Palmer’s charisma and common touch made him adored by a legion of fans known as “Arnie’s Army”.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Arnold Palmer, golf’s greatest ambassador, at age 87,” the USGA said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Palmer captured seven major tournaments during his illustrious career, taking The Masters four times (in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964), the British Open twice (in 1961 and 1962) and the US Open once (in 1960).
His go-for-broke style enthralled fans, and he became one of golf’s first television superstars, helping propel the game into the mainstream when his rise and that of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player set the stage for the huge broadcast rights fees and prize money riches later enhanced by the success of Tiger Woods.
No cause of death was immediately given.
Palmer looked frail when he joined fellow icons Player and Nicklaus for the ceremonial first tee shot at the Masters in April, when ill-health prevented him from swinging a club.