How Arnold Palmer the golfer invented the Arnold Palmer the drink
Golf Culture

How Arnold Palmer the golfer invented the Arnold Palmer the drink


Arnold Palmer has a drink named after him. Not many people have that distinction, but it's way easier to say, "I'll have an Arnold Palmer," than to say, "Mix up some iced tea and lemonade, and I'll let you know the right proportion" or "Give me a half-and-half."

How Arnold Palmer invented the half-and-half drink

Mr. Palmer took care of the right proportion of the drink, explaining in an ESPN "30 for 30 Short" how he came up with the concoction.

“My wife made a lot of iced tea for lunch, and I said, ‘Hey, babe, I’ve got an idea. You make the iced tea and make a big pitcher, and we’ll just put a little lemonade in it and see how that works,’" Palmer explained. "We mixed it up, and I got the solution about where I wanted it, and I put the lemonade in it, and I had it for lunch after working on the golf course. I thought, ‘Boy, this is great, babe. I’m going to take it when I play golf. I’m going to take a Thermos of iced tea and lemonade.’”

So, that's how Palmer came up on the drink. Of course, no one knows for sure if Palmer was the first person to mix iced tea and lemonade together. Other people probably did it, too, completely unaware of what Palmer had discovered. However, the reason so many people drink an Arnold Palmer is, well, because of Arnold Palmer. And how the Arnold Palmer came to get that name has a clear origin story.

As Palmer shared in the film, he was working on a golf course design in Palm Springs in the California desert. On a hot day, Palmer ordered the drink by explaining it in detail. A woman sitting near Palmer heard the description, saw the drink and ordered one, calling it "an Arnold Palmer."

And there you have it.

However, Mr. Palmer was always reluctant to order his own drink. So, for years, he would order it as he did in Palm Springs, by description. Ultimately, though, he adopted everyone else's vernacular.

“I won’t fight the battle anymore," he said. "I’ll just ask for an Arnold Palmer [and] think maybe they won’t know who I am.”

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

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