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Arnie Award honorees showcase golf's unique platform for giving back

February 05, 2020

J.D. Cuban

PEBBLE BEACH — Measuring up to the legacy of Arnold Palmer is darn near an impossible task, but Steve Young, the Hall of Fame NFL quarterback, has figured out a way to try to emulate the golf legend.

“I was always struck by his kindness—and it was kindness in a different way,” said Young, who had a chance to play with Palmer on a few occasions in a now-defunct PGA Tour Champions event, the Cadillac NFL Classic. “Most of us who are high achievers, we do things in a transactional way. I work hard and I’m successful. I give and I get. I noticed with him it was not transactional. He was just kind. He expected nothing back. And I was always amazed that, usually, famous people struggle with that. I do. It was a great example for me. ‘Can I be more non-transactional? Can I be more kind, feeling, loving and compassionate without expecting anything back?’ And I think Arnie was that way.”

Young, who with his wife, Barb created the Forever Young Foundation to help disadvantaged children, was addressing a packed house Tuesday night at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he was one of three men who are the latest recipients of the Arnie Award. He was joined by three-time major champion Jordan Spieth and country music artist Toby Keith as men who “embody the spirit” of the late Arnold Palmer by giving back through charitable endeavors.

In association with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, Golf Digest presented the Arnie Award for the eighth year. Jerry Tarde, Golf Digest editor-in-chief and global head of strategy and content, Discovery Golf, presented the award to Spieth and was lead representative for Golf Digest during the ceremony celebrating the recipients’ dedication to giving back.

In further recognition of Arnold Palmer’s values, compassion and generosity, Golf Digest donated $50,000 to the Monterey Peninsula Foundation and $50,000 to the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation.

“This is turning into one of the great awards in the game,” said emcee Jim Nantz, the CBS Sports golf anchor who was a 2019 Arnie Award recipient, “because it recognizes more than just the game, but it also recognizes people from the game who have that same philanthropic spirit that the PGA Tour is built on.”

The PGA Tour recently announced that through its tournaments it has surpassed $3 billion in charitable giving.

One of the people most impressed by Young’s speech and by the specialness of the evening was Spieth, who began his Jordan Spieth Family Foundation when he was just 21. And he could also identify with Keith, who said that “golf is the driving force” of his charity, the OK Kids Korral in Oklahoma City.

“I thought Steve summed it up perfectly 100 percent that what Arnie did, giving back without expecting anything in return, is what all three of us would like to do,” Spieth said. “I think we’d all rather go about our own way. And yet it’s because of the things we have done in our respective lives that we can use that to our advantage to help other people, and that is very much what Arnold did quietly.”

Spieth added that golf has proven to be an effective platform for raising money and giving back, whether or not a person plays the game for a living. Young and Keith are just the latest examples.

“It’s really great,” Spieth said, “how golf pulls people together from all different interests and backgrounds, pulls other athletes to it and the game helps us to accomplish our goals as far as our charities. The crazy thing is, none of us are in it for this award. This is a great honor, and yet it’s an honor that you almost don’t feel like you deserve because you do want to be like Arnold and just do it because you want to help others who need it.”