Most people have to wait until Sunday evening, at the conclusion of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard to be given a gift from Palmer. Usually, it’s a trophy that comes with a nifty jacket, a hefty paycheck and a bunch of FedEx Cup points. Graeme McDowell, however, got a gift quite a bit earlier this week.
After G-Mac finished up the pro-am portion of the event at Bay Hill on Wednesday, he retired to the range to work out some kinks in his game. During his practice session, he was approached by none other than Arnie, himself. Palmer was carrying a 1-iron and asked McDowell to give it a whirl. He gladly obliged and hit the shot flush on the first try.
When he tried to give the club back, Palmer refused to accept it, telling McDowell to keep it. The club was designed by Palmer and had his signature engraved on it. Even still, it wasn’t the typical club that a PGA Tour pro would use. “It looks like one that he had been messing around with in his work shop,” said McDowell. “It had quite a long shaft in it. I would say it was longer than a standard 1-iron shaft. It had a full leather grip. It was cool.
Even if he isn’t going to use it in competition, McDowell was still incredibly honored to receive the gift from one of the greatest golfers of all time. “I’m certainly going to keep that in my special section of my garage,” he said.
It’s great to see the reverence and respect that current, and even former, golfers have for the likes of Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and the other great ones. It’s also cool that these men that are held in such high regard are so accessible to the people who place them on such a lofty pedestal and have often times tried to emulate them for the majority of their professional lives.