Blue-General-Tractor-Before GolfTales RJSmiley

What Is The Blue General

This is an Arnold Palmer that you have never heard. Some of us are old enough to remember when The King and Pennzoil had an advertising gig. This story is part one on an interesting GolfTale!

Everyone knows that all Toro Turf Equipment is RED!  So how did David Otterdahl end up with a Blue Toro Tractor?  That Tractor, by the way, is worth a small fortune?  This story and related pictures will serve as an introduction to follow-up story written for Tee Times Magazine’s edition of Minnesota Golf History.

It all started a few years ago when Dave Otterdahl, owner of Valley Construction and Repair, won the bid to build a new Half-Way-House (for non-golfers – a fancy name for a hot dog stand) at Minnesota Valley Country Club.  Otterdahl, an avid collector of vintage tractors (he owns four), “I noticed some old equipment behind the maintenance building.”  As Otterdahl and Mike Brower, Golf Course Superintendent, were discussing the relics from the past, Brower showed Otterdahl an old rusty tractor.  There was no blue paint visible until it was pulled from under a pile of PVC pipe.  “Why are you showing me that old piece of junk?” questioned Otterdahl.  Without another word Brower marched into his office and produced a green book, The History of Minnesota Valley Country Club.  He flipped through a few pages and pointed to a picture, dating back to 1982, of Arnold Palmer sitting on the Blue Toro Tractor holding a can of Pennzoil.  In those days Palmer had a contract with Pennzoil to make a series of ads with Palmer on vintage Toro Equipment.


Trying not to show his enthusiasm, Otterdahl asked, “I might be interested in buying that old piece of junk, how much do you think the Club might want?”

“That tractor has historical significance, it is not a piece of junk,” Brower bristled.  “We have a Board meeting in a few days, I will ask them what they would want for it.”

Fast forward Today, Otterdahl is the very overjoyed owner of the completely restored, 1941-1946 (an interesting WWII story we will get into in the follow-up story) Toro General Golf Utility Tractor.  He loves the Tractor, but more than the Tractor he loves the history and the association with Arnold Palmer that was created by that “old piece of junk.”  The follow-up history lesson will tell you how, Otterdahl, contacted The King’s business manager to see if there might be any interest in having Mr. Palmer autograph the beautiful piece of history.  Within fifteen minutes The King himself was on the line, inviting Otterdahl and his wife, Cindy, to bring the hood of the old Tractor to Latrobe, Pennsylvania where they could spend some time.  He would be happy to place his signature on the hood of the Old Tractor.

A once in a lifetime picture.

Details of the Otterdahl’s adventures in Latrobe, PA with the gracious Mr. Palmer and other members of his family would fill a novel.  Palmer’s brother Jerry spent several hours showing the Otterdahl’s Palmer’s collection of golf clubs, bags, grips and balls.  Jerry told them that Arnold never throws anything away.  Otterdahl, who loves tools and tinkering, says that Palmer’s workshop is something to behold.


Learn many interesting details of this wonderful tale in the next story.  

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