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Palmer honoured with Donald Ross Award

Arnold Palmer, honoured by fellow golf course architects for his contributions to the game, says designers must maintain golf's traditions in their layouts.

Palmer was honoured Monday with the American Society of Golf Course Architects' 1999 Donald Ross Award for his contributions to golf and course design. Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Rees Jones and Tom Fazio were among those attending.

"I hope in what years I have left I can make a contribution that will make this game greater, that people can enjoy it more," the 69-year-old Palmer said.

In addition to his 92 victories -- including four Masters, two British Opens, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur -- that helped popularise golf, Palmer heads a company that has designed more than 200 courses around the world.

"Golf is my life," Palmer told the audience at the Country Club of Charleston. "Everything that surrounds golf is something that has touched me."

He said his relationship with Nicklaus is one of the best he has ever had.

"It's the competition. Not just playing golf, but designing golf courses, building golf clubs. Just competing," Palmer said.

Both men agree, however, that golf balls must be slower so the great courses of yesterday are not outdated, Palmer said.

"The one thing that can keep golf in perspective is the golf ball," he said. "We need to slow the golf ball down. I think that will keep all of us headed in the right direction."

Palmer said he loves the simple designs and construction techniques of Ross' days. Before the use of modern equipment, Ross designed more than 400 golf courses.

"Those are still the greatest golf courses in the world," Palmer said. "We have to maintain the tradition."