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My Arnold Palmer Story

OK, so this story isn’t exactly a story about me meeting Mr. Palmer face-to-face, but this is a story about how Mr. Arnold Palmer and I shared a Hall of Fame moment.

It was 2006, and Arnold Palmer was delivering a speech on behalf of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s posthumous induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. I received a phone call from my Photo Editor at Getty Images, and he asked if I would be interested in covering the World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

I was very interested and when I accepted the assignment, he said he was relieved because nobody else wanted to do it. He also challenged me to make a great image at the event because anyone can make a picture at the Super Bowl or the Olympics, but not just any shooter can make a great image at a Hall Of Fame induction ceremony.

Seems some photographers feel like it’s pretty difficult to make a really strong image at a Hall of Fame induction ceremony, but I feel like any moment and any opportunity is a chance to take a great shot.

The Perfect Picture

I arrived early to scout the location of the press conference and get set up. I couldn’t help but notice right behind the riser where Mr. Palmer was going to be sitting, there was an amazing quote.

Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.

Arnold Palmer

The above quote, from Mr. Palmer himself, was on the wall and once I spotted it, I started to gather up all these thoughts of him coming in, walking past the quote and taking this great shot of him profiled against his famous quote. I got all worked up prior to the event, only to see him come in from the opposite direction and there was no shot. I went through the whole press conference thinking, “well, it would’ve been a nice picture,” and then it happened. He got up and walked out in the opposite direction, turned at the perfect moment and there was the image.

Arnold palmer

An Award-Winning Photo

The reason why this image means so much is because it wound up being an award-winning photo. The image impressed my not-so-easily impressed editor, which made me even more interested in shooting the event the following year. My editor called me prior to the next year‘s induction ceremony and asked if I wanted to go back to the event. I said absolutely!

While I was waiting for that ceremony to begin, a little old man walked up to me and said, “I was told you are Marc Serota.” He then explained that he was Mr. Palmer’s assistant and that he was hoping to find me here at the event. I asked him why he was looking for me and he reached into his bag and pulled out a signed flag from Arnold Palmer’s tournament at Bay Hill. He had signed the flag, with the same signature you see on the Arnold Palmer tea. It is personally signed to me, and to this day, is one of my prized possessions.

Where The Photo Hangs Now

The best part about the whole story is that Mr. Palmer’s assistant explained to me Arnold had seen my photo and requested a copy of it to hang in his home. To me, knowing that the “King Of Golf” liked one of my images enough to want to hang it in his home meant the world to me.

Several years later in 2019, when I was in the main conference room at PGA tour headquarters working on an editorial project, I saw my picture blown up huge on the wall. I was told that the commissioner requested it and that gave me even more joy in knowing that not only was it hanging in Arnold Palmer’s home, but also in the commissioner’s conference room.

And that’s MY Arnold Palmer story!

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About The Author
Marc Serota
Marc Serota
As a Portrait photographer Marc Serota has lensed iconic athletes and celebrities for CORBIS and GETTY as well as major brands such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN, the NBA, NHL and the NFL. Serota is a renowned award winning photographer having logged 25+ years with news agencies such as REUTERS, Getty Images, The Associated Press and UPI shooting the biggest entertainment, news and sports stories from the early 1990’s to the present. Marc has covered numerous Super Bowls, Olympic games, NHL Stanley Cup’s, NASCAR races, ATP and PGA events. Visit Marc's website: marcserota.com
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