Author chronicles Palmer’s life

Latrobe-area author Chris Rodell bills himself as the only golf writer to live on Arnold Palmer Drive, and he readily admits that his street address has been an attention-getter when shopping the many golf-related stories he’s had published over the years.

That said, it’s been Rodell’s skill as a storyteller that has accounted for his success and longevity in the literary world.

Rodell was in Altoona recently to promote his latest project – a book, entitled “Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of the King.”

He spent a day greeting patrons at Golf-A-Round America while offering autographed copies of his latest work. According to Rodell, the book draws upon more than 100 interviews and gives readers insight into Palmer’s everyday life and down-to-earth personality.

The 55-year-old Rodell is a native of Pittsburgh who became a newspaper writer after graduating from Ohio University. The early years of Rodell’s career were spent working in Nashville before returning to Pennsylvania to write for the Greensburg Tribune Review.

By the early 1990s, Rodell settled in Latrobe and began to work as a freelance writer for publications like Sports Illustrated, Esquire and Maxim. During this time, Rodell’s writing spanned a variety of subjects, but one category he began specializing in was golf.

Living in Latrobe, Rodell had an ideal subject close to home. He would eventually be introduced to Palmer and would come to know him reasonably well over the years.

“Palmer was the most down-to-earth man you would ever want to meet,” Rodell said. “He made you feel comfortable from the moment you met him.”

Rodell would conduct more than 100 interviews with Palmer over the final two decades of his life, many of them as a regular contributor to Kingdom Magazine — a golf-themed magazine conceived by Palmer himself.

The extensive time spent with Palmer gave Rodell a unique perspective which was the inspiration for this book.

In addition to Rodell’s personal interactions, the book contains entertaining recollections involving numerous personalities, including CBS commentator Jim Nantz and former governor Tom Ridge. The book also includes a glowing forward written by Gary Player.

While the Palmer book is his latest offering, Rodell’s portfolio of work includes many other golf-related subjects including 2003’s “Hole in One! The Complete Book of Fact, Legend and Lore on Golf’s Luckiest Shot.” Among his other works is the critically-acclaimed self-help book “Use All the Crayons! The Colorful Guide to Simple Human Happiness,” published in 2013.

Rodell also works as a motivational speaker, appearing across the country where he enjoys mixing humor into presentations that are focused on methods of self-improvement.

Rodell will be back in Altoona again this weekend to promote his Arnold Palmer book at the inaugural Greater Altoona Book Festival. The event is scheduled for Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Altoona Public Library and will feature nearly 50 authors from central and western Pennsylvania.

The Mirror’s Cory Giger, whose book “20 years around the Curve” will also be part of the program at the library.

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