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Tilbury Golf Club Ltd

Windsor Star News
May 9, 2018

The new owner of Tilbury Golf Club is a familiar face with an even more familiar name.

Arnie Palmer officially took over as the owner of the 18-hole golf course at the end of April. The man with the same name as one of the game’s greatest legends has been cutting greens, fixing equipment or running the pro shop there for the last 41 years.

“I always tell people when you go to Tilbury you have the privilege of meeting Hogan and Palmer,” Arnie says. He’s referencing himself and general manager Perry Hogan while invoking thoughts of two of the biggest stars on the PGA Tour in Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan.

Arnie Palmer is the new sole owner of the Tilbury Golf Club. Photographed here on May 9, 2018 (NICK BRANCACCIO / WINDSOR STAR)

Palmer has been a fixture at the course for 41 years.

Tilbury’s Arnie Palmer met the PGA Palmer several times, the last time in 1991 at Essex Golf & Country Club

Arnold Palmer was in the area as part of a promotion for a car company that sponsored him. Someone arranged for the two to have a quick chat in the Essex clubhouse but that turned into a full sit-down lunch at the insistence of the PGA star

A story of their encounter ran in The Windsor Star and the photos taken that day were reproduced last year in the September issue of Greenmaster magazine, the official publication of the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association, to mark the first anniversary of Arnold Palmer’s death.

The Arnie Palmer of Essex County first met the PGA player back in Jamaica where Arnie worked as a caddy and a pro at Half Moon Golf in Montego Bay.

A well-known island golf resort, Palmer was one of the course’s top caddies. He met a number of touring pros there. If they missed the cut at the PGA’s Bay Hill Classic in Miami, a bunch of players who hop over to Jamaica for a few days.

During his time there, he caddied for singer Otis Redding and Western actor George Montgomery. He also caddied for Jack Pratt.

Pratt was designing and building Belleview Golf Course in Woodslee in the late 60s when he convinced Palmer to come to Canada and work as his general manager and golf pro.

“I had to put my clubs down and go to work,” Palmer said of the rough course conditions he found upon arrival. “The guy says he’s building a golf course and I come down here and it’s rocks. You got to go to work.”

He moved over to Tilbury in 1977.

“I built these greens with my bare hands,” he said. “I dug the trenches by hand. Our greens can compete with any of them in the county.”

Palmer became a part owner of the club in 2009 and then last year started the process of buying out the remaining two partners.

Now, he’s knee deep in renovations that include new flooring in the main building, relocating the snack bar and a new metal roof.

“A golf course is a product,” he said. “It’s a product that you’re selling. The maintenance never stops.”

Most days during the season, Palmer is at the course early and stays late into the evening.

“He is old school,” said fellow superintendent Pat Hebert who tends to the conditions at Roseland Golf Course. “Arnie will do anything, anything he can, he will do it himself. He can teach a lesson, sharpen a mower blade, run the pro shop, even tend the bar.”

While he doesn’t go out of his way to share his age, a cake made by his sister for his birthday last March kind of gave it away. Palmer liked the two-piece creation that showed a golf green and a dog-leg shaped hole so much he took a picture of it not even realizing the two pieces depicted the number 70.

“I like to say I’m not old, I’m just right,” he said.

“The beauty of golf is and it’s been my life, is the people. You have to know how to communicate with people.“

Windsor Star News Article here

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