For the eighth consecutive year, Golf Digest is celebrating Golfers Who Give Back, partnering with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Monterey Peninsula Foundation and Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation. Our joint committee has selected country-music star Toby Keith, the PGA Tour’s Jordan Spieth and Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young as this year’s Golfers Who Give Back.
No individual golfer gave back more than Arnold Palmer, and each of these three honorees will receive The Arnie Award, Golf Digest’s highest honor, at the AT&T in February. The Arnie is a trophy-size version of a Palmer bronze sculpture created by artist Zenos Frudakis.
As part of the Golfers Who Give Back program, Golf Digest will donate a total of $100,000 to Monterey Peninsula Foundation and Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation.
The project is called Lift Orlando, a revitalization initiative west of downtown in a neighborhood of communities known as West Lakes. Begun in 2012 and supported by dozens of the city’s business and civic leaders, it’s the kind of effort that the late Arnold and Winnie Palmer would have embraced.
“Everyone knows about our association with the hospital here in Orlando,” says Amy Saunders, the Palmers’ younger daughter, chair of the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation and Arnold Palmer Enterprises. “When we looked at the opportunity to do something else in our community beyond our commitment to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, Lift Orlando really spoke to us for what it means to people here and how it corresponds to our mission.”
The mission of the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation is helping children live a “Life Well Played.” Generous donors, members, and the Palmer family and companies support the foundation’s focus on three interconnected initiatives: children’s health, character development and nature-focused wellness.
In recognition of the Palmers’ devotion to charitable causes, Golf Digest again has partnered with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Monterey Peninsula Foundation to recognize Golfers Who Give Back with the annual Arnie Awards.
Saunders recognizes that Lift Orlando can bring the foundation’s mission to life by focusing on positive development for kids and families in the local communities.
The $62 million project is proceeding with mixed-income housing, and the Palmer Foundation and businesses are concentrating on contributing to the historic Lake Lorna Doone Park, just north of Camping World Stadium.
PGA Tour player Sam Saunders, Palmer’s grandson, is collaborating with course architects Brandon Johnson and Thad Layton of Arnold Palmer Design Company to install a nine-hole, artificial-turf putting course that replicates the back nine holes of the Championship Course at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, annual site of the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
Amy Saunders says the project will include a nature walk, and sponsor wellness and leadership programs similar to those at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. Down the road, Palmer Foundation donors and leaders will eagerly support other charities, including a possible youth golf school that partners with an adjacent Boys & Girls Club.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to uniquely collaborate with leaders in our community to try to make a difference,” Amy Saunders says. “To be able to touch on the pillars of our foundation—and with a golf component—is exactly the kind of program we hope to expand upon.”
Of course, making a difference and giving back is what the Arnie Awards are about. Monterey Peninsula Foundation collaborates with the Arnold and Winnie Palmer Foundation, which is gratifying to leaders of both organizations.
“The Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation is a great tribute to both of them, their spirit, and their many causes, which align perfectly with ours,” says Steve John, CEO and tournament director of Monterey Peninsula Foundation, which last year disbursed $15.6 million to several hundred nonprofit organizations primarily in California’s Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties thanks to proceeds generated primarily by the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Adds Amy Saunders: “To know that the legacy of my parents is preserved at a special place like Pebble Beach, where, of course, my father had an ownership stake because he loved it so much, is a wonderful tribute to them and their lifelong commitment to enhancing the lives of children.”
THE ARNIE AWARDS PREVIOUS WINNERS
Niall Horan -- 2016
Juli Inkster -- 2017
Davis Love III -- 2018
Peyton Manning -- 2016
Jim Nantz -- 2018
Jake Owen -- 2016
Darius Rucker -- 2018
Kelly Slater -- 2017
Clay Walker -- 2017