Arnold Palmer waves goodbye to fans and to the British Open from the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews in 1995. Photo Credit: Stephen Munday / Getty Images


Today, a memorial service will be held in honor of Arnold Palmer in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. I’d like to join others in celebrating “The King” by sharing a short anecdote he often told himself.

When Palmer was a child, he’d go honey hunting on the family property with his father. As he told this story, it was easy to picture Palmer as the earnest, freckled-faced boy he undoubtedly was.

Palmer imitated his dad warmly. “‘Now, Arnie,’ my dad says, ‘we’re going to take this honey home to your mother,'” Palmer would begin, smiling. “But then my dad says, ‘We have to get two five-pound bags of sugar. When we take the honey out, we’re going to put those two bags of sugar right there, so the bees can have their food.’

“By God, we did it, too,” Palmer would say. “I was about 7 or 8 years old.”

It won’t be Palmer’s golfing achievements that we remember—there are many who have surpassed his accomplishments on the links. His business success and wealth won’t be what we recall first about the man, either—today’s athletes earn more in a few years than he acquired over his entire lifetime.

Instead, what we will remember about Arnold Palmer is what made him a great leader: that in every interaction of his life, whenever he took some honey, he always gave back some sugar.