|WHO WILL REPLACE THE KING OF GOLF?|
By R.J. SmileyA tear rolls down the Psychic's cheek... then another. Fellow golfers, great athletes from different sport, Presidents and common folk pay tribute to Arnold Palmer on the Golf Channel. The Psychic too.... feels a sense of loss.
The Psychic ponders, "Who will try to replace Arnold Palmer as the undisputed King Of Golf?"
The Psychic removes his golf cap, a clone of the cap Team USA wore on Ryder Cup Friday. He rises from his recliner and methodically moves toward the solitude of his study; with the back of his index finger, he wipes a final tear for his cheek.
The Psychic places the well-worn turban on his head and gives the crystal sphere a gentle cleaning with the soft cloth that covers his tell-all orb. The Psychic is searching for the next Arnold Palmer, the next golfer who will replace The King.
The image within his magic ball resembles the snowy picture on an old 12" black and white television set. The Psychic adjusts, then readjusts his magic ball, like the old rabbit ear antennas draped with metal foil, attempting to clear the picture. For the first time - ever, he can't get his never-failed-him-before, crystal ball into focus. Instead of seeing images of Tiger, Rory, Sergio or Phil, the Psychic catches irregular glimpses of a young Arnold Palmer, wearing a shirt with a Munsingwear penguin on the left breast smoking a Marlboro cigarette as he strides down the fairway. As the image becomes clearer, the Psychic sees the young Palmer swing. Except the swings left-handed. Yes, the powerful swing is Palmer, abbreviated follow through, only from the wrong side. Then Palmer hitches his golf slacks, in that familiar style and reaches to the grass to retrieve his cigarette.
Abruptly the scene goes black, from the distance a window appears. The window races forward filling the entire sphere with two figures hunched over a boardroom desk. The Psychic recognizes a young Arnold Palmer and a young Mark McCormick, founder of IMG, McCormick's newly created marketing and public relations firm. Palmer is signing a contract, but signing with his left hand. The Psychic focuses on the signature, a perfect Arnold Palmer signature - only backward.
The Psychic realizes he is looking into a mirror. Reflecting images in reverse.
The crystal sphere becomes smoking hot as more images of Palmer race from the past and blast into the Psychic's watering eyes - images of Palmer holding cans of Pennzoil, pictures of Arnie's Army flowing across the manicured turf.
The Psychic blinks as millions of newly introduced color television sets flicker to life - all sets tuned to The Masters. Golfers and non-golfers alike have swallowed the Kool-Aid selecting Palmer King.
The Psychic sees Palmer, with a headset, flying his own airplane. He sees Palmer and his wife, Winnie, opening their new hospital in Orlando, as a huge multicolored umbrella hovers overhead. The Psychic witnesses a rapid-fire slide show of the 300 worldwide golf courses designed by Mr. Palmer.
Finally the Psychic sees the Golf Channel growing from a thought in Palmer's mind into a source of golf entertainment and instruction giant with millions of followers.
As the Psychic backs away from the red-hot glowing crystal sphere he realizes, their will never be another King of Golf. Arnold Palmer was the perfect person and the exact time in the history of golf. Palmer had the golf game, the personality, and the boy next-door good looks that attracted the masses to him. He became a hero, a storybook character surpassing golfing greats like Ben Hogan, who overcame a tragic auto accident to win again, and slamming Sam Snead.
Palmer had no plan to become King. Palmer grew up playing golf and just continued to do what he knew. Palmer was not the prodigy developed with swing coaches, personal trainers, dietitians, and shrinks. His parents did not raise him thinking he would be King.
Palmer became King because he created a following, an army who worshipped him.
The Psychic removed his turban and covered his now cooling marble. The Psychic retreated to his man cave knowing that Arnold Palmer will never be replaced as King.
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