Remembering a legend: Arnold Palmer designed several Phoenix-area golf courses

Sep 26, 2016, 4:25 PM
File- This April 5, 2007, file photo shows former Masters champion Arnold Palmer acknowledging the ...

File- This April 5, 2007, file photo shows former Masters champion Arnold Palmer acknowledging the crowd after hitting the ceremonial first tee shot prior to the first round of the 2007 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. Palmer, who made golf popular for the masses with his hard-charging style, incomparable charisma and a personal touch that made him known throughout the golf world as "The King," died Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Pittsburgh. He was 87. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

PHOENIX — Golf legend Arnold Palmer passed away Sunday. He was 87.

Arguably one of the most famous golfers in the game’s history, Palmer was more than a player. He was also the designer of more than 200 courses worldwide, several of which are in the Phoenix area.

One of those courses, Arrowhead Country Club near the Loop 101 and 75th Avenue, is particularly special, according to golf pro Rob Smyser.

“[Palmer] designed the course to how he played,” he said. “He was a fader of the golf ball and we’ve got a lot of doglegs left to right and you sort of feel like you’re playing something he designed and he played and he walked.”

Arrowhead is different from other Valley courses in that it ignores the desert motif and is instead based on Palmer’s former homes of Florida and Pennsylvania. The course has 11 lakes and plenty of tree-lined homes.

“What makes Arrowhead special here in the Valley is it’s not a desert golf course,” Smyser said. “He’s designed other ones here that are desert-related, but here you can really feel his touch.”

Ed Gowan, the executive director of the Arizona Golf Association, said all of Palmer’s courses throughout the Valley pay homage to an athlete who transcended the game.

“A lot of people build golf courses, but he touched the heart and soul of anybody who loves the game,” he said.

Gowan said more than a million golf fans, himself included, have a personal story about meeting Palmer.

“At the worst of times, when he was playing badly, he still walked on the gallery lines and would sign a cap,” Gowan said of Palmer.

KTAR’s Paul Ihander contributed to this report.

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Remembering a legend: Arnold Palmer designed several Phoenix-area golf courses