Saunders and the Palmer Legacy

When thinking of famous professional golf lineages that stretch across generation gaps, only a few names come to mind. These include the Stadlers, the Duvals, the Haas', and even Old and Young Tom Morris (just to name a few). However, with the recent professional play of a young Sam Saunders, the Palmer family tree may have just become the most famous in professional golf. But what does this mean for the legacy of Arnold Palmer?

With his namesake tournament this week at Bay Hill, Palmer and his grandson will no doubt be the talk of the town for the next few days. Reporters and journalists have already written thousands of words chronicling the newest member of the Palmer bloodline to tee-it-up in a PGA Tour event, and a few others have even touched on what Palmer should and will be remembered for in the game of golf.

Take, for instance, journalist T.J. Auclair and his recent article regarding the legacy of Arnold Palmer. In his article, Auclair lists nine of what he refers to as the most important aspects of Arnie's career which can serve as fitting memories that could define his legacy. In this list, Auclair includes everything from Arnie's charity work, his aggressive style of play for the era, his 63 professional victories, and even his ability to always remain himself even in the midst of worldwide fame... something that most professionals could learn a thing or two from in today's game.

Perhaps the most important and relevant achievement that Arnie can hang his hat on is the fact that he has become and remained a role model for golfers everywhere for decades. During a time when personal lives of famous golfers are more in the spotlight than ever before, Palmer simply did what he could to project a lifestyle and career that could be called nothing less than exemplary. Even if there were times when he might have had personal issues to deal with off the course, fans would never suspect it. Palmer simply showed up to work every week, played his hardest, and appreciated everything that came along with the game, good or bad.

So where does this leave his grandson, Sam Saunders?

According to a recent AP article, Saunders recently sought the advice of his grandfather when dealing with a few swing issues and course management. After all, who better to turn to at such a time than one of the greatest players to ever live? Before the Bob Hope Classic, the 22-year old Saunders turned to Palmer for his advice, which turned out to be rather simple: "Don't listen to anybody else but me."

It seems that with every truly great golfer there is an equally great mentor that expects nothing less than complete, undivided attention from his or her pupil. Palmer and his grandson are no exception to this observation, and with the help of his grandfather Saunders finished tied for 17th at the Honda Classic just a short time later. In order to give his grandson more experience in the "big leagues", Arnie granted Saunders a special exemption into this week's Bay Hill event.
When all is said and done, the name of "Palmer" will forever be etched into the legacy that is professional golf; that much cannot be disputed. However, will the same be said for the young Sam Saunders and his ability to live up to what can only be seen as monumental expectations? If nothing else, the old edict of doing one's job the best he or she knows how will certainly live on in Saunders... that is, if his grandfather has anything to say about it.