Arnold Palmer graces our cover this week for a record 12th time, one more than Muhammad Ali and four more than Mickey Mantle. The occasion is not a championship or prospective championship but Arnie's 40th birthday, an important milestone to us since this magazine sort of grew up with him—our fourth issue carried the story of his victory in the U.S. Amateur. Palmer's first cover came in 1960 when he was billed as one of golf's promising young pros (above) and by January of 1961 he was out front all by himself as our Sportsman of the Year, on his way to an exciting decade of leading Arnie's Army. To mark the birthday we have taken a backward look at the highlights (page 28) in a gallery of color photographs and a personal reminiscence by Dan Jenkins, who remembers just when he first realized Palmer was going to earn general's stars.
Several SI staffers have personal recollections of Arnie. Pat Ryan learned how to walk a course from Arnold's wife Winnie, an expert on the mounds and knolls from which one can get a good view but avoid the crowds.
Senior Editor Ray Cave also has been a frequent walker with Winnie, and whenever Arnold was in contention Ray would try to convince her to convince him to wear red for the final round, ideal for our color photos.
"We never dared tell him we were pushing red," said Cave. "Eventually this made me nervous because if it succeeded—he didn't. He couldn't seem to win in red and when he went into the last day of the 1967 U.S. Open at Baltusrol tied for the lead, I didn't bring up the matter at all. I weighed it carefully, SI's interests against Arnold's, and voted for Arnold. He wore white, but Jack Nicklaus shot 65 to win by four strokes."
August 31, 1969
Whether winning or losing, and in whatever color, Arnold Palmer has been an electrifying force in sport. Along with all the other members of his Army, we hope there will be many more Sundays when the magic word is passed: "Arnie has started his charge!"