On Thursday, April 9, Wake Forest Traditions Council held their sixth annual Arnold Palmer Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Magnolia Quad.
Arnold Palmer Day was created to honor one of the most esteemed golfers who attended Wake Forest College in the late 1940s and early 1950s. To this day, Wake Forest University celebrates Arnold Palmer for the support and love that he had for Wake Forest.
“Arnold Palmer Day embodies most everything that Traditions Council stands for,” said Traditions Council co-chair Mary Augusta Slawson. “Each year, on this day, we celebrate the life and legacy of one of Wake Forest’s most accomplished golfers.”
On Sept. 25, 2016, Arnold Palmer passed away 15 days after his 87th birthday. Because of this, Traditions council wanted to make this year’s event the biggest one yet.
“He truly embodied what it meant to be a Demon Deacon,” said Traditions Council member Carl McPhail. “The day turned out better than any of us could have imagined.”
The entire golf team also attended in support of Arnold Palmer Day and joined the community in celebrating one of the greatest players in golf’s history, according to sophomore golfer Lee Detmer.
“Arnold Palmer Day allowed Demon Deacons everywhere to recognize the achievements of Mr. Palmer and appreciate all that he meant to Wake Forest and the world of golf,” said Traditions Council Advisor Anthony Tang.
After Palmer’s death, the Wake Forest golf team placed AP badges on their golf bags to show their respect and remembrance of “The King.”
“We play for him week in and week out,” Detmer said. “Arnold Palmer’s continued support of Wake Forest golf is unmatched and we thank him for paving the way for us.”
While The Masters played on two projectors, students stopped by in between classes to enjoy 1,500 free Arnold Palmer tallboys, themed cake and Arnold Palmer M&Ms.
“The Traditions Council was able to gather most of the school on the lower quad for the uniting cause of remembering a Wake Forest legend,” Detmer said. “Kids came together to toast to AP, hit putts and of course, watch the Masters.”
Within 10 minutes of the event, the Traditions Council sold all 250 Arnold Palmer T-shirts and generated an online order as well. McPhail also sold Smathers and Branson products on sale for students.
“It’s a blend of school spirit and team pride that brings people together on AP Day,” Slawson said. “Just getting people to think about that for a moment is important to Traditions Council”
At 12:20 p.m., Wake Forest Head Golf Coach, Jerry Haas, who graduated from Wake Forest in 1985, led a toast honoring Arnold Palmer.
“It’s great to have an Arnold Palmer Day here at Wake Forest,” Haas said during his toast. “He was known as ‘The King,’ he made golf cool, here it is on Masters Thursday and we are celebrating him here on campus.”
About 300 people gathered around the tent for the toast, including the whole golf team, Traditions Council, students and faculty.
“One thing about Mr. Palmer is that he loved his Demon Deacons and I think we know that,” Haas said. “There is only one statue on this campus and that is of Arnold Palmer. So here’s to ‘The King’ — let’s drink up.”
The Traditions Council was amazed to see the transformation from just passing out canned drinks in 2006 to this year having a tent, printed banners, a six-foot cutout of Arnie, flowers and cakes.
“Without a doubt, this was the Traditions Council’s most successful AP Day yet,” Slawson said. “My co-chairs were incredible, from Ben Weekley knowing every single person at Wake Forest to Elizabeth King’s amazing memory for detail. We complemented each other and I think the results were indicative of that.”
The Traditions Council hopes that Arnold Palmer Day remains to be a favorite tradition among Wake Forest students that it connects them to Wake Forest’s rich heritage.
“Our goal for future Arnold Palmer days is to continue to create excitement and increase awareness for one of the best days of the school year,” said Andrews Kennedy, a Traditions Council member. “We are already looking forward to next year’s event.”