The King / by Bill Frakes


Arnold Palmer. The King. He’s the reason golf became a huge spectator sport.

His grace, laugh and skill on the course were legendary, and the legions of Arnie’s Army followed him everywhere.

In 1997, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

He underwent significant surgery and radiation therapy treatment that lasted for seven weeks.

Seven or eight weeks later he was back on the links, his home course of Bay Hill. I, along with a horde of media, followed him on his first practice round.

He loved to work on his clubs and during practice would not only hone his game, but also his clubs.

After 9 holes, he went inside to do something with a club and he asked me to follow him.

He always loved photography and his Nikons and had a new one he needed some help with. He had noticed I had a pair of brand new bodies and wanted to talk shop. We weren’t long, but I showed him a couple of functions that would make his photographic life better.

When we rejoined the assembled throng for the second nine he turned to me, offhandedly swinging his arm like he was hitting a drive, smiled and said, “Thanks for the help, I think you’ve got me straightened out.”  I just smiled and said, “Anytime, totally my pleasure.”

Off he went to the 10th tee, but I noticed a bunch of the writers staring at me. I realized that they thought he and I had been talking golf swings, they had no idea he was asking about cameras.

They instantly asked, “What did you tell him?"

I smiled again, and said, “That’s between me and Arnie.”