Coachella Valley Region
Golf great and part-time desert resident Arnold Palmer is being remembered across the Coachella Valley today. While his impact on the sport of golf is undeniable, the golf legend’s contributions to the Coachella Valley may be just as significant.
He was called "The King," winning 62 PGA tour events including seven major titles.
Following his death on Sunday, President Obama released a statement. Part of it reads: "With his homemade swing and homespun charm, Arnold Palmer had swagger before we had a name for it."
Close friend and golf rival Jack Nicklaus wrote: "Arnold transcended the game of golf. He was more than a golfer or even great golfer. He was an icon. He was a legend."
Palmer and his involvement in charity golf tournaments like the original Palm Springs Golf Classic helped to transform the Coachella valley into the golf mecca of the world.
"When Arnold showed up in the early sixties, he was dominating and he was a huge personality. He started something, even before, this tournament was very well known. And so that was critical in the development, and without him, you can argue whether television and golf would have really taken off," said John Foster, president of Desert Classic Charities.
It was his time on television, with the snow caped San Jacinto Mountains in the back drop, that drew people to the desert from all over the country.
His involvement in charities like the former Bob Hope Classic helped to make the Coachella Valley what it is today.
"He was at the peak of his game when he played here faithfully every year. Then when you look at the fifty-seven million dollars that the Desert Classic Charities has contributed back to the Coachella Valley, we would never have been able to do that without support of icons and legends like himself," said Nick Raffaele, director of the Career Builder Challenge Golf Tournament.