How Arnold Palmer the man created 'Arnold Palmer,' the drink

Devil Ball Golf

Arnold Palmer passed away Sunday, a pivotal and crushing moment for sports and several generations of golf fans. But for many more, Arnold Palmer’s name will live on as the perfect summertime drink: half lemonade, half iced tea.

The blend has been an “Arnold Palmer” for longer than most Americans have been alive. Its exact origins aren’t clear; apparently Palmer himself drank the concoction as a young man and throughout his reign atop the world of golf in the 1960s. Later in that decade, he was at a club in Palm Springs, Calif., working on a golf course design when he ordered the drink; a nearby patron overheard him, ordered “that Arnold Palmer drink,” and a legend was born.

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Arnold Palmer at St. Andrews, Scotland. (AP)
Arnold Palmer at St. Andrews, Scotland. (AP)

This was in an era when Arnold Palmer could show up in public wearing a paper bag for a swimsuit and an entire nation would follow his lead. So “Arnold Palmers” instantly became a national phenomenon, and remain popular to this day. Palmer himself, always a savvy businessman, partnered with AriZona Beverage Company in 2001 to begin marketing the drink nationwide, and you’ll now find it on shelves everywhere.

One question remains: how does Arnold Palmer order an Arnold Palmer?’s Steve Politi discovered the answer in 2013, when he observed Palmer ordering at the Masters.

“He leaned over and said, ‘I’ll have a Mr. Palmer,’ ” the bartender said. “Then he winked.” There you go … the consummate Arnold Palmer story.

More on Arnold Palmer’s passing:
Palmer was The King in every way
An hour with Arnold Palmer in his hometown

Podcast: Remembering Arnold Palmer

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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