Nick Carlson was told he had mail waiting for him at the golf course he works at in West Michigan. When he picked up the letter a week ago, he couldn't believe what he was looking at.
There was a congratulatory note, on Arnold Palmer letterhead and signed by "The King."
Palmer had mailed the letter Sept. 8; he died Sept. 25; Carlson received it Oct. 7.
"Utter shock, really," said Carlson, a sophomore on the Michigan golf team. "Like, I never expected it.
"It's just something really cool and almost a priceless moment, in my opinion."
Palmer was congratulating Carlson for finishing in the Final Four at the U.S. Amateur in August at Oakland Hills Country Club.
Over the summer, Carlson worked at the Ravines Golf Club in Saugatuck.
The Ravines is one of six Michigan courses designed by Palmer.
"I understand that you are a serious student of our great game of golf," Palmer wrote in the three-paragraph letter, "as well as a good student and player at the University of Michigan.
"Keep up the good playing. I wish you the very best in whatever pursuit you choose to follow."
Palmer, who won a U.S. Amateur in 1954 at the Country Club of Detroit, died at age 87.
It was just circumstance that Carlson received the note after his passing. He had been busy at school, playing in the fall schedule, which included the first championship of his college career.
"I've never been able to say that I knew Mr. Palmer or met him in any fashion, and to get that 10 days (after his death) was pretty special," Carlson said.
"It's framed and above my desk in my room. I get to look at it every day."
Carlson, who turned 20 on Sept. 11 — a day after Palmer turned 87 — was barely ranked in the top 2,000 in the world when he made a Cinderella run to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur. He lost to Australian, and eventual champion, Curtis Luck in a playoff during their semifinal match.