The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recognizes the life and accomplishments of professional golfer Arnold Palmer with an oil painting by Paul Burns installed in the museum’s “In Memoriam” space on the first floor.
With his thrilling brand of “go for broke” play and his charismatic appeal, Arnold Palmer propelled professional golf to unprecedented heights of popularity in the 1960s. After capturing his first Masters trophy in 1958, Palmer went on to win three more Masters titles, a U.S. Open, and two British Opens over the next six years. Such a string of victories was impressive by any measure, but it was Palmer’s amazing ability to surge from behind to overtake the leader in the final round of play that helped make him an overwhelming favorite with the public. At a time when televised coverage of the pro tour was in its infancy, Palmer succeeded in making golf an exciting spectator sport for home audiences as well as for the legions of fans known as “Arnie’s Army”who turned out to follow their hero from tee to green.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.