From the archives: An audience with Arnold Palmer
“Let me have a couple of eggs over easy with a links sausage and wholewheat toast,” says Arnold Palmer to his favourite waitress at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge on the outskirts of Orlando in Florida.
“What is this – a fruity breakfast?” he adds, looking at my attempt to convince The King that the man sitting opposite him is also an elite golfer.
It is Saturday morning and the grill room is pleasantly busy, a mixture of members and residential guests, most of whom are preparing to play the championship course that hosts the PGA Tour in the Arnold Palmer Invitational each March.
Bay Hill is relaxed, classy, unstuffy and comfortable. Very much in The King’s image.
To say we are in Palmer’s backyard would be an under-statement. The seven-time major champion owns the club and lives on the property, approximately one of his trademark long-iron shots away from the clubhouse.
Rare indeed is a day when the now 83-year-old is not seen at the club, and of course this all seems perfectly natural to the staff who see him every day.
It is anything but normal to first-time visitors and starstruck guests who know he lives here and might of catching a glance of the great man but certainly don’t expect to see him wandering around on his way to and from breakfast or putting his shoes on in the locker room.