My TOUR Championship trip to Atlanta came to an end as I learned of the passing of Arnold Palmer, right before I boarded the plane home Sunday evening. The news was staggering and terribly sad, but today I pause to thank Arnie — as his influence on the game and golf on television is the reason I was able to make that trip to Atlanta to cover the TOUR Championship.
Not only did Arnie’s charm, stardom and skill captivate audiences around the world, as golf made its way to television back in the 1960’s — making the game and the PGA TOUR popular while bringing it to the mainstream, but he also helped create the Golf Channel — giving us the first 24/7, golf-only TV station.
Without a doubt, I would not have the job I do today without Mr. Palmer’s influence on golf television. So it was a great honor to write my Trending On TOUR show that Sunday evening on my way back from Atlanta as a tribute to him and his legacy.
Saying thank you in that video or saying thank you here in this blog won’t ever be enough to really capture how much influence he’s had on not only my career path, but everyone’s in this game.
I never had the honor of meeting Mr. Palmer, but I’d imagine that he’d still want us all to spread the joy that the tournament brought us last week — even in the shadow of his passing. So in the honor of his seven major championships, here are my Top 7 favorite moments from the TOUR Championship and Top 7 favorite things to do in Atlanta.
My favorite moments from the TOUR Championship:
- Walking a hole during Wednesday’s practice round with Justin Thomas, as he played with Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker and Brandt Snedeker.
- Watching the exciting four-hole playoff finish that had Rory McIlroy coming out on top as both the TOUR Championship and FedEx Cup Champion.
- Helping Justin Thomas finally shave off his horribly-awesome playoff mustache.
- Interviewing Kevin Na after he finished the fastest round in TOUR history at 1 hour, 59 minutes.
- The pancake guy making golfers’ faces out of the tasty breakfast treat.
- Getting a photo with the vintage Coca-Cola machine that’s awarded to the TOUR Championship winner.
- Watching the Tiffany & Co. master engraver, engrave the trophy after Rory won.
My favorite things to do in Atlanta
- Georgia Aquarium (You HAVE TO go!)
- Turner Field — I had the opportunity to hit golf balls in the outfield at Turner Field, soon to be the old home of the Atlanta Braves. One of the coolest events I’ve ever been to, thanks to Mizuno!
- Ponce City Market — a converted Sears & Roebuck building with shops, restaurants and a carnival on the roof — complete with skyline views, mini golf, a giant slide and games.
- Topgolf — I finally had my first Topgolf experience and it was a blast! No matter if you’ve played golf before or not, this is a fun bowling-style night out for any skill level.
- Midtown — we stayed in Midtown Atlanta and it was a fun area with plenty of bars and restaurants to walk to. (Highland Bakery was my go-to breakfast spot — from their delicious granola with fruit, to their indulgent peanut butter french toast.)
- Krog Street Market — think Ponce City Market but on a smaller scale. This was a fun atmosphere to grab a drink and food before walking on the Beltline.
- The Beltline — an on-going project in ATL converting a deserted railroad into a paved pathway for locals to bike, run and walk to different parts of the city. It also has restaurants and businesses that you can only get to by walking on the Beltline. We took a short walk to Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall and the pimento cheese fritters were to die for!
I also want to give a shout out to TAIL Activewear for sending me some cute outfits for the TOUR Championship last week. Check out their ADORABLE golf and tennis clothes!
But above all, RIP Mr. Palmer. You will never be forgotten.