minnesota 1915 Jerome Travers (a) 297 1 stroke Tom McNamara 300 Baltusrol Golf Club
Springfield, New Jersey 1914 Walter Hagen 290 1 stroke Chick Evans (a) 300 Midlothian Country Club Midlothian, Illinois 1913 Francis Ouimet (a) 304 Playoff Harry Vardon (2nd)
Ted Ray (3rd)
300 The Country Club Brookline, Massachusetts 1912 John McDermott (2) 294 2 strokes Tom McNamara 300 Country Club of Buffalo Buffalo, New York 1911 John McDermott 307 Playoff Mike Brady (2nd)
George Simpson (3rd)
300 Chicago Golf Club Wheaton, Illinois 1910 Alex Smith (2) 298 Playoff John McDermott (2nd)
Macdonald Smith (3rd)
300 Philadelphia Cricket Club
St. Martin's Course
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1909 George Sargent 290 4 strokes Tom McNamara 300 Englewood Golf Club Englewood, New Jersey 1908 Fred McLeod 322 Playoff Willie Smith 300 Myopia Hunt Club South Hamilton, Massachusetts 1907 Alec Ross 302 2 strokes Gilbert Nicholls 300 Philadelphia Cricket Club
St. Martin's Course
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1906 Alex Smith 295 7 strokes Willie Smith 300 Onwentsia Club Lake Forest, Illinois 1905 Willie Anderson (4) 314 2 strokes Alex Smith 200 Myopia Hunt Club South Hamilton, Massachusetts 1904 Willie Anderson (3) 303 4 strokes Gilbert Nicholls 200 Glen View Club Golf, Illinois 1903 Willie Anderson (2) 307 Playoff David Brown 200 Baltusrol Golf Club
Springfield, New Jersey 1902 Laurie Auchterlonie 307 6 strokes Stewart Gardner
Walter Travis (a)
200 Garden City Golf Club Garden City, New York 1901 Willie Anderson 331 Playoff Alex Smith 200 Myopia Hunt Club South Hamilton, Massachusetts 1900 Harry Vardon 313 2 strokes John Henry Taylor 200 Chicago Golf Club Wheaton, Illinois 1899 Willie Smith 315 11 strokes Val Fitzjohn
George Low Sr.
150 Baltimore Country Club
Roland Park Course
Baltimore, Maryland 1898 Fred Herd 328 7 strokes Alex Smith 150 Myopia Hunt Club South Hamilton, Massachusetts 1897 Joe Lloyd 162 1 stroke Willie Anderson 150 Chicago Golf Club Wheaton, Illinois 1896 James Foulis 152 3 strokes Horace Rawlins 150 Shinnecock Hills Golf Club Shinnecock Hills, New York 1895 Horace Rawlins 173 2 strokes Willie Dunn 150 Newport Country Club Newport, Rhode Island
- ^ abcde The course straddles the border between Daly City and San Francisco the club's postal address is in San Francisco.
- ^ ab Most of the course lies within the hamlet of Old Bethpage, but the clubhouse is in Farmingdale, and the park has a Farmingdale postal address. Both places are within the Town of Oyster Bay.
- ^ abc The club has a Rochester postal address, but is located in the adjacent town of Pittsford.
- ^ The club is located in a portion of the Duluth postal area that became part of the newly incorporated city of Johns Creek in 2006. Although the club is still served by the Duluth post office, it now lists its mailing address as Johns Creek.
- ^ The club has a St. Louis postal address, but is located in the Missouri suburb of Town and Country.
- ^ Pacific Palisades is a neighborhood within the city of Los Angeles that has a unique postal identity.
Legend State totals – preceding courses are in that state Division totals – Divisions as defined by U.S. Census Bureau Region totals – each is composed of 2 or 3 divisions Total U.S. Opens
Col. 4 shows larger region which contains entity in col. 1
Course/State/Region No. Years hosted Geog.
Myopia Hunt Club 4 1908, 1905, 1901, 1898 MA The Country Club 3 1988, 1963, 1913 MA Worcester Country Club 1 1925 MA Brae Burn Country Club 1 1919 MA Total Massachusetts 9 NewEng Newport Country Club 1 1895 RI Total Rhode Island 1 NewEng Total New England 10 NEast Winged Foot Golf Club 6 2020, 2006, 1984, 1974, 1959, 1929 NY Shinnecock Hills Golf Club 5 2018, 2004, 1995, 1986, 1896 NY Oak Hill Country Club 3 1989, 1968, 1956 NY Bethpage Black Course 2 2009, 2002 NY Fresh Meadow Country Club 1 1932 NY Inwood Country Club 1 1923 NY Country Club of Buffalo 1 1912 NY Garden City Golf Club 1 1902 NY Total New York 20 MidAtl Oakmont Country Club 9 2016, 2007, 1994, 1983, 1973,
1962, 1953, 1935, 1927
PA Merion Golf Club 5 2013, 1981, 1971, 1950, 1934 PA Philadelphia Cricket Club 2 1910, 1907 PA Philadelphia Country Club 1 1939 PA Total Pennsylvania 17 MidAtl Baltusrol Golf Club 7 1993, 1980, 1967, 1954, 1936,
NJ Englewood Golf Club 1 1909 NJ Total New Jersey 8 MidAtl Congressional Country Club 3 2011, 1997, 1964 MD Baltimore Country Club 1 1899 MD Columbia Country Club 1 1921 MD Total Maryland 5 MidAtl Total Mid-Atlantic 49 NEast Total Northeast 59 USA Pinehurst Resort 3 2014, 2005, 1999 NC Total North Carolina 3 SthAtl Atlanta Athletic Club 1 1976 GA Total Georgia 1 SthAtl Total South Atlantic 4 South Total East South Central 0 South Southern Hills Country Club 3 2001, 1977, 1958 OK Total Oklahoma 3 WSC Champions Golf Club 1 1969 TX Colonial Country Club 1 1941 TX Northwood Club 1 1952 TX Total Texas 3 WSC Total West South Central 6 South Total South 10 USA Medinah Country Club 3 1990, 1975, 1949 IL Chicago Golf Club 3 1911, 1900, 1897 IL Olympia Fields Country Club 2 2003, 1928 IL North Shore Country Club 1 1933 IL Skokie Country Club 1 1922 IL Midlothian Country Club 1 1914 IL Onwentsia Club 1 1906 IL Glen View Club 1 1904 IL Total Illinois 13 ENC Inverness Club 4 1979, 1957, 1931, 1920 OH Canterbury Golf Club 2 1946, 1940 OH Scioto Country Club 1 1926 OH Total Ohio 7 ENC Oakland Hills Country Club 6 1996, 1985, 1961, 1951, 1937,
MI Total Michigan 6 ENC Total East North Central 26 Midwest Hazeltine National Golf Club 2 1991, 1970 MN Interlachen Country Club 1 1930 MN The Minikahda Club 1 1916 MN Total Minnesota 4 WNC Bellerive Country Club 1 1965 MO St. Louis Country Club 1 1947 MO Total Missouri 2 WNC Erin Hills 1 2017 WI Total Wisconsin 1 WNC Total West North Central 7 Midwest Total Midwest 33 USA Cherry Hills Country Club 3 1978, 1960, 1938 CO Total Colorado 3 Mtn Total Mountain 3 West Pebble Beach Golf Links 6 2019, 2010, 2000, 1992, 1982,
CA Olympic Club 5 2012, 1998, 1987, 1966, 1955 CA Torrey Pines Golf Course 2 2021, 2008 CA Riviera Country Club 1 1948 CA Total California 14 Pac Chambers Bay 1 2015 WA Total Washington 1 Pac Total Pacific 15 West Total West 18 USA Total U.S. Opens 121
The eighteenth state to host the tournament was Washington in 2015, followed by Wisconsin in 2017.
- Oldest champion: Hale Irwin in 1990 at 45 years, 15 days.
- Youngest champion: John McDermott in 1911 at 19 years, 315 days.
- Oldest player to make the cut: Sam Snead in 1973 at 61 years old. He tied for 29th place.
- Most victories: 4 by Willie Anderson 1901, 1903–1905 Bobby Jones 1923, 1926, 1929–30 Ben Hogan 1948, 1950–51, 1953 Jack Nicklaus 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980. NOTE: Hogan also won the 1942 Hale America National Open which was held jointly by the USGA, PGA and Chicago GA for the benefit of the Navy Relief Society and the USO.
- Most consecutive victories: 3 by Willie Anderson 1903–1905.
- Most consecutive victorious attempts: 3 by Ben Hogan 1948, 1950–51
- Most consecutive attempts in top 2: 5 by Bobby Jones 1922–1926
- Most consecutive attempts in top 5: 6 by Willie Anderson 1901–1906
- Most consecutive attempts in top 10: 16 by Ben Hogan 1940–1956 (next highest streak 7)
- Most runner-up finishes: Phil Mickelson – 6 (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013)
- Most consecutive Opens started: 44 by Jack Nicklaus from 1957 to 2000.
- Largest margin of victory: 15 strokes by Tiger Woods, 2000. This is the all-time record for all majors.
- Lowest score for 36 holes: 130 – Martin Kaymer (65–65), rounds 1–2, 2014.
- Lowest score for 54 holes: 199 – Rory McIlroy (65–66–68), rounds 1–3, 2011 Louis Oosthuizen (66-66-67), rounds 2–4, 2015.
- Lowest score for 72 holes: 268 – Rory McIlroy (65–66–68–69), rounds 1–4, 2011.
- Most strokes under par for 72 holes: 16-under (268) by Rory McIlroy, 2011 16-under (272) by Brooks Koepka, 2017.
- Most strokes under par at any point in the tournament: 17 by Rory McIlroy, final round, 2011. 
- Lowest score for 18 holes: 63 – Johnny Miller, 4th round, 1973 Jack Nicklaus, 1st, 1980 Tom Weiskopf, 1st, 1980 Vijay Singh, 2nd, 2003 Justin Thomas, 3rd, 2017 Tommy Fleetwood, 4th, 2018.
- Lowest score for 18 holes in relation to par: −9 Justin Thomas, 3rd round, 2017.
- All four rounds under par (golfers who did not win the tournament in italics): 
- , 1968 (69–68–69–69, par 70) , 1970 (71–70–70–70, par 72) , 1993 (67–67–69–69, par 70)
- Curtis Strange, 1994 (70–70–70–70, par 71) (65–66–68–69, par 71) and Robert Garrigus (70–70–68–70), 2011 (67–70–68–67, par 72), Charley Hoffman (70–70–68–71), and Brandt Snedeker (70–69–70–71), 2017
- 9 Opens: Oakmont Country Club – 1927, 1935, 1953, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2016
- 7 Opens: Baltusrol Golf Club – 1903, 1915, 1936, 1954, 1967, 1980, 1993
- 6 Opens:
- – 1924, 1937, 1951, 1961, 1985, 1996 – 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019 – 1929, 1959, 1974, 1984, 2006, 2020
- – 1955, 1966, 1987, 1998, 2012 – 1934, 1950, 1971, 1981, 2013 – 1896, 1986, 1995, 2004, 2018
- – 1898, 1901, 1905, 1908 – 1920, 1931, 1957, 1979
There is an extensive records section on the official U.S. Open website. 
Beginning with the 2020 tournament, NBCUniversal holds domestic television rights (with coverage on NBC and Golf Channel), having taken over the remainder of the 12-year deal with the USGA signed by Fox Sports in 2013 that gave it exclusive rights to USGA championships from 2015 through 2026. With the postponed 2020 U.S. Open Championship presenting a significant scheduling challenge due to its other fall sports commitments, Fox had held discussions with the USGA over broadcasting the tournament on their cable network FS1 or partnering with NBC. Ultimately, the issues led the network to transfer the final seven years of its contract entirely.   
Coverage was previously televised by NBC and ESPN through 2014. NBC's first period as rightsholder began in 1995 ABC held the broadcast rights from 1966 through 1994. 
U. S. Open Golf History
The United States Golf Association has conducted the United States Open Championship since 1895.
The national golf championship of the United States is one of the four major professional golf championships played each year. Because of its high standing and long history, there are many noteworthy facts associated with the event.
When the USGA initiated the U.S. Open, it was played concurrently with the then larger and more prestigious U.S. Amateur Championship. English professional Horace Rawlins was the first winner of the 36-hole event, which was played on the 9-hole Newport Golf and Country Club course in Rhode Island. In the early years, U.S. Open contestants were mostly American amateurs and British professionals.
No American golfer had ever won his own national championship until John McDermott accomplished that feat in 1911.
In 1913, an unknown 20-year-old Boston amateur named Francis Ouimet shocked the golf world by defeating seasoned English professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff. Americans dominated the event for the next 90 years, failing to win in only three contests.
Several championships marked significant milestones in golf history.
In 1930, Bobby Jones won his fourth and last U.S. Open in the same year he captured the U.S. Amateur, the British Open and the British Amateur championships. No one else has ever won these four titles in a single year and it seems unlikely it will happen again. In 1960, Arnold Palmer won his first U.S. Open over an aging Ben Hogan and a young Jack Nicklaus. Two years later, Nicklaus returned the favor when he defeated Palmer in a playoff for the first of his 18 major championship victories. Tiger Woods won the 2000 U.S. Open by a record 15 strokes at Pebble Beach, establishing his absolute dominance of the game. He went on to win the next three major championships in succession to become the only player to simultaneously hold the U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship and Masters titles.
Arnold Palmer’s victory in 1960 required a final-round 65 for him to come from seven strokes behind for the win.
Johnny Miller overcame the same deficit with a final-round 63 that propelled him to victory in 1973. For an exhibition of sheer determination, it would be hard to match Ben Hogan’s win in 1950 following his near fatal auto accident the year before.
Tiger Woods’ win over Rocco Mediate in 2008 ranks among the best head-to-head matches in U.S. Open history.
It was compelling not only because of the contrast in the players’ rankings and styles, but also because Woods played on a severely injured knee throughout the week. The tournament went to an 18-hole playoff and was ultimately decided by sudden death.
Palmer's collapse one for the ages
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tiger Woods was working Mike Davis of the USGA on Monday morning, working him for inside information as the U.S. Open favorite and championship's steward spoke on the 18th green. Woods wanted a little insight into the Olympic course setup, and, hey, some things Davis could tell him and some things he could not.
The empire might strike back one year after Rory McIlroy went 16-under at Congressional, meaning Tiger and McIlroy and Phil Mickelson could be starring in their own Greek tragedies by the end of the week. But no matter what the USGA throws at the field, this much is clear:
Arnold Palmer led the 1966 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club by 7 shots with nine holes to play. Somehow, The King performed the choke of all chokes, and he never won another major championship in his illustrious career. AP Photo
Nobody will hurt half as much as Arnold Palmer hurt here in 1966, when the man who brought golf to the masses suffered through the greatest choke the game has seen.
"It was a very sad day," Rita Douglas, the Olympic member who hosted Palmer that week, said Monday by phone. "I'm 94 now, so old and yet I remember every minute of it."
Go ahead and count down golf's enduring meltdowns. Greg Norman at the '96 Masters. Jean Van de Velde at the '99 British. Ed Sneed at the '79 Masters.
Doug Sanders ('70 British) and Scott Hoch ('89 Masters) blew gimme putts that would've claimed the majors they never won, gimme putts that instead enhanced the Grand Slam careers of Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo. Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie gift-wrapped the 2006 U.S. Open for Geoff Ogilvy by making swings and choices on the final hole you'd expect from an 18-handicapper.
But Palmer retired the trophy on an inexplicable endgame failure, staging a collapse that rivals any from any league or season, right there with the usual suspects -- the 2004 Yankees, 1986 Red Sox and 1992 Houston Oilers.
Forget the math: Choke is a four-letter word in the language of sport. An athlete would almost prefer to be called a quitter than a choker, and here's the bad news for those who spend a living chasing the little white ball into the little round hole:
No sport offers its competitors more chances to choke than golf.
It's a lonely game played by men and women waging lonely battles with their demons and doubts. And 46 years ago, when he stepped to the 10th tee here holding a 7-shot lead over Billy Casper, a golfer adored by millions had no idea just how lonely a back nine could get.
"How many shots was Arnold leading by at that Open?" Nicklaus once asked.
"Seven shots with nine holes to go," he was told.
Nicklaus shook his head in disbelief. "How can you ever let that happen?" he said.
It happened because Palmer never believed in playing prevent defense. He was the original go-for-broker, the kind of gambler who would make Mickelson look hopelessly conservative in comparison.
Palmer wanted Ben Hogan's Open scoring record of 276, too. He had no use for Hogan, an automaton who never referred to Palmer by name. Arnie wanted a piece of Hogan and a piece of history, so he started firing at pins in pursuit of both.
Casper was busy playing for his parting gift. At the turn he'd told Palmer he just wanted to hold off Nicklaus for second place, and Arnie, ever the good sport, gave Casper a little pep talk, told him to keep plugging away and everything would work out.
Palmer had a 6-shot lead with six holes to play, a 5-shot lead with four to play. His eighth major championship still zipped safely inside his bag, Palmer decided to play for birdie on the par-3 15th, and his ambitious 7-iron shot landed in the sand. One of the best putters around, Casper nailed a 20-footer for birdie and watched his deficit shrink to three when Palmer failed to get up and down.
"I can win this tournament now," Casper told himself.
Palmer came undone in a spectacular way. As colorless as Arnold was charismatic, Casper enjoyed the fact that the gallery had turned in his favor, embracing him as an underdog. Casper long believed the Big Three of Palmer, Nicklaus and Gary Player should've been a Big Four, including him, of course, and this was his moment in the sun.
Meanwhile, Douglas was walking through the gallery with Palmer's wife, Winnie. "Her poor little face kept getting sadder and sadder," Douglas recalled Monday from her Napa, Calif., home. "Winnie was always smiling on the golf course, but she couldn't smile that day."
Palmer snap-hooked his drive at the 604-yard 16th, failed to advance his second shot out of the deep rough and scrambled to make bogey after Casper drained a 13-footer for birdie. Lead down to one.
"I'd never, ever seen him feel the pressure like he felt the pressure then," Casper would say years later. "He couldn't make a swing."
Palmer had a 7-footer at 17 he desperately needed, and the man who never left a putt short watched his ball stop one inch short of pay dirt, compelling him to throw his head back, his face an unruly brew of shock and disgust. Palmer trudged to the 72nd tee tied for the Open lead.
Palmer was famous for making eye contact with one and all, for making sure the crowds felt they were part of his experience. But as his world spun out of control, Palmer disconnected from the fans. On the 18th green he was a dark, solitary figure lurching over a downhill, left-to-right 4-footer he needed to qualify for a playoff.
Believing his entire identity as a winner was on the line, Palmer somehow found the nerve to get the ball in the hole. "Biggest putt I've ever made," he would say.
Writing in the next morning's edition of The New York Times, Arthur Daley called Palmer's epic failure to protect his lead "the equivalent of galloping toward the wrong end zone." Palmer carried a 2-shot lead into the back nine of the 18-hole playoff, but everyone already knew how this movie would end.
Casper picked up six shots on Palmer down the stretch, just as he had picked up seven the day before. When it was over, Palmer headed back to the home of Rita and Ed Douglas.
"He came into the kitchen, where I was making hors d'oeuvres," Rita recalled, "and he said, 'Oh Rita, I could cry.' I just said, 'So could I, Arn.' He was very bitter about it he really hated losing that one.
"It was a very difficult day for all of us. We ate and then we drove Arnold and Winnie to the airport, said our goodbyes and they just got in the plane and left."
Palmer never won another major and to this day remains haunted by the one at Olympic that got away. All these years later, the same Open course might take a sizable divot out of the legacy of Tiger or Rory or Phil.
But the experience won't measure up to 1966, when The King was reduced to the king of pain. Nothing in golf has ever hurt so much.
An intertwined history of Arnie and Oakmont
LATROBE, Pa. -- Arnold Palmer stood outside Latrobe Country Club, not far from its swimming pool, his left arm interlocked with the right arm belonging to the club official about to walk him toward a cart. A woman motioned for Palmer to come see her hit golf balls, and after the official helped the 86-year-old legend into his seat, off the two men went to watch.
This was two weeks before the start of the U.S. Open at Oakmont, and in the early afternoon sun Palmer looked a bit sturdier than he did on the first tee that Thursday morning in April at Augusta National, where he arrived physically unable to strike a ceremonial drive with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. For many of those who watched this scene unfold at the Masters -- Palmer being ushered to the tee box and into a white chair -- his appearance was alarming. He looked pained, frail, down a good 20 or 25 pounds. His green jacket seemed at least one size too large.
Arnold Palmer always cut an imposing figure off the course, and his go-for-broke style inside the ropes showed his tenacity to attempt any shot possible. AP Photo/Paul Vathis
Of course, we all thought Arnold Daniel Palmer would be young and strong forever, and more capable of filling out his shirts and jackets than anyone in his sport. He always came across as a halfback who had just emerged season-ready from an NFL training camp.
Longtime pro Chi Chi Rodriguez thought Palmer in his prime looked like Gene Fullmer, former middleweight champion of the world. "And Arnold had hands like Rocky Marciano," Rodriguez said. "When he closed his fist, it must've weighed 10 pounds."
Palmer was a greenskeeper's son cut right out of the western Pennsylvania hillside, and he didn't play golf as much as he attacked it with his heavyweight hands and blacksmith arms. His old man, Deacon, became the club pro and didn't let any Latrobe members tell him how to raise his boy or even change his boy's violent swing, including the one who swore Arnold would amount to nothing more than a ditch digger. Many years later, Arnold answered the man's prediction the only way he knew how -- by taking some of the money he'd earned as a seven-time major champion and buying Latrobe Country Club.
This working man's hero never left his hometown. Though Palmer winters in Orlando, Florida, at his other club, Bay Hill, he spends six months every year not in the south of France, or in some exotic estate, but in a modest home (for a man of his wealth and stature) overlooking his small office building near the Latrobe course. On the same course, he was raised in a house with no indoor plumbing. This goes a long way in a city of 8,000 residents with the kind of outdated storefront signs that project a charming 1970s vibe.
So does the fact that Palmer's club isn't accessible only to the one percenters, but to the two, three, four and five percenters, too. It's a private course for the public course guy who grinded his way up the socioeconomic ladder, a guy like Marty Newingham, a 58-year-old former caddie and current member who counts himself among Palmer's close friends. A couple of weeks ago, Newingham bore witness to a fairly remarkable event.
Arnold Palmer hit golf balls for the first time since last August, when he managed to play five holes with his friends. He hit 25 to 30 of them on the practice range, and nobody who found out cared that few, if any, of his shots traveled beyond 100 yards.
"It was terrible," Palmer told his chief assistant of half a century, Doc Giffin. "I couldn't hit it anywhere."
The point was that Arnold Palmer was still trying, still fighting against the undefeated forces of nature and time. He made two more trips to the Latrobe range in recent days, including one Saturday, hitting a couple dozen balls each time and surprising his friends by maintaining a steady stance in the process.
Palmer's physical decline started in December 2014, when he said he "tripped on a carpet and did a 360" dislocating his right shoulder so severely that, according to one associate, three doctors were required to screw it back into place. The shoulder injury conspired with hip problems, spinal stenosis, oral surgery, a toe infection and surgery, a pacemaker implant, and deep vein thrombosis to keep Palmer from playing any full rounds of golf since he took part in the Seminole Golf Club Pro-Member in March 2014.
Through three rounds at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont, Arnold Palmer held a share of the 54-hole lead. He came up short in the final round when Johnny Miller shot a spectacular 63 to claim the victory. AP Photo
But more than anything, a series of falls has compromised Palmer's health and worried those closest to him. One associate estimated that Palmer has fallen "more than a dozen times," and that his left leg often goes out from underneath him without warning. People close to him have strongly encouraged him to use a walker or a cane, but this is Arnold Palmer we're talking about. He barely agreed to use the elevator to his third-floor condo at Bay Hill.
Palmer has taken on a full-time aide in Latrobe (that wasn't an easy sell, either), but he is still very much the de facto mayor of his club, his city and his region. They make 'em tough in western Pennsylvania, whether you're talking steelworkers or coal miners or quarterbacks. Or golfers. The King is the game's reigning king of pain.
So it's no surprise Palmer hasn't completely surrendered to the notion that he won't make it to Oakmont this week. His longtime IMG agent, Alastair Johnston, told the USGA weeks ago that Palmer couldn't appear as part of his role as honorary co-chairman with Nicklaus, who beat him in an epic playoff at Oakmont in 1962. Giffin has also described a possible visit as a long shot at best.
But Palmer has talked about it, just as he has talked about teeing it up with his Latrobe regulars in the not-too-distant future. His spirit is much stronger than his body right now, and as the golfing world descends on Oakmont, a 40-mile drive from Palmer's home, the entire field should remember just how much that spirit has meant to the game.
Palmer isn't the greatest player ever he is, however, the most important player ever, and the most beloved. Like his late, great contemporary, Muhammad Ali, Palmer was celebrated for his emotional generosity, for his eagerness to make eye contact with strangers and to ensure they felt invested in a shared experience. He granted more autograph requests, posed for more pictures, and personally answered more fan mail than any golfer before or after him. By the design of his first-grade teacher (Rita Taylor), and by the order of a father he feared, Palmer's signature set the legibility standard for all American icons.
This is why Rodriguez said that golf without Arnold Palmer "would be like 'Gunsmoke' without Matt Dillon. There's no 'Gunsmoke' without Matt Dillon."
And there can be no U.S. Open at Oakmont without the story of the golfer who wanted to win on that course as much as he ever wanted to win at Augusta National. Palmer played Oakmont for the first time at age 12 (and shot 82). He played his first Open at Oakmont (1953), his most memorable Open at Oakmont (1962), his most improbable Open at Oakmont (1973), and his last Open at Oakmont (1994), on the same day his commercial partner, O.J. Simpson, led police on a slow-speed chase into infamy.
Palmer won the 1949 West Penn Amateur on his backyard course, one of the toughest in the land, but never an Open -- a fact that diminishes absolutely nothing about him. He's as much a part of Oakmont as the stretch of Pennsylvania Turnpike snaking through it. And even if golf's grand old man can't make it over from Latrobe this week to give the fans one last thumbs-up, players need to understand that these are very much Palmer's people, and this is very much his house. If a little history lesson is needed, well, it's time to take a few notes.
OAKMONT, 1962 -- Arnold Palmer could not lose this tournament. He was a three-time Masters champion who had won the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale the year before, and who had erased a 7-stroke deficit in the final round to win the U.S. Open the year before that. Family members, friends, opponents, oddsmakers -- they were all certain Palmer would enhance his standing as golf's first TV star on a course he'd already played more than a hundred times.
Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, from left, stood on the first hole at Augusta National for the ceremonial tee shot to kick off the 2016 Masters. Due to his ailing health, the 86-year-old Palmer was unable to hit a tee shot. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
What a story it would've been, too. The local boy born into the Great Depression had started playing for money as a 5-year-old in Latrobe, agreeing to hit a lady's ball over a drainage ditch for a nickel. He became the No. 1 varsity player as a freshman at Latrobe High School, and when he played with his friends on Monday mornings -- and when those friends playfully identified themselves as Ben Hogan and Sam Snead and Byron Nelson -- the most confident member of the foursome would always respond, "I'm Arnold Palmer."
He said it very slowly, recalled one of those friends, Ed Matko. "When Arnold was 14, 15 years old," Matko said, "he already knew he was destined for greatness."
Driven to prove something to his taskmaster father, Palmer dominated the amateur ranks of western Pennsylvania, left Wake Forest and joined the Coast Guard after his teammate and confidant, Buddy Worsham, died in a car crash.
As a paint salesman, Palmer won the 1954 U.S. Amateur in a class conflict with Robert Sweeny, an Oxford-educated investment banker. A star was born, and so was a cause. Palmer would be the one to bring golf to those who labored for the country club elite.
That's why the mill workers came out in droves for Palmer at the 1962 U.S. Open, and turned your typical climate-controlled golf gallery into an overheated Steelers crowd. Palmer made the daily drive to and from Latrobe. He was paired with the tour rookie, Jack Nicklaus, in the first two rounds, and was fighting through a finger injury he suffered while handling his luggage at the Latrobe airport that would be named for him 37 years later.
Nicklaus? He was fighting through the kind of road heckling that normally greeted football, baseball and basketball players -- not golfers. Fans called him "Fat Jack" and "Fat Guts" and made distracting noises when he lined up a putt.
"Arnold was the first player to bring people like that off the street," said Phil Rodgers, who finished tied for third that year. "He was like an everyday ironworker, big and strong and puffing on his cigarette, his shirt tail hanging out, and he took a rip at it and attacked every hole. Hogan's game was very plotted out, almost a script. Arnold? He didn't have a script. His script was whatever I am going to do now, and people loved it."
Those people didn't want him to lose to an opponent who came from the right side of the tracks. Nicklaus was hardly a blue blood -- his father, Charlie, ran a few drugstores -- but Palmer's family and fans saw Nicklaus as a country clubber all the same. The Oakmont crowd turned so ugly on Fat Jack that Charlie Nicklaus went after one of the hecklers before a family friend, tempestuous Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes -- who would lose his career to a punch he threw at an opposing player -- actually stepped in and calmed him down.
Arnold's sister, Cheech, would later concede that the crowd's treatment of Nicklaus was embarrassing. Arnold's daughter, Peg, remembered "how horrible it felt to have people attack one of my dad's opponents. I recall it not being what I learned golf was supposed to be about. My grandfather was very upset and ashamed."
Arnold Palmer's father, Deacon Palmer, was a revered -- and feared -- figure in the seven-time major champion's life. AP Photo
But on the other hand, Cheech would say, "All of us hated Jack Nicklaus. We thought he was another one of those spoiled little rich kids, and he was." They hated him more when this Open was closed. Palmer had a 10-footer to win on the 72nd hole, and as he settled into his famous knock-kneed stance, the man he was paired with, Bob Rosburg, told him, "If you were ever going to make a putt, make this one, will you?"
Palmer missed. Young Nicklaus was never unnerved by the crowd in fact, Palmer thought it sharpened his opponent's edge. Jack overpowered Arnold and outputted him in the 18-hole playoff. (Palmer had 11 three-putts over 90 holes on the lightning-fast greens Nicklaus had one.)
When Nicklaus had prevailed, the runner-up admitted he'd never wanted a victory as badly as he wanted this one. Palmer retreated to the basement of his home, tapped a keg of Latrobe's hometown beer, Rolling Rock, for his gathered friends, and spoke of this lost opportunity from behind the bar. His agent, Mark McCormack, who had started International Management Group on a handshake with Palmer, was there with his wife, Nancy, who described the scene as "a wake."
The good news was that the players' wives, Winnie Palmer and Barbara Nicklaus, somehow walked the entire playoff together and forged a lasting friendship that softened a decades-long rivalry that caused fractures in their husbands' relationship. The bad news was that Nicklaus, at 22, suddenly had reason to believe he could beat the 32-year-old King on any stage.
But in assessing the devastating defeat, one angle never talked about or written about enough was Palmer's resilience. He came back four weeks later to dominate the Open Championship at Troon, winning the oldest major for a second straight time and finishing 29 strokes ahead of Nicklaus, who tied for 34th.
Palmer once couldn't afford to make the trip to play in the British Amateur, and now he was undisputed royalty overseas. He had re-established the Open as a required destination for top American players, and back home he had re-established himself as the muscular force who ascended to a Mays and Mantle level of stardom and transformed the way sports fans looked at golf.
Palmer was the people's champ in every way. Soon enough, Rodriguez said, players were suggesting that the tour was putting Sunday pin placements on the left side of greens to favor Palmer.
"Arnold always made his ball go right to left," Rodriguez said. "But I used to tell those players, 'Arnold is the one who keeps the purses going. While every other guy is taking money out of our pockets, he's putting money in our pockets. So who would you rather win other than Arnold Palmer?'"
OAKMONT, 1973 -- Bobby Nichols, who finished in a tie for third at Oakmont in '62, loves to tell a story about Arnold Palmer. (Who doesn't?) They were playing a memorial golf tournament in 1967 in honor of fellow pro Tony Lema, who died in a plane crash the previous summer, and the low score would win a new Mercury XR7 put up by the Ford Motor Company.
At the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont, Arnold Palmer played with eventual champion Johnny Miller in the early rounds. Miller later said having to play with Palmer, given the partisan crowd supporting its favorite son, "was like a four-shot penalty." AP Photo
Palmer won the car with a course-record 63 at the old Stardust Country Club in Las Vegas, beating Nichols by 7 shots. "The wind was howling that day, up to 30 miles per hour," Nichols recalled. "It's one of the most incredible rounds of golf Arnold ever played."
But Nichols' father had worked for Ford for 41 years, and Bobby remembered two things that day: (1) His father had told him that no Ford employee could enter company-sponsored contests and (2) Palmer was a member of Ford's Lincoln-Mercury sports panel. Nichols congratulated Palmer on his victory, and then jokingly whispered in a public relations man's ear that the winner wasn't technically eligible for the prize. Sure enough, as Nichols was changing his shoes in the locker room, the PR man returned to tell him the car was his.
"And two or three weeks later," Nichols said, "Arnold comes up to me and says, 'Damn you, you cost me $125,000.'"
A puzzled Nichols asked Palmer what he was talking about that car wasn't worth anything close to $125,000.
Arnold Palmer, second from left, and Jack Nicklaus, second from right, squared off in an 18-hole playoff to decide the U.S. Open champion in 1962 at Oakmont. Despite being the crowd favorite, Palmer came up short as Nicklaus won his first major title. Getty Images
"No," Palmer responded, "but after you took it from me, Ford decided to give me the biggest tractor they make. So then I had to go buy a farm."
Only Arnold Palmer. Someone stole his car, and he got even by buying a farm.
America still adored him in the spring of 1973, the spring of Secretariat. Palmer had become a marketing machine, paving the way for future Michael Jordans and Peyton Mannings as a guy who could sell anything to anyone. Beyond that, Palmer had just ended a personal drought in February by beating Nicklaus in a breathless, 90-hole duel at the Bob Hope Desert Classic in what would be his 62nd and final tour victory. He celebrated that night by dancing cheek-to-cheek with Nicklaus as Jack wore a woman's wig.
Four months later, the Oakmont crowd was far more civil to Nicklaus than it was in 1962 Jack had slimmed down, for one, and had worn down Palmer's fans with his greatness. But the crowd was no less enthusiastic in its support for the 43-year-old local, who had a chance to punctuate his career with a triumph that would've been the equal of Nicklaus' 13 years later at the Masters. Palmer played with Johnny Miller in the first two rounds, and in citing the size and passion of Arnie's Army, Miller said the pairing to him "was like a 4-shot penalty."
It was abundantly clear who the crowds favored at the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont. Arnold Palmer, native son of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, drew the largest galleries by far. Getty Images
Palmer hadn't won a major in nine years, and he was seven years removed from his excruciating U.S. Open loss to Billy Casper at the Olympic Club, where he blew a 7-shot lead with nine holes to go. Back at Oakmont, Palmer entered the final round in a tie for the lead with John Schlee, Jerry Heard and 53-year-old Julius Boros Miller was 6 shots back and considered out of the tournament.
But with a wet Oakmont vulnerable, Miller, coming off a 76, teed off well ahead of the leaders and started tearing the place apart while only a precious few watched. It seemed the entire crowd of 23,000 was following Palmer, who picked up an early birdie at the fourth and arrived at the 11th green believing he had the lead.
But after missing a short putt, Palmer saw the scoreboard that had Miller at 8 under for the day, 5 under for the tournament. He turned to Schlee and said, "Where the f--- did he come from?"
Palmer's tee shot at No. 12 took a bad bounce into the deep rough, and his game unraveled from there. Miller won with his record score of 63, inspired in part by the advice of his father, who told him that he needed some Arnold Palmer in his game -- a willingness to go for broke when everyone else was playing for the center of the green.
OAKMONT, 1983 -- Marty Newingham started caddying for Arnold Palmer in the mid-1970s, and the boss prepared for the U.S. Open like he prepared for no other event. A month before the tournament started, Palmer would ask Newingham to show up at his Latrobe office at 7:30 a.m. to load his clubs into the car and head out to the 14th hole. Arnold would park his Cadillac behind the tee box, and sometimes Winnie would lay out a blanket and watch as her husband hit 150-250 balls.
Palmer had Newingham place his shag bag precisely 267 yards out in the fairway, and he'd consistently land his drives 3 feet to the left, 3 feet to the right, or directly on top of the bag. Newingham watched Palmer hit some magnificent shots with Hogan woods and irons, including one 7-iron into the 11th hole that stopped 2 feet right of the cup, inspiring the caddie to comment on how effectively his man was hitting these clubs.
"And he handed me back that 7-iron and said, 'Marty, we're done with these. We're not going to use them anymore,'" Newingham recalled. Palmer had his own clubs in the market, and he never had any use for Hogan, the man, who refused to call Palmer by his name and who ridiculed him in the Augusta National locker room after Palmer made a mess of a practice round in 1958, when Arnie won his first of four green jackets.
Palmer worked on his long game for two, two and a half hours, and Newingham wished he'd spent more time on the short game (a usual session lasted 15 minutes). But the caddie was living every ounce of the dream. When he was a boy, his grandfather would take him to the Latrobe airport to watch Palmer fly back into town after a victory. "Someone from the control tower would know Arnold was coming in," Newingham said, "and the phone chain unfolded. There was nothing but a chain link fence between the tarmac and hangar, and it drew a crowd when he flew in. It was an event."
Man, did Arnold love flying his airplanes. As an amateur golfer and passenger on a DC-3 heading to a tournament in Chattanooga, Palmer was terrified by a ball of fire raging up and down the aisle of the plane. He didn't swear that day to never fly again he swore to learn everything he could about static electricity and the weather phenomenon known as St. Elmo's fire -- and to take more control of his destiny at 40,000 feet.
Palmer flew some 20,000 hours during 55 years in his Aero Commander, Jet Commander, Lear Jet and Cessna Citations. "As a young pilot," Chi Chi Rodriguez said, "Arnold Palmer flew the same way he drove a golf ball. He was taking off from a tournament, and zoom, he'd go right over the course and straight up in the air. I think the FAA had to tell him to take it easy."
Palmer once set an around-the-world speed record of 57 hours, 25 minutes and 42 seconds (of course he did), and, at age 81, he took his final flight in 2011 with his co-pilot, Pete Luster, a Vietnam veteran who helped him complete that cross-country voyage from Palm Springs to Orlando. As a show of respect to the King on that last flight, a Texas air traffic controller didn't bother passing Palmer to the controller governing the next airspace -- he gave Palmer direct clearance to land in Orlando, a most uncommon gesture.
The Palmer tail number was N1AP. "They called us November 1 Alpha Papa," Luster said. "But we used to have one Orlando controller who called us November 1 Awesome Putter. Arnold really liked that."
In his earlier years in the cockpit, Palmer gave rides to Nicklaus, Player and other competitors. He also flew his friends to major championships.
One such man was Howdy Giles, a dentist from Delaware whose one mission in life was to meet the great Arnold Palmer and to make him one of his regular patients. He followed Palmer at tournaments, snapped pictures of him as if he were a member of the press, and even joined his golf clubs. Giles' grandkids would later jokingly call him a stalker.
What superstar not named Arnold Palmer would meet this man, then make him part of his extended family? "I'm not Arnold's best friend," Giles said, "but I think I'm in the top 10."
Giles was in Latrobe for the 1983 U.S. Open down the road at Oakmont. Palmer was 53, and not even his wife and two daughters gave him a chance to win. But if nothing else, Palmer wanted desperately to make the cut. Rain delayed the second round and forced him to return to the course early Saturday morning to finish up.
This is where Arnold Palmer the pilot gave an assist to Arnold Palmer the golfer.
"That morning," Giles recalled, "Arnold decides we should go back by helicopter. So it's Arnie, his brother Jerry, and myself, and his co-pilot picks us up near the first tee at Latrobe at 5 a.m. in the dark. We get over Oakmont and there's total fog covering the place, so much that you can't see anything. But then Arnie finds this one little opening in the fog, and he puts that helicopter down right across the street where they were parking cars.
"Arnie gets out of the helicopter, finishes his round, and makes the cut. That's Arnold Palmer."
OAKMONT, 1994 -- As much as their Hertz commercials sold the notion of Arnold Palmer and O.J. Simpson as a cross-generational, cross-racial partnership, they were never close. Simpson was the original star of those ads and the dominant personality when filming with Palmer, who, as a deliberate speaker, often deferred in conversation with a rapid-fire talker like Simpson.
"I think O.J. tolerated Arnold," said one Palmer associate. "O.J. had a lot of bluster and arrogance and during filming it was a lot of, 'Arnold, you do it this way and I'll do it that way.' When they were together, Arnold would laugh at O.J. But I don't think they were social friends, and I don't remember them playing golf together."
Need a club? Or a few hundred? Arnold Palmer's workshop in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, showcases some of the legend's wealth of equipment. Also hanging in the room is the baseball jersey from the Pittsburgh Pirates given to Palmer on his 80th birthday. Ian O'Connor
On June 17, 1994, hours before the nation was transfixed by the images of police tracking Simpson in his white Bronco, Palmer teed off in his first U.S. Open since the 1983 tournament at Oakmont, and the last one he'd ever play. Seve Ballesteros and former USGA chief Frank Hannigan criticized the USGA for handing the 64-year-old Palmer a special exemption and, theoretically, for taking the spot of a more deserving player.
It was a brutally hot Friday, and under a straw hat, Palmer played with John Mahaffey and Rocco Mediate, a grinder from nearby Greensburg, Pennsylvania, who described the King as almost a second father.
Mediate was afraid to be seen by Palmer in the morning if he hadn't shaved. He was dealing with a serious back injury that week at Oakmont and had no business competing. "But there was no way I wasn't playing with Arnold Palmer in his final round," Mediate said. "I would've crawled."
Palmer received a thunderous ovation at every hole, reminiscent of how in 1962 he turned Oakmont into the kind of home-court advantage the old Celtics enjoyed in the Boston Garden.
Bob Straus, photographer and friend, was among the many chroniclers along for the ride. Straus had seen Palmer do things that no other golfer would do, like the time at a bygone tournament when he was angry over his poor play and yet stopped on his walk to the 10th tee and entered the crowd to sign for a drunk who had yelled at him for an autograph. Over the years, the photographer had shot Elvis, Sinatra, Prince and Muhammad Ali. Straus said Palmer's charisma was right in the same ballpark with theirs.
Mediate felt the full power of that energy. Palmer taught him to be approachable, to give the people something for their money. Mediate thought Palmer acted like such a normal person, such a guy's guy, until it was game time.
"On the golf course," Mediate said, "it's not normal anymore. You're in awe of the man and what he's done."
On his 35th hole at Oakmont, his back screaming, Mediate hit 4-iron instead of driver on a short par-4.
At the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont, Arnold Palmer acknowledged the crowd after finishing with an 81 in the second round to miss the cut. As a 12-year-old, Palmer's first round at Oakmont was an 82. AP Photo/Kathy Willens
"What the hell was that?" asked the legend who had never met a layup he didn't hate. On the next hole, the final hole of his U.S. Open life, Palmer walked up to the green with his straw hat in his hand and tears in his eyes. His ball was sitting 25 feet from the hole Mahaffey had hit his in there tight. "Why don't you knock it in," Palmer told Mahaffey, "because when I make mine this place is going to go crazy."
Who cared that Palmer didn't make his? His bogey gave him an 81, 1 stroke better than the 82 he shot at Oakmont as a 12-year-old. Mediate hugged him when it was over and said, "You're the one who made all of this possible," and Palmer lost it. He struggled through a quick TV interview, then lost it again in his brief but enduring news conference.
He kept trying to share his thoughts in that presser, and kept breaking down. "I suppose the most important thing," Palmer said of the game before again burying his face in a white towel, "is the fact that it has been as good as it has been to me." Palmer added that he was sun-whipped and tired before rising and exiting podium left.
A couple hundred members of the press gave him a standing ovation. Most of the credentialed men and women in the room had never before done that for a public figure, and never would again.
BAY HILL, 2016 -- Arnold Palmer had some guests over at his Bay Hill home to watch the final round of the Masters, and when Jordan Spieth blew the tournament by putting two balls in the water at No. 12, those guests naturally started talking about the awful sequence they'd just witnessed. Not the host. Palmer didn't say a word. He was the only person in the room who knew exactly what Spieth was going through, and who knew what it felt like in that arena as the loneliest athlete on Earth.
"He was feeling empathy in that moment," Marty Newingham said. "It was his total respect. He didn't need to comment, or pile on. Really, I'd say he silenced the chatter in the room."
Palmer was three days removed from his ceremonial appearance on Augusta National's first tee, where the year before he was able to hit his drive with Nicklaus and Player only because he'd taken a cortisone shot in his damaged shoulder.
His Bay Hill buddy, Bob Florio, was in the gallery that day in 2015, and he had seen a burst of the old Palmer magic on the range in Orlando. Revived by some lotion former pitcher Ken "Hawk" Harrelson had given him for his shoulder, Palmer hit 30 balls, about 25 of them squarely, and he was so excited that he told Florio to call his wife, Kit. (Winnie had died of cancer in 1999.) But on Thursday morning at the Masters, fearing the Babe Ruth of his sport might actually swing and miss, Florio closed his eyes and waited. "All I wanted to hear was the club hit that ball," said Florio, who described the sound of contact as a beautiful thing.
But this time around, in 2016, Palmer and his people didn't want him to take the chance of whiffing or, more importantly, of falling to the ground in the attempt. Palmer's older daughter, Peg, was touched by what she called Nicklaus' "incredibly kind and sweet support." Jack had been lobbying Arnold for two days to give it a whack. Player touched those on site when he turned to Palmer and called him by a nickname. "Muff," Player said, "even though you can't hit a shot, I'm still so thrilled you're on the tee. I'm going to dedicate this shot to you, and I'm going to hit a beauty."
And hit a beauty Player did.
"It was very enjoyable," Player said from South Africa, "but also very sad. It hurt me to see Arnold so physically strong all these years, and then having to sit in a chair while Jack and I hit. But there was something few people noticed -- and Arnold always believed in manners -- when they called his name on that tee. Arnold stood up even though he could hardly walk. That got me choked up, and that's why I dedicated my tee shot to him."
In the end, Peg Palmer said of her father, "I think it was hell for him not to be able to hit his ball that day . I always saw him as Superman. There is a feeling of insecurity on some level to see him not completely as a superhero."
Longtime rivals Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus spent some time together in the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont, Palmer's final appearance in his national open. Arnie's Army showed up in force to support the Western Pennsylvania legend. Stephen Munday/Getty Images
Yes, it's been difficult for every member of Arnie's Army. "Getting old," the King once said, "is not for sissies."
Palmer did have a sudden bounce in his step around tournament time at Bay Hill in March. Driving his new Sierra Denali Ultimate truck, Palmer would blow the horn for stunned neighbors. He'd take what he called a romantic drive with Kit out onto the course before the Arnold Palmer Invitational, parking behind the 15th green and on the 16th tee, leaving enough tire tracks for one tour official to suspect it was the work of a vandal.
Palmer was happy Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler made personal visits to tell him they weren't playing in his event he was happier in 2014 when Fowler took his advice and cut his hair. Palmer was happiest in years past when he was healthy enough to hold his annual pre-tournament news conference (rather than field questions from a single pool reporter as he did this year), and when he was healthy enough to play in his daily Bay Hill money games known as the Shootout.
Palmer was great at needling losers and winners in those games, and in his tournaments, too. In 2013, after Tiger Woods laid up on 18 and won at Bay Hill for the eighth time, Palmer found him in the locker room and called him a vulgar name for playing it safe.
"Nobody has ever played more golf, or loved the game more, than Arnold Palmer," Alastair Johnston said. "I'll never forget the first time he won the Seniors Skins Game in Hawaii. He went back to his villa, dropped his clubs, ran through the house with his golf shoes on, and went right out the window and took a huge dive into the pool. He came up roaring with laughter, spouting bubbles like a whale on the horizon. I thought to myself, 'It's a Senior Skins Game for heaven's sake.'"
Johnston was a 14-year-old Scot when he saw Palmer win at Troon in 1962. In a crowd of pale, weather-beaten countrymen, Johnston remembered this powerfully built, perfectly tanned foreigner striding through the crowd in his bright blue and red sweaters. "On that occasion," the agent recalled, "I thought I'd rather live in America and look like Arnold Palmer than anyone else around me.
"And that's why this is sad. Arnold Palmer loved being Arnold Palmer, and he can't be that person anymore."
LATROBE, 2016 -- Ed Matko was the No. 2 man on the Latrobe High golf team, and his younger teammate, Arnold Palmer, was No. 1. Matko became a teacher and successful cross-country coach at nearby Norwin High School, and to this day he gets teased about his decision to reject Palmer's offer of a job.
"He asked me to caddie for him," Matko recalled, "and I had too much pride to do it."
They drifted apart before Matko made a connection some years ago. He sent Palmer a birthday card, and Palmer responded by sending back his own card and one of his golf caps. Some time passed, and then Matko sent his old teammate a letter ranking the greatest players of all time. He had Nicklaus, Woods, Hogan and Sam Snead as his top four, with Palmer at No. 5.
Arnie never responded to that one.
"And that's OK," Matko said. "I don't like to compare him or anyone to God, but Arnold is everything in this area."
That's why Cori Britt has worked for him for 30 of his 42 years on the planet, first as a club caddie and now as vice president of Arnold Palmer Enterprises. Even as a boy, Britt was struck by the man's magnetism and by the fact Palmer treated him with more dignity than just about every other member. Britt earned a physics degree from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe and was planning on a career in prosthetics design when Palmer asked him to start a career in his company instead.
"One conversation," Britt said, "changed the whole trajectory of my life."
It went down the same way for Doc Giffin in 1966, when the former Pittsburgh sportswriter and tour press secretary gambled that Palmer would remain a prominent figure long after his prime playing days. But nobody could foresee that Palmer would make hundreds of millions of dollars off the course, in part by pushing everything from Pennzoil to Hertz to his absurdly popular Arnold Palmer drink to Xarelto to a zillion products in between.
Picking up from McCormack at IMG, Johnston long ago decided to market Palmer not as a winning golfer (the winning wouldn't last very long), but as a successful, trustworthy neighbor. It worked, big time. In the U.S., Palmer created his own successful TV network, Golf Channel. In Japan, Arnold Palmer apparel is a brand name considered the equal of a Tommy Hilfiger or Hugo Boss.
Arnold Palmer loved to fly, and did so often. The tail number on his plane was N1AP. One Orlando-based air traffic controller used to like to say it stood for "November 1, Awesome Putter." Howdy Giles
But in Latrobe, the titan who lives on Legends Lane has never played the part. Palmer is a simple man on a simple course in a simple town. He still has his club handicap (plus 2, with an index of plus 1.4) posted outside the pro shop with his fellow members. He still makes his way down to the office nearly every day to respond to every written request he gets. He still signs for those he knows are in the business of selling his instantly recognizable signature. "He tolerates people neither you nor I would tolerate," Giffin said. "That's just his nature."
Palmer still keeps his original Pennzoil tractor in a warehouse filled with this-is-your-life artifacts. He still stores countless old golf clubs in his office workshop, where there hangs a white Pittsburgh Pirates jersey carrying his name and the number 80, a gift given to him after he threw out a ceremonial first pitch to celebrate his 80th birthday.
The only thing missing from his Latrobe life is golf. He used to play regularly with Newingham, Brian Miller, and a dentist named Jim Bryan, 15-time club champ, and Palmer would often leave them shaking their heads by chipping in at No. 1. They would call the final five holes the Youngstown Finish, named for the nearby borough, and anyone who could birdie all five would win a hundred bucks a pop from the rest of the foursome.
"And I can't remember any of us doing the Youngstown Finish except Arnold," Newingham said. "He would be futzing around, trying this club or that club, and then when he got down to the end he wanted to know how much he was up or down. He would just turn it on, and it was amazing."
But now Palmer can't get his backswing much past 50 percent of where it used to be. When he tries to reach out for a handshake these days, you have to meet him 75 percent of the way. Sometimes he'll agree to use a walker around the house, but he disdains it. He hated the fact that an associate had to hold on to him -- to prevent a fall -- as he walked about the Augusta National grounds. He snapped at another associate who tried to help him get from a staircase into his plane. In a quiet moment, he asked one friend, "Have I ever embarrassed you?"
"What?" the friend asked incredulously.
"Goddamnit," Palmer said. "Answer my question."
The friend assured him that he wasn't capable of embarrassing anyone.
"OK," Palmer said. "I just wanted to know."
Palmer couldn't appear at his annual news conference at the Masters in April, and his people have had to turn down interview requests in Latrobe. A planned lunch date with Spieth was also canceled.
"It's tough on him, very tough," Giffin said. "He wants to be the man, and enjoy life, and he loves being in the public eye. I'm afraid he won't be in the public eye very much with these infirmities that he has. We saw it happen to the greatest of his predecessors -- Hogan, Snead, Nelson. They kind of disappeared."
It's hard to imagine Palmer fading to black. Britt and others still hear him on the phone telling people of plans to play a round of golf. "We'll be talking at lunch," Newingham said, "and he'll say, 'OK, what day are we playing this week?' He still longs to rip it down the middle of the fairway 285 yards, and hear the cheers."
Recent dental and toe surgeries appear to have helped Palmer feel better, eat better and show a little more energy, all good news for the fellow pros who saw him at the Masters and grew terribly concerned. "I can't picture anyone making a greater effort than he has," said Dow Finsterwald, Palmer's old running mate on tour. "I would never bet against him."
There was a time when betting against Palmer, the gunslinger who stared down a flagstick as if he were ready to draw, was tantamount to betting against Tiger Woods, most likely the second-most important figure in golf history. But Palmer got a later start than most on tour, and his major championship window didn't remain open for long. Nicklaus won his 18 majors over 25 years Player won his nine over 20 years Woods won his 14 over 12 years Palmer won his seven over seven years. His legacy, though, is too big to be measured on that scoreboard.
"Everyone got hooked on golf on TV," Woods told ESPN.com, "because of Arnold . But what might be his most enduring legacy is the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and his philanthropic work. My kids were born there, and I'll always be grateful for his, and the staff's, support and kindness."
Woods spoke of how special it was to win Palmer's tournament eight times, and how "knowing he'll be there to share a smile and a laugh, and to put his arm around your shoulders, makes you want to win even more." The coolest thing about Palmer, Woods said, "is that he enjoys being Arnold Palmer."
But Arnold can't be Arnold this week at Oakmont. He won't be landing his helicopter across the street, and he won't be thrilling the gallery with one of his classic tee-to-green assaults or any of his famously tortured expressions with his ball in flight. He will most likely spend the week in Latrobe, telling Newingham and his other buddies to get ready for his next comeback and the opportunity to take their cash.
So if all U.S. Open contenders want to pay an Oakmont tribute to the local with the minor league swing who made golf a big league sport, they can start with the Arnie's Army basics.
Make a lot of eye contact, sign a ton of caps and programs and pictures, and make every single autograph legible.
Oh yeah, and swing for the fences. It's the only way to play the game in Arnold Palmer's backyard.
A look back at Palmer’s seven major championships
Arnold Palmer won seven major championships in his career: four Masters, two British Opens and one U.S. Open. Here is a look at the biggest wins in Palmer’s career.
The Masters • 1958
Augusta National Golf Club
Score: 284 (-4), 1-stroke win
Next closest: Doug Ford, Fred Hawkins
“Young Arnold Palmer,” as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette led with the next morning, was 28 when he won his first major. It was a win to remember for many, not just Palmer. Renowned Sports Illustrated golf writer Herbert Warren Wind coined the now-ubiquitous term “Amen Corner” for Augusta’s 12th and 13th holes, the former of which saw Palmer involved in a controversial ruling. At the 12th — and in the final round, no less — Palmer appealed to officials for a relief because of what he believed was an embedded ball before making double-bogey. He replayed the hole, shot par,and later on word came down that officials would accept his 3 rather than his 5. Those two strokes proved to be the difference. For his efforts, the fifth-year pro from Latrobe earned $11,250, the first five-figure prize in Masters history.
The Masters • 1960
Augusta National Golf Club
Score: 282 (-6), 1-stroke win
Next closest: Ken Venturi
Two years after his first major win, Palmer did it again at the same place, and even shot two strokes better this time. Again, it was a one-stroke victory, and again, some controversy — but mostly clutch. Dow Finsterwald, who finished third, was penalized two strokes — the same number he finished behind Palmer in the end — after the second round, a self-reported violation for practicing putting on the green after a hole. But no one could deny Palmer’s poise as he birdied the final two holes to edge Venturi, who was also right there in the mix in 1958 when he finished tied for fourth two strokes behind Palmer after leading through the first round. Two years later, Palmer led wire-to-wire, only the second to do so and first in 19 years. This Masters also was the second appearance and first time making the cut for a hotshot 20-year-old named Jack Nicklaus.
U.S. Open • 1960
Cherry Hills Country Club
Score: 280 (-4), 2-stroke win
Next closest: Jack Nicklaus
Two months after winning his second Masters, Palmer would capture his third major and only U.S. Open crown in one of the golf world’s more memorable tournaments. Not only did Palmer, 30, storm back after trailing by seven strokes (it was eight through three rounds) and shoot 65 in the final round, but he also beat out promising youngster Jack Nicklaus, on the upswing of his career, and 47-year-old veteran Ben Hogan, on the decline of his own. Palmer, then, was perhaps at his pinnacle, winning back-to-back majors in which he played some of his best golf down the stretch. It is still the biggest final-round comeback in the history of the U.S. Open, an event he would never win again but would finish runner-up four more times, all in the next seven years.
British Open • 1961
Royal Birkdale Golf Club
Score: 284 (-4), 1-stroke win
Next closest: Dai Rees
Already a two-time Masters champion, this was only Palmer’s second Open appearance, coming off a runner-up finish the year before. He shot 70, 73, 69, 72 to become the first American winner of the Claret Jug since Ben Hogan eight years before. It was another comeback victory, and this time in rainy weather that followed windy and wet conditions the previous three days, even forcing the cancellation of play on Friday. That all made his third- and final-round performances, both on Saturday, and tournament score all the more impressive.
The Masters • 1962
Augusta National Golf Club
Score: 280 (-8), playoff win
Next closest: Gary Player
After winning in Augusta in 1958 and 1960, Palmer figured he’d make it an every-other-year kind of tradition. And, of course, it came in historic fashion. With Palmer, Gary Player and Dow Finsterwald tied after 72 holes, they went to the first three-way playoff in Masters history. Player was the defending champ, and Finsterwald had his own narrow miss in 1960. But Palmer had nearly won four consecutive Masters, finishing third in 1959 and tied for second in 1961, and he wasn’t about to let another one slip away. He shot 68 in Monday’s playoff round, besting Player’s 71 and Finsterwald’s 77 before a crowd of 16,000, per the next day’s Post-Gazette.
British Open • 1962
Royal Troon Golf Club
Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland
Score: 276 (-12), 6-stroke win
Next closest: Kel Nagle
Palmer made it two years in a row at golf’s oldest major, and two major wins in 1962. For the first time, he cruised to a relatively easy victory. Palmer shot 71, 69, 67, 69, pulling away from the Australian Nagle in the third round Friday morning before cementing his championship in the afternoon. “I’ve never played four rounds of golf like these in my whole life,” he told The Associated Press after setting what was then the lowest four-round score in Open history. His 67 also was the lowest round at Troon’s Old Course at the time.
The Masters • 1964
Augusta National Golf Club
Score: 276 (-12), 6-stroke win
Next closest: Dave Marr, Jack Nicklaus
It took another two years, but Palmer wasn’t done at Augusta. In what would be his final major championship, Palmer, 34, shot under 70 in each of the first three rounds. He finished with a 70 and withstood Jack Nicklaus’ final-round 67 to become the first player to win four Masters. Palmer’s $20,000 prize was nearly double that of 1958, and it was his first major win since 1962 and first win at any tournament in six months. It would be his last hurrah in a sense, but it was certainly a satisfying triumph, and he told the AP it was “probably the single most exciting tournament win in my life.”
Arnold Palmer has the fifth-most PGA Tour wins with 62
Now, before Arnold Palmer was a 62-time PGA Tour winner and a seven-time major champion, he was simply a highly-skilled amateur at Wake Forest, as was his best friend and roommate, Bud Worsham.
Palmer and Worsham had met in 1946 at a junior tournament in 1946 and were actually Wake Forest’s first two real golf recruits. The university had started a golf program in 1933 but it was rather informal as there was no actual recruiting of players and not even a real coach. But that changed in 1947. Worsham, whose older brother Lew won the U.S. Open that year by outdueling Sam Snead, was the first to be offered a scholarship and he then convinced Palmer to join him.
Palmer and Worsham were inseparable and quickly made the Demon Deacons one of the best programs in the country. But just a few months into their senior year, tragedy struck. On October 21, 1950, the duo spent their Saturday afternoon watching Wake Forest’s football team defeat George Washington in the homecoming game. On their walk back to their room, the two discussed the plan for the night, which was to get dinner and attend the homecoming dance, which was being held in Durham.
However, Arnie ended up falling asleep. So when Bud woke him up to tell him that he and Gene Scheer, the roommate of their teammate Jim Flick, who went on to become one of the greatest golf instructors of all time, were ready to go, a groggy Palmer declined, saying he and Flick were going to the movies instead. Arnie tried to persuade Worsham and Scheer to stay but their minds were made up and they left while Palmer went back to sleep.
When Palmer and Flick arrived home from the movies, they stayed awake as long as they could waiting for their respective roommates to arrive home so they could hear stories from the dance. But Worsham and Scheer never came back. On the way back from Durham, Bud’s car had veered off the road where a bridge crossed the Neuse River and plunged 50 feet down into a streambed. The Buick had flipped when hit the bridge abutment and it was determined that both Worsham and Scheer died on impact.
To make matters worse, Arnold Palmer was the one who actually had to identify his best friend’s body and he then had to accompany the casket to Washington, D.C., which is where Worsham was from. Palmer and Flick moved in together to try and help each other through the tragedy but Arnie couldn’t take being at Wake Forest any longer and left school just a few months to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard, for whom he served three years.
Palmer returned to Wake Forest in 1954 but never graduated as he chose to pursue a professional golf career instead. But he always maintained ties with the school and later established a scholarship in his friend’s honor.
About a year before his death, Arnold Palmer said his “life never would have happened the way it did without Bud Worsham.”
The Massacre at Winged Foot: An oral history of the 1974 U.S. Open
Dick Schaap, the late sports journalist, wrote two diary-like books that changed the genre of golf writing. In 1970, he published PRO: Frank Beard on the Golf Tour, a candid chronicle of the previous year’s leading money-winner week by week. Then in 1974, Schaap enlisted a dozen reporters, including Dave Anderson, who later won the Pulitzer Prize, to help record a minute-by-minute account of the pivotal U.S. Open called Massacre at Winged Foot, which led USGA championship chairman Sandy Tatum to say for the first time: “We’re not trying to embarrass the best players in the world we’re trying to identify them.”
It was Schaap’s technique that led to another ground-breaking format for Golf Digest in which the magazine previews major championships by interviewing as many as 50 or 60 journalists, fans, officials, members, caddies and players who recall intimate and iconic moments from past events at the venue. In June 2006, one of the most memorable of these anniversary pieces was drawn again from the 1974 U.S. Open, but this time retold by veteran reporter Peter McCleery through the words of the observers.
I happened to be in the gallery in 1974 watching my first U.S. Open, having driven from Philadelphia after high school graduation and staying overnight in an orange VW pop-up camper somewhere in Westchester County in New York. A muny player who had never seen a country club course up until that time, I was astounded by the length and depth of the rough. I knelt down and touched the putting surface before a marshal chased me away I’d not imagined such perfection was possible in grass. On Sunday in the final round, I positioned myself in the last row of the grandstand beside the 18th green, where I could stand up and look back at the classic par-3 10th hole to see Arnold Palmer, then 44 and still in the hunt, hole a bunker shot for a 2 and shake the poles beneath the stands with an eruption of cheers. A couple of hours later, I witnessed Hale Irwin come through 18 and strike his historic 2-iron onto the final green to finish seven over par and win the championship. That Open was full of memories for everyone who attended, as McCleery’s story demonstrates almost a half century later. —Jerry Tarde
The searing images remain decades later: Jack Nicklaus putting off the slick, sloping first green the first day a car driving over the same green before the second round and doing no discernible damage a fan losing teeth by taking a tee ball directly to the face. In one way or another, all of those events left a mark.
It was a different era in golf, with persimmon and balata for equipment and local youngsters as caddies. Corporate tents and automatic sellouts were not yet part of the landscape for the Open, though IBM provided a new level of statistical analysis. Arnold Palmer led by two strokes on Saturday and remained the fan favorite at age 44 as he attempted to win his first major title in a decade. Gary Player, 38, had Grand Slam aspirations after winning the Masters and taking the first-round lead at Winged Foot later that year he would win the British Open and finish seventh in the PGA. Tom Watson, 24, seeking his first victory of any kind on tour, led entering the final round. And Hale Irwin, 29, was about to win the first of his three Opens.
As the championship returns to Winged Foot's West Course, we revisited that memorable week with the key participants and those with unique insight from the periphery. Many players had blocked out the damage, but others were willing to revisit painful memories. Far more than any other modern Open, Winged Foot was remembered not for shotmaking but for how damn hard it played.