PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – There are so many great Arnold Palmer photos from so many magical moments.
There’s Arnie and Ben Hogan standing on a tee at the Masters, cigarettes dangling from the lips of both players. Arnie brimming with pride and hugging the 1955 Canadian Open trophy, his first of his 62 official PGA Tour victories. There is Arnie standing atop the historic Swilcan Bridge in his last official round at The Open at St. Andrews.
And then, of course, there is famous photo titled “The Lost Bet,” which depicts Palmer, sitting on a bench, extending a $50 bill – his day’s practice-round losses – to a young Jack Nicklaus in 1967 at Champions Country Club in Houston.
The photo was shot by William F. Thompson, a well-known photographer. At the urging of the players, it wasn’t released to the wire services or available anywhere to the public for decades, not until after Thompson’s death in 2001. Nicklaus and Palmer signed lots of memorabilia through the years, but rare is a copy of “The Lost Bet” that has signatures from both.
Golfer Ian Poulter had a copy of the photo, unsigned, and decided he’d have Palmer and Nicklaus each sign a $100 to put into a nice frame to hang in the home office. One problem: he opened the home safe one day at Lake Nona, in Orlando, and the $100 bill he’d had Palmer sign was nowhere to be found.
His wife, Katie, had spent it.
Asked where she spent the money, Poulter said, “I have no idea. Not a clue. It was probably in Publix (a Florida supermarket chain), to be honest. She probably went to get some groceries. But it was shock horror when I actually did go in there to put it in the frame. You can imagine what I said … ‘Where’s the $100 bill gone?’ ”
” ‘What hundred?’ his wife answered. Adds Poulter, “She says, ‘I don’t know, I must have spent it.’ ”
So Poulter had to drive across town to Palmer’s upstairs office at Bay Hill Club to ask him to sign another $100 bill for him. Palmer obliged, of course.
“I did tell him it was lost,” Poulter said. “I didn’t sell it.”