The spirit of Arnold Palmer lives large at these golf destinations

Throughout his lifetime in the game of golf, Arnold Palmer traveled just about everywhere, whether it was to compete, to promote the game or his businesses, or to design his own golf courses.

The King may be gone, but he's left his mark in practically every corner of the golfing globe. His presence is especially felt at some of the top destinations in the U.S. and around the world, where anyone can relive great Palmer memories.

The Golf Advisor staff has compiled a sampling of some of the destinations where you'll forever be able to feel the presence of Arnie. But we know that he's touched lives in so many more places than these, so we encourage you to share your favorite courses and destinations where you can relive the many fables of The King.

Latrobe, Pennsylvania

To understand the humility and grace Palmer lived by, every fan should seek out the roots of his humble upbringing. Visiting Latrobe -- a small, close-knit community in rural Pennsylvania an hour southeast of Pittsburgh -- feels like a step back in time.

It's not hard to envision that someday the clubhouse at Latrobe Country Club will become a national landmark. Palmer learned the game outside under the guidance of his father, the head pro/greenskeeper "Deacon" Palmer. Inside, Palmer memorabilia is everywhere, the locker room, the halls, the dining room, banquet room and the member's bar. Touring the paintings, letters, trophies and photographs of Palmer is a stroll down memory lane. There are even more important artifacts inside Palmer’s office across the street and the warehouse down the road. Hopefully, someday those are organized and displayed for everyone. The King should be shared and celebrated. After all, that's how he lived his life.

Latrobe used to be completely private, but a stay-and-play package through the SpringHill Suites Pittsburgh Latrobe less than a mile away has opened up access. The lobby of the new hotel, which opened in 2012 as part of the Marriott chain, features even more artwork and displays celebrating Palmer's career. The course is a throwback to the heydays of Palmer -- a 6,517-yard classic that's tight and hilly with three covered bridges serving as its landmarks. (Editor's Note: Latrobe is part of our Private Clubs program where you can register to receive a tour and experience the course and club. Click here for details).


Arnold Palmer played a huge part in Orlando both in pro golf and in opening two hospitals.

Arnold's footprints are all over Orlando, the town he called home most of the year. Even though guests and spectators at Bay Hill Club & Lodge will no longer see him on the range hitting balls or eating breakfast, you can still speak with the many members and employees who saw Arnie every day. Residents throughout the city may even tell you about how one of his two area hospitals helped deliver or treat their loved ones or newborns.

Palmer played an instrumental part in bringing the PGA Tour to the brand new golf courses at Disney World in 1971, where it remain through 2012. He also helped bring a second event to Bay Hill after purchasing the club in 1974. The four Walt Disney World courses are now managed by Arnold Palmer Golf Management. The nine-hole Oak Trail Course is a particularly walkable and family-friendly option right near the Magic Kingdom.

Arnie buffs should also consider a loop at Rio Pinar Country Club, which hosted the Florida Citrus Open (the tournament that later moved to Bay Hill) and was won by Palmer in 1971. Palmer's design firm has numerous private golf courses in Orlando, including the exclusive Isleworth Country Club (later updated by Steve Smyers). But public golfers can play Reunion Resort's Palmer Course or Orange Lake Resort's Legends Course, both built by his firm.

FROM $197 (USD)
ORLANDO, FL | Enjoy 1 nights' accommodation at Bay Hill Lodge and 1 round of golf at Bay Hill Club.

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Pebble Beach, California

Palmer had a special relationship with Pebble Beach Golf Links, even if he never won a single tournament on the Monterey Peninsula. He teed it up in 20 Bing Crosby Invitational events (now the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am) and in the 1972 and 1982 U.S. Opens.

Palmer's go-for-broke style never rewarded him at Pebble Beach. He claimed second place at the Crosby in 1966 and 1971. His third-place finish in 1967 was particularly cruel. Trailing by one stroke in the final round, Palmer hit a pair of 3-woods on the 14th hole that deflected out of bounds off of a tree. That tree blew over in a storm that night. Divine intervention, perhaps?

In 1999, Palmer was one of the celebrity partners who helped purchase the iconic resort from a Japanese ownership group. He served on the company's Board of Directors from then on, playing a key role in decision making. In fact, Palmer and his design firm spearheaded a number of tweaks to the course prior to the 2010 U.S. Open won by Graeme McDowell.

It should also be noted that one of Palmer's most memorable designs sits just an hour north closer to San Francisco. The Old Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links, which opened in 1973, finishes with two spectacular holes along cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay resort.


Jason Scott Deegan poses with the Arnold Palmer statue at Tralee Golf Club in Ireland.

The statue of Palmer near the first tee at Tralee Golf Club in County Kerry is larger than life, an eight-foot-tall rendering that makes normal humans appear small. Symbolic, indeed.

The King was a hero to the Irish, like he was in so many other countries. His first tournament appearance on a links course came at the celebrated Portmarnock Golf Club at the 1960 Canada Cup with partner Sam Snead. His last tournament appearance on a links also occurred on the Emerald Isle: the 2001 Senior British Open at Royal County Down.

His enduring contribution to Irish golf comes in the form of Tralee, a marvelous links in the southwest, and his two tournament-tested parkland courses outside Dublin at The K Club: the Palmer Ryder Cup Course and the Smurfit Course.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

One of the great holes in golf tourism is the "Gambler" on the King's North Course at Myrtle Beach National.

Myrtle Beach, S.C. transformed from a largely bargain-basement golf destination into one with world class courses as a result of nationally acclaimed names bringing their star power to the Grand Strand. One of the first to do so was Arnold Palmer at Myrtle Beach National, a 54-hole hole facility all built by Palmer and his design associate Ed Seay in 1973. This facility, complete with a statue of Arnie at the entrance and plenty of other mementos inside the clubhouse was elevated when Palmer returned to design King's North, home to one of the most iconic holes on the east coast: The par-5 Gambler, complete with an island fairway shortcut.

Also in the 1990s, Palmer designed River's Edge, which has some of the Strand's best waterfront property. Legend has it on the opening day, when he played the marshy par-5 ninth with a narrow, peninsula green, he hit several balls into the water before quipping the way to play the hole is to hit it over the green on the approach and drop "4" from behind the green.

Palmer would also return to the Grand Strand for the annual Hootie & the Blowfish Monday after the Masters Pro-Am. (More on Palmer in Myrtle Beach from Alan Blondin of the Myrtle Beach Sun News.)

Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Florida

Arnold Palmer was an inaugural member of the The World Golf Hall of Fame, now located in St. Augustine, Fla.

It's tough to tour the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse -- rebuilt in 2007 as a 77,000-square-foot shrine to pro golf -- without thinking about how Arnold Palmer's influence on the PGA Tour helped make such splendor possible.

Pete Dye's PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass wasn't built until after Arnie's heyday (he and Jack Nicklaus missed the cut in the first event in 1982), but Palmer had his duels on the PGA Tour with the facility's brainchild, Deane Beman. Palmer's firm would go on to design TPC Boston, TPC Piper Glen, TPC Twin Cities and TPC River Bend.

Near PGA Tour HQ is the World Golf Hall of Fame. Palmer was part of the 13-member inaugural class in 1974 (when the Hall was still located in Pinehurst, N.C.; it moved to World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. in the 1990s.) He along with Jack Nicklaus built the King and Bear golf course on site. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of tributes to Arnie in the Hall and at King and Bear, including his official locker.

Palmer has more course designs you can play in northeast Florida. Among them, the Golf Club of North Hampton is a favorite affordable, public-access course in the area. (Read more on Palmer's influence in the Jacksonville area.)

FROM $227 (USD)
ST. AUGUSTINE, FL | Enjoy 2 nights' accommodations at World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort and 2 rounds of golf at Slammer & Squire, and King & Bear at World Golf Village.

North Carolina

The large lake at Mid South Club comes into play off the tee and the approach on the tough par-4 18th.

It should come as no surprise that Palmer is in the Carolina Golf Hall of Fame. After all, his playing career as an adult started at Wake Forest College, which used to be in Wake Forest, N.C., just north of Raleigh. He actually wound up leaving Wake Forest to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard after the death of his close personal friend, Bud Worsham, but returned after three years. Today, there's a substantial Palmer exhibit at the Wake Forest College Birthplace Museum, and it includes the golf bag that Palmer used while on the golf team there.

Of course, during a playing career that spanned more than 50 years, Palmer was often in North Carolina playing at places like Pinehurst and designing more than a dozen courses. In 2007, he was inducted into the Carolina Golf Hall of Fame, the same year his last course design opened in North Carolina, the Lonnie Poole Golf Course at North Carolina State University. His lead associates, Erik Larsen and Brandon Johnson, are both North Carolina State graduates. And his designs in the Tar Heel State also include TPC Piper Glen in Charlotte and Brier Creek Country Club near the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Many have speculated that if Palmer is didn't already have Latrobe Country Club in Pennsylvania and Bay Hill in Orlando, he might have settled in North Carolina.

"I liked it here so much and had so much good fortune here," Palmer was quoted as saying in an N.C. State "Wolfpacker" article this week. "North Carolina is one of the greatest states anyone could ever live in, with its climate and the four seasons. I certainly enjoy building golf courses here."

The Pinehurst Resort recounted Arnold Palmer's visits in this tribute. Any fan of Arnie should pop into the legendary Tufts Archives in the Village of Pinehurst, where plenty of rare memorabilia and literature about the King can be uncovered. His design firm also designed Mid South, a favorite semi-private course that is part of Talamore Golf Resort in Southern Pines.

March 22, 2019
The Sandhills, home to Pinehurst Resort, is the most famous golf destination in North Carolina, but don’t sell the rest of the state short. A year-round golf climate and a variety of landscapes make North Carolina’s golf scene quite compelling.

Palm Springs, California

One of the most popular restaurants in the Coachella Valley is Arnold Palmer's Restaurant ( in La Quinta, Calif., which opened in 2004. It does more than just bear his name; it's all about the King and his lifestyle, featuring some of his favorite dishes and boasting a substantial collection of memorabilia. Not surprisingly, the restaurant has the Masters Room, the British Open Room, the U.S. Open Room, the Palmer Room, Arnie's Pub and the new Arnie's new Sports Lounge.

It was also supposedly in a Palm Springs restaurant than a customer overheard Palmer ordering what is now his famous mix of lemonade and ice tea, asking a waitress for "that Palmer drink." The name stuck and the branding of the drink earned Palmer more than $200 million in royalties, according to the New York Daily News.

But Palmer's Palm Springs-area connections hardly end with Arnold Palmer's Restaurant or the Arnold Palmer. He won his last PGA Tour tournament here, the Bob Hope Desert Classic, by two strokes over a couple of other icons -- Nicklaus and Johnny Miller -- in 1973. That came 13 years after he won the Palm Springs Desert Classic, the first of eight wins in 1960 that also included the Masters. And he designed several courses in the area, including the Classic Club, which was part of the rotation of the Bob Hope from 2006 to '08, and the Arnold Palmer Private Course at PGA West in La Quinta (with the late Ed Seay). This course was also part of the rotation on the old Bob Hope and later Humana Challenge. It has five gorgeous finishing holes sculpted along the rugged Santa Rose Mountains and has been a favorite at PGA West since it opened in 1987. Of course, David Duval found it to his liking. This is where he shot a 59 on his way to winning the Bob Hope in 1999.


Arnold Palmer poses with the claret jug at Royal Troon following his Open win in 1962.

As you might imagine, Palmer's life has been no less celebrated in Scotland, where he made an indelible impression from the very first time he traveled there to play in the Open Championship in 1960, just as golf was entering the television era. That year, at St. Andrews, he finished as a runner-up to Kel Nagle of Australia in what he would call one of the biggest disappointments of his career. (He had already won the Masters and U.S. Open and had his sights set on a winning the Grand Slam.) The very next year, he won his first Open title with a one-stroke victory at Royal Birkdale and followed up a year later with a six-stroke victory at Royal Troon over Nagle.

His Open Championships resonated back in the States and certainly opened up Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland as a popular travel destination for U.S. golfers as he encouraged other American pros to make the trip across the pond to compete. He didn't design any golf courses in Scotland, but he crafted a couple of significant ones just across the Irish Sea in Tralee and the K Club, home of the 2006 Ryder Cup.

His last Open Championship appearance came where it all started, the Old Course at St. Andrews in 1995. And while John Daly might have won in a playoff over Italy's Constantino Rocca, Palmer's pose on the famous Swilcan Bridge and last tearful goodbye was just as memorable.

To no surprise, right next to the Royal & Ancient headquarters and the Old Course is the newly renovated British Golf Museum, which has a sizeable exhibit that honors the King and is a must-see for any visitor to St. Andrews. As Martin Slumbers, CEO of the Royal & Ancient said in a statement this week: "His contribution to The Open Championship was, and remains, immeasurable. He will be missed and forever remembered by all at The R&A and throughout the world of golf as a charismatic and global champion of our game."

To suggest there's nothing left to add to Palmer's legacy in Scotland would be premature, however. Castle Stuart is planning a second course that is being designed by Palmer's design firm (their first in Scotland). (More: Open organizers pay tribute to Palmer.)

July 10, 2018
Browse Arnold Palmer's global design portfolio and find a golf course designed by The King near you.

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We played Tralee about 5 years ago and I've always regretted not getting my picture with the Arnie statute.... we were in a hurry to get 36 in before dark and by the time we finished it was dark..... guess a return trip is needed. We miss you Arnie...

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I never had the privilege to meet Mr. Palmer.  Upon learning of his passing I felt however that I just lost a member of my family.  His contribution to not only golf but to the world will ALWAYS be remembered as will his smile.  Rest in peace.

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The spirit of Arnold Palmer lives large at these golf destinations