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The Most Rewarding Things You Do in Life Are Often the Ones that Look Like They Cannot Be Done

Arnold Palmer? John Sutton? Anonymous?

golf08Dear Quote Investigator: The following statement about overcoming obstacles is attributed to the famous golfer Arnold Palmer:

The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.

I am graduating soon and would like to use this as my yearbook quotation. The words are attributed to Palmer on several websites, but no citation is provided. Unfortunately, misinformation about quotations is rampant online as this website reveals. Would you please explore the provenance of this expression?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in an August 1966 speech delivered by Leslie B. Worthington who was the President of U.S. Steel Corporation. The full text of the address was printed in “The Baytown Sun” newspaper of Baytown, Texas. Worthington credited Arnold Palmer with the saying. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

As a friend of mine up in Pennsylvania — a pretty fair golfer by the name of Arnie Palmer — remarked some time ago: “The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1966 August 11, The Baytown Sun, U.S. Steel Boss Lauds Baytown Council, CC For Spur Action, (Article contains full text of speech delivered in Houston, Texas by Leslie B. Worthington who was the President of U.S. Steel Corporation), Quote Page 8, Column 4, Baytown, Texas. (NewspaperArchive)