A Farewell to 'The King'
Arnold Palmer was 87 last month when he passed away and, as is often the case with great personalities, it felt like we had been cheated at his early departure.
Hearing about Mr. Palmer’s demise, I went back to a time when I was a youngster and was wondering about my life’s goals.
Growing up in India, we had been aware of some of the most famous sports personalities from the United States. However, Arnold somehow seemed different.
He was the face of a game that I believed could become hugely popular sport in my country. He indeed brought the game to a global stage and in the process, became a great ambassador of golf across the world.
His distinct style inspired many youngsters from around the world to join ‘Arnie’s Army’ and this led to a massive transformation of the game from a mere pastime to a competitive sport.
I am delighted to count myself among those who took up the game because of Arnold’s influence. To me, he was more than a golfer.
For us, was one of the first sports celebrities. Over the years we saw various shades of his play, some wins and some losses … be it at the British Open against South Africa’s Gary Player or Australia’s Peter Thomson, or at the Master’s against his eventual successor on the broader stage of greatness, Jack Nicklaus.
However, Arnold stood firm in the arena and went on to become the global ambassador of the game – sharing his knowledge, his vision of golf course designs, and his generous spirit for aspiring golfers like me.
I had the privilege of knowing him and found him to be a truly kind and generous person. He wholeheartedly welcomed anyone who I introduced him to and made them all feel welcome. The last time I met him was in Orlando, when our company was beginning its relationship with Tiger Woods and the Hero World Challenge.
As we were still fairly unknown in the United States, our team was understandably a little nervous. Then Arnold strode into our welcome reception and gave us a thumbs-up for our new endeavor. It made an enormous difference to all of us. It reminded me of his great presence and the amazing legacy that he left for all of us around the world who love the game of golf.
When we at Hero decided to play a larger role in the world of golf, we had some very distinct business objectives in mind, of course. But, at the same time, our participation was also our way of sharing Arnold’s message with the next generation — they could compete with the best in the world in anything that they chose. This was something that Arnold made me feel several decades ago.
Arnold did not come from a life of privilege and he didn’t have an easy path to the greatness that he achieved. This in itself is an important message that we want to share with the youth of today – it is not where you start that matters the most, it’s where you reach through determination and hard work.
I hope we at Hero continue to deliver this message to the next generation of global leaders and achievers.
I was privileged to have known Arnold Palmer and I thank him for being a role model and inspiration to us. He will be deeply missed.
Pawan Munjal is the chairman, managing director and CEO of Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest two-wheeler company
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