Ever fashionable in life, Arnold Palmer remains a trend-setter in death.
Consider the closing ceremony at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, where winner Marc Leishman was presented with a dashing red cardigan, an Arnie-appropriate switch from the starchy blue blazer the event’s champion used to receive. A chic touch. And its ripple effects swept quickly across the golf world, as a host of industry figures this week announced their own personalized events, with fitting first-place prizes. Here’s the latest list.
THE BOO WEEKLEY SHOOT-EM-UP JAMBOREE
Winner’s Prize: Camouflage Hunting Wear
Perhaps you thought that Weekley was missing in action. In fact, he’s been hiding in plain sight, cloaked in the same camo hat and flak jacket that gets tossed at the winner of this back-country casual event, held on a rough-hewn central Florida layout that Weekley himself built with help from a hacksaw and a push-mower. Any player who cards a double-eagle earns a taxidermy albatross.
THE SERGIO GARCIA SELF-ESTEEM BUILDER
Winner’s Prize: Stuart Smalley Talking Doll
In a gesture that’s both sweet and awkward, the man who shoots the lowest four-day score earns a life-size talking doll in the likeness of the satirical self-help character from Saturday Night Live, which, when you pull its string, spouts such affirming phrases as, “You’re good enough! You’re smart enough! And doggone it, one day you’ll finally nab a major.” Everyone else in the field receives a pre-recorded outgoing cell phone voice mail message, citing bumpy greens, bad luck and boorish fan behavior among the reasons for their failure to win.
THE IAN POULTER MATCH-PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP
Winner’s Prize: Tight-fitting Tartan Pants
Like the tournament host, the slacks bestowed upon the winner are loud, brash and prone to falling apart over four days of stroke play. Hence the event format. The first player knocked out of the competition is punished by having to spend the weekend managing Poulter’s Twitter account.
THE JOHN DALY SUNDAY KEGGER
Winner’s Prize: Pack of cigarettes and a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke
This rollicking one-day competition gets underway with a ceremonial first shot by Daly himself, who shows up barefoot, shirtless and a half-hour behind schedule to whack a driver from the mouth of a hungover volunteer. JD also greets groups at every tee box, except that it’s Jack Daniels. In a break from traditional rules of competition, players are allowed to carry 15 clubs, so there’s an extra one to snap or toss into a lake.
THE JIM NANTZ EXCEEDINGLY PLEASANT PRO-AM
Winner’s Prize: Jug of Maple Syrup and a Lifetime Supply of Stevia
The sky is always blue, the winds are forever calm and all of the scores are above average at this unsettlingly uplifting event, where even a dead shank is no one’s fault and anodyne niceties are so pervasive that you finally wind up scheduling an appointment with your therapist to get a better handle on your inner-rage. Every player is a winner here, but someone has to walk off with the first-place prizes, which are presented after several hours of televised softball interviews with each of the event’s 6,000 corporate sponsors.