Start with the lemonade – you don’t want a watery foundation. Purists will tell you the true formula is half and half, but I like to go 2/3 lemonade to tea, especially if I’m out somewhere that only has fountain machine supplies available. 2/3 lemonade, then pour tea in until the color changes to that perfect golden hue. After that, polish it off with just a splash more of lemonade.
The Arnold Palmer. My go-to drink whenever I’m out. It’s the first thing I reach for when I’m headed to the tee and it’s a concoction that has been a universal treat for all participants of the game regardless of handicap and is hands down the easiest thing to mix with liquor while on the course. I can’t even tell you how many of those I’ve drank while playing. Those giant 99 cent cans have perpetually rolled around empty in the back of my truck ever since I bought the thing, and late this afternoon their namesake passed away, causing me to pause and reflect on just what it is about this simple cocktail that I love so much.
I stumbled across the news late last night when I opened Twitter to check on the Cowboys score because my attempts to stream the game were failing miserably. Rather than a flood of game updates, the first thing on my feed was a picture of John Daly and Mr. Palmer from John Daly’s Twitter account, with a sentimental caption followed by that acronym that has adorned too many great celebrities’ names in 2016, “RIP.” I couldn’t believe it, so I quickly clicked over to the litany of golf accounts I follow, and PGA, PGA Tour, GolfChannel, Hank Haney, Callaway, all were inundating their pages with memories of Arnie.
I immediately began texting my regular golfing crew to see if they’d heard the news, wondering if I was alone in just how deeply the news of Mr. Palmer’s passing had affected me. All were similarly upset, some remarking on how empty The Masters and Bay Hill would feel next year, others joining me in my sense of urgency to find the first can of Arizona Arnold Palmer Half & Half we could and pour a little out for The King. Separated by miles, we all held similar lamentations on the news, and I realized then that it was never the drink we were after, it was Arnold himself.
There are dozens of imitation Arnold Palmers. Gold Peak, Peace Tea, Snapple, hell, even his good friend Jack Nicklaus has Golden Bear tea that attempts to mimic the simple perfection of the original Arnold Palmer. I’ve tried them all and none come close to replacing Arizona’s brand. I think this is less to do with some sort of vastly superior product, and more so that when I drink Arnold’s original brand I get a happy nostalgia.
Looking at that can with his younger profile on it and being reminded of his lifetime of effort for the game of golf is akin to visiting the statue of a great dignitary and feeling chills when you look up and are suddenly reminded of the achievements they accomplished to deserve such a remembrance. Arnold Palmer was the greatest ambassador the game of golf ever had. He was cheerful, gracious, and so passionate for the game that one couldn’t help but want to get back out to the tee whenever they were around him. For me he was the guy that all my idols looked up to. Watching Tiger and Phil get overcome with a childlike nervousness when Arnold walked up to give them a hug or a handshake was exactly how I knew I would have felt had either of them stopped to talk and compliment me while I was on the range.
When my buddies and I drank Arnold Palmers on the course, we were chasing a little bit of that, hoping one of those cans might have a little talent and inspiration in it and bring out a low round. When I ordered them off the course, I realize now it was a little bit of the ambassador he was that I was trying to capture. Order after order came with the secret hope that someone might hear me and want to talk about not only Mr. Palmer, but our respective games as well. That I might be at a bar and ask for a “John Daly,” or a “Twisted Palmer,” and someone next to me would give me a knowing look, forming a kindred bond over our affection for this great game and this even greater man. Even last night as I walked up to the counter of the gas station with five of those cans spilling out of my arms, I hoped the guy at the register might say something. Anything. One remark about the same emptiness I was feeling and reassure me that I’m not irrational for being so upset.
In honor of The King, I’ll be mixing up Arnie Palmies exclusively today and the rest of this week. If I make it out to a bar, it’ll be John Daly’s I order so that I’ll get to explain to the bartender the difference between the two, hopefully sparking an interest to learn more about the greatest gamesman for golf since Bobby Jones. Mr. Palmer was and still is the best asset this sport has had in almost 100 years, and I hope I’m a tenth the value to the game that he was. See you on the tee..
Image via Youtube