Golfer Arnold Palmer, 80, remains a game-changer
Palmer's popularity lifted the Masters, which he won four times, into elite status. He revived the British Open, a tournament most American pros used to skip because of its small purse and the high cost of travel. Palmer was captivated by its history, however, and after he won the British Open in 1961 and '62, other top American players followed him there each summer.
He became the first athlete to earn millions each year from endorsements, and had his own golf equipment and apparel line.
In some ways Palmer and Mark McCormack invented the modern sports superstar/celebrity. Unfortunately, too many of the athletes have forgotten one big lesson from Palmer:
Years ago, at the German Open, he was swarmed by autograph seekers. Bob Hammel told Golf Digest, "A member of his entourage came in to say that his private plane was ready to take off and they had to go. Arnie did not bat an eye but said, 'Have the plane wait; these are the people who pay for that plane.' "