Palmer recalls humble origins on 50th anniversary

Tue Apr 8, 2014 7:36pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Arnold Palmer came to be known as "The King" but the man who helped popularize the game of golf in the 1950s embraced his humble origins on Tuesday.

Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of his last Masters win,

the 84-year-old Palmer said he often thinks about his days as a boy and dreaming of becoming a pro golfer.

The son of a greenkeeper who introduced him to the game of golf, Palmer still takes great pride in remembering how he used to drive tractors and cut the grass at Latrobe Country.

"It taught me to be humble and to know where I came from," Palmer told a news conference honoring him on his 1964 victory at Augusta National. "I suppose I think about my father and the things that he told me when I was driving that tractor.

"I would drive it on the side of the hill with the old Fordson steel wheels with the steel spikes on it, and if you didn't keep them flat on the ground, and you had a weight on the back you were pulling, it would spin and it would tear the golf course up.

"And that got my attention. It got my attention, because the old man was about to kick my ass all the way around that golf course if I didn't learn how to drive the tractor," he said drawing howls of laughter from reporters. "It was like playing golf, do what he tells you to do."

Palmer, a seven-time major winner, recalled his first Masters Tournament after playing on the winter circuit when he turned professional.   Continued...

Arnold Palmer of the U.S. reacts after hitting his tee shot during the ceremonial start for the 2013 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia in this April 11, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Phil Noble