Golf and Parkinson’s: Arnold Palmer on Golf and Life

“I’ve always made a total effort, even when the odds seemed entirely against me. I never quit trying; I never felt that I didn’t have a chance to win.” Arnold Palmer

“The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.” Arnold Palmer

Introduction: Golf is just another type of exercise. We now know that exercise is an essential life-component to effectively live with Parkinson’s. Golf can provide cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, flexibility, balance and coordination, and there is a cognitive component. As a form of exercise, golf is truly a microcosm of how-to-live-your-life.

“It’s a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get.” Arnold Palmer

Brief Biography of Arnold Palmer: “Mr. Palmer” (I just love the way most of the folks at the Golf Channel refer to him as Mr. Palmer, not Arnie, or the King, but simply Mr. Palmer with a sign of sincere respect) was born on September 10, 1929, and recently died on September 25, 2016. He was the most beloved American professional golfer. He is thought to be the sport’s first superstar, and he was one of the most popular and charismatic players in the history of golf.

Mr. Palmer won 69 PGA events including 7 major golf tournaments. He ranks 5th on the list of golf tournaments won. Mr. Palmer had a long-standing history of raising money for healthcare; without question, this highlights his strong belief for helping others. He founded the Golf TV Channel, wrote many books, learned how to fly airplanes and jets, designed golf courses, and he even invented a drink named the ‘Arnold Palmer’ (a non-alcoholic combination of iced tea and lemonade).

“If you can concentrate on what you’re doing and have the desire to do the things you have to do to win, you’ll succeed.” Arnold Palmer

The positivity of Arnold Palmer: I try hard to remain positive and focused in my daily dealing with Parkinson’s. And it is most refreshing and reinforcing to read these words from Mr. Palmer. His attitude to remain a dreamer and to be positive in his life-approach was reinforced nicely when he said, “I can only tell you one thing that I do know for sure, I am a dreamer. There are not many people that will recognize or want to recognize the fact that they are dreamers in their own life … I continue to get up in the morning, enthusiastically, and go pick up a golf club with a thought that I can somewhere find that secret to making the cut. That’s just an example, but it applies to other things in life, too, and that’s the way I live and the way I think and the way I feel.” Arnold Palmer

“Even before you step up to the ball, have a full battle plan for the hole worked out.” Arnold Palmer

Health related-issues for Arnold Palmer that are directly applicable to my life/career: Three things I can bring up about shared interests that I have with Mr. Palmer.

(1) Deep-vein thrombosis- Mr. Palmer noted, “Many people don’t know that I experienced a blood clot caused by deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, which is when a blood clot forms in a deep vein in the body, often the leg or thigh. I’m fortunate that my DVT was diagnosed and treated before it led to something even more serious and that’s why I encourage people to talk to their doctor if they think something is wrong.”

Over 30-years of my academic career was centered on the research field of hemostasis-thrombosis, most notably, deep-vein thrombosis. I spent many long hours in the research laboratory trying to understand how you control the key protease named thrombin in blood coagulation. The focus was primarily the mixture of biochemistry combined with molecular pathology. The goal to control thrombin’s activity is a critical component to the formation of a blood clot that continues and leads to deep-vein thrombosis or DVT.

(2) Cancer- Mr. Palmer said, “I guess most of us would rather not discuss cancer because we are all afraid we might be told we have it. It’s hard for people to even say the word, and that’s the first obstacle you have to overcome when you are diagnosed with the disease. I think once you understand a little more about it … I don’t mean it gets any easier … but I think you give it more in-depth thought about how you’re going to deal with it.”

For much of my career, we also studied cancer [mostly centered on breast and ovarian cancers but we started in prostate cancer (which Mr. Palmer had). Our primary focus was on cancer cell migration and the link to hemostasis-thrombosis (see #1 above). Thus, we combined cell and molecular biology with tissue (pathology) studies to link cancer cells to tumor tissues.

(3) Hearing aids- Like Mr. Palmer, since the mid-1990’s, I have worn hearing aids. Although expensive and with some amazing technology, being able to hear is such an essential part of both life and career. As remarked by Mr. Palmer, “I’ve been wearing hearing aids for a long time. The technology available now is simply unbelievable. When I compare the new digital products to what we had 30 years ago, it’s an amazing difference.” Arnold Palmer

“The secret of concentration is the secret of self-discovery. You reach inside yourself to discover your personal resources, and what it takes to match them to the challenge.” Arnold Palmer

Additional quotes by Arnold Palmer on golf and life: We can all use reinforcement regarding our living with and handling of our Parkinson’s. One way for me is to read about other people and to ponder their advice through words/quotes/stories. His comments regarding life are most supportive as a way to think, to work, and to live. Included below are some of my favorite quotes by Mr. Palmer, presented in 3 formats: (i) a 2-min video with quotes and pictures; (ii) just the written quotes without the picture(s); and (iii) assembly of some quotes/images as grouped-photos;. Please note that some quotes are included in i/iii and are not present in ii, and vice versa.

(i) a 2-min video with Arnold Palmer quotes combined with some of Frank’s golf pictures (click here for the Youtube video link)-

(II) Arnold Palmer quotes on golf and life-

“Golf is a game of inches. The most important are the six inches between your ears.” Arnold Palmer

“Concentration, Confidence, Competitive urge, Capacity for enjoyment.” Arnold Palmer

“Establish a system you have confidence in and rely on it when you get into tough situations.” Arnold Palmer

“What do I mean by concentration? I mean focusing totally on the business at hand and commanding your body to do exactly what you want it to do.” Arnold Palmer

“Success in golf depends less on strength of body than upon strength of mind and character.” Arnold Palmer

“I look back, it taught me something – it taught me how to live, how to be a better guy, not let defeat be the end of my life.” Arnold Palmer

“The secret of concentration is the secret of self-discovery. You reach inside yourself to discover your personal resources, and what it takes to match them to the challenge.” Arnold Palmer

“Swing your swing. Not some idea of a swing. Not a swing you saw on TV. Not that swing you wish you had. No, swing your swing. Capable of greatness. Prized only by you. Perfect in it’s imperfection. Swing your swing. I know, I did.” Arnold Palmer

Concentration comes out of a combination of confidence and hunger.” Arnold Palmer

“Golf never ceases to be a challenge, even when it really is just you and the ball out there and nobody else.” Arnold Palmer

(iii) Arnold Palmer quotes/golf images as grouped-photos-

“[Golf]is deceptively simple, endlessly complicated. A child can play it well, and a grown man can never master it. Any single round of it is full of unexpected triumphs and perfect shots that end in disaster. It is almost a science, yet it is a puzzle without an answer. It is gratifying and tantalizing, precise and unpredictable. It requires complete concentration and total relaxation. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time, rewarding and maddening. And it is without doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” Arnold Palmer

Cover photo credit:

8 Replies to “Golf and Parkinson’s: Arnold Palmer on Golf and Life”

  1. I think you should send this in to a golf association or magazine as it is certainly inspirational for other Parkinson’s patients. Kitty

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. I really didn’t know that Arnold Palmer was such an inspirational person, because I don’t generally follow golf, but these quotes are great! Also, like how he took the time to take care of himself and wasn’t too proud to go to the doctor or use hearing aids.


      1. Frank, This is Michael your “single” guy you wrote about in your article on restless legs. Thank you for the research and posting thr research. Enjoyed your Arnie articles, well done!!!


      2. Michael, hope all is well? Glad you enjoyed this article, and I’m very happy with how the Arnold Palmer story was because he was one-of-a-kind. Keep hitting ’em (golf balls) long straight. Take care, Frank


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