'I Can Only Imagine How Proud He Would Be' - Arnold Palmer's Daughter On Golf It!

Amy Palmer recently paid a visit to Scotland and she continues to help build on her late father’s legacy

Golf It!
The hotly anticipated community-based golf and entertainment facility opened its doors in August
(Image credit: The R&A)

Scotland boasts a large number of world-class links, but you could argue that its most impressive venue is close to Glasgow City center. Golf It!, which opened in August, is a new multi-purpose golf community and leisure hub, and last week it welcomed a very special visitor, Arnold Palmer’s daughter.

The legendary golfer and his wife, Winnie supported many worthy causes during their lives together and devoted a lot of their time to helping young people.

And the family’s history of giving continues with their daughter, Amy Palmer Saunders, chair of The Arnold Palmer Group and Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation (AWPF), building on her late father’s legacy.

In September, The R&A Foundation launched a global philanthropy programme as part of its mission to transform lives through golf and over £5 million has already been raised, and The AWPF is a big supporter.

Golf It! is one of a number of projects that The R&A Foundation supports, and it’s a facility and a concept that The AWPF has also been keen to back.

“What has been amazing and remarkable about this visit is what The R&A has done here with Golf It! is so aligned with the things that were so important during my father’s career and my parent’s lives,” says Palmer.

“To see what potential there is here is just remarkable, but what they've already accomplished, what they've built and how well thought out it was, how they engaged the community, it's just remarkable. To see the potential for the future... it's endless.“ 

Youngsters enjoy a trial of the new Golf It! facility

The new Golf It! facility in Glasgow is fun for the whole family - but it features a lot more than golf

(Image credit: R&A)

Golf It! is not your typical golf facility. As well as a nine-hole course, three adventure golf courses and a 52-bay, two-tiered driving range, it features nature trails, a community orchard and gardens, free bike hire and numerous other attractions for golfers and non-golfers alike.

The mission here is not to produce tomorrow’s golf stars – although the facilities are top class – but to provide opportunities. When Palmer talks about the values aligning and matching their own mission, she’s also referring to the three keys areas that The AWPF focus on and care about the most: children’s health, character development, and nature-focused wellness.

“My parents cared very much about providing a healthy life for children and an opportunity for them have a bright future, whether it be through their healthcare or through the other pillars, such as nature-focused wellness,” she says.

“My mother loved nature. She loved gardening. She had a huge passion for protecting the land where we grey up in Pennsylvania. What comes with parenting and through the game of golf are values and character and leadership.”

Arnold & Winnie Palmer

Arnold Palmer and his wife Winnie at the Masters in 1995

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Arnie' enjoyed a very happy childhood, and usually golf was at the center of it. He went on to become one of the game’s greatest ever players, winning seven Major titles, including back-to-back Open Championships in 1961 and ‘62.

However, had it not been for the love of his parents and a caring community, life could have been different. It’s something that was never lost on Palmer, and it’s as much the values he championed off the course as well as his talent on it that made him such a popular figure.

“A lot of people know where Mr Palmer came from and what his upbringing was like,” says Ken Boehner, chief executive of The AWPF. “It was a modest upbringing with plenty of challenges, but he learned a lot of important values from his parents that allowed him to go on and be the success that he was.

“We can see in the initiatives that Golf It! is pursuing that desire to create those same kinds of opportunities for kids that live in challenging situations.”

The AWPF is aiming to help Golf It! in a number of key areas. The first of these is to support the facility’s education programme, which will see 42,000 children across the city receive in-school golf tuition over the coming five years.

“One of the biggest things that always troubled my father was that golf needed to be more accessible to everyone,” says Palmer, who met children who had taken part in the schools programme.

Golf It! Amy Palmer Saunders

Amy on her recent visit to Golf It! in Glasgow 

(Image credit: The R&A)

Young people identified through the school’s programme as showing a real interest in, or aptitude for, golf – and those who would be unable to access golf otherwise, will be provided with travel and group golf tuition in after-school sessions held weekly. For those whose golf skills show real promise, further PGA coaching will also be funded.

The AWPF will also be providing financial support for an apprenticeship, whilst a part-time post is being created to help facilitate links with the local community to ensure that the site is full accessible and enjoyed by those who live closest, as well as those across the City. 

Meanwhile, The AWPF will be providing a fantastic reward for some of the most dedicated Golf It! volunteers each year, who will be offered provided with an opportunity to travel to Florida to join the team of volunteers at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“Part of his challenge all of his life was finding ways to make things better,” says Palmer. “Obviously golf was something he wanted to have other people experience. I can only imagine how thrilled he would be to see this wonderful opportunity here for us to be a partner in and doing exactly that.”

Michael Weston
Contributing editor

Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.