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In a huge, multi-page profile of Arnold Palmer that ran in a June 1962 issue of LIFE, writer Paul O’Neil ably outlined the then-32-year-old’s formidable talents while highlighting Palmer’s relentless pursuit of golfing perfection:
That phrase, pointing out that Palmer had “captured the imagination of multitudes,” is especially resonant today, all these years later, when Arnold Palmer is arguably the most beloved golfer on the planet. Tiger Woods might inspire more passion — it seems people either love him or hate him — and Jack Nicklaus is, on paper, the greatest golfer who ever lived. But Arnold Palmer is a superstar athlete, a living legend, an Everyman of the links who has somehow managed to maintain the matinee-idol aura that drove countless fans — men and women — to such distraction that they comprised that memorably named, unofficial fan club: Arnie’s Army.
(He also has one of the world’s most wonderful drinks named after him — which only adds to his saga.)
Here, as the 2015 Masters Tournament kicks off in Augusta, Ga., LIFE celebrates the life and career of the one and only Arnold Palmer, now 84 years old and still kicking, through photos made six decades ago, when he was a young man who “seemed to have golf licked.”