Published in 1963, Arnold Palmer’s My Game and Yours includes swing tips, anecdotes from competition and thoughts on golf’s evolution from one of the most important golfers in history: (62) tour wins, (7) majors, (4) green jackets.
On Arnie’s Amateur Days:
One of the things that changed my mind, as you may have guessed, was meeting Winnie. It was a case of love at first sight — on my part, at least — but again golf helped smooth the way.
Some of my golfing friends lured me into a trip to Pine Valley, the famous New Jersey course, and into a bet where I was to receive one hundred dollars for every stroke I shot under 72 but would have to pay 100 dollars for every stroke over 80.
I had no idea when I made the agreement how really tough Pine Valley is. It was a sucker bet, but I was young and in love and nothing could scare me.
I had to sink a 30-foot putt on the first hole to get a bogey and my game should have gone to pieces right then and there as I started contemplating how much money I was likely to owe at the end of the day — but I settled down and shot a 68.
I won four hundred dollars on my original bet, four hundred dollars more on side bets, and promptly spent most of it on an engagement ring.
Thoughts on the Pro Tour (circa 1963):
It’s not all a bed of roses, of course. I sometimes think that I would have had a better life had I been born fifty years earlier, when the stakes were not so high and the game was more carefree.
The professionals of the 1920’s mostly earned their livings working at some country club; the tour was just a side issue which gave them a chance to break their routine, test their skill and perhaps pick up some extra cash.
Even as recently as 1942, a year’s total prize money was less than the two hundred thousand dollars now offered for a single tournament.
The pros spent most of the year at home; during the tournament season they would go away for a week to play, then return home for a couple of weeks before leaving for another tournament. On the average, there were only about thirty-five to forty players to compete for the prize money.
Nowadays the prize money exceeds two million dollars, spread around in no less than forty-five tournaments. The season lasts virtually all year and the pro who wants to take advantage of all the opportunities has to be prepared to travel constantly.
Only a few pros have country club jobs. The others have to live off their winnings — and the competition is fierce.