Arnold Palmer, Wilmington Azalea Open runner-up in 1958, with Festival Queen Esther Williams and admiring fans.
IN his career, Arnold Palmer (1929-2016) won 55 regular PGA events and seven
majors, including four Masters, two British Open Championships, and one
U.S. Open. Always the competitor, he was runner-up in 10 majors, losing
the U.S. Open three times in 18-hole playoffs. Active and engaged in
his later years, he won multiple events on the PGA Senior Tour. He
won two events later in ’56 and one in ’57 before coming to Wilmington. He
became highly successful in business, designing over 300 golf courses world-wide.
Perhaps the most revered of all his qualities was the engaging personal-ity
that made him The King in the eyes of millions of adoring fans.
John Gemmell Jr. played on the New Hanover High School golf team
during the three years he caddied for Palmer. In his senior year, he was ranked
second in the state only behind the great Raymond Floyd, who played for
Fayetteville High School before turning professional.
Palmer asked Gemmell to go on tour with him, but Gemmell respectfully declined.
He went instead to Hampden-Sydney College where he played on the golf team for four
years. Known for his friendly, congenial personality and his mastery at chipping and putting,
Gemmell was the 1976 Wilmington City Open Champion and the 1976 Cape Fear Country Club Champion,
where for many years he held the low amateur record score of 64.
Ever the fierce competitor, he lost his final match with lung cancer on July 5, 2022. John Gemmell Jr. was 81.
HUGH MORTON PHOTOGRAPH AND FILMS, WILSON SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARY, UNC-CHAPEL HILL
24 september 2022