How Arnold Palmer Built Up His Confidence

Arnold PalmerArnold Palmer passed away at the age of 87 and this legendary golfer will always be remembered for his competitiveness on the golf course, his charitable work off the course, his warm and gracious personality, and the optimism he always exuded.

Where did Palmer’s radiating optimism and self-confidence come from?

Brad Brewer, one of the world’s top golf instructors and a long-time friend of Palmer’s, found the answer to that question…


My time with Arnold Palmer has made clear many things, but none more so than the fact that he embodies a quiet sense of confidence and strength. He lives and breathes these words.

Palmer always believed he was capable of coming out on top in each and every tournament he entered. “I’ve always made a total effort, even when the odds seemed entirely against me,” he’s said. “I never quit trying; I never felt that I didn’t have a chance to win.”

Still, he never was a braggart. If confidence is courage at ease, this Pennsylvania native has always seemed to exude a beautiful sense of serenity, both on and off the course.

Ask him how he does it, and he’d suggest the qualities are borne of preparation, hard work, repetition, and a firm belief in having fun playing aggressively to win.

Sounds pretty simple, but how did he get here? Is a man born a confident star? Is there really such a thing as a self-made man? Over the years, in different venues and in different forms, I’ve asked him those very questions.

“Well, I suppose you could say that I became motivated by reading [Walter Wintle’s poem] almost daily,” he replied, “and [it] began to resonate with my thoughts that I can really do whatever I put my mind to, whether it’s with my golfing aspirations or anything else for that matter.”


– Brad Brewer, from his book Mentored by the King

The poem Arnold Palmer is referring to is this one:

The Man Who Thinks He Can
by Walter Wintle

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost,
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.

Arnold Palmer wasn’t born with unbreakable confidence. He deliberately made himself confident. He made it a habit to read that poem almost every day and embrace its message. This constant repetition reinforced the belief that he could do whatever he put his mind to.

Confidence, like anything else, isn’t given to you. You have to make the continuous effort to create it on your own.

Make it a daily habit to read messages that build your self-confidence and generate optimism.