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From the Archives: Palmer delights area golfers in Park Hills 18-hole match

Original Publication Date: May 25, 1959

Arnold Palmer showed nearly 300 fans why he is currently one of the great pro golfers of the country with an exhibition yesterday afternoon on the Park Hills golf course.

The Latrobe native fired an even-par 72 in an 18-hole match with two area pros and the home pro, Jim Mullins. Completing the foursome were Jim Davis of the Bedford Elks Country Club and Chad Garlena of the Summit Country Club in Cresson.

Palmer posted a front nine 35 score and a 37 in the second nine for his 72-hole score. He recorded three birdies but erased them with three bogeys. His birdies were made on holes 3, 14 and 16, while bogeys were recorded on holes 11, 15 and 16.

Garlena made a great comeback on the second nine to end up with second best of 77. He carded a 41 and then a 36, which incidently was the best round of the second nine. Davis finished with a 44-38–82, also improving the second time around, and Mullins contributed a 42-41–83.

Palmer consistently drove balls 250 to 300 yards down the fairways and seldom missed the greens in the required strokes. His putting game was off some, just missing several birdies by inches. He commented that the greens were a little slow, but were the best he has seen in this district and gave much of the credit to the local pro.

His best hold of the day was probably the par-4 third hole, which he birdied. His second shot landed about 10 feet from the pin, which was located on a slight knob. He stroked the ball in for a three.

Hits in woods

His worst hole of the day was the par-5 15th, but a fine recovery drew the applause of the spectators. The hole is a dogleg to the left. His second shot hit a dirt path and skipped in to the woods. At first it was thought to be out of bounds, and he hit a provisional ball to be sure. However, the ball just stopped within the boundary line, but it was situated in the thicket. Palmer hacked at the ball, and it dribbled to the edge of the woods and then he made a nice fourth shot to the edge of the green. His fifth shot ended 1 foot from the cup, and he wound up with a six.

Immediately after the match, Palmer conducted a brief clinic. He told the group he would give them a shortened version of the “Million Dollar Clinic” given by the pros before each tournament. He hit balls with each club and told how and when they should be used. He briefly explained the grips and stances used by the pros today.

He interjected bits of humor, which went over big with the crowd. Once he said: “I’ll now hit a hook.” He gave a healthy cut at the ball, and it cut the fairway right down the middle. He looked at the crowd and dejectedly said, “Darn, those straight balls.” His next try was successful.

He left the throng with visions of playing in the low 70s, because he sure made it look easy.

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