In 1997 Arnold Palmer was approached by the Golf Coaches Association of America regarding lending his name to an international collegiate event between the United States and Great Britain and Ireland. The event would use a Ryder Cup-style format and bring together the top eight collegiate players in the United States against their counterparts from GB&I. Palmer, a former collegiate player himself, has been called America’s greatest Ambassador for the game of golf. With his blessing and the support of the Arnold Palmer Golf Company, the inaugural event was played at his own Bay Hill Club in Florida in June 1997. “I had long thought that an international competition such as this would enrich the lives of young men through the universal bond of the great game of golf," said Mr. Palmer.
Great venues have highlighted the competition since its inception in 1997. After Bay Hill, the Arnold Palmer Cup was next contested in Scotland in 1998 on the Old and New Courses at St. Andrews. In subsequent years the matches have been played at such historic venues as The Honors Course, Royal Liverpool, Baltusrol, Doonbeg, Cassique, Ballybunion, Whistling Straits-The Irish, Prestwick, Caves Valley, Glasgow Golf Club Gailes Links, Cherry Hills, Royal Portrush Golf Club, The Stanwich Club, Royal Country Down Golf Club, Wilmington Country Club, Walton Heath, Rich Harvest Farms, Formby Golf Club, Atlanta Athletic Club, Evian Resort Golf Club, and The Alotian Club. The Palmer Cup will be staged at Golf Club de Genève in 2022 and Lahinch Golf Club in 2024.
Upon conclusion of the 2002 event at Doonbeg in Ireland, a decision was made to alter the team composition by including European players with those from Great Britain and Ireland. In 2018, the Palmer Cup was expanded to include United Statets men's and women's college goflers against their International counterparts. Currently the United States leads the all-time series 13-12-1.
Many outstanding collegians that have participated in the Arnold Palmer Cup. A total of 68 former Arnold Palmer Cup players have claimed 284 victories on the PGA, European, or LPGA Tours including The Masters and US Open Champion Dustin Johnson, The Open and PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa, U.S. Open Champions Bryson DeChambea, Graeme McDowell, Lucas Glover, Jon Rahm, and Webb Simpson, Open Champions Ben Curtis and Francesco Molinari, PGA Champion Justin Thomas, and ANA Inspiration Champion Patty Tavatanakit, as well as tour winners Daniel Berger, Jonas Blixt, Sam Burns, Jonathan Byrd, Jonathan Caldwell, Jorge Campillo, Alejandro Cañizares, Patrick Cantlay, Kevin Chappell, Rhys Davies, Thomas Detry, Luke Donald, Paul Dunne, Nacho Elvira, Derek Ernst, Matt Every, Gonzalo Fdez.-Castaño, Grant Forffest, Rickie Fowler, Bill Haas, Chesson Hadley, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, J.J. Henry, Michael Hoey, J.B. Holmes, Billy Horschel, Viktor Hovland, Charles Howell III, Billy Hurley III, Scott Jamieson, Michael Kim, Chris Kirk, Matt Kuchar, Peter Lawrie, David Lingmerth, Joost Luiten, Hunter Mahan, Pablo Martin, Bryce Molder, Alex Norén, Ryan Moore, Chris Paisley, Andrea Pavan, Thomas Pieters, Richie Ramsay, Antoine Rozner, Rory Sabbatini, Brandt Snedeker, Joël Stalter, Chris Stroud, Michael Thompson, D.J. Trahan, Bo Van Pelt, Nick Watney, Oliver Wilson, and Matthew Wolff.
Arnold Palmer Cup alumni have also represented well in the Ryder, Presidents, and Solheim Cups. The 32 Palmer Cuppers that have represented their countries in these evens include Howell, Johnson, Kirk, Kuchar, Jennifer Kupcho, Mahan, McDowell, Molinari, Morikawa, Moore, Norén, Jeff Overton, Pieters, Rahm, Sabbatini, Simpson, Snedeker, Thomas, Watney, and Wilson.