During his 13-year tenure as Wake Forest’s head football coach, Jim Grobe occasionally came into touch with greatness.
In golf circles, no one is much greater than Arnold Palmer.
Palmer died Sunday at 87 from complications from heart problems. Everyone who knew the golf legend found him to be a gracious, caring man, and Grobe’s experience was no exception.
Grobe, Baylor’s interim coach, said Palmer returned to his Wake Forest alma mater to talk to the football team on a couple of occasions during his time there from 2001-13. Grobe also got a chance to spend time with Palmer on the golf course.
“We played in a charity golf tournament with some of our alums,” Grobe said. “We were close to Latrobe, Pa. (Palmer’s hometown) and Mr. Palmer wasn’t supposed to be there. But all of a sudden he comes up on a golf cart and I was on cloud nine getting to spend time with him.”
Grobe said Palmer spent some of his time that day with a man from Latrobe who had never met Palmer before.
“We had a guy who had driven us around for the tournament and was taking us to the airport who lived in Latrobe his whole life and had never met Arnold Palmer,” Grobe said. “He was with us in the office when Arnold came in, and he spent more time with him than our alums and me. That told me a lot about who Arnold Palmer is. He’s such a gracious guy. If you didn’t know he was the King, you’d meet him and say that’s the nicest man I ever met.”