Sunday, March 19, 2017

Arnie's Army

     PGA professional Arnold Palmer dedicated his life to using golf to spread good. Affectionately known by his fans as Arnie, he earned 62 PGA Tour victories and 10 Champions Tour victories. He was also named Athlete of the Decade for the 1960s in a national Associated Press Poll, according to his foundation’s website.

     This impressive record makes him fifth on the all-time PGA Tour win list, according to the PGA Tour website.

     Off the golf course, Arnold Palmer became an extremely successful businessman. Many associate his brand with the iconic multi-colored umbrella and Arnold Palmer tea.

     Using his business to help children always held a special place in Palmer’s heart. In the 1980’s, he lent his name to the Arnold Palmer Medical Center in Orlando, FL. The Arnold Palmer Medical Center—comprised of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, and the Howard Phillips center for Children & Families—is supported by Palmer’s foundation, the Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation.

     Every year the organization hosts Arnie’s March Against Children’s Cancer, which supports pediatric clinical trials at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. Arnie’s Army also supports the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve, which connects children to their environment to create healthy and positive bonds with nature.

     Palmer is also credited with bringing golf to the mainstream and making it popular with those outside of country clubs, including children. For this great service, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 from President George W. Bush.

     His foundation continues his work with youth development, continuing to prove that golf can change lives. 




    Palmer’s work with youth golf continues to inspire the Gator Junior Golf Association to make golf an accessible sport for all children in the Gainesville community. At our Ironwood location, we partner with the city of Gainesville, Reichert House, and Girls’ Place to bring underserved youth to our golf classes. 
     Many of the after-school students started with our program disinterested in sports in general, including golf. Our program has gained their attention, and their behavior has improved too. They are noticeably more attentive with the integration of exercise warmup activities, life skills, and golf skills—our program opened their eyes that golf is not just a sport, it's a way of life!
 Sean Warner, Founder and Executive Director
     Now including Reichert House, we have 78 kids in our program across Gainesville!  Gator Junior Golf received $1,500 in scholarships from McDonald’s of Gainesville in order to serve the youth of our community.

     We won’t stop there. Our next goal is to get our students on the course for a practice day each month, where they can play under the guidance of young high school and college students. We want the golf course to become the home that they have yet to experience.


Author: 
Katie Campione, UF Journalism Student

Tags: Junior Golf Lessons in Gainesville, Florida