Golfer Ryan Palmer always views the mid-May swing that brings the PGA Tour to Dallas and Fort Worth as a homecoming of sorts. But this spring, the two tournaments that bring the tour to town—the AT&T Byron Nelson (May 18-21) and the Dean & DeLuca Invitational (May 25-28)—will make the Colleyville resident appreciate life on the home front even more.
The tournaments follow a summer and fall when Palmer left the tour for four months to handle a family illness.
Palmer, a Texas A&M graduate originally from Amarillo, is a member of the Colonial Country Club where the Dean & DeLuca is played. At last year's Dean & DeLuca Palmer finished third in the Fort Worth tournament and has fared well at AT&T Byron Nelson at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Irving, too.
Are there any certain places in the DFW you like to take friends and relatives that you recommend? Any favorite restaurant or places to shop and play?
During tournament week, I don't see a lot, because I kind of keep to myself during tournament week and stay home with [my wife] Jen and the kids. But during the Colonial and the Dean & DeLuca, I try to get them over to Joe T. Garcia's. That's always a great, popular spot. We'll go up there on Sundays after the tournament and hang out.
Of course, I always get them to downtown Fort Worth during the Dean & DeLuca, with what they've done to that area. During the Byron Nelson, a lot of them stay around the Las Colinas area, and hopefully the Stars are in the (NHL) playoffs during those two weeks, so we try to get to a Stars playoff game or a [Texas] Rangers game [at Globe Life Park]. It's always nice to get out to a Rangers game those two weeks with some friends and just kind of relax.
But during tournament week, when the week kicks off, I'm pretty much to myself, just relaxing with Jen and the kids and trying to stay focused. But my friends all come here to town and have a blast. They enjoy hanging out during Colonial, and I get a chance to see them enough while I'm out there playin'.
When it's not tournament week, are there any other attractions or places you like to take people?
I'm a big Cowboys fan when Cowboys are in season. When people come in town, being in Colleyville where I live, we'll venture to Fort Worth more and hang out downtown. I'm a big fan of Mi Cocina. That's kind of our main spot to go when friends come in town. Truluck's in Southlake is kind of one of our hot spots, but I'd say we frequent Fort Worth more often.
How do you feel about your chances this year at the Byron Nelson, where you nearly won in 2011?
I always have confidence going into the Byron Nelson AT&T and the Dean and DeLuca at Colonial. With the success I've had, it's fun to play in front of family and friends, and the crowd's always great there. I love the week. I always feel I can win that week, anytime. I look forward to those two weeks every single year.
How often do you play at the Colonial? Do you play there year-round?
Yeah, being a member there, and my caddy, James Edmonson, is a member there, we get involved with the other members in the "big" games we play all the time. There will be times when I'm home where we'll play two or three rounds throughout the week. It's one of the best golf courses we play on tour, for sure. It's my major every year—the one tournament I want to win every single year. And my family and friends come from Amarillo, so it makes for a great time.
Thanks to your surname, you're often mistaken for the King of Golf himself, Arnold Palmer, or his grandson, who actually is Sam Saunders. Do you know Sam well, and do the two of you have any fun with the confusion that surrounds that?
I've chatted with (Sam) a little bit. It's good to see him make a name for himself. A lot of people always thought I was Arnold's grandson, but it's great seeing Sam make a name for himself and people knowing who he really is. I still get it all of the time from different people.
How did your foundation come about? How did you get involved in its dental charity?
We started the Ryan Palmer Foundation in '03 or '04, and started working on the dental side of charity ... six or seven years now. My wife is a licensed dentist, and we wanted to get more involved in it. We weren't really sure where we were going, which direction, and this came about.
With the help of Doctor (Kyle) Sparkman in Amarillo, we were able to get going with the dental program, and now we're able to move a lot of the foundation here to DFW area, with our "Better Smiles" initiative.
You know, we've got a great tournament in May, "The Battle at The Byron" that we have, that raises money for it. And we're starting a new event in September, the Friday before the Arkansas-A&M game, when we're going to start a tournament to raise money. We're going to provide a lot of dental care to a lot of needy kids here in Dallas and Fort Worth and just put a lot of better smiles on kids here in the area.