Game Changers

Meeting Arnold Palmer

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

This week in Orlando as the golf community celebrates the legacy of the legendary Arnold Palmer, I am reminded of all the incredible experiences I have been fortunate enough to’ve had involving Mr. Palmer.
I’ve been lucky to play Bay Hill Club and Lodge on a dozen occasions, and more if you count the numerous almost rounds that were called due to Central Florida summer storms. I’ve played with students, friends and fellow PGA Coaches that work for me. I have spent far too much money in the golf shop, used the storied locker room, and enjoyed wonderful meals at Bay Hill.
The course itself is fantastic, and everywhere you turn, you can recall memories of unforgettable moments from the Arnold Palmer Invitational on every hole. The feeling I get at Bay Hill reminds me of the same comfort I felt at the courses I grew up playing in Central New York — a genuine, warm and welcoming feeling. It is truly a magical place.
The opening hole at Bay Hill.
The opening hole at Bay Hill.
When I won the 2017 PGA of America Youth Player Development Award, the Association produced a video to tell my story, most of which was shot at Bay Hill. All the while, my Little Linksters organization hosted 75 kids for one of our tour events right there on Mr. Palmer’s hallowed grounds.
In 2010, I was on hand when Mr. Palmer was inducted into the North Florida PGA Section Hall of Fame during our Annual Meeting. That day and evening was one of the most influential moments of my career.

That morning at Bay Hill, I pulled into the parking lot, found my spot, checked my tie before going into the clubhouse for the first time . . . and couldn’t not believe who I saw standing before me. 

Brendon Elliott, PGA
Mr. Palmer was walking his dog right in front of my car. It was just him and I, standing there. He put out his hand to welcome me, and we chatted for a few minutes. I was in awe. 
Later that night, during cocktail hour, prior to dinner and the Hall of Fame festivities, I was standing in the hallway outside of the dining room with my wife as we talked with fellow PGA of America Members in attendance. 
Then, I felt a big hand on my shoulder. I turned around to see Mr. Palmer once again as he exchanged pleasantries with us all. He asked if I had been enjoying my day at Bay Hill. I was in awe that he remembered me from many hours earlier in the day. 
I had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Palmer on a few more occasions over the years before he passed in 2016. He was as down-to-earth as you could ever hope one of your childhood heroes would be.
Shortly after my initial visit to Bay Hill, I wrote a letter to Mr. Palmer thanking him for his hospitality. Wouldn't you know it, a few days later, I received a letter back from him. That letter hangs in my office to this day. 
I have been blessed in so many ways because of golf. Each year around this time, I remember one of my most fond memories, that day in the Bay Hill parking lot when I first met The King, a man who reinvigorated my passion for the game.
Thank you, Mr. Palmer.
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Brendon R. Elliott, PGA


Executive Director/Founder

Sorrento, FL

Brendon Elliott is considered by his peers in the industry as one of the top youth golf coaches in the world. He is a multiple, local, state, regional, national and world award winning instructor with a focus on junior golfers ages 3-18. With numerous appearances on Golf Channel's Morning Drive, local TV, nationwide radio and countless publications, Elliott is one of the foremost experts in the youth golf arena. His Little Linksters 501c3 nonprofit is recognized as an example for introducing children as young as three to the game as well as how to help introduce youth with disabilities to our golf. Elliott has been recommended by industry titian's such as Nicklaus, Player, Floyd, Sorenstam, Speith and more. Among his numerous accolades, Elliott was named the PGA of America's 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award Winner in 2017.