On the February 22, 2022 episode of the Stick and Hack Show, Adam and Mike spoke with Howdy Giles, Arnold Palmer’s Dentist, photographer, and friend.

This Q&A has been shortened for clarity. Listen to episode 409 of the Stick & Hack Show to hear the full interview. 

SH: First, let’s talk about how you became Arnold Palmer’s dentist because it almost sounds like the premise to a Seinfeld episode. Palmer’s dentist at the time told you that when he passes away, you could have Arnold Palmer as a patient. And then a year later, he passed away. Is that true?

Howdy Giles: That’s true. So Arnie called me to my office on a Monday. He said “Howdy, I haven’t had my teeth checked in a year. However, don’t do anything special for me- I might be able to come in next Monday.” So I said to my secretary, “cancel next Monday, and put those patients in on Wednesday, my day off. Arnie might come in.”

Friday night, we had house guests for dinner. The phone rings at ten o’clock at night. My wife answers the phone, and she doesn’t say “oh hey Arnie how are you doing?” she just says, “well are you coming?” He said, “yes I am, put Howdy on the phone.” 

So I got on the phone and he said, “ I haven’t been to Wilmington Country Club since1966 with Jack Nicklaus in an exhibition. I fly on Sunday morning. Get a couple buddies, we’ll play golf, and then you’ll check my teeth on Monday.”

Couldn’t sleep all week.

SH: Well no, how could you? That’s like Christmas morning. 

Howdy Giles: Absolutely. Santa Claus came to town.

SH: So the first time you played with him you actually beat Arnie, correct?

Howdy Giles: No I didn’t beat him- but what I did was I did a movie of it. I did match-play against him with my handicap, and I won ten bucks from Arnie.

SH: So you did beat him. I count those as wins, 100 percent.

Howdy Giles: It was match-play.

SH:It doesn’t matter how you played it, you took money from the guy so you beat him! What are we talking about? Any time anyone asks you that moving forward the answer is “ hell yea I beat him. Absolutely.”

You’re also the author of “The King and I”, which is a phenomenal book because of the story told not only through stories but through the emotion of your pictures. What we hear about Arnold Palmer all the time is how genuine he was as a person, and his love for his wife, and also love for his friends. As you got older, where in your memory did you see Arnold Palmer move from a professional player to one of the greatest ambassadors for the game that we have?

Howdy Giles: An example is at Bay Hill, he went around to every table and thanked them for coming. The guy never changed his personality. He was just total class. He was the same with everybody. He’d shake everyone’s hand and say, “Hi, I’m Arnold Palmer,” Oh right, okay. He was amazing. 

SH: Why in your opinion does this game bring together people like that, into lifelong friendships?

Howdy Giles: Well, let me put it this way. If you play with a jerk, you’re not gonna play with them anymore. You play golf to make friends and be friendly, have a drink after you play golf, but you don’t play with jerks.