Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Arnold Palmer


(Editor’s note: is counting down the top 10 newsmakers of 2016. Take a look at why each item made our list, along with a collection of their top stories from the year. Click here for the full list and release dates.)

A spectacular full rainbow stretched over Latrobe, Pa., shortly after Arnold Palmer’s ashes were spread at his home club there.

It was like some cosmic wreath being laid over his last resting spot, because, really, flowers weren’t enough to honor this extraordinary icon’s passing.

Palmer was 87 when he died from complications of heart problems on Sept. 25. Fred Couples broke down in raking sobs after calling into Golf Channel’s live telecast the night news broke of Palmer’s death. Couples had to hang up and call back. The ache he felt resonated through the game.

Palmer was more than a great player. He was the game’s greatest ambassador. While he may not have won as many PGA Tour events as Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus or Ben Hogan, he won more intangible treasures. Really, how do you measure all the hearts Palmer won to the game? That’s his real legacy. It is what earned him the nickname “The King.”

Tributes to Palmer came pouring in shortly after his death, from great players to great caretakers of the game.

So many wonderful words were offered up to measure Palmer’s profound impact. We remember some of them here looking back at our top newsmaker in 2016:

“He looked like an athlete, a prizefighter, a middleweight. He opened golf’s windows and let in some air. He lifted a country-club game, balanced it on his shoulders, carried it to the people and made it a sport. He won big. He lost big. People who didn’t follow golf followed him. People who hated golf loved him. He was photogenic in the old newspapers. He was telegenic in the new medium. He was the most asked question called into the night desks on weekends: `What did Palmer do today?’ – Tom Callahan in Golf Digest