Golfing legend Arnold Palmer has died aged 87 of complications from heart problems. He ranks among the most important figures in golf history, and his fame went well beyond his seven major championships and 62 PGA Tour wins.

Simon Holmes looks back at the incredible career and iconic golf swing of the the first superstar of golf that truly transcended the sport.

Palmer successfully made the elite sport of golf appealing to everyone with his good looks and devilish grin. It helped that he was at ease with both presidents and the golfing public, and the fact that he exploded onto the scene at the same time as televisions moved into most households.

A smile that will never be forgotten.#ArniesArmy

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 26, 2016

He had a huge influence on the golfers of today, who have been paying their tributes to him online.

Thanks Arnold for your friendship, counsel and a lot of laughs. Your philanthropy and humility are part of your legend.

— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) September 26, 2016

I just got the news at about 8:45 that Arnold had passed. I was shocked to hear that we lost a great friend (continued)

— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) September 26, 2016

So sad to hear Mr. Palmer has passed away. He touched us all and was an incredible role model. The KING.

— Jason Day (@JDayGolf) September 26, 2016

I'll miss you friend #ripTheKING

— Rickie Fowler (@RickieFowler) September 26, 2016

I'm heart broken tonight. Arnold Palmer defined what it is be a professional inside and outside the ropes. All of golf says 'thanks Arnold'

— Peter Jacobsen (@JakeTrout) September 26, 2016

Absolutely gutted to hear the news of Mr. Palmer.. He is, and always will be, known as The King. RIP to one of the greatest people to live!

— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) September 26, 2016

Showing just how wide-reaching Palmer’s impact was, famous faces from outside the world of golf have also been paying their respects.

Here's to The King who was as extraordinary on the links as he was generous to others. Thanks for the memories, Arnold.

— President Obama (@POTUS) September 26, 2016

One of sports greatest ambassadors of has passed. I was inspired by his dignity and calm. Thank you Arnold Palmer.

— Kiefer Sutherland (@RealKiefer) September 26, 2016

Really sad news: The great Arnold Palmer, the "King," has died. There was no-one like him – a true champion! He will be truly missed.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2016

It wasn’t just golf where Palmer was a pioneer. He revolutionised sports marketing, paving the way for other athletes to reap millions from endorsements. Some four decades after his last PGA Tour win, he ranked among the highest earners in golf.

On the golf course, Palmer was famous not for how often he won, but the way he did it.

He would hitch up his trousers, drop a cigarette and attack the flags. With powerful hands wrapped around the golf club, Palmer would slash at the ball with all of his might, then twist his muscular neck and squint to see where it went.


He never liked being referred to as “the King”, but the name stuck.

Even if you’re not a huge fan of golf, chances are you’ve come across Palmer in a bar. The combination of iced tea and lemonade is known as an “Arnold Palmer”.

Palmer was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. His father Deacon became the greenskeeper at Latrobe Country Club in 1921 and the club pro in 1933.

(David J. Phillip/AP)

Palmer’s first wife, Winnie, died in 1999. They had two daughters, and grandson Sam Saunders plays on the PGA Tour. Palmer married Kathleen (Kit) Gawthrop in 2005.

Rory McIlroy, one of today’s top golfers, told the BBC: “I don’t think anyone in any sport has left a legacy like Arnold Palmer has.”