Bay Hill Club & Lodge
Arnold Palmer first laid eyes on Bay Hill back in 1965 when he was invited to play a winter exhibition there against Jack Nicklaus. (He won the exhibition, by the way) Back then it was little more than a still-raw golf course with a tiny pro shop, small guest lodge and a few modest bungalows carved out of the orange groves and desolate brush of central Florida. It was a breathtaking wilderness area surrounded by pristine freshwater lakes and abundant wildlife.
For Arnold, Bay Hill was a golfer’s paradise. He had been looking for a quiet, out-of-the way place where he could retreat to every winter with his family. Arnold was so smitten with the course he raced home and told his wife Winnie, "Babe, I’ve just played the best course in Florida and I want to own it."
Over time, Arnold has remade Bay Hill to reflect his own style and taste. Arnold and design partner Ed Seay have worked feverishly to ensure that the Bay Hill Invitational remains a stiff test for the best touring pros. As a result of Arnold’s tinkering, today’s Bay Hill offers some of the toughest holes on the PGA Tour.
Latrobe Country Club
There is no course more synonymous with Arnold Palmer than the Latrobe Country Club. Arnold's father, Deacon Palmer, became the grounds superintendent there in 1926 and the golf pro in 1932. 'Deke' actually helped build the original nine-hole course with his bare hands in the years just prior to Arnold's birth. He remained active at Latrobe until his death at the age of 71. Just before Deke's passing, Arnold's brother, Jerry Palmer, began working with their father and eventually took over as superintendent. Arnold grew up playing, practicing and laboring alongside his father on Latrobe's fairways. He also caddied, worked in the pro shop and did every odd maintenance job his superintendent father required.
In 1971, Arnold decided to make his family's life-long devotion to Latrobe even more permanent by purchasing the facility. Arnold recalls his father's reaction. "Are you crazy? Why on earth would you want to do that?" Arnold quipped back, "Well, Pap, I reasoned you've been here your whole life. That's good enough reason for me." He also joked, "Besides, it means you'd have to work for me."
Over the years, Latrobe has grown and matured into a demanding test of golf. By the early 1960s, sufficient land had been acquired for expanding into an 18-hole course. Both Deke and Arnold contributed heavily to the design of the new nine holes and the revamping of the existing holes to fit the layout. Today's 6,500 yard, par-72 course is one of the most beautiful and challenging in the hills of Western Pennsylvania.
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