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PLAYER’S FITTING TRIBUTE TO PAPWA

Aug 31, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

It’s unusual see genuine greats gush over another man’s achievements, but I had the rare honour of watching Gary Player behaving like a teenager this week.

The Black Knight had just played at Beachwood, Durban Country Club’s second course, reeling off three birdies in his last five holes, to shoot one-under. Just another day at the office…

Sipping on his ginger beer, South Africa’s greatest golfer looked up at the TV screen as Usain Bolt limbered up for the 200m men’s final at the World Championships.

“This guy… wow! He’s just unbelievable! What a showman!”

It was refreshing to see the youngest 80-year-old losing his inhibitions and admiring the exceptional talent of another athlete.

That’s the sheer magnetism of what Usain Bolt does, what he represents. He shatters boundaries, stereotypes and the form book. And the bigger the stage, the better he seems to become.

Having lived in the spotlight all his life, Player can probably appreciate the ability to dazzle more than most.

It is also why Player is sad that the demise of Tiger Woods has been so sudden and so extensive.

As Player explains it, Woods is still the biggest draw in the game, even as his powers desert him under the microscope.

Fifty thousand extra tickets were sold for the Wyndham Championship as soon as Woods was confirmed as an entry.

But Player wasn’t in town just to shoot the breeze and outdrive men half his age.

He was in town to salute another golfing superstar who was at the peak of his powers in the 1960s.

The difference between Player and Papwa Sewgolum was that the doors that opened for Player to enter the golfing world and carve out his remarkable story were bolted shut for Papwa.

Player admitted as much as keynote speaker at the launch of Papwa, In The Grip of a Champion by Maxine Case.

“I lost my mother (when I was) 8, my father worked in the mines, and I had a three-hour round trip to school every day before coming back to make my own supper,” Player said.

“But even though I went through all that, it was nothing compared with what Papwa had to endure.”

It was a sad reality, and one that will hopefully come about again.

The story of Papwa is not nearly well known as it ought to be.

Most people wonder why Durban’s “other” city course is called Papwa, but the book and the film that are being made will spread the gospel about the caddie-turned-champion.

It’s one of golf’s great traits that, irrespective of class, colour or upbringing, the only conflict is between a man and the ball.

Sure, there are challenges, like the weather, and opponents, and internal fears, but they have only as much influence as you allow them to.

When you stand over a stroke, it is just you and the ball.

Player and Papwa might have shared a course on only a few occasions, but their shared adversity meant they had more in common than most, even as they were reminded of their differences all too often.

It is fitting, then, that Player was on hand to pay his respects. And, as the timeless titan noted, Papwa is on high, smiling down as his grip, deemed peculiar in his day, is adopted by more and more of the world’s best players.

If it’s good enough for Jordan Spieth to putt with, then it can’t be half bad.

That’s the beauty of sport. Even after the greats pass on, their legend grows with time, their legacy there for all to see, for ever.

Incongruous as it might have seemed in their heyday, Player and Papwa were actually brothers-in-arms.

What a tenacious match-play pair they would have made…

Article courtesy of The Sunday Independent

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GARY PLAYER TO HOST STAR-STUDDED EVENT AT GLENARBOR GOLF CLUB IN OCTOBER

Aug 28, 2015 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Black Knight International and Berenberg announced today that the 2015 Gary Player Invitational series will continue to celebrate the Union of Golf and Giving at the GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford, New York, on October 11 and 12.

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational event promises to be a tremendous gathering of high profile celebrities, professional golfers and athletes. This has been an extra special year for the Gary Player Invitational series as Mr. Player is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam and his 80th birthday, whilst title sponsor Berenberg celebrates their 425th anniversary.

An 18-hole, four-ball tournament format will be followed by a gala dinner and charitable auction. The 6,900-yard Gary Player Signature layout will provide a stern test and fantastic backdrop for the two-day affair. It will mark the U.S. event’s first visit to the Tri-State area, after being held in Palm Beach, Miami and around The Masters in previous years.

“I am thrilled to be hosting the U.S. leg of our Invitational series at GlenArbor Golf Club,” said Gary Player. “It’s a world-class venue and the ideal backdrop for us to continue the tradition of Golf and Giving this year as I celebrate the 50th anniversary of my career Grand Slam and my 80th birthday. Add that our fantastic sponsor Berenberg is celebrating their 425th anniversary and you have a very special year for the event.”

“As the second oldest bank in the world, we are expanding our business in the U.S. with branches in New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco offering investment banking and institutional asset management services. We are proud to sponsor the event and raise money for underprivileged children,“ says Hendrik Riehmer, Managing Partner at Berenberg.

The U.S. event represents the second leg in the 2015 series, following an enormously successful event at Wentworth Club, located just outside London, in July. The UK event gathered together the biggest names in golf, business and entertainment at Wentworth Club despite clashing with the extended Monday finish at The Open Championship. Professional golfers such as Fred Couples, Tom Watson, Ian Poulter, Colin Montgomerie and Suzann Pettersen, joined in the fun and giving during a gala auction after the day’s play and later Gary Player, The Player Foundation and presenting sponsor Berenberg donated a significant contribution during the Gala Dinner. This all culminated in raising more than $225,000 for Depaul UK, a charity that works tirelessly to prevent youth homelessness.

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational forms part of the world-leading charity golf event series, which has raised more than $60 million for charities worldwide. The benefiting charity for the U.S. event will be The Player Foundation, whose goal is to donate $100 million by 2020 to the support of children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.

The 2015 series will continue later this year in China, India, South Africa and Abu Dhabi.

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TIGER WOODS OF BENGAL

Aug 26, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Callaway, Titleist, TaylorMade, Mizuno. Industry paragons of golf club manufacturing. They’ve got nothing on the kids of Bengal.

“Tiger Woods of Bengal” is a documentary focusing on the children of West Bengal, India and their infatuation with the sport of golf. On the surface, that might not seem worthy of cinematic treatment. What differentiates this group of kids from other golf fanatics is the measures taken to play the game. Chiefly, regarding their sticks.

And we do mean “sticks.”

Due to poverty, these children’s families can’t afford suitable golf equipment. This has not deterred their resolve, as the kids have taken the onus of fashioning clubs themselves. Often, this requires trespassing on government property to cut limbs and branches off trees.

In its own right, this venture is admirable. But here’s the kicker: these homemade clubs are pristine. The artistry and craftsmanship is reminiscent of a veteran technician, not a 12-year-old novice.

Watch the documentary here: https://youtu.be/UXX8A1vDMZk

Article courtesy of Golf Digest

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THE GREENBRIER SPORTING CLUB’S NEW OAKHURST DEVELOPMENT OFFERING UNPRECEDENTED PARTNERSHIP

Aug 24, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The developer of Oakhurst, the newest planned neighborhood in The Greenbrier Sporting Club, is offering a unique opportunity for a limited number of people to become a founding partner of one of the world’s finest luxury developments.

With an Oakhurst Founding Partnership contribution of $500,000, founding partners receive the following exclusive benefits: $500,000 credit towards the purchase of a developer owned home site or home in The Greenbrier Sporting Club’s existing community or future home site in the Oakhurst neighborhood; initiation fee to join The Greenbrier Sporting Club, Inc., a private equity club (the Sporting Club) included (currently valued at $120,000; 80% equity) upon membership application and approval, and no Sporting Club dues for life – an exciting Sporting Club first.

“In the 32 years I have been in real estate I have never seen a better offering. The interest in this offering has been overwhelming. The best home sites always sell first so for anyone interested in living at The Greenbrier Sporting Club, the future is now,” said John Klemish, adviser to the chairman and broker-in-charge.

Oakhurst will offer magnificent mountain views overlooking the historic Oakhurst Links while also providing a unique opportunity to live alongside a brand new course designed by golf icons Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino, who are collaborating for the first time on one course design—an unprecedented architectural achievement in the history of building golf courses. In addition to the proposed 8,072-yard, 18-hole mountaintop championship course, other planned amenities for the Oakhurst neighborhood and for future use by members of the Sporting Club include a clubhouse; dining facilities; a pro shop; an outdoor pool; ski and snowboard facilities; and fishing, hiking and biking areas.

Upon approval of membership in the Sporting Club, founding partners also will have use and access to exclusive Sporting Club amenities and activities. Membership also provides access to more than 55 activities at The Greenbrier resort.

For more details on this limited time offer of Oakhurst Founding Partnerships and to learn more about The Greenbrier Sporting Club, please visit: http://www.greenbriersportingclub.com or call 888-741-8989.

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RHINOS THE REAL WINNER IN THIS YEAR’S PEARL VALLEY CELEBRITY GOLF DAY

Aug 21, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Established in 1972 by the late conservation pioneer Dr Ian Player (brother to world-renowned golfing legend Gary Player), the Wilderness Foundation played an integral part in saving the white rhino from extinction in the 1960s. Four decades later, the Wilderness Foundation launched the Forever Wild Conservation Programme in response to the growing rhino-poaching pandemic, which in 2013 expanded to include lion, leopard, elephant, gorilla and shark conservation initiatives.

The annual Celebrity Golf Day, now in its third year, aims to exceed the R200 000 raised for The Children’s Hospital Trust last year, which contributed to the establishment of a new radiology complex at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Golfers will play in a fourball alliance alongside the likes of Lee-Anne Pace (Pearl Valley golf ambassador and South Africa’s number-one female golfer), Olympic gold medallist Ryk Neethling, Springbok rugby legends Rob Louw and Tiaan Strauss, cricket heroes Allan Donald and Vernon Philander, and famous chef and restaurateur Reuben Riffel, to name a few participating celebrities. Adding a unique element to the golf day, rhino art pieces in clay and papier-mâché, specially crafted by pupils at Bridge House school in Franschhoek, will be on display in the Pearl Valley clubhouse.

“To support the protection of Africa’s wildlife and wilderness in a meaningful way that also allows public participation is a responsibility that we cannot miss,” says Gawie Marx, Pearl Valley General Manager. “Being surrounded by abundant fynbos and birdlife on our estate, we’re reminded of the important broader conservation issues facing Southern Africa – and the issues around rhino poaching in particular.”

Pearl Valley Golf & Country Estate has embarked on a number of initiatives to raise funds for the Forever Wild conservation programme. Now, one-of-a-kind head covers in the shape of a rhino can also be purchased at the Pearl Valley golf shop, with proceeds donated directly to the programme.

“Aside from the impressive celebrity support for our fundraising golf day, we applaud Abacus Asset Management, a leading national property developer, who again enthusiastically came on board as main sponsor, for the second year running,” says Marx.

Tee-off is at 12:30pm on Friday 18 September, and the spring event will culminate in an auction and prize-giving dinner, with guest address by Dr Andrew Muir, CEO of the Wilderness Foundation. Muir, regarded as one of the continent’s leading conservationists and social entrepreneurs, is internationally recognised for integrating conservation with social and development issues. He is a partner on the Conservation Council of Nations (CCN) in Washington DC, as well as a board member and environmental advisor at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) business school.

Commenting on the partnership with Pearl Valley, which was signed in April this year, Muir says, ”The sad reality is that without intervention, the rhino may very well be extinct within the next ten years, so we are very encouraged by the support of Pearl Valley, which will not only assist us to raise much-needed funds, but will also provide the opportunity of increased awareness and education of the rhino-poaching crisis.”

Article courtesy of DOITNOW.co.za

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SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 1966: IS THE MASTERS FIXED?

Aug 20, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share


When the talk turns to who is going to win next week’s Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., or next year’s, or some Masters of the far-distant future, there may be no point in thinking beyond the three men snuggled into the wide green coat on the cover, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. In the past eight years (see chart) these three have collected seven of the green jackets handed out annually to the new Masters champion. In fact, since Jack and Gary joined the parade that Arnold started in 1958, the rest of the field has been hard put to even finish second. Scoring averages show that golf’s Big Three have dominated Augusta to an astonishing degree. Palmer has averaged 71.48 strokes per round in the Masters, Nicklaus 71.54 and Player 71.79. Next on the list—out of those who have played 25 rounds or more—is Ben Hogan at 72.31, then Bill Casper at 72.88. No other golfer is under 73. The Lemas, Venturis, Littlers, Heberts, etc. have been on hand merely to fill out the twosomes that toil in vain around Augusta National each year. Compared to the U.S. Open, which has been won by 13 different golfers in the past 13 years, or the PGA, which shows 16 different winners in its last 16 years, the Masters is hardly more in doubt than Batman’s tussle with each week’s guest villain.

All of this raises interesting questions—questions that are being discussed increasingly by golfers, including the touring pros themselves. Is the Masters a bad golf tournament because only three men now seem able to win it? If so—saints save us from the thought—should the hallowed Augusta course be redesigned? Is it an antique that, because of some unfortunate features, has been outmoded by modern power golf? (One noted pro has called it the most unfair course on the tour, and a famous golf architect, the late Dick Wilson, once said, “The tournament is fine, but they don’t really have a golf course.”) The questions are good ones, and conversations with the people most immediately involved reveal some interesting thoughts.

The country’s other most prestigious tournament, the Open, is played on a different course each year, but one that is always reshaped and regroomed especially for the event. Fairways are narrow, the rough is deep and bunkers are numerous. In a U.S. Open the golfer hits the ball straight or he might never get to hit it again. If playing in the Open is like shooting rapids in a canoe, the Masters is like a brisk ocean sail. There is always plenty of room to maneuver, though if one gets on the wrong tack it can take a long time to move from point to point. At Augusta the fairways are mammoth—70 acres, as compared to about 35 on most courses. There are a mere 45 bunkers, only six of which are fairway traps designed to catch tee shots. The long hitter, and especially one who can hook the ball, can blast away without a qualm. This gives Palmer and Nicklaus a spectacular advantage.

“It amounts to at least 10 strokes a tournament,” says Jack Burke, who won a green coat in the balmy days of 1956. “About 12 strokes,” says Jimmy Demaret, who must wonder now how he ever managed to parlay short hitting and a natural fade into three Masters titles. “About 12 strokes just on the par 5s,” says Billy Casper. The reason their estimates are so high, of course, is that Nicklaus and Palmer take every advantage of their added distance by being superb with their irons as well.

Gary Player is a somewhat different case, but only slightly. He can hit the ball long; he almost keeps up with Palmer at Augusta. “He is a tremendous iron player,” says Demaret. “He is unusually successful at Augusta because he is an excellent fairway wood player,” says Byron Nelson. “He is a marvelous chipper,” says Bobby Jones, Augusta National’s eminent president. So much for Gary Player.

But what about Palmer and Nicklaus? Is it fair that they should be able to hit the ball so far and not be penalized when they hit it off line? Nicklaus himself has pointed out (SI, April 6, 1964) that the terrain at Augusta is such that the long hitter, in addition to his carry through the air, often receives much greater roll on his drives than the golfer with only average length. A good deal could be done to decrease this advantage.

“I think they should narrow the fairways,” says Demaret. “I’d like to see more of a premium put on a straight tee shot.” Demaret suggests drastic surgery to accomplish this. The only driving hole that would escape his renovation is the 7th, already a tight par 4 of 365 yards. Demaret would plant trees and put bunkers on 13 holes, with the 18th in line for the biggest overhaul.

“The 18th should be trapped by a series of bunkers running down the left side of the fairway,” he says, “and the hole should be shortened so that the average hitter can at least get to the top of the hill.”

Jack Burke would like to see 1, 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 18 tightened, but points out that another significant difficulty for the short hitter lies in where the cups are placed. “They try to toughen the course by putting the flags where you don’t dare shoot at them,” he says, “especially from a long way off. But if you don’t shoot for the flags you three-putt a lot. There is hope for the short or average hitter only if he has an unbelievable four days of putting.” Doug Ford is against adding bunkers, but he says the par 5s should be lengthened (Nicklaus once hit over the par-5 15th with a drive and a seven-iron).

Even Gary Player thinks the course might well be tightened (largely because of his friend Jack Nicklaus), and he has a sensible suggestion as to how much. “I just believe in the word fair,” he says. “I don’t think a very long hitter like Nicklaus should have to hit the same narrow area in the fairway that shorter hitters do. In other words, if we both hit the bail 10° off line and I have 25 yards of fairway to shoot at, then give Jack 35. But don’t give him 50 or more, which is what he has now at Augusta. Until they narrow the course it is going to be mighty difficult for anyone to ever beat Nicklaus. I think he is going to win the Masters more times than any man who ever lived. A guy like him comes to the last hole needing a 4 to win. He’ll just aim it down the left and hit hell out of it. Wherever it goes he only has to hit a wedge to the green. How can the average pro beat Nicklaus there? Put him on an Open course and there are 10 guys who can play him. Nobody can at the Masters.”

Tony Lema—somewhat surprisingly, since his long game is well suited to Augusta—agrees that the course should be tightened somewhat, but he brings up another point. “It wouldn’t give anyone else a better chance,” he says. “Those three would still win.”

It goes without saying that Arnold Palmer likes the course just as it is. “I think it is pretty tight now,” he says. “Tee shot position is already very important. When you hit a bad drive you may not realize it at the time, but you are being penalized exactly according to the size of your error. You may wind up missing the green with your second shot or getting on so far from the pin that you three-putt. The penalty is assessed at the other end. You know who will be hurt by fairway traps, don’t you? Well, not the ones who’ve been winning.”

The fact that the Open has had so few repeat winners Palmer finds easy to explain. “You have to be a good golfer to win the Open,” he says, “but luck is a big factor there. You can drive the ball into the fairway, it takes a bad kick and you have an impossible lie in the rough.”

Nicklaus tends to agree. “The good thing about Augusta,” he says, “is that if you play reasonably well you will do reasonably well. Less is left to chance.”


In spite of the talk about changing Augusta National, Nicklaus and Palmer have nothing to fear. The two men who run the Masters—Clifford Roberts, the New York investment banker who serves as tournament chairman, and Club President Jones—are not about to tear up their fairways to plant trees, grow rough or dig holes for sand traps. They would as soon paint a mustache on the Mono Lisa.

“This is a members’ course,” says Jones with a good deal of vehemence, when asked if he thought tightening the course would make the Masters a better tournament. “I do not know whether it would or not, and I do not care. We built the course for the enjoyment of our members, and we intend to keep it the way it is.”

“We listen to every suggestion,” Cliff Roberts said recently, “and we make improvements, but what we are not willing to do is to put in some temporary, unusual set of conditions that do not ordinarily exist. We do not grow any unusual rough. We do not narrow the fairways. We play the course just as it is, and I think it is a great tribute to the course that more often than not the golfers who are generally recognized as the ablest players are the ones who win the Masters. We do not want a set of conditions that will prevent the best player from making the best score. We don’t have to spend money building bunkers or maintaining them. We don’t have to look at the ugly things the year round. If the best players don’t come to the top at the Masters, that’s when we are going to get disappointed. When the obvious flukes and the unknowns begin winning the Masters is when we will begin wondering what is wrong with our golf course.”

Cliff Roberts has made an excellent point. Excluding the Big Three, only one U.S. Open champion since 1953 has won another major title. But the Masters is scarcely the only important championship Palmer, Nicklaus and Player have to their credit. The list includes three U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships and three British Opens, as well as almost $1.5 million in official prize money. They are the decade’s finest golfers, and they ought to win the Masters.

Yet the nagging question remains. Is it for the best that fortune has conspired to fix one of the world’s greatest golf tournaments so that only three men have a real chance to win? Or is the U.S. Open, with its varying demands and its sometimes fluky winners, a better contest? To this Cliff Roberts simply says: “They are different kinds of shows. You pay your money and you take your choice.”
The latest word on this year’s choices at Augusta is offered on the following pages, where the Big Three are considered along with the men likeliest to surprise them. Or perhaps this is the year Gene Sarazen wins and the fix-Augusta talk dies forever.

JACK NICKLAUS

The 1965 Masters was the occasion on which Jack Nicklaus broke the tournament record by three shots with a 271—but it was more than that. It also marked the point at which he publicly began to smile and pout and display visible proof that he was more than a golfing machine, to show that he cared whether he knocked an approach shot into a pond or into the cup. Not that Nicklaus became any Red Skelton, but he did set a personal tournament record for cheery smiles and facial contortions, and the galleries reacted to him as never before. They learned, at last, that he is a rather ebullient young man. As a golfer, Nicklaus has always been at ease on Augusta’s wide fairways. Now, after seven tournaments there, he has learned to enjoy himself before its big crowds.

Yet it would seem that next week Nicklaus will need whatever additional edge he can get. In the first place, he appears to have prepared for this Masters as if it were a weekend member-guest affair. Prior to his recent three-week swing through Florida, his only tournament of the winter was the Bing Crosby pro-am in January, and that was more of a party with friends than a competitive effort. He finished the Crosby by hooking two shots into the Pacific Ocean on the 18th hole and started the Doral Open in Miami six weeks later by hitting his first tee shot into a lake. Between these two splashing performances he attended a PGA school in San Antonio and spent most of a month in South Africa, where he went fishing and played a series of exhibitions with Gary Player.

If what happened in the veld is any portent, this could be a hard year for Jack. Player beat him by 14 strokes in their six matches, he was attacked by a swarm of bees and he cracked the head of the driver he had used since he joined the pro tour in 1962. Nicklaus estimates that he hit more than 15,000 shots in competition with his old driver and another 45,000 in practice. As the Masters drew near, the MacGregor company, whose clubs Nicklaus uses in the U.S., was having a hard time producing a replacement with the same loft and feel as the one he had become so attached to. Nicklaus also has changed putters. He is trying a Slazenger-Nicklaus model that, in truth, looks just like Palmer’s.

But do not be deceived by his troubles, or his public nonchalance. In 1964 Nicklaus finished second at Augusta and felt so depressed that he played poorly, for him, all summer. Last year he won by nine and was so elated that he didn’t settle down until August. He is now trying to guard against either reaction with his seemingly casual approach to the Masters. He will be ready. He will go to Augusta for intensive practice a week before the tournament, just as he did last year. His iron game is already “pretty decent,” and he says he is “chipping very well, which is unusual for me.” His driving is still a problem, but how much of a difficulty can it be? He sprayed tee shots all over the course at the Citrus Open two weeks ago and still finished second. Can he become the first man to win the Masters twice in a row? Listen to an expert, who says, “You’d make a lot of money backing Nicklaus, if you could find anyone to bet against you.” Who is the expert? Gary Player.

ARNOLD PALMER

Watching Arnold Palmer play golf has always been dramatic and still is, but the scene of the drama has shifted. His shots from the tees and fairways are as authoritative and spectacular as ever, but they are nothing to the
struggle that takes place once he reaches the greens. There the full repertoire of his competitive moods is currently on display: the determined, grouchy, aggravated how-can-this-keep-happening-to-me? and the warm, Arnold’s-in-his-heaven aura that comes when a putt goes in. The question is which of the two Palmers will the Masters see the most of next week—the one in the two pictures on the opposite page, whose birdie putt on 18 rimmed the cup on the first day at Augusta last year, or the one above, who had just started the second day by sinking an 18-footer for a birdie.

This has been a good winter for Palmer, which is a marked change from a year ago. “Yeah, I guess I’ve been playing a little better.” he will admit, almost reluctantly, before getting to the subject that really consumes him. “And I’ve been holing some long putts. But I’m missing way too many short ones. If you don’t make at least 75%, of the four-to six-footers you are not going to win many tournaments. I’m lucky if I make half of them.” Palmer is now trying to take the putter blade back a very short distance and then push it solidly through the ball and at the hole. He can do it on the practice green, but, he says, “I just can’t seem to do it out on the course. I get over the ball, and for some reason I keep thinking that I’m going to pull the putt off to the left.” It is just possible that Palmer has become, is now, and forever will remain a bad short putter—and will be a winner in spite of it.

One thing Palmer seems to have straightened out, at last, is his work-vs.-play conflict. He vowed at the beginning of the 1966 season not to let his vast array of business commitments interfere with his competitive ones. He would give each activity its own time. The plan has worked brilliantly. In his first six tournaments he finished first, second, third, second, 34th and fourth. He is getting to tournament sites early, is much more relaxed and is concentrating well. The only time he mixed business and competition was at Phoenix, and that is where he finished 34th.

As he comes into next week’s Masters, Palmer fairly reeks of the sweet smell of success. Nicklaus may have his game in shape, but Palmer has had his in shape all winter. He is sharp, and his driving looks like something programmed at Cape Kennedy. His attitude is mightily self-assured, and why not? He always wins the Masters in the even-numbered years—1958, 1960, 1962, 1964. A final plus is that Palmer is even more at home at Augusta National than his chief rival, Nicklaus. The galleries may be warming to Jack after a long cool spell, but Augusta is where Arnie’s Army first marched.

“I always feel great there,” says Palmer. “The course is kept in such good condition, and the atmosphere is wonderful. I guess you could say I feel that in the Masters I have some kind of home-court advantage.”

GARY PLAYER

Gary Player looks the same at any golf tournament. He wears his characteristic black costume, he frowns while concentrating on the course and is smiling and chatty after a good round. But Gary Player at the Masters is a completely different golfer from the one who plays at the U.S. Open or almost any other tournament. At the Open he is prudent and cautious—an approach to the game for which he is noted. He hits the ball straight, and he weighs all the percentages. At the Masters he is more like a pirate wielding a cutlass. He slashes the ball as hard as he can, he hooks his tee shots, he cuts boldly across corners and over creeks.

“It’s the only chance I’ve got against long hitters like Nicklaus and Palmer,” he claims. (A slight exaggeration. First, Player is not a short hitter; second, he has often proved that he can hit a fairway wood as close to the pin as most pros can a five-iron.) “I know that I have to take risks or I can’t win. This also means that I must prepare differently for the Masters than for other tournaments. For the Open I am always concentrating on establishing my rhythm, on developing shots that will land softly, on keeping the ball in play. At Augusta I must worry much more about hitting the ball far than hitting it straight. I work on increasing my club-head speed every time I swing. I work on hooking the ball to get more roll.”

Changing the nature of a golf swing can be treacherous, but Player has proved he is a superb technician who can get away with it. In the last 10 months he has won tournaments on four continents. In June he won his first U.S. Open and then, despite recurrent neck injuries, went on to take the World Match Play title (England), the Canada Cup (Spain), the World Series of Golf (Akron), and the Australian Open. He made $70,000 in only 13 official appearances on the U.S. PGA tour. Then he warmed up for his return to the U.S. this March by winning three tournaments in South Africa.

The fact that Player’s 1966 American debut was hardly a success—he missed the cut at Orlando—does not indicate what can be expected of him at Augusta. It always takes a little while for him to adjust to conditions here, including getting accustomed once more to the larger American ball. He also has a problem with altitude. “I practically have to learn how to judge distance all over again,” he says. “Golf with a small ball at 6,000 feet in Johannesburg is not the same game as it is here with a big ball at sea level. But I feel quite confident. My game will certainly be ready by the time the Masters starts.”

One new reason for Player’s confidence is his putting. Last year he changed his stance, placing both feet close together. “My putting has improved beyond all recognition,” he says. “I used to be very streaky, sinking everything one day and nothing the next. Now I can say to myself in all sincerity that I’m a good putter, a consistently good putter.” This will be especially important on Augusta’s big greens.

With a hot putter and his bold approach, Gary could turn out to be more than a match for all the length of Nicklaus and Palmer.

BILLY CASPER

As he stands here on the 6th tee at Augusta, Billy Casper seems to be overshadowed by his surroundings. This, in a strange way, has been his history at the Masters. He has consistently come into the tournament as a strong contender and yet, because of bad early rounds, has never been able to mount a strong challenge.

This year, of course, his figure has changed, and his Augusta habits may change, too. His exotic diet (SI, Feb. 7) has led to a loss of 50 pounds and. at 175, Casper has never felt better. In the past his failures at Augusta might seem to have had an emotional basis—a viewpoint with which Casper himself is inclined to agree. He is preparing for this Masters much differently. He had a good winter, winning at San Diego, but then left the tour following the Phoenix Open in February. He has found he is allergic to a spray used on the Bermuda grass of Florida golf courses, and says it was playing in Florida that always made him sick at the Masters, even last year when he was already much thinner. So this year he played in the Philippine Open and then went on to a two-week tour of Vietnam, visiting American encampments there and giving demonstrations. He planned to come home in late March and start a rigid practice program. This too is different, for Casper does not believe in much practice. Like Nicklaus, he will get to Augusta a week early for still more preparation.

The fact that Casper fades his tee shots is considered something of a handicap at Augusta National. He cannot change that, but he will make some small modifications in his game to suit the course. He is going to try to hit the ball higher and to hook his irons more. Though regarded as one of golf’s finest putters, Casper is more concerned about his putting than anything else. “It is the weakest part of my game.” he insists. “I’ve already changed putters four times this year. I’m not hitting the ball solidly and I can’t seem to get a line to the hole.” If true, this could cause considerable trouble at Augusta, where putting is so important. But his rivals on the tour guffaw at Casper’s statements. They are watching Casper’s frame of mind, not his putting stroke. If he stands on that first tee with a lean and hungry smile, he could cause anybody trouble.

BRUCE DEVLIN

As far as this Masters is concerned, Bruce Devlin has won the battle of the cripples. Two normally worthy challengers, Tony Lema and Ken Venturi, have to be downgraded—Lema because of a sore right elbow and Venturi because he has not yet regained the full sense of feel in his hands. But Bruce Devlin can now walk the fairways or kneel down to line up a putt without worrying about aching legs, and so he joins Casper to form a Little Two with the best chance to knock off the Big Three.

Last year Devlin was a sick golfer, a rather peculiar thing to say about someone who finished second by a stroke in four tournaments, earned $67,658 and ranked sixth on the PGA money list. But the only title Devlin won on the U.S. tour was that of richest runner-up. Part of this failure to finish first could be attributed to a case of severely painful varicose veins. Until 1963, when he began to enjoy some success as a professional golfer, Devlin, who comes from Canberra, Australia, was a part-time pro and a full-time plumber. The heavy sinks and bathtubs he lifted put such a strain on his thin legs that varicose veins developed.

“The circulation in my legs was so bad,” he says, “that after 12 or 14 holes they would be tired and aching. It was painful, and it affected my swing. My legs got lazy and my footwork was slow. My backswing and pivot became restricted. I’d get a good round going and then lose it in the last few holes.”

Last September, Devlin entered a Houston hospital and had an operation that required 29 incisions and 116 stitches. Then he returned to Australia and spent two hours every day for three weeks wading hip deep in the Pacific Ocean to strengthen his legs. The operation and the sea cure had a therapeutic effect on his golf. Starting on the Australian tour, he finished fourth and sixth, and then won his last two tournaments on consecutive weeks. Following a nine-week layoff at home, in which he pushed lawn mowers and floor polishers but never touched a club, Devlin rejoined the U.S. tour in March and picked up right where he left off, finishing second at Pensacola. “My legs feel so good now,” he says, “that I can hardly keep up with myself. My swing has a new freedom and tempo.”

Devlin has the kind of game that suits Augusta National. He is a long hitter, and he moves the ball from right to left. Two years ago Devlin finished fourth in the Masters and last year, despite his ailments and a bad second round, tied for 15th. As he plays himself into shape in the tournaments leading up to the Masters, he is working on increasing his distance.

“I know how strong Palmer, Nicklaus and Player are,” he says, “but I don’t feel I am giving much away. I’m not about to back off. I’m driving well, and I’m also putting well. When you’re sharp at both ends like that, you’ve kind of got a lock on this game, don’t you?”

Devlin’s only drawback—and it should not be overlooked—is that in the U.S. he has not yet developed the winning habit. This could also mean that he is about due.

THREE MORE TO WATCH

Doug Sanders was feeling strong, playing well and signing all his scorecards at this time last year, and he went on to make one of his best showings at Augusta, a tie for 11th. This year he is feeling stronger and playing even better. The logical conclusion is that he will substantially improve on his 1965 Masters performance. If wholesome living guarantees birdies, he surely will. After years of the joyous life, Sanders is no longer the tour’s playboy. He has become the image of dedication, a Gary Player with wavy hair. Now, like all the rest of the pros, he talks about his aches and pains, his anguish and discomfort, then limps out and shoots a 59 or so. He has already won twice this year, including last week’s Jacksonville Open.

Sanders has always been considered a sure loser at Augusta on the theory that he is a short hitter. But this is not exactly true. “I prefer tight courses where you have to work the ball around corners, but when I’m playing well the long hitters aren’t that much longer than I am,” he says. “Where I do lose distance is with my long irons.”

He is a fine putter, but his chief strength is his ability to drive with great accuracy, to “work the ball.” Therefore, he will try to duplicate Gary Player’s plan and attack the course boldly. “I’m going to cut all the corners,” he says, “take every edge.” This requires a lot of nerve, but Sanders has plenty. If he can manage 72 holes without a mistake he can win. It is a big order but it is not impossible.

Gay Brewer rates as one of golf’s least successful winners. In his 10 years on the tour he has won eight tournaments, including last December’s PGA National Four-Ball, but has received hardly a ripple of public acclaim. It is typical of Brewer’s career, for example, that while he was winning the Pensacola Open last month Doug Sanders was winning the headlines for not signing his scorecard and getting disqualified.

One reason for Brewer’s obscurity may be the inconsistent nature of his career. His first decade as a pro was a history of super one day, ghastly the next. Now his game, at last, has changed. At 34 he has developed into a consistently good player. He scored four of his victories in the last six months and has been playing well when he wasn’t winning.

“I think my game has picked up in all departments,” he says, “and so has my mental attitude. That is because I’ve been putting so well. I am putting a great deal better than I ever have going into a Masters.”

In addition to his deftness on the putting greens, what makes Brewer a challenger at Augusta is that he is long off the tee. “There are not too many who can outhit me when I get souped up,” he says. And right now he is souped up. Off his past performance chart—his highest finish in five Augusta starts was a tie for 11th in 1962—he is decidedly a long shot next week. But make no mistake; this is a new Gay Brewer. No longer can he be ignored at the Masters.

Frank Beard has become, at 26, as good a young player as there is on the tour. He is, like Cassius Clay, backed by a group of Louisville businessmen, and he has paid off their faith in him handsomely. Even a severe—if short—attack of encephalitis, which kept him off part of the tour in 1964, has failed to impede his progress. He came back last year to win the Texas Open, finish third in the U.S. Open and earn $52,000 in prize money. He is off to another strong start this year.

Beard’s swing is so compact and consistent that his golf has a machinelike quality. “It doesn’t usually make any difference whether I’m playing an easy course or a tough one,” he says. “I always seem to hit the ball about 20 feet from the hole.” He is a good putter. On his way to an eighth-place finish at Augusta last year he averaged only 31 putts a round. Also, even though he concentrates on keeping his drives in play, he does not lack length. “He hits about as far as I do,” says Palmer.

Beard is an unusual realist. “I grew up that way,” he says. “I always try to see things just as they are. You don’t gain confidence by getting up in the morning and talking big about what you’re going to do. You gain it by working hard and doing what must be done.”

Realistically speaking, does Beard have a chance at Augusta? “I’m never going to beat Nicklaus when he’s right,” Beard says. “He’s too long. But there aren’t many others I can’t beat on that course.”

Article courtesy of Sports Illustrated (1966)

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JASON DAY: RAGS TO RICHES

Aug 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Jason Day had just knocked his approach on to the 18th green to seal victory on a truly cathartic Sunday at the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits when it all came back to him.

He had 250 yards to go to complete the journey of a lifetime and great sobs of emotion welled in his chest. He couldn’t stop crying. ‘That really surprised me,’ he said. It won’t surprise you when you know.

If you thought he struggled to hole the final putt through the veil of tears because it represented an amazing recovery from an attack of vertigo at the US Open in June…boy, you don’t know a fraction of it.

Day grew up so poor in Queensland, Australia, his Filipino mum Dening used to cut the lawn with a knife. She would boil a kettle five or six times to feed the water tank so her children could have a hot shower. His dad Alvin, who worked at a meat processing plant, died of stomach cancer when Day was 12.

Without a taskmaster at home, he went off the rails. He was constantly involved in fights at school and had a drink problem.

Is this really the happily married family man who stands before us at 27 as the 97th PGA champion? A player so good Sir Nick Faldo has already christened him the new Gary Player, to go alongside Jordan Spieth’s Arnold Palmer impression and Rory McIlroy as Jack Nicklaus in a new Big Three? A man so popular his peers couldn’t wait to tweet their joy that he had reached the promised land?

It says everything about his standing that Justin Rose, who finished fourth, interrupted his press duties to seek out Day and congratulate him. ‘I’ll be back, don’t worry, but this is something I have to do,’ said Rose.

This, then, must rank alongside the greatest stories golf has ever told. Talk about sport as the path to redemption. The only thing Day had going for him after his father passed away was a talent for golf. Alvin had bought him a three wood from the local pawn shop and built a makeshift putting green in the back garden.

And so it was that his mum not only took out a second mortgage but took on two jobs and borrowed from every relation so her son could realise his passion for the game and save himself.

‘I could never have expected to be where I am today,’ said Day. ‘I wouldn’t have been here if my father didn’t pass away because that door closed for me and another one opened because my mum and my sisters sacrificed for me.

‘I was able to get away to a golf academy and meet Colin (Swatton, his coach, now caddie and life mentor) and get my life back on track.’

‘To have him on the bag at the first major win, it was hard. He’s taken me from a kid who was getting in fights and getting drunk at 12 to a Major champion. He means the world to me. I love him to death.

‘Why did all the emotion come out? Just knowing that my mum took a second mortgage out, borrowed from my aunt and uncle, just to give me chance.

‘I remember watching her cut the lawn with a knife because we couldn’t afford to fix the lawnmower. I remember we had to boil a kettle for hot showers. So just to be able to sit in front of you guys and think about those stories, it gets me emotional.’

When Day first started making it as a pro he would stare at his bank balance on a computer screen in disbelief at the sums he was earning. It was at Whistling Straits five years ago that he notched his first top 10 at a Major.

He led the 2013 Masters with three holes to play but bogeyed the 16th and 18th and watched Adam Scott become the first Australian to win the green jacket.

He had the 54-hole lead at the U.S. Open, where vertigo and Jordan Spieth got to him, and also at The Open, where he left a birdie putt short that would have earned him a spot in the playoff.

You might have thought those near misses would affect him on the final day with Spieth bearing down on him, but it proved the opposite.

‘I’ve noticed a calmness about him since St Andrews,’ said his wife Ellie, whom Day met when he was 17. ‘He’s always said it takes him a while to feel comfortable somewhere. You could just tell he was ready.’

Spieth could tell. In the scorer’s area afterwards the runner-up and new world No 1 told Day: ‘I couldn’t have done any more. I left it all out there. You just put on a clinic today, man. That’s the best I’ve ever seen you play. You deserved it.’

It was indeed Jason’s day. A year that brought us one great major tale after another had just delivered the most inspirational of all.

Article courtesy of Daily Mail UK

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GARY PLAYER’S GIFT TO SOWETO

Aug 17, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The money raised during legendary golfer Gary Player’s 80th birthday party in Soweto on Saturday August 15 and the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of his achievement of winning the Grand Slam will be injected into the makeover of the Soweto Country Club.

The celebrations were jointly hosted by the City of Johannesburg, Sunshine Tour and Investec in honour of Player’s contribution to sports unity and for his role in the development of golf in disadvantaged communities such as Soweto and Alexandra. Player, who has won more than 165 tournaments globally and has been a professional golfer for 63 years, was also named by the South African Golf Association as the captain of South Africa’s first Olympic golf team that will compete in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil next year.

Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau congratulated Player for his contribution to sports unity and to the growth of golf in South Africa.

“Gary Player has always been a great friend of the Soweto Country Club. He reached out to his fellow professionals and was interested in their careers. They in turn have always welcomed him warmly,” Mayor Tau said.
He revealed Player’s secret of looking young and healthy.

“It’s pap, morogo and exercise. It shows that a healthy lifestyle of eating right and exercise will ensure you enjoy the later years of your life.”

Soweto Country Club Deputy Chairman Zandi Mkhize said the proceeds from the celebrations would go towards the re-erection of the fence, installation of sprinklers, acquisition of sand for its bunkers and procurement of a greens cutter.

“We’re grateful for the help that the City, through Joburg City Parks & Zoo, but we urgently need to buy our own maintenance equipment. People we’ve been talking to are keen to help but they are discouraged by the lack of fencing around the course because whatever investment they put in will be vandalised,” Mkhize said.

Scores of Soweto residents sang “Happy Birthday” as the man they call the “Black Knight”, in his trademark black suit and black shirt, “teed off” the celebrations.

“I want to be remembered more for the fact that I cared about my fellow beings than what sort of a golfer I was. I want to thank the Soweto golfing community for accepting me and allowing me to be a part of their lives and their careers,” Player said.

When most people his age would prefer sitting in their rocking chairs and reminiscing about their golden years, Player showed invited guests – including former Soweto golfing professionals such as Vincent Tshabalala and Allen Modiba, and Rivonia Trialist and ANC veteran Andrew Mlangeni – a thing or two on the fairways. Tshabalala, Player’s friend of 63 years and 1976 French Open champion, paid tribute to the “Black Knight.”

Pointing to Player, he said: “That young man taught me to exercise and to be myself at all times. The secret to keeping fit is to play golf and to do everything from the heart.”

Award-winning sports presenter and avid golfer Thomas Mlambo said it was an honour to be in the presence of the golfing legend.

“I’m glad to be a part of Player’s 80th birthday celebrations and to help bring the Soweto Country Club back to its former glory,” he said.

Sunshine Tour Executive Director Selwyn Nathan said: “Gary Player is an icon of world sport, not only golf. He has been one of South Africa’s greatest sporting ambassadors for decades.”

Soweto Country Club board member Rofhiwa Mphaphuli thanked the City, Investec and the Sunshine Tour for putting the club in the spotlight.

“We’re humbled and honoured to host these celebrations. We should also not forget that it’s the very same Gary Player who came here in 1974 and helped to design the Soweto Country Club. He’s back 41 years later, spreading the sweet gospel of golf,” Mphaphuli said.

Article courtesy of Joburg.org.za

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GARY PLAYER TO CAPTAIN SOUTH AFRICA’S FIRST OLYMPIC GOLF TEAM

Aug 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player has been named captain of South Africa’s first Olympic golf team that will compete at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Player, a winner of more than 165 tournaments worldwide, is the only person to complete the career Grand Slam on both the regular and senior tours amidst his 18 Major Championships. And 63 years as a professional golfer has given Player extensive experience in team competition.

He captained the International Team for the Presidents Cup on three occasions, and also made several appearances for South Africa in the World Cup of Golf.

Player said he was honoured to be selected as captain for South Africa on such a momentous occasion for golf.

“I am delighted to accept the captaincy and look forward to leading our top professionals on the fairways of the Rio Olympics next year. This is such a big moment for our country and for the game of golf as a whole, and I am proud to be a part of this. Golf and the Olympic movement share the same core values, so this is a very big opportunity to grow the game around the world. Our goal is to earn South Africa its first Olympic gold medal in a sport that has always done this country proud.”

Player’s Olympic captaincy was made official by the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the governing body for golf in the country and a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and International Golf Federation (IGF). The decision was approved unanimously by all of the relevant golf bodies in South Africa, and ratified by SASCOC.

“Gary is our greatest golfer and one of this country’s greatest ambassadors,” said Gerhard Conradie, President of the SAGA. “His career on the golf course and his philanthropic efforts off it embody everything of the Olympic spirit, and we are proud that he has accepted to lead South Africa’s first Olympic golf team to Rio.”

The announcement was made at Soweto Country Club on Saturday, where Player’s remarkable career and contribution to South African golf was recognised with a golf day in his honour by the Sunshine Tour and the City of Johannesburg.

Selwyn Nathan, the Executive Director of the Sunshine Tour, applauded the decision to appoint Player as captain of the Olympic golf team.

“Our Sunshine Tour professionals have tremendous respect for Gary, and his experience and leadership ability will be invaluable to the team that is selected. We all saw the effect Gary has on a team when he led the International Team to the only ever tie in the Presidents Cup in South Africa in 2003, which remains one of the most memorable moments in golf.

“As golf’s undisputed global ambassador, it is very fitting that the game’s return to the Olympic fold for the first time in more than a century should feature a man recognised worldwide for his contribution to the game, and we are proud to have him lead our South African team.”

Golf has only appeared twice at the Olympic Games, in 1900 and 1904, and with only the United States, Canada and Great Britain competing.

In 2016 and 2020, golf will be globally represented at the Olympic Games for the first time.

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SOWETO GOLFERS BRING PLAYER TO THE PEOPLE

Aug 12, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

South Africa’s legendary Soweto professional golfers will join the Sunshine Tour and City of Johannesburg in bringing the inspirational message of Gary Player’s career to a new generation of golfers.

At Soweto Country Club on Saturday 15 August, Player will join in a golf day recognising the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam of Major Championship victories as well as sharing in a celebration of his 80th birthday with the community. Player turns 80 in November.

His global achievements came at a time when most South Africans lacked access to television, but they did not go unnoticed. His pioneering work in golf development has led to the successful structures in South African golf today, and will be told to a new generation of Soweto’s young stars.

“Gary Player has always been a great friend of Soweto Country Club. He reached out to his fellow professionals and was interested in their careers. They in turn have always welcomed him warmly. We are pleased, as the city of his birth and where his career began, to welcome him back to this historic venue for a day in which his career can inspire a whole new generation of Soweto golfers,” said the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Mpho Parks Tau.

In a year in which Player is being honoured around the world for his golf achievements in still being the only non-American and one of five players in history to have won the career Grand Slam, the Black Knight said it will be particularly emotional to share this with the people of Soweto.

“At the start of my career, I always said that when I am a world champion I want to be able to help people,” Player said. “I want to be remembered more for the fact that I cared about my fellow human beings than how great a golfer I was.

“I want to thank the Soweto golf community for accepting me and allowing me to be a part of their lives and their careers. The memories I have of them are some of the fondest of my career. And I am humbled by the fact that my career could perhaps inspire a young golfer from Soweto to become a world champion one day.”

Player’s efforts to try and bring about unity in South African golf, his attempts to gain sponsorship for various Soweto golfers and their tournaments, and his own efforts in helping to design Soweto Country Club were the seeds of this country’s successful golf development programme. Player even went as far as sponsoring tournaments in South Africa with his own money to give players of all races an equal opportunity.

Today the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB), under the vision of Johann Rupert, is one of the foremost golf development programmes in the world and is producing world-class golfers from its ranks. And the structures in South African golf allow these players a clear career path right through to competing on the Sunshine Tour and possibly on the European Tour one day.

“So many of the young golfers of today never had the opportunity to watch Gary in his prime, and many of them aren’t aware of just how much he did for South African golf through his career,” said Selwyn Nathan, Executive Director of the Sunshine Tour.

“This is an opportunity to inspire a new generation of golfers and, as Gary has always said, to find our own Tiger Woods from Soweto.”

The Sunshine Tour will be using the funds from the golf day to help further develop Soweto Country Club, which has a longstanding history within South African golf.

“We are very humbled and honoured to host these celebrations and a legend such as Gary Player,” said Soweto Country Club’s Lionel Mphaphuli.

“Our club has a rich golf history dating back to 1974. We have produced about three generations of African professional golfers, including players such as Cox Nhlapho, Vincent Tshabalala, Theo Manyama, Derrick Lekomo, Norman Mashaba, Solly Oliphant, Bafana Hlophe, Mawonga Nomwa, Thabang Simon, Sipho Bujela, Musiwalo Nethunzwi and Godfrey Mphaga.

“One of our oldest active members is the legendary Dr Andrew Mlangeni, who spent more than two decades on Robben Island, and who through the Andrew Mlangeni Golf Development programme helps us to develop our junior golfers. We also thank Gary Player as well as the Sunshine Tour and its Executive Director Selwyn Nathan, the City of Johannesburg and Investec for their further commitment to help us continue this proud golf tradition.”

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN PRESIDENT TO SPEAK AT AFRICA GOLF SUMMIT

Aug 10, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golf is a legendary sport that provides endless challenge and excitement for golfers all over the world. But the game also makes an important contribution to tourism, employment, socio-economic growth, sport development and the environment.

The Africa Golf Summit will be a draw-card for a wide range of stakeholders relating to the golfing world. This includes professional and amateur golfers, VIPs, sport, tourism and business professionals and a range of government and private sector delegates. Speakers at the summit are renowned specialists from South Africa, Africa, the US and the UK.

AGS promises to deliver break-through opportunities for a range of key players in the golfing, tourism, economic development and sporting sectors. The summit will gather experts from a diverse range of business and government fraternities and provide a much-needed platform for meaningful progress to be made through the golfing industry. Important topics to be explored and debated include the following:

• Growing a sustainable golfing community in Africa
• Establishing a Golfing Centre of Excellence to develop young talent
• Golf tourism and hospitality
• Golf sports development
• Golf estate and property development
• Golf course design, construction, operations and management
• Hosting golf tournaments to boost job growth, tourism and economic development

Confirmed speakers to date include( but is not limited to) Scott Ferrell - President, Gary Player Design USA; Dale Hayes - Director, Zwartkop Country Club/ Presenter on SuperGolf South Africa; Howard Swan - Chairman, Golf Consultants Association and Swan Golf Designs Ltd UK; Steve Isaac - Director, Golf Course Management, The R & A, St Andrews Scotland; Paul Gray - General Manager, Holywood Golf Club Northern Ireland; Peter Matkovich - Principal Architect, Matkovich Design; Zaida Enver CEO,  Pure Grit Project and Exhibitions Management (Pty) Ltd South Africa; Abel Edinomo Secretary General, West Africa Amateur Golf Association; Andrea Sartori Partner and Global Head of Sport, KPMG Advisory Ltd. Hungary and Ingrid Diesel - Owner Ingrid Diesel Consulting & Events.

A key item to be debated is the Africa Golf Centre of Excellence Programme, which is an initiative to make golf more accessible and to identify and develop young African golfers who can go on to represent their countries on the international golfing circuit. Industry specialists and prominent organisations endorsing and supporting the Africa Golf Summit include the following:

Gary Player Design, The R & A, The PGA, The Sunshine Tour, The West Africa Amateur Golf Association, Hills & Forrest, The International Golf Course Architects, The Hospitality Property Fund, SWAN Golf Designs, RETOSA, Golf Consultants Association, and Golf Environment.

The outcome of the Africa Golf Summit is aimed at promoting golf as a sport and leisure activity, using golf to contribute to social upliftment, job creation, inbound tourism and the development of the golf tourism sector, investment opportunities and environmental sustainability, and ensuring that young golfing talent is identified and nurtured.

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SOWETO GOLF CELEBRATES WITH GLOBAL GOLF ICON GARY PLAYER

Aug 6, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player’s role as the greatest South African sporting ambassador and the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam achievement will be celebrated during a golf day in his honour at Soweto next weekend.

The Sunshine Tour will partner with the City of Johannesburg to recognise the most impressive career in South African golfing history at Soweto Country Club on Saturday 15 August. The funds from the day will be used for the further development of Soweto Country Club, which Player helped design.

Vincent Tshabalala and several of Soweto’s legendary golfers will join Player at Soweto Country Club in what is also his 80th birthday celebration with the community. Player turns 80 in November.

“Gary Player is an icon of world sport, not only golf. He has been South Africa’s greatest sporting ambassador for decades, earning the commendation of Nelson Mandela for his efforts in using his status in golf to try and help bring about unity in South African sport,” said Selwyn Nathan, Executive Director of the Sunshine Tour. “Soweto Country Club is the perfect venue for us to celebrate his vision with the very people whose lives he helped try change.”

When speaking about Player, the great Nelson Mandela said, “Because he is a professional golfer who spent much of his career performing outside South Africa, Gary Player was always perceived as being one step removed from the world of politics. Yet few men in our country’s history did as much to enact political changes for the better that eventually improved the lives of millions of his countrymen. Through his tremendous influence as a great athlete, Mr. Player accomplished what many politicians could not. And he did it with courage, perseverance, patience, pride, understanding and dignity that would have been extraordinary even for a world leader.”

As one of only five golfers in history to have won all four Majors in his career, and still the only non-American to do so, Player’s Grand Slam achievement has this year been celebrated worldwide – from the hallowed ground of Augusta National Golf Club to the historic links of the Old Course in St Andrews.

But Player said a heartfelt tribute on the humble fairways of Soweto Country Club and with the golfers whom he shares a special bond ranks as one of his greatest highlights in a historic year for golf.

“This has been an incredibly special year for me. I have shared memories all over the world. But when a man comes home to his people and is shown this kind of love, that is what puts a life and a career into perspective,” he said.

During his career Player has won more than 165 tournaments worldwide, including nine Majors on the regular tour and nine on the senior tour. He is the only player to have won the career Grand Slam on both tours. His Grand Slam on the regular tour came at the age of 29 with his victory in the 1965 US Open. He was at the time only the third player in history to achieve this feat, following Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan. Only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods achieved this after Player.

Player’s philanthropic efforts have seen him establish The Player Foundation and the Gary Player Invitational series of charity tournaments, which are played around the world on an annual basis. Since its establishment in 1983, The Player Foundation has raised more than R600 million for underprivileged children worldwide.

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3M CHAMPIONSHIP STANDS OUT FOR ITS LEGENDS AND LAUGHTER

Aug 5, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Other than What’s Tiger Woods really like? and Who are the good guys on Tour?, the most common question I field is: What’s your favorite tournament to cover? Surprise always greets my response: the 3M Championship.

The Greats of Golf, a four-team, three-person better-ball event, unites a Hall of Fame roster for hit-n-giggle good times. Enjoy watching Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit the opening tee shot at Augusta? Me, too. What’s better is seeing them play 18 holes with Lee Trevino. For one afternoon, Annika Sorenstam is inside the ropes again, with Pat Bradley and Nancy Lopez. Dave Stockton holes a football field worth of putts, Johnny Miller critiques his own swing and Trevino strings drives down the middle.

“The last time he missed a fairway, the pope was an altar boy!” Player said.

What’s better than seeing 71-year-old Tony Jacklin driving the green at the 275-yeard par-4 seventh hole and sinking the 6-foot eagle putt? Or have the change to watch Tom Weiskopf, who made his TPC Twin Cities debut and sounded like a different man?

“Back in the day when I came to the fork in the road, I turned at pessimism,” he said. “Now I choose to turn at optimism.”

The Friday night dinner is the closest I’ll get to the Masters Champions dinner. The stories are priceless. This year, I mentioned playing Hazeltine National, site of this year’s Ryder Cup, to Trevino and he was off and running with a story about having to Monday qualify there for a tournament in 1967. Lopez and Player listened as he recounted packing his trunk after shooting 78 when a rules official told him to slow down. “You’re leading,” Trevino was told. Everybody broke into laughter. “True story,” Trevino said. “Half the guys shot 80 and I got in.” That triggered a story from Lopez who finished runner-up in the 1977 U.S. Women’s Open at Hazeltine as a 20-year-old. “I would’ve won it, but my zipper on my slacks broke,” she said. “I couldn’t even bend over to read a putt.”

Now Player recounted the time he tore a pants seam on a 100-degree day in Botswana. “And that’s back when I played in the nude,” said Player, adding amid laughter that he finished the round in rain pants.
And so it went. My face hurt from laughing. Early the next morning, the autograph line spilled outside the exhibition tent. Every 30 minutes for more than two hours, another team of greats took turns signing their free trading cards. All that, plus free admission.

Then it was time for what amounts to Old-Timers’ Day. Peter Jacobson cracked that he shot 81 on Friday so that he could play in the first group on Saturday and finish in time to watch the greats tee off before noon, and he wasn’t alone. Tom Jenkins brought his 12-year-old son, Wes. The weather was mint. The people are Minnesota nice. At every tee and green, a chorus of fans thanked Nicklaus and Co. for making their day.

These guys can still play. After “The Greatest Team Ever,” as the standard-bearer’s sign read, made birdie at the fourth, Barbara Nicklaus notified her husband that his team was 4 under and in second place. “No, we’re not!” Nicklaus said in disbelief. Eventually, Team Nicklaus would tie Team Jacklin – Miller, Stockton and Weiskopf – at 17 under.

My favorite moment between the ropes had to be when Player and Trevino missed the green at the par-3 eighth. That left in the hands of Nicklaus, who told his teammates that he didn’t know what club to hit. Trevino needled him, “You’re the one with 18 Majors.” Nicklaus responded with a 5-iron to 3 feet.

“I’m only going to show you one more time,” Nicklaus said with a wink.

How about an encore? Let’s do it again in ’16. 

Article courtesy of Adam Schupak

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GOLF’S GREATS RENEW FRIENDLY RIVALRY AT THE 3M CHAMPIONSHIP

Aug 3, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Saturday at the 3M Championship is a special day. It’s the day fans get to make memories for a lifetime. The names Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino are that of golfing legend, great players of the past that once ruled the Professional golf tours around the world.

Since 2005, however, on 3M Championship Saturday, the past has come alive. The greats of the game, those past not only their PGA Tour prime, but their Champions Tour prime, put on a show for the golf fans in Minnesota. With a scramble format and a laid-back atmosphere, there is plenty of room for banter among the players and healthy back-and-forth with the fans.

Though there is an official event going on here, much of the audience at the 3M is more interested in getting a glimpse of the greats of the game. Four groups vied for the title this year, but the atmosphere is, to put it mildly, relaxed. It’s nearly impossible to go a single hole without a barb flying from one competitor to the next, all delivered with the smiles of deep respect these players share.

When Lee Trevino slightly mishit a drive on the ninth hole, Gary Player quipped, When Lee misses, it’s still in the center of the fairway. The last time he missed a fairway, the Pope was still an altar boy.”

As for the other event going on that day, Kenny Perry eagled the par-5 18th hole and shot a ho-hum, course-record-tying 61 to take the lead heading into Sunday when he went on to win and defend his title from Bernard Langer.

Article courtesy of Ryan Ballengee

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GARY PLAYER TREATS KIDS TO SURPRISE LESSON

Jul 27, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Grand Slam golf icon Gary Player took time out from his busy schedule to inspire some of the golf stars of tomorrow who were attending the Kids’ Golf Festival at Fairmont St Andrews.

Player interrupted his final preparations for the Champions’ Golfer Challenge – the curtain raiser to the 144th Open Championship – to hold an impromptu lesson with boys taking part in the festival at the luxury accommodation provider at the Home of Golf.

The nine-time Major winner spent time passing on advice and individual tips to the youngsters at the event as well as treating the children, aged between three and seven, to a short demonstration on the Fairmont St Andrews’ driving range.

“It was a pleasure to see a company that is an advocate of getting kids involved in the game of golf,” said Gary Player. “To experience the positive impact Golphinforkids has on the lives of children, some with disabilities, in person made it a special day for me.”

The event, which was promoted by Golphinforkids, the creator of a range of new lightweight, child-friendly golf clubs manufactured using high-tech materials normally found in the wings of spacecrafts and airplanes, helped launch a week of activities at the resort during The Open.

Among the lucky children receiving expert tuition were Jack Dirkin, five, from Telford, who is the UK’s number one in his age group and a finalist in the world under-six championship; Rory Kendall, aged three-and-a-half and from Dunfermline; and four-year-old American Internet sensation Tommy Morrissey, who captured the collective heart of the USA when he appeared on Fox News – and subsequently You Tube – demonstrating his golfing prowess.

The founder of Golphinforkids, Calum McPherson, from Lochwinnoch, said: “The day was all about engaging youngsters with the game of golf and who better to do that than Gary Player, one of the all-time legends of the game.

“It was simply magical to see the look on their faces when Gary turned up and he was fantastic with them. Not only did he pass on plenty of advice and tips but he also took time to chat to the kids individually.

“The day at Fairmont St Andrews was all about promoting the fun and family side of kids’ golf and encouraging their interest, and we couldn’t have wished for a better person to help us pass on the message. I’m sure it will be an experience that the children remember forever.”

Amy Yeates, director of golf at Fairmont St Andrews said, “It was an absolute pleasure to be given the chance to host the event and see one of the game’s all-time greats interrupt his schedule to spend time with youngsters just starting out in golf.”

Article courtesy of Golphinforkids

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GARY PLAYER SPECIAL: Q&A WITH GOLF MAGIC

Jul 27, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player won three Open Championships in a stellar career which yielded nine majors and put him in the Big Three alongside Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. 

What are the specific challenges of the Old Course, particularly in July?

Now one thing that avid golfers will know, but many do not realise, is that the Open Championship at St. Andrews is different than any other Open Championship. At St Andrews you do not have to hit it straight. All other Open venues, there is a great premium on driving well. The fairways at St Andrews are wide and quite generous.

There also are only two par 3s and depending on the pin placement, they can turn into extremely difficult holes that can change the outcome of the tournament. 

Where does St Andrews rate against other Open venues – in terms of appeal, challenge and quality of course?

To put it simply, it is one of the greatest golf courses in the world. It is the birthplace of golf and still to this day is one of the most special golfing destinations in the world. The design was truly ahead of its time. When you step onto the grounds of St Andrews, you can feel the rich and timeless history that includes the origins of this great game that has been a blessing in my life. 

What does winning the career Grand Slam mean to you and describe how difficult it is to achieve?

Winning the career Grand Slam is perhaps my finest achievement in golf. It is hard to believe that it has been 50 years since my win at Bellerive Country Club in 1965 to win the US Open and the Grand Slam.

What I remember so vividly to this day is how hard I practised for that particular tournament, and that my preparation paid off.

What were your feelings going into the 1965 US Open with the Grand Slam on the line and what was on your mind as the week went on?

I was focused. Jack Nicklaus convinced me to come practise with him the week before the tournament. I wanted to say, ‘No, I need to play a tournament in Greensboro, I have a family to feed’. But I went anyway, and boy I am glad I did. Even though we wanted to beat each other, he actually played a significant role in my winning. I made sure to keep to the same routine, even heading into the play-off. I prepared so much for this tournament, I truly believed I would win. 

Given what they are like as players and characters, who do you see as ending their careers with more majors, Rory or Jordan? Why?

Right now, Rory McIlroy is the best player in the world. That swing he has is going to help him win a lot of major championships. In my opinion he has the best all-around game. He just needs to stay healthy.

But I have said the best putter in the world is the one who is going to win tournaments and Majors. Right now, that player is Jordan Spieth. Only God knows who it will be five years from now. But Jordan is wise beyond his years on and off the golf course. He has proved that this year. Obviously, these two are the future of golf. 

What do you make of Tiger Woods in 2015? What is your advice to him in his 40th year? How likely is he to win another major?

Golf needs Tiger Woods to win tournaments. Not just tournaments, Majors. Another win at a major for Tiger will have a more positive and significant impact on the game of golf than anything else that could happen this year. He needs to get back to the basics that made him the best player in the world for so long. He still has so much talent. We all want Tiger to start winning again.

You were very critical of Chambers Bay and you teased the TV commentators a bit – how do you reflect on that US Open, the course, and the things being said about it?

It was just my opinion of the golf course design and set-up that particular week. I thought Greg Norman did a good job in the booth, and wished him congratulations on his success. Overall FOX will get better every year no doubt.

Perhaps because I am always so positive, that when I am not, it gets more attention than it deserves. Most players and spectators agreed with my observations. With more changes the golf course will also get better over time.

What is the hardest Major to win and why?

The first Major is always the toughest. It relieves so much pressure during the rest of your career. After my win at the Open in 1959, I believed that I could win any tournament I entered. The mental game is so important to winning Majors, if you can get the first, anything is possible.

Which of your Open victories gave you the most satisfaction and why?

My victory at Muirfeld was so special because up to that point I was the youngest player, at age 23, to win the Open Championship since it became a 72-hole event.

It made me want to practise even harder and longer to reach my full potential because at that point I was not the best player I could become. But I believe it gave me to confidence to accomplish my goals for the rest of my life. 

What is the strangest thing that has happened to you during an Open Championship?

Sleeping on the beach during my first Open Championship at St Andrews in 1955. Can you imagine if a pro today did that today? I arrived at Leuchars Station not knowing where the hell I was, but two pros picked me up and dropped me off at the Old Course. When I realised I didn’t have enough money to stay in a hotel all week, I put on my waterproofs and went to sleep in the dunes. 

If there was one shot or moment in your career you could have again, what would it be?

I try not to dwell on shots that are in the past. It is important that every player knows to become a champion you have to be able to take that double bogey and move on to the next hole. 

How do you compare the game of today for the modern pros with all the latest equipment compared to your day? 

It is completely different. Golf balls travel longer with each season’s technology upgrade and the shafts and club heads improve at the same pace. So, golf courses became so much longer, which require much more upkeep and water for irrigation.

It’s terrible for the environment. What needs to happen sooner rather than later is officials should regulate and scale back the golf ball to control the distance. Then we won’t have to lengthen courses.

Looking back on your career, would you say you overachieved or underachieved?

I finished in the top 10 in more than 40 Major championships, but I only won nine. I won more than 165 tournaments worldwide, but entered countless. I have always been satisfied with my career because of the time and effort I put into my profession. I’ll let you decide the over or under. 

What is your motto in life?

The harder you practice, the luckier you get.

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GOLF’S BIG THREE SET TO HEADLINE THE 3M GREATS OF GOLF CHALLENGE

Jul 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer will headline the Post-It® Products Greats of Golf Competition at the 2015 3M Championship. Making their first appearance in the Greats of Golf are Tom Weiskopf and World Golf Hall of Fame member, Hale Irwin.

Gary Player will challenge the all-time great field with fellow legends of the game and team members Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino. The 3M Championship will take place at the TPC Twin Cities in Blaine July 27- August 2nd. General admission will be free for all spectators.

“With the new additions, The Big Three, Annika Sorenstam and all of the legends together will provide golf fans a world-class viewing experience,” said Jim Fall, vice president of Global Sales for 3M. The Greats of Golf is a team competition teeing off after the regular field on Saturday, August 1st.

The tournament will donate $1.3 million in support of healthcare programs at Allina Health. The 3M Championship has donated more than $22 million to charity since 1993.

Kenny Perry is set to defend his title against a top field featuring Champions Tour players Bernhard Langer, Rocco Mediate, Tom Lehman and Jay Haas. Returning to the 3M Championship field is Tom Watson. “We are thrilled with how the field is shaping up for the tournament,” said Hollis Cavner, Executive Director for the 3M Championship. “With the support of our sponsors and volunteers, we are able to continue to make a difference in the lives of our community.”

Article courtesy of 3MChampionship.com

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THE BLACK KNIGHT CELEBRATES AS CHARITY TRIUMPHS AT THE BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Jul 22, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational concluded in style and further affirmed the union of golf and giving in what has been an extra special year for the event. This year the Black Knight has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam and his 80th Birthday, whilst title sponsor Berenberg celebrates their 425th anniversary.

The 2015 event embraced such a historic time by gathering together the biggest names in golf, business and entertainment at London’s Wentworth Club despite clashing with the extended Open Championship.  Professional golfers and participants alike joined in the fun and giving during a gala auction after the day’s play and later Gary Player, The Player Foundation and presenting sponsor Berenberg donated a significant contribution during the Gala Dinner. This all culminated in raising more than $225,000 for DepaulUK, a charity that works tirelessly to prevent youth homelessness.

The first leg of the global invitational series was won by the team of professional golfers Ian Woosnam and Georgia Hall along with businessmen James Grigg and Robert Baur.

An all-star field gathered for this year’s Berenberg Gary Player Invitational which included eight-time Major winner and legend of the game Tom Watson, who had traveled down to the event following playing in his last ever Open Championship at St Andrews.

Many other top players including Padraig Harrington, David Howell, Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel and Marc O’Meara were also due to make the same journey to the event but were unable to do so following the unusual extension of this year’s Open Championship. The same goes for Marc Leishman, Zach Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen who unbelievably battled it out in a playoff with Johnson claiming the famous Claret Jug.

Past Major Champions Tom Lehman, Sandy Lyle and Mark Calcavecchia along with leading Tour players Robert Rock, Rich Beem, Oliver Fisher and George Coetzee all made last minute switches in their busy diaries to ensure a full field for the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational despite the historic Open Championship changes.

Gary Player had the following to say following this remarkable day for the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational;

“I am really thrilled about what has happened here today. The support we have received from all our participants including some of the world’s leading golfers, celebrities and businessmen, is out of this world despite the dramatic challenges from this year’s Open Championship. I send my personal congratulations to Zach Johnson who was in fact due to play with us today. It’s the only excuse I would have accepted from him for missing our event.  I feel very humbled by everyone’s efforts in such a special year for the event and I am delighted about the money raised.

“Following my visit to DePaulUK’s London-based Willesden Hostel, a long-stay hostel providing for young homeless people, I can tell you firsthand what a difference it makes. The money raised here today provides young people in need with secure accommodation and assistance that helps them effectively develop life skills and establish a routine in their lives, something which most of us take for granted each day. Thank you to all.”

Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, Managing Partner at Berenberg, commented, “Every year is special when it comes down to the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational, as we raise money for those most in need. Yet it has to be said that this year really has been extra special.

“Gary Player does so much for so many people. It was fantastic we could honour his 50th career Grand Slam anniversary and 80th birthday in the same year we celebrate our 425th anniversary by bringing so many stars together to raise this vast amount of money for DePaulUK. It feels like the right time to all stand back for a moment and truly appreciate the incredible contribution Gary Player makes to golf and charity as he helps others around the globe. We stand incredibly proud today.”

Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International and GPI series founder, added, “We are most appreciative to all our sponsors who aid in creating a brighter future in London and for people around the globe. Add to that the incredible support from our all-star lineup of professional golfers, entertainers and business people and it results in one of the best events for Black Knight International and the celebration of golf and giving.”

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational is part of the world-leading charity golf event series, which has raised more than $60 million for charities worldwide. The next stop will take the Grand Slam champion to the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at GlenArbor in New York on 11th and 12th October. This tournament will be followed by another event in Shanghai, China, on 1st and 2nd November before the series concludes in Sun City, South Africa, on 12th - 15th November.

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GARY PLAYER AND TOM WATSON SHARE EMOTIONS AHEAD OF THIS WEEK’S BRITISH OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

Jul 16, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Two legends of the game of golf, Gary Player and Tom Watson, who between them hold 17 Major Championship titles including eight British Open victories, both make very special and emotional returns to St Andrews this week for The Open Championship.

Gary Player visits St Andrews during a unique year for the Black Knight as he celebrates the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam and his 80th birthday. About the forthcoming Major, Player commented, “The Open Championship at St Andrews is something very special. It takes place at the Home of Golf, one of the most exciting places to be in the world for a golf tournament. In my opinion, The Open Championship is the most important of the four Majors. It’s the truest test of golf. And to be playing at St Andrews is a great thrill for all the competitors. There is no other atmosphere, maybe in all of golf, that equals it because of the age, the tradition, the history and the excitement in and around the little town of St Andrews where everyone gets involved. The people from the area are so welcoming to visitors from all over the world.”

Following his recent comments about Major Championship courses, Player said of this year’s British Open course, “The golf course is exciting, and this year I expect the scoring will be low. I have always enjoyed my time at St Andrews, whether during my playing days or when I come now as a fan of golf with my family. I truly admire The Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews for how they continue to grow the game of golf the right way.”

Player is not the only legend marking a significant British Open. Eight-time Major champion and winner of The Open on five occasions, Tom Watson will play in his final Open Championship at St Andrews. When asked how he expects to feel during this week’s Open, Watson said, “It will be a combination of celebration, sadness and emotional memories. Whilst I have not won at St Andrews - yet! - I’m honoured that this Open is at the Home of Golf. It’s extra special to be bringing my family and friends there.”

Immediately after this year’s British Open, Tom Watson will join Gary Player in making the journey down to Wentworth for the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational on July 20th to celebrate the “Union of Golf and Giving.” The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational forms part of the world-leading charity golf event series, which has raised more than $60 million for charities worldwide.

When asked what it means to Watson to participate in this year’s Berenberg Gary Player Invitational and raise money for charity during this special year for Player, Watson said, “Nobody has travelled more and worked harder than Gary has to promote golf and other things that are important to him, like charity, fitness and education. I’m also delighted to wish him a Happy 80th Birthday!”

An all-star field will come together for this year’s Berenberg Gary Player Invitational that includes previous Open champion Louis Oosthuizen as well as Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter, Colin Montgomery and Sam Torrance. With the addition of Major champions Padraig Harrington, Zach Johnson, Ian Woosnam, Marc O’Meara and Fred Couples, the field boasts 25 Major Championship wins.

In addition, other top players from the men’s and women’s game include Alexandra Peters, Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel, David Howell, Niclas Fasth, Suzann Pettersen, Ignacio Garrido, Branden Grace, Jason Dufner, Olivia Cowen, Marc Leishman, Charley Hull, Maria Balikoeva, Amy Bouldon, Carly Booth, Melissa Reid, Annabel Dimmock, Henni Zuel, Kelsey McDonald, Danielle Montgomery, Victoria Lovelady, Georgia Hall and Olivia Cowen. These talented players will be joined by celebrity guests such as DJ and presenter Johnathan Joseph and singer, songwriter and presenter Brian McFadden.

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THE UNION OF BUSINESS, GOLF AND GIVING

Jul 6, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

With a global worth of almost $100 billion, the golf industry generates more wealth than the GDPs of several countries, such as Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Honduras, Croatia, North Korea, and Uruguay. And at an individual level, Tiger Woods was at one point earning $8,637 per hole on the PGA Tour. There are untold riches in the golf industry. At the same time, golf is unrivalled in the world of sport in terms of its potential to give back.

Golf has long been the preferred game of the business world. A 2011 study quoted by The Economist found that business managers and directors who do not play golf are paid 17 percent less on average than those who do. Golf remains the most powerful networking tool in sport, and the pro-am is golf’s competitive advantage in terms of its ability to provide for the world No. 1 playing the same game with a major CEO playing off an 18 handicap. A billionaire cannot play rugby with the Springboks or basketball with the LA Lakers. But he can tee it up with career Grand Slam champion Gary Player in a competitive environment. And the personal contact these two can share over a four-hour round is priceless.

The world’s top professional golfers have the opportunity to generate incredible wealth through massive amounts of prize money, and then by endorsements that often dwarf this. It is exactly this wealth in professional golf that allows the sport to excel at giving back.  In 2014, the PGA Tour reached $2 billion in all-time charitable giving since its first donation in 1938.

The Gary Player Invitational series plays a major part in golf’s charity initiatives. It is one of the biggest and most global charitable initiatives in golf with events in Asia, Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Africa. At the 2014 tournament in South Africa, the fundraising drive from a glamorous gala dinner auction raised more than $300,000. And since 1983, The Player Foundation has raised more than $60 million for charity worldwide.

When a golfer such as Padraig Harrington attempts to make sense of the almost unfathomable wealth in professional golf, he often turns to this kind of charitable effect.

“You realise you’ve got to do your best to help out,” said Harrington, “even though you can’t change the world. But you can help. And then you realise that the best thing you can do is play good golf. If I play good golf then I can afford the time and the money to help others. Golf gives us that opportunity.

“Most professional golfers do something for charity, and what lies behind it is we’re very lucky. We’re out there and we’re earning colossal sums of money throughout the year. Prize funds have gone up so much. And to be able to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning, you’ve got to give something back.

“There is no doubt, in a practical sense you would suggest we are overpaid for our ability to hit a little white golf ball. We have to always realise the position we’re in and how privileged we are to be doing so well out of it. It would be hard if you just kept taking. It’s nice that you can give back.”

Gary Player has long recognised the value of golf to make a meaningful contribution to society, from the time he gave his cheque for winning the 1965 U.S. Open back to the United States Golf Association to use for junior golf development and cancer treatment and research programmes, to his establishment of a foundation that raises millions worldwide for children’s charities.

“I think the difference comes when you realise that what you have is really just on loan to you,” Player said. “Even the talent we have. It’s just on loan, and it can be taken away tomorrow. It’s happened in the game so many times. Great players just suddenly disappear overnight. But true success is judged by your relationship with your fellow human beings.”

As the recognised global ambassador of golf, Player has mastered the art of the charity golf day. So much so that Black Knight International attracts the support of one of the oldest banks in the world, Berenberg of Germany, as a partner of the Gary Player Invitational event in the United Kingdom. Player’s influence also allows him to draw in the support of the world’s leading professionals and other major benefactors, all with the shared aim of raising money for charity.

“It is all about the union of business and golf helping those less privileged,” said Player. “I want my epitaph to say, ‘Here is a man who was interested in his fellow man. And in education and health. And he bettered the lives of poor people.’

“Surely that is the greatest legacy a man can leave? I have been blessed to have the support of such great companies to help make this possible.

“We are loaned only so much time in our lives and it is up to us to use this time as best we can. I can think of no better way to do this than in service to my fellow man.”

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ALUMNUS WINS GARY PLAYER SCHOOL OF CHAMPIONS CLASSIC

Jul 3, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player School of Champions alumnus and Free State pro Louis Calitz dashed Michael Palmer’s dream of a fourth IGT Tour win this season with four potent shots at the first extra hole of a sudden-death playoff to lift the Gary Player School for Champions Classic title on Wednesday.

The Sunshine Tour regular teed it up at Kyalami Country Club to stay competitive during the break, but once he got a whiff of the lead through 12 holes, there was no holding Calitz back.

The 29-year-old Bloemfontein native birdied the closing hole to sign for one-under-par 71 and set the clubhouse target at three under 213.

He was ready for Palmer, who mixed five bogeys with four birdies for a 73.

The pair both missed the fairway at the par-four 10th, but while Calitz drove his tee shot just slightly left, Palmer leaked his into the trees.

“I had 74 meters to the pin and hit it to 8 feet,” Calitz said. “Michael’s second stayed in the trees and his third shot found the right greenside bunker.”

It was game over for Palmer and with two putts to win, Calitz lagged his first to an inch and tapped in for victory.

The former Gary Player School for Champions student was thrilled to win his former academy’s first tournament on the country’s premier development Tour.

“This is a pretty special victory for me,” said Calitz, who is adjusting well to his new digs in Sunninghill, Johannesburg.

“My coach Neville Sundelson and the Gary Player School for Champions are based at the World of Golf in Johannesburg and it was really fun to see some familiar faces here this week. I think it’s very special for the Gary Player School for Champions that someone associated with the academy won their first event on the IGT Tour.

“I have to thank Neville, my girlfriend Jacolene and my family for their unwavering support. There were a lot of Sunshine Tour pros competing this week. We all play the IGT Tour to stay competitive and sharp and the competition is fierce. It means a lot to me that I could pull this through.

“The IGT Tour has come on in heaps and bounds. It has become very competitive and the regulars and the amateurs really make us work out there.”

Article and picture courtesy of SuperSport

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GOLF LEGENDS COLLABORATE WITH THE GREENBRIER SPORTING CLUB TO DESIGN EXCLUSIVE NEW COURSE

Jul 2, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golf icons Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino are collaborating for the first time on one golf course design—an unprecedented architectural achievement in the history of building golf courses. This proposed mountain course, with dramatic elevation changes and spectacular vistas overlooking the historic Oakhurst Links course, will be the centerpiece of Oakhurst, the newest neighborhood planned for The Greenbrier Sporting Club Subdivision.

Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier, has brought together these four golf legends to jointly design a championship mountaintop golf course in the future Oakhurst development. His goal is to one day host a major championship, perhaps even a U.S. Open. On top of this ambitious goal, Justice hopes to service the members and honor the legacies of these four icons. The project, which is anticipated to include a modest private ski facility, will break ground in the next month, with the opening of the course scheduled for fall 2016.

“We’ve been friends and competitors for a long time, but most of all, we have all loved the game for a long time and I think that’s what’s important,” said Jack Nicklaus, who redesigned The Greenbrier resort’s Greenbrier Course in 1977. “So our goal is to create something unique at Oakhurst. I think having all of our ideas of how the game should be played combined into one golf course positioned right next to Oakhurst Links, where the game has its origins in our country, will be something very special and we will have fun doing it.”

“Jack, Arnold, Lee and I have been competing around the world on Tour for more than 50 years, and to be collaborating on this design at this stage of our lives is very special and exciting,” Gary Player said. “We all visited the beautiful site recently, and I have no doubt that together we will fulfill Jim Justice’s lofty goals for this project on not only the golf course but in creating jobs and supporting charities as well.”

“I have a particular soft spot in my heart for The Greenbrier—I was invited to play in the Sam Snead Festival, an unofficial pro-am at the resort, in 1955 which was my first year on Tour,” Arnold Palmer said. “Now, I’m looking forward to spending whatever time it takes to do a job for Jim Justice and The Greenbrier that will be an enduring and memorable contribution to golf. Jim wants the course to be a U.S. Open venue by 2023 and that’s our goal, too.”

“No four guys with those credentials have ever built a golf course together,” said Lee Trevino, The Greenbrier’s Golf Pro Emeritus. “It’ll be a unique challenge, but we’ll get it done. I’m OK with it, because all of my holes are going to be short par 3s, dogleg right. All joking aside, there’s no question in my mind that with this new golf course, The Greenbrier Sporting Club will be the greatest Sporting Club on earth.”

In addition to the new 7,500-yard, 18-hole mountaintop championship golf course, other planned amenities for the Oakhurst neighborhood and for future use by members of The Greenbrier Sporting Club include a clubhouse; dining facilities; a pro shop; an outdoor pool; ski and snowboard facilities; and fishing, hiking and biking areas.

The existing historic 9-hole Oakhurst Links course—the oldest golf club in America—will also be incorporated into this new planned neighborhood as part of The Greenbrier Sporting Club. Built in 1884 and purchased by The Greenbrier resort in 2012, Oakhurst Links is a 30-acre course, museum and clubhouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places and located just a few miles north of The Greenbrier. Conventional golf clubs are not used at Oakhurst. Golfers—often dressed in period golf attire—play with hickory-shafted clubs and hit gutta-percha balls off tees fashioned from sand and water, the way it was done more than 130 years ago.

Upon purchase of a membership in The Greenbrier Sporting Club, Inc., the private equity club and residential community set amidst the 10,000-acre estate of The Greenbrier, residents of The Greenbrier Sporting Club Subdivision also will have use and access to exclusive Club amenities and activities. Membership also provides access to more than 55 activities at The Greenbrier resort.

“It’s not often you are truly in the midst of history being made,” said Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier. “The collaboration of the four icons—Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino—is, without question, an incredible event to be happening in our great state of West Virginia. Additionally, bringing leaders of business from around the globe and an array of celebrities will bring added attention to our great state, along with business opportunities that result in jobs for our people.”

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MEXICAN GOLF MARKET DRAWS FOCUS FROM LEGENDARY GOLFER GARY PLAYER AND GARY PLAYER DESIGN

Jul 1, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golf icon Gary Player and Gary Player Design look to expand their rapidly growing international portfolio in Mexico, following their award winning success in La Paz, Mexico.

CostaBaja Resort & Marina, a 550-acre resort community situated on the Sea of Cortez, is home of Mexico’s first-ever Gary Player Signature golf course, which opened in the summer of 2010 and immediately made the resort a premier golf destination.

Best New Golf Course (Golf & Spa), Best Golf Course in Mexico (International Property Awards) and Best Mexican Experience, are a few of the many accolades the golf course received during the last five years. It also received a Certificate of Environmental Excellence by PROFEPA.

The world renowned golf course design firm plans to design new projects in Mexico with the help of Eric Marble, a Mexico site analysis specialist. Mr. Marble has helped several prominent companies establish a footprint in Mexico, including Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, Lowe’s de Mexico, Virginia Optoelectronics, Kor-Pak and Loreto Bay.

“I believe that Gary Player is the true international ambassador of golf, he is also a creative and intuitive golf course designer,” said Eric Marble. “I am pleased to be part of the Gary Player team and I look forward to leading the coming expansion of the Gary Player design brand in Mexico.”

With more than 350 projects tied to its name, Gary Player Design seeks to build upon their success, and bring the practice of environmentally conscious and sustainable courses to the country.

“Eric Marble has a reputation and network that will help us take our portfolio in Mexico to the next level,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. “The success of the Gary Player Signature golf course at CostaBaja Resort and Marina provides a foundation for establishing our design brand at other beautiful locations throughout the gorgeous country.“

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TOM WATSON, IAN POULTER AND LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN COMPLETE FIELD FOR BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Jun 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Black Knight International and title sponsor Berenberg have announced some fantastic new additions to the already spectacular line-up celebrating the “Union of Golf and Giving” at the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational on July 20, 2015, at Wentworth Golf Club in London.

The all-star field now includes eight-time Major winner and legend of the game Tom Watson, as well as The Open Champion and recent U.S. Open runner-up Louis Oosthuizen. The colorful Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter also makes a welcome return to Wentworth for the event.

Major Champions Padraig Harrington and Ian Woosnam are also added to field, as well as Hunter Mahan, David Howell, Niclas Fasth, Ignacio Garrido and the in-form Branden Grace.

Russia’s first member of the Ladies European Tour Maria Balikoeva and Victoria Lovelady are also new additions to a super strong Ladies’ line-up for this year’s event.

In addition, celebrity guests DJ Johnathan Joseph and singer, songwriter and television show host Brian McFadden will take part, as well as the previously announced, Jason Dufner, Suzann Pettersen, Charl Schwartzel, Marc Leishman, Charley Hull, Amy Bouldon, Carly Booth, Melissa Reid, Annabel Dimmock, Zach Johnson, Henni Zuel, Kelsey McDonald, Danielle Montgomery, Georgia Hall and Olivia Cowen.

It’s certainly a line-up befitting a massive year for both Black Knight International and Berenberg. As Gary Player explains, “This year I celebrate the 50th anniversary of my career Grand Slam and of course, my 80th birthday. Add to that our fantastic sponsor Berenberg celebrating their 425th anniversary and you have one very special year for the event. I’m overjoyed that so many stars are joining us in the Union of Golf and Giving at this historic time! We have already raised more than $60 million for charities worldwide and look forward to adding to that on July 20th at the historic Wentworth Club in London.”

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ORAL HISTORY: PLAYERS

Jun 25, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Nearing 80, South African golfer Gary Player - three-time Masters champion and winner of 165 professional tournaments - is one of the world’s most iconic athletes, but he depends on his 54-year-old son, Marc, to transform fame into fortune.

Their company, Black Knight International, designs golf courses, sells branded apparel and coordinates Gary’s appearances and endorsements. Here’s how they work together to build a legend’s legacy.

Marc Player

In the early ‘60s my dad was managed by Mark McCormack, the founder of IMG, who really created golf’s Big Three - ­Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Mark and various executives from IMG would bring opportunities to my dad, and that led to my interest in business. When my dad was getting towards age 50, the Senior Tour was really just starting. My dad was in such great shape that he was able to extend his playing period - he was still winning Senior Majors in his mid-60s. I’d spent most of my life around the golf industry, so I was in a position to say, “If Gary Player keeps playing well, I can parlay that into a real business.” 

Gary Player

I always wanted to be different from other athletes. I was interested in being better educated, I believed in speaking well, I tried to increase my vocabulary. But my business acumen was never much to write home about. It would have been wrong of me to try to tell Mark McCormack or my son what to do. But I could bring along common sense and a lot of experience in life.

Marc Player

In the early years, when we were getting the business going, it was difficult. I was about 24. I went to Dad and said, “Help me get a line of credit at the bank.” And he said, “Forget it.”

Gary Player

Marc has always had, like me, a very strong work ethic. He relieves me - it’s very difficult for an athlete to perform his tasks if he’s worried about what’s going to happen to his money. You’ve got to have a clear mind.

Marc Player

I went to McCormack and IMG. They said, “Your father has his name and his reputation and his time, and we don’t think he should be funding a business for you. If you want to do it, you should own it and fund it and take the risk.”

Gary Player

I get my share off the top. If anything goes wrong, he’s in trouble, so it’s his problem.

Marc Player

The entire business ownership, management, the hiring the firing - it’s all done by me and my executive team. If we do a $1 million endorsement deal, my dad gets a certain percentage off the top. And the rest of us have to manage and operate the business with whatever’s left over. As long as you don’t do anything to embarrass him, and you pay him his royalty, there’s no problem.

Gary Player

It fascinates me how big companies sign up an athlete and pay him an awful lot of money simply to have their name on his sleeve. Amazing exposure. Yes. But I can give a better service and more value to companies because I’m able to meet and entertain their guests, which is very difficult to do while you’re playing.

Marc Player

The weakness is that we rely on my dad to turn up for these things. So the next few years, while he’s fit enough and compos mentis, we need to align ourselves with a capital source that will allow us to build our vision of a luxury lifestyle brand. How do I take Gary Player and turn that brand into a business that’ll last 100 years, that our great-grandchildren will still benefit from? Can I go to Richemont or Kering or LVMH and say, “I think there’s value in that brand that you can build into an international luxury business?” We have 50 or 60 billionaires that we’ve built golf courses for - should I go to them and say, “Would you be an angel investor?”

Gary Player

We’ve got to do something substantial when we pass on. A lot of people forget. If you speak to a young boy coming up in college today, he doesn’t know the name Ben Hogan, who was the best player who ever lived - but he didn’t have anyone to carry on that legacy, not just in name but also in business.

Marc Player

What my dad did very well, and I hope I can do, is distinguish clearly between what is business and what is family. So I would come home for a family dinner, and I was just one of his six children.

Gary Player

I don’t think working with Marc has changed our father-son relationship in the slightest. Like your wife - you don’t agree with everything she does and says, but then you talk about it and you come to a conclusion.

Marc Player

I agree and I disagree. When I look at our larger family, I think that they all have benefited from the association that my dad and I have, and they by and large appreciate that. There is a way, with good communication, to sustain family businesses if everyone feels included, as opposed to feeling jealous.

Gary Player

You’ve got to be very careful because a father, or in my case Marc and me, we do well, we leave our children X amount, they live on it - but then they leave it to their children, who blow the whole damn thing. And also, don’t take it for granted that I’m going to leave you any money, because you might die before me.

Marc Player

My father is comfortable talking about these issues. I’ll say, “Dad how long do you think you’re going to live?” And he’ll say, “I’ll be disappointed if I don’t live to be 100, but let’s look at it in five-year increments.” Retirement? I don’t think that’s something that enters into my dad’s lexicon.

Gary Player

If you retire, you die. Here I am, enjoying life due to the fact that I’m so fit - the average guy of 40 couldn’t stand a chance against me in the gym. I really believe that rest is rust. When you start sitting down and resting you’re getting ready to go into the grave. You’ve got to get out of that chair and start living.


This article originally appeared in the June-July issue of Worth written by Richard Bradley
Pictures courtesy of Worth

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LIFE ADVICE FROM GARY PLAYER, ON AND OFF THE GREEN

Jun 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

South Africa’s Gary Player is one of only five golfers in The Masters era to have won all four Major championships, completing the career Grand Slam, which he did with a win at the U.S. Open in 1965 at St. Louis’ Bellerive Country Club. That was 50 years ago, and he’s still active in golf as a player, course architect, and ambassador for the game. Ahead of this year’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, we talked with the Black Knight about that legendary win, losing majors, and what’s ailing Tiger Woods.

Was your Grand Slam win your proudest moment on the course?

At that stage in my career, yes. Subsequently I would say, a moment that I think surpassed that was winning the grand slam on the Senior Tour.

Really?

There’s such naivety about the Senior Tour, how well the guys play. I’m the only one in the world who’s won the Senior Grand Slam. You have to do that after the age of 50. So there’s a reason why people haven’t done it. Nicklaus, Palmer, Trevino, Watson, all the guys tried — they couldn’t do it. Because they probably weren’t as fit as they were when they were 25 or 39. So I think that was the biggest achievement of my golf career.

What do you learn from winning?

I learned that the dedication and the sacrifices and what I went through is worth it. Having lived in motels for 60 years, being away from my family and country, my farm, the sacrifices that I had to make to become a world champion. When you win, what I’ve realized is it’s been worthwhile. Personal satisfaction.

What was your most difficult defeat?

One year I was playing in The Masters, and I had a chance to be the first golfer to win The Master’s twice in a row. And I was two shots ahead of Arnold Palmer, with three holes to go. And nine out of 10 times, you would win. And I hit the ball first, and I hit the ball 12 feet from the hole, on the 16th hole. And he hit the worst-looking shot you could ever wish to see, it wasn’t even on the green, it was to the right in the fringe. Nobody in the history of tournament golf has ever two-putted from there. And I said to my caddie — “We’ve won.” And he hit the ball around the fringe like this at 100 mph, because it gathered speed, hit the flag, and went in. [sigh] I missed my putt. The next hole, he hit a terrible drive into the Eisenhower tree. I knocked it way over the tree — he had a 5-iron in to about 28 feet from the hole. I hit it closer. In. [Palmer made the putt.] We tied. We went to an 18-hole playoff in those days, and he beat me. And that sticks out as the most unpleasant memory of my career. Because you go to your grave remembering that. Every time I would walk down that 16th hole, it was like a spook haunting me. And I say to myself, it’s a damn mirage. As the Scottish say, it’s ‘ne-possible’. He couldn’t do that. But he did it. And you can’t put it down to talent, it’s 100 percent luck.

What is the best advice you ever received?

You have to realize your body is a holy temple, and you have to be in shape for longevity, for productivity, and to excel and to be able to contribute to society. Look after yourself. Rest is rust.

Do you have any vices?

My one vice is that I eat too much of the biggest poison in the world: sugar. Dietitians all seem to have an opinion, and they vary on what is the right diet. I don’t subscribe to all these diets. But the one thing that is unanimous, they all say sugar is the poison. But I just love chocolate. Thank goodness I work out like a Trojan. That’s not an excuse, but it helps a little bit.

You’ve been married 58 years — how do you maintain your relationship?

You’ve got to work at it. I tell my wife every day how much I love her. And keep telling her how beautiful she is, even if she isn’t. Because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you’ve got to work at your marriage.

How should a man handle growing older?

Attitude. Growing older is purely a matter of mind and a matter of how you eat and a matter of how you exercise and your outlook, your attitude. Obviously you’ve got to grow older with grace, which is another thing you’ve got to keep teaching yourself. You see, you can be 80 years young, and 20 years young. I’m 80 years young.

Who should we be watching at the U.S. Open?

You ought to watch Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and Kevin Kisner. There are a host of young guys who are like mushrooms in the field waiting to be watered and nurtured into springing up and becoming champions. And we are in no position to be saying, “Who will do it?” Rory McIlroy has got the best swing, but Jordan Spieth is the best putter. I would love to see Phil Mickelson complete the Grand Slam.

What do you make of Tiger Woods today?

Let me put it this way, Tiger Woods, in my humble opinion, and I stand for correction, is confused. He’s had all these coaches and they’re all talking about something different. The man wins the U.S. Open by 15 shots, he’s on his way to annihilating every record, and he goes to a lesson after winning the U.S. Open by 15 shots, and from that day it went downhill. Not to be detrimental about coaches, but there are people who can coach the average pro and can coach the members and amateurs, but there are very few players who can coach the best player in the world. So he goes from coach to coach to coach, and he goes to bed every night saying “I’m the No. 1 player in the world, and I can’t hit a fairway with a driver. What the hell am I doing?” It’s enough to drive a man crazy. It’s demoralizing.

And then he has sleep deprivation, which he told me at the Masters this year. He said, “I sleep three hours every night.” That is fatal. That’s a big factor against him, but the man has got such gas in the tank and is the most talented man that ever played golf. That he wins tournaments not hitting fairways and being confused about the swing and still wins, you got to have some kind of talent. And we need him. Golf needs Tiger Woods to come back, very badly indeed. I wouldn’t be surprised if he never wins another tournament, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he never wins another major. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he won many tournaments and a major.That’s the kind of predicament were in because we’re dealing with a very different person than the normal person. And I hope that he comes back and he wins tournaments and majors. I hope that takes place because we need him. Golf needs him.

If you could only play one more round, where would you play and with whom would you play?

Mandela, Churchill, Mother Theresa, Lee Kuan Yew, and Billy Graham, because those are the people I admire most. And I’d pick St. Andrews, Scotland, because it’s the home of golf.

Article courtesy of Men’s Journal

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GARY PLAYER, 50 YEARS ON FROM GRAND SLAM, HOPES PHIL MICKELSON FINALLY JOINS CLUB AT US OPEN

Jun 16, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Phil Mickelson’s bid to clinch golf’s career grand slam will be one of the major stories at this week’s 115th US Open at Chambers Bay, in Washington.

Mickelson has finished a frustrated runner-up a record six times in his national open and, at age 44, is bidding to become the sixth player of the modern era to win all four Majors.

One man who would be thrilled to see Mickelson win at Chambers Bay is Gary Player, who will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of his own grand slam-sealing US Open championship victory at the year’s second major.

The nine-time Major winner, who went on to repeat the Grand Slam feat on the Senior Tour, talks about his 18-hole playoff victory over Kel Nagel at Bellerive Country Club in Missouri in 1965 at age 29. The South African also shares his thoughts on the likely winner of this week’s US Open.

This year’s US Open at Chambers Bay marks the 50th anniversary of your career grand slam. Can you take us back to Bellerive Country Club and share some of your memories of that week?

That week in Missouri was sweltering. It had long been on my mind to win the US Open, and I came to Bellerive with three major wins. Jack Nicklaus invited me to practice with him the entire week before. I told him I couldn’t because I needed the money from another tournament the week before in Greensboro, North Carolina, but he persisted and played a part in my winning the career Grand Slam before he did.

Like always, I did my homework. The great Ben Hogan was a master of preparation and always arrived a week early to get used to the local conditions. That played a big role because Bellerive was a massive course, well over 7,000 yards, which in those days was considered very long. In fact, I believe it was the longest US Open venue to date at that point.

I remember going each day to the local YMCA to work out. I was in the best physical shape of my life, but everyone thought I was a nut. Fitness was seen as a way to destroy one’s swing, not improve it. My, how things have changed since then. I also wore the same black shirt every day, and washed it myself every night and hung it over the shower rail to dry. A silly superstition perhaps, but it gave me a certain level of mental karma.

My favourite part of the week was when I made that final putt to win the US Open and become a grand slam champion. When Joe Dey, president of the USGA, handed me the winner’s cheque, I was able to fulfil a promise I made a few years before. I had told him that if I ever won the US Open, I would donate my prize money to two causes: the development of junior golf and cancer research.

You held a three-stroke lead over Kel Nagle heading into the final round but finished tied on two-over-par 282, forcing a Monday play-off, where you triumphed 71 to Nagle’s 74. What do you remember of the play-off?

I started the tournament well by shooting a 70, and found myself two shots off Kel’s lead. My 70 the next day left me with a one-stroke lead, and a 71 in the third round kept me in front. I had a three-shot lead with three to play, but my lead vanished after Nagle’s birdie on 17 that set up an 18-hole play-off on Monday.

What I remember best was that I putted superbly in that play-off. Most of the time it is the man with the great putting stroke that becomes a champion. I was up five shots through the first eight holes. I never looked back, and I won the play-off by a comfortable margin.

You became the first foreign-born winner of the US Open in 38 years and just the third player, after Gene Sarazen and Hogan, to achieve the career Grand Slam. With the hindsight of 50 years, what does the achievement mean to you?

Winning the career Grand Slam is my finest achievement in professional golf. I was the first non-American to accomplish the feat and 50 years later I remain the only one to do so. It was even more special because I was the first of the “Big Three” to reach this milestone. Jack was always a great sport about it, gentleman and friend that he is. From a young age, when I first turned professional, winning the grand slam was something I always wanted to achieve. I always worked extremely hard toward my goals but it was hard to imagine the feeling this accomplishment would bring. It was a surreal moment in my life, and I was honoured and grateful to have achieved it. There are so many great golfers that will never know what it feels like to win the Grand Slam, so I am thankful every day that God loaned me the talent to become a champion.

Who is your pick for this year’s US Open this week and does the links-like Chambers Bay heighten the chances of the big European hopes?

There is so much talent on the Tour today. Many of the players have a fantastic shot. The champion may come from any country, even if the links style at Chambers Bay certainly is an advantage for the European players and all other players who have had success on that style of golf course. It is hard to pick against Rory McIlroy because he has so much talent, and is playing so well. He has had tremendous success the past few Majors. Phil Mickelson has finished second at the US Open six times. I would like to see him finally break through and win the career Grand Slam.

Golf seems to be in great heart with so many young, fit players atop today’s leaderboards. As a fit-for-life advocate, are you impressed at how physically fit players are on tour now?

People used to think I was a nut the way I would work out during a tournament. Everyone said weight training would ruin my golf swing and shorten my career. I believed that fitness would give me an advantage, and it did. Being fit helps the mind, which is so important in golf. That is what gave me the advantage over Kel Nagle. I was 29 and in peak physical condition. He was 40. Being in top shape was my edge. If you don’t have to worry about getting tired on the back nine on Sunday and, in that case, a Monday playoff, then you remove a distraction. Today, fitness is becoming more and more a part of the game. The PGA Tour has a travelling gym with state-of-the-art equipment for players. I had to go to the local YMCA and train with rubber bands. Rory McIlroy certainly looks like he has been taking his fitness regimen very seriously. He is clearly dedicated to staying in shape. The top players in the world all seem to be taking fitness and diet seriously and I am happy to see it. It is here to stay.

It seems that golf has become a young man’s game. But will we ever see a super-fit 50-plus player win a major? Who might the ground-breaker be?

Golf is a game you can play until you can’t get out of bed in the morning. It will be interesting to see in the next 10, 20 or 30 years, with all the training players do, if the longevity of PGA or European tour players is increased well into their 50s. I expect to see a super-fit 50-year-old player win a major before I am gone. I don’t think it would surprise anyone if a 50-year-old Tiger Woods won a major. That’s only 10 years away. If he is at full health and strength at that age, watch out.

Article from Saadiyat Beach Golf Club

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BELIEVING AT BELLERIVE

Jun 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share


Gary Player was feeling quite confident Saturday afternoon at Oakmont. Heading into the final round of the 1962 U.S. Open – back then, it was a 36-hole final day—the South African was in perfect striking position, two strokes off the pace with just four players ahead of him.

Sharing his position on the leaderboard was a rising star with impressive amateur credentials but no victories since turning pro eight months earlier. Jack Nicklaus, then 22, was not Player’s primary concern that afternoon.

If anything, Player felt sympathy for Jack, who had to endure verbal barbs and derogatory nicknames from the gallery making fun of his then-hefty frame. “Treated him like a junkyard dog,” Player would recall later.

Rather, it was the name at the top of the leader board that had everybody’s attention. Arnold Palmer, tied for the lead with Bobby Nichols, was playing in front of his home crowd, and if he fed off their support, he’d be tough to beat. But Player was just the man to spoil the fun. With two Major wins already on his resume, he was used to this high-stakes pressure. Being in Palmer’s backyard just gave him more incentive.

And although Palmer’s iron-forged biceps showcased in tight-fitting golf shirts provided a silent source of intimidation, no one was more fit to play 36 holes on Saturday than Player. Fatigue would not be his undoing.

But perhaps fate was. It was not Player’s time that afternoon. His game didn’t respond, and he could not keep up the pace. He shot a 3-over 74, the worst score by any of the top seven players on the final leaderboard.

Jack Nicklaus had risen to the challenge. He forced an 18-hole playoff with Palmer for Sunday.

Nicklaus was now less than 24 hours away from the first of his 18 Major wins and a performance that ultimately became a pivotal one, not only in his own history but the history of golf. Player, meanwhile, was left to lick his wounds.

In the aftermath of his disappointment that Saturday evening, Player ran into Joe Dey, the executive director of the USGA. 53 years later, Player recalls the conversation.

“I said, ‘Mr. Dey, I’m going to win the U.S. Open one day. I thought I’d win it this year, but I let it slip. But when I win, I’m going to give all the money back, no matter how much it is. I’m going to give it all back to the USGA for cancer – my mother had died of cancer – and junior golf, which I love.’ ”

A month after Oakmont, Player won the PGA Championship, giving him the third leg of golf’s career Grand Slam. All he needed now was the U.S. Open. Win that, and he’d join Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen as the only players to complete the career slam. Do it soon, and he’d be the youngest.

When Player walked off the course that Saturday at Oakmont, he was 26 years old and in a hurry to become a legend.

It would take him three more years to get there – and to deliver on his promise to Joe Dey.

In the August 1965 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, Gary Player discussed why fiberglass shafts provided an advantage over the more popular and conventional steel shafts.

Player told the magazine that golfers could get the ball higher in the air, improve their backspin on iron shots to the green, and even gain a distance advantage off the tee. With a half-million glass fibers running longitudinally in each shaft, a golfer could get more torque, and thus more snap through impact.

To prove his point, Popular Mechanics asked Player to play 18 holes – nine with fiberglass shafts, nine with steel shafts. Player shot 34 with the fiberglass, 36 with the steel. The results seem to favor glass, the Popular Mechanics reporter wrote, but a single round can’t really tell the whole story.

For Player, the story in the summer of 1965 was this: He was using fiberglass shafts on his clubs, thanks to an endorsement deal with a company – Shakespeare—known more for its fishing rods. And no one had ever won a Major with fiberglass shafts. After all, glass was … well … prone to crack and break. Steel wasn’t, unless you snapped it over your knee.

“The shaft was thick at the top, thin at the bottom,” Player says now. “It used to go boing each time I swung.”

Using the shafts seemed unconventional, but that kind of approach never bothered Player. Plus, the endorsement money was pretty good. “They paid me a fortune,” he recalls. “Paid me $200,000, something like that. Unbelievable. In 1965, that was a lot.”

So as Player arrived at Bellerive in St. Louis for the 1965 U.S. Open, he had the most unusual clubs of any contender in the field. He also had a 16-year-old caddie named Frank Pagel on his bag.

Since USGA rules required contestants to use local caddies for the championship, it was a luck of the draw which caddie would be assigned to you. During practice rounds, Pagel’s twin brother Steve had carried Player’s bag. But when the draw came, Player just happened to pull Frank’s name.

Unproven shafts and young caddies aside, Player was feeling good about his chances that week. As usual, no one was in better shape – years earlier back in South Africa when Player was young, his older brother, prior to going off to war, made Gary vow to always exercise; it was a promise Gary has never broken to this day.

In fact, Player had never been in better shape. He had packed on 16 pounds of muscle and was now at 166 pounds and no longer a lightweight. “I was never so strong as I was then,” he said.

Mentally, he was just as strong. Player essentially was putting himself into a hypnotic state that week. Or as he described it, a form of self-hypnosis.

Each day when he arrived at Bellerive to practice, he would stare at a board that listed past U.S. Open winners. At the top was Ken Venturi’s name, in gold letters because Venturi was the most recent winner, having conquered the field and near dehydration at Congressional.

But Player wasn’t focusing on Venturi’s name or any of the others. He was imagining his own name on that board. Like golfers visualizing shots during a round, Player was visualizing success pre-round. He’d stare at the board and see his name. Gary Player. In gold letters.

Every day, Player also headed to a nearby Catholic church to pray. He prayed for courage. And patience. And the ability to accept adversity. But he never prayed to win. He didn’t want to push his luck – probably a wise move given that Player has never been a member of the Catholic faith.

Somehow, this weird confluence of events had him leading by two shots after the first 54 holes at Bellerive. The hypnosis was working. The fiberglass shafts weren’t breaking. No issues with the caddie. (40 years later, discussing his role that week, Pagel would tell reporters, “He was in such a trance I don’t think I could have done anything to bother him.”)

Meanwhile, the pot of local honey that Player kept in his bag at all times was giving him vital energy. He made sure to take a sip of honey at least every six holes. To this day, he remains a frequent consumer of honey.

Of course, the biggest factor was Player’s status as one of the three best golfers in the world at that time. The other two, of course, had been involved in the playoff three years ago at Oakmont, the tournament that still nagged at the South African.

For the first time at a U.S. Open, there was no 36-hole final day. Thanks to Venturi’s near-exhaustion the year before, the USGA decided to move the final round to Sunday, giving the players a chance to play at their best instead of sapping them of their strength. Would Player’s fitness advantage be negated?

It didn’t appear so. With three holes left in regulation. Player led Australian Kel Nagle by three shots.

But then Player double-bogeyed the 16th. Meanwhile, Nagle in the group ahead, birdied the 17th. A quick three-shot swing left them tied. Nagle parred out. The pressure was on Player to do the same.

“I had it in my hands,” Player recalls. “Now all of a sudden, I’ve got to go like crazy just to tie him.”

He did. The 18-hole playoff was set. Unlike three years ago, Player would be involved this time, and he would be the favorite. But five years earlier at The Open Championship, Nagle – who had never finished inside the top 10 of any Major—had pulled off a shocker to win. Could he do it again?

No.

It wasn’t even close. Nagle was 44 years old. Player was 29. Player practiced and played in black every day—he wore the same black shirt for every round that week—and was used to the heat. Nagle was shaky at the start and on the fifth playoff hole, hit two women in the gallery with two different shots.

When Nagle approached the first woman, who was lying on the ground, he turned to Player and said, “I feel awful, Gary.”

Player replied, “So do I.”

By the turn, Player was five strokes ahead. He eventually won by three.

It was the first time since 1920 that a non-American had won the U.S. Open. And it was certainly the first time a player with fiberglass shafts had won a Major.

“Julius Boros came up to me afterward,” Player says. “He told me, ‘I’ve just seen the all-time miracle – winning the U.S. Open with a fishing rod.’”

For the win, Player received $25,000. But he kept his word to Dey, who had presented the winner’s check to him. Player handed it right back, donating $20,000 to junior golf and $5,000 to cancer research..

Player also received a $1,000 bonus for participating in the playoff. He gave that money – along with an additional $1,000 – to Pagel the caddie. The $2,000 was, at the time, believed to be the most any TOUR pro had given his caddie for a single win.

In essence, it cost Gary Player $1,000 to win the U.S. Open that year. Money well spent, of course.

A few years earlier, Player couldn’t have afforded it. He had left South Africa with little money in his pocket to chase his golfing dream. The first time he played The Open Championship at St. Andrews, he had to sleep on the beach because he couldn’t afford the hotels. He finally found one for $1.50 a night.

But now he was an established star. This was the fourth Major of his career and the 10th of his PGA TOUR career. There were all those other wins around the world. And don’t forget that $200,000 from Shakespeare for playing with fiberglass clubs.

On the flip side, Player had a wife, six kids and their nurse, and he traveled with them as much as possible. “Going all around the world with them, very expensive for those times,” Player recalls. Asked about giving away all his winnings, Player replies, “Yes, I could afford it, he said, then added, “but I felt it.”

At 29, Gary Player had become the youngest of the three men who at that point had completed the career Grand Slam. But that distinction wouldn’t last long. A year later, Nicklaus won The Open Championship to complete his career slam at age 26. And in 2000, Tiger Woods completed his career slam at age 24.

Player calls Woods’ feat at age 24 the “greatest achievement in golf. Ever.”

Still, the fact that Player is one of just five members in that group continues to amaze him. “Beyond comprehension,” Player says.

Player would never win another U.S. Open, but ultimately he won nine Majors. After turning 50, he then began an assault on the Champions Tour (then Seniors Tour) Majors. He won nine more – and he remains the only player to win the U.S. Senior Open, PGA Senior Championship, Senior Open Championship and the SENIOR PLAYERS.

From his standpoint, that’s another career Grand Slam. And unlike the other career slam, there are no other members. That’s why he values the “Senior Slam” more than he does the regular one.

“Think about it – I’m the only man in the world who’s done that,” Player said. “I always put that ahead of the regular Grand Slam.

“A lot of people feel I’m nuts when I say that. But I go by what I feel.”

50 years ago, he felt he was going to win the U.S. Open. No doubt in his mind. He could see it, imagining his name on the winner’s board. He could feel it, the muscle packed on his frame. He could taste it, those sips of honey in his bag.

And luckily for Player, those fiberglass shafts never shattered once that week.

“A miracle,” he says now, a big smile crossing his face. “An act of God. You could give those shafts to Tiger Woods at his best and he couldn’t have won.

“It was destiny that week. Destiny. Without question.”

Article courtesy of PGATOUR.com

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GARY PLAYER, HE JUST GETS BETTER WITH AGE

Jun 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player is one of the greatest golfers in the history of the PGA Tour and one of just five players who have completed the career Grand Slam in golf along with Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen. He joined Ragz on In the Huddle to talk about his Hall of Fame career and to preview next week’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

Player loves the fact that Chambers Bay is hosting next week’s U.S. Open.

“I love links golf and I’ve always felt that the best overall test is on a links golf course.  So, that’s very exciting for the Northwest to have a U.S. Open.  What a thrill for people who really support golf.”

Player also talked about his strict workout regiment and how it’s working for him these days.

“I pushed 410 pounds with my legs the other day and I’m still doing 1000 crunches with 100 pounds on my chest the last 200.  I’m on the treadmill at max to keep my speed going.  Even though I’m 80 years young, I feel like I’m 30.  it’s vital to look after yourself. I’ll beat most guys in a contest unless he’s a gym jock.”

Player also gave his thoughts on the struggles of Tiger Woods.

“The fact that Tiger’s not playing like he used to, he’s gotten very confused.  He’s had all these different teachers and he’s a little bit confused at the moment.  Let’s hope he finds something that can give him the fundamentals that are necessary to win.  He’s got a lot of fuel in his tank.  We need him to come back.  And let’s hope he does.”

Take a listen to the phenomenal interview in the link below and be sure to catch the Huddle live from Chambers Bay next week.

http://www.750thegame.com/gary-player-he-just-gets-better-with-age/

Article courtesy of Eric Ringering

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A SPECTACULAR LINEUP OF GOLFING STARS CONFIRMED FOR THE BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Jun 11, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Black Knight International and title sponsor Berenberg announced a spectacular lineup of global golfing stars to take part in what is a very special year for the Gary Player Invitational series. The Gary Player Invitational takes place on July 20, 2015, at the historic Wentworth Club in London and celebrates the “Union of Golf and Giving.”

This is a big year for Gary Player and Berenberg as both celebrate significant milestones: Gary Player’s 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam along with Berenberg’s 425th anniversary.

An all-star field will come out to honour such remarkable landmarks and includes fellow legends of the game Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Marc O’Meara and Sam Torrance as well as leading tour players Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, Charl Schwartzel, Marc Leishman, Suzann Pettersen, Charley Hull, Amy Bouldon, Carly Booth, Melissa Reid, Annabel Dimmock, Henni Zuel, Kelsey McDonald, Danielle Montgomery, Georgia Hall and Olivia Cowen.

It’s an exceptional field which is recognized by tournament host Gary Player. “I’m absolutely thrilled that so many world-renowned players in the men’s and women’s game have gathered to participate in this year’s event and join in the celebrations of what is a very special year for me and Berenberg,” said The Black Knight. “I can’t wait to head to one of my favourite places in the world, Wentworth, to be amongst them all and help raise more money for this year’s fantastic charity, DePaul UK. I recently visited DePaul’s London-based Willesden Green Hostel for young homeless people so I know exactly what a massive difference the money we raise makes!”

Dr Hans-Walter Peters, spokesman of the Managing Partners of Berenberg, also commented, “We are glad to once again partner with the Gary Player Invitational and join together with Black Knight International and golfing stars from around the globe to raise money for this year’s beneficiary, DePaul UK. It’s a very special year for Gary Player and we’re adding to the celebrations as it’s our 425th Anniversary. It’s going to be quite an event and raise yet more money for those most in need.”

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational forms part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised more than $60 million for charities worldwide.

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METROPOLITAN GOLF WRITERS ASSOCIATION HONORS GARY PLAYER, NICK PRICE, MORGAN PRESSEL & RON SIRAK

Jun 10, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player was once the world’s No. 1 professional golfer. Now he’s even happier and fulfilled as a leading global philanthropist.

The 79-year-old, three-time Masters champion was honored Tuesday night by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at its 64th annual National Awards Dinner at the Westchester Marriott for his work promoting education for underprivileged children on four continents.

The Player Foundation, which was founded by his son Marc Player 30 years ago, has raised more than $60 million for that purpose.

“It’s more gratifying (than golf),” said Player, who won the Winnie Palmer Award, named after Arnold Palmer’s late wife, who was deeply involved in charity work. “I do believe in legacies but everything shall pass. I don’t live to have a legacy. It’s about what you do now.”

He termed education “The light.” And travel the “university of the world.”

Player recently won $35,000 in a 70-plus tournament playing with Jack Nicklaus five weeks ago. Along with Nelson Mandela, who went from apartheid prisoner to South Africa’s president, raised nearly $20 million together to educate poor, rural black South African children.

“He was a delightful human being, a son of God,” Player said of Mandela. “He had no vengeance. No hatred, only love for all people.”

The night’s other award went to Hall of Fame golfer Nick Price, who was also born in South Africa but was raised in Zimbabwe. Price, 58, who lives in Florida, received the Gold Tee for achievements exemplifying the traditions and spirit of golf.

“I got 1,000 times more than I ever thought I would out of it,” the British Open and two-time PGA champion said of golf.

Price, who was PGA Tour Player of the Year in 1993 and ‘94 and who last played on the PGA Tour in 2006, is now a part-timer on the senior Champions Tour.

He believes golf is in good shape but called for placing restrictions on clubs and balls, since technology has effectively shortened courses.

“The only thing I’m worried about is what the equipment is doing to old golf courses that have stood the test of time. That’s something that kind of needs to be addressed,” he said.

Also honored was LPGA player Morgan Pressel, who won the Bing Crosby Tournament Sponsor Award for her foundation’s fundraising to fight cancer.

The Lincoln Werden Golf Journalism Award went to Massachusetts resident Ron Sirak, a writer for Golf Digest. Sirak, who has covered golf for 28 years, remarked of golfers, “They’re the most accessible athletes in any sport. … People say, ‘You write about golfers.’ I say, ‘I write about people who happen to play golf.’ “

The Mary Bea Porter Award went to Lauren Child, a North Greenville University golfer, who darted from a South Carolina golf course to help give CPR to a man who’d suffered a heart attack.

The 116-year-old Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association, which in part promotes girls junior golf, received the Distinguished Service Award. Additionally, Glen Oaks in Old Westbury was named club of the year.

Article courtesy of Nancy Haggerty
Pictures courtesy of The Journal News

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THE BLACK KNIGHT AIMS TO PRODUCE SA’S TIGER

Jun 8, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Internationally renowned South African golf icon Gary Player cherishes the dream that his golf academy will produce the country’s first black champion in the mould of Tiger Woods.

Although Woods has recently been out of form, the world’s former top golfer undoubtedly has an impeccable record and still ranks among the world’s most successful golfers.

The legendary Player, who turns 80 in November, has a distinguished record that includes winning nine major championships on the Regular Tour as well as nine majors on the Senior Tour during his career as a professional golfer.

The veteran this week told City Press his aim was to see more up-and-coming black golfers benefiting through the Gary Player School for Champions. The academy is located in Johannesburg at the World of Golf and connected to the SA Golf Development Board, which unearths talent from various townships.

Player said he was concerned about the country’s lack of top black golfers.

Vincent Tshabalala was the country’s only black player to win big on the European stage when he captured the French Open title on the European Tour way back in 1976.

The Alexandra-born Tshabalala, who is now 73, currently plays on the Champions Tour.

James Kamte, who plays on the Sunshine Tour, was destined for a great future internationally after he captured the Asian Tour International in Thailand in 2009.

But the Eastern Cape-born player is now battling to regain his form.

Nonetheless, Player believes his dream to see his academy produce more black champions is certainly achievable.

“It’s sad to realise that there has not been any black winners on the European stage since Vincent.

“My dream is to see the academy produce at least one or two black champs hopefully in the mould of Tiger before I die,” said Player.

He is convinced that the Gary Player Golf Academy is the perfect conduit to nurture local talent.

“We identify young players from 13 regions throughout the country.

“From the 200 players that we have, we must find at least a few who can be developed into the golfing stars of tomorrow,” he noted.

Player sees himself and Tshabalala as the country’s golf ambassadors, as they both made their mark in Europe.

He said the school was working hard to produce professional players who could become the next generation of South African golf ambassadors.

Player added that it was disheartening to see talented professional players who did not take their careers seriously – and their talent was inevitably wasted.

“There are too many golfers with potential, but their talent is destroyed because they don’t take the game seriously. They don’t work hard, practice, make the sacrifices necessary to be a champion.

“We want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he explained.

The SA Golf Development Board is also doing its part to unearth and nurture golf talent.

Darryl Edges, who is a member of the SA Golf Development Board, said the organisation’s programme was helpful to golfers.

“Our Gary Player programme deals with 2,500 children, whose number will be pruned down to approximately 250. From there we’ll get a 13-member elite squad originating from 13 regions – and ultimately the best players,” Edges explained.

Article courtesy of Sport24

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GARY PLAYER LEADS TRIBUTES TO CHITENGWA

Jun 8, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golf icon Gary Player led the special tributes to Zimbabwean golfer Lewis Chitengwa (Jnr), when he was posthumously inducted into the Mercedes-Benz Southern African Golf Hall of Fame at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa recently.

Player — who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of golf — said Chitengwa’s induction alongside southern Africa’s golfing greats was a clear reminder that Africa could produce a black world-class player in the mould of Tiger Woods.

Chitengwa — who passed away 13 years ago — while playing in the Canadian Tour, was recognised for his immense contribution to golf during a glittering ceremony attended by numerous golfing legends.

“I really want to see us produce the next [Tiger] Woods. And we can do it. There is a man standing here today, from Zimbabwe whose son Lewis was on his way to being that champion,” Player said.

“In fact, he beat Woods twice in America. He won the Gary Player Orange Bowl Tournament in America that is named after me. He was a collegiate champion in America, which is an unbelievable effort. He was playing the Canadian Tour and died at the age of 26. Well we will meet him in heaven one day and I can tell you he’s the leading money-winner up there right now,” he said.

In 1992 the younger Chitengwa defeated Tiger Woods head-to-head in the final round of the Orange Bowl junior championship, and a year later became the first black golfer to win the South African Amateur Championship.

A two-time All-American college career followed at Virginia before he turned pro. But in 2001, only 26, Chitengwa died in tragic circumstances.

Showing flu-like symptoms after the second round of the Canadian Tour’s Edmonton Open, Chitengwa Jnr slipped into a coma and died from a rare and deadly form of meningitis.

Lewis’ brother Farayi, who attended the induction ceremony together with his father Lewis Muridzo (Snr) and other family members said they were touched by the support shown by the southern African golfing community.

“It was just unbelievable,” Farayi told Standardsport. “The support from everyone there was just amazing. There were people who had travelled from different parts of the world, from Canada, USA among others to witness his induction. As a family, this means a lot because it shows that although Lewis is gone, he has left a legacy and the whole world is still remembering him,” said Farayi.

Canadian national Alan Rae, who first met Chitengwa (Jnr) in Vancouver while he was representing Zimbabwe in the 1992 World Amateur Team Championships aged just 17, also shared his experiences with the late golf prodigy at the gala ceremony.

“In 1992 Nick Price asked me to take care of the Zimbabwe men’s team competing in the Eisenhower Cup played in Vancouver, in particular the youngest member of the team, Lewis who was just 17 at the time. We became instant friends and Lewis finished 22nd in the event.

“While Lewis was at the University of Virginia he would spend part of his summer holidays with me and my family in Vancouver and became a member of our family.”

Rae also recounted the touching story of Chitengwa’s 1993 SA Amateur Championship victory, which is often referred to as the African golfing equivalent of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s colour barrier.

“To exemplify the character of Lewis I will tell you a private story Lewis shared with me one day. When he arrived at East London Golf Club in 1993 to play in the fabled South African Amateur, he was denied entry to the club’s entrance by a gentleman who said that caddies had to enter though the back entrance,” Rae said.

“Lewis politely insisted that he was a player and not a caddy but the gentleman insisted caddies had to enter at the rear.

Lewis was incredibly well brought up by his mother and father so he entered through the rear entrance and the rest is, as they say, history.

“He became historically the first black man to win the South African Amateur. People flocked from far and wide to witness this accomplishment and when Lewis encountered the gentleman who denied him entry and who now wanted everything to do with him, Lewis politely shook his hand and thanked him for his hospitality,” said Rae.

Article courtesy of Daniel Nhakaniso

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THE WHOLE SPORTS WORLD HAS CHANGED SINCE HORSE RACING’S LAST TRIPLE CROWN

Jun 5, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

American Pharoah’s Saturday try for the first Triple Crown since 1978 has motivated me to learn the quirky spelling of pharoah. But that’s not all.

It also sent me back to 1978, the last time a horse, Affirmed, won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in one year, to find the other big sports stories of that year. Rather than merely counting the years that have passed since then, here’s a more interesting method to measure how much has changed.

Allow me to show you the money.

In 1978 Gary Player won the Masters. In addition to a green jacket he won $45,000.

Compare that to Jordan Spieth’s $1.8 million payday for winning the 2015 Masters.

In January of 1978 the Dallas Cowboys won the Super Bowl, earning a winner’s share of $18,000 for each player. The losing Denver Broncos got $9,000 each.

The most recent Super Bowl paid $97,000 to each of the winning New England Patriots and $49,000 to each of the losing Seattle Seahawks.

Chris Evert had a great season in 1978, leading the women’s tennis tour with $454,486 in winnings. Last season Serena Williams was the WTA leader with more than $9.3 million.

As for the Belmont, first-prize money of $110,580 went to Affirmed’s owner in 1978. Not sure what it will be Saturday, but the 2014 Belmont first-place check was $800,000.

Here’s the weird part. I was making next to nothing, minus taxes, of course, when I started working here at the newspaper in 1978. All these years later and my wife is still clipping grocery coupons. Oh, well, at least I’ve got a big-screen TV to watch the Belmont.

As for American Pharoah, I’ll believe it when I see it, even though there are only eight horses in the field.

Funny Cide finished third in a field of six at the Belmont Stakes in 2003 when a victory would have meant the Triple Crown.

Article courtesy of Palm Beach Post

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2015 WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONY TO AIR LIVE FROM SCOTLAND

Jun 5, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum announced that its 2015 Induction Ceremony, which is being staged Monday, July 13, 2015 in St Andrews the week of The Open Championship, will be televised live on Golf Channel in the U.S. (1 p.m. EDT) and on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom (6 p.m. GDT).

In addition, well-known television reporter and presenter Diana “Di” Dougherty will emcee the ceremony, which will induct the 2015 Class: Dame Laura Davies, David Graham, Mark O’Meara and the late A.W. Tillinghast.

“This year’s World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is historic on many levels,” said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. “We are very proud of this year’s Induction Class, and it is a tremendous honor to broadcast the ceremony live to a global audience from the Home of Golf in Scotland. We also can’t think of a better person than Di to be part of this ceremony. She has the experience, on-camera charisma and is a true golf aficionado.”

Dougherty brings more than a decade of experience in the golf and television industry as the ceremony’s emcee. Her television career began in 2005 as a Sky Sports News presenter. Since then, she has become a prominent golf and television figure, conducting live sports interviews and covering Major Championships around the world. Dougherty was the front-woman for “Golf Night” and currently hosts “Game Changers” on Saturday mornings alongside co-host Darren Campbell.

“I am thrilled to be part of such a prominent event within the golf world,” said Dougherty. “Membership into the World Golf Hall of Fame is truly the highest honor in golf, and I look forward to bringing the celebration to life in St Andrews.”  This marks the first time the World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony has been held outside the United States.

The move is part of an expanded biennial schedule for the Induction Ceremony and highlights the Hall of Fame’s ongoing strategic efforts to elevate its awareness and prestige around the world. That schedule includes returning to World Golf Village for the 2017 event, which will be held the Monday of THE PLAYERS Championship week. In 2019, the Induction Ceremony will move to Pebble Beach, Calif., and be staged on Monday of U.S. Open Championship week.

Article and picture courtesy of the WGHOF

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PLAYER ROOTING FOR HISTORY AT BELMONT

May 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion American Pharoah is trying to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. Less than one week from today, the world could witness history.

The 147th Belmont Stakes is scheduled for June 6, 2015. This year’s race proves to be very enticing for all lovers of sport, especially for those immersed in the racehorse world like legendary golfer Gary Player.

For the Black Knight, breeding and racing thoroughbreds is a passion. The Gary Player Stud Farm in the Great Karoo of South Africa is known for producing outstanding racehorses. The secret is in the dirt. Natural Karoo veld is renowned for its rich elements and high calcium content, ideal for growing strong-boned and resilient athletes. The Karoo has the perfect climate for breeding top-notch racehorses, which has been proven by the stud farm’s ability to produce an average of 12 percent stakes winners per crop.

Player is excited to see what could happen this coming week at Belmont.

“Winning the Triple Crown will be an outstanding achievement for everyone involved,” said Player. “It is one of the toughest tasks in all of sports. There have only ever been 11 Triple Crown winners. When someone has a chance at Belmont, there is a different aura around horseracing. Everyone gets interested and excited.”

American Pharoah, the 3-year-old undefeated colt, has a chance to become just the 12th Triple Crown winner, and the first since 1978.  In the last 25 years, there have been 10 instances where horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown but failed to win at Belmont.

The most recent attempt was last year, when California Chrome finished in a tie for fourth in the Belmont. In 2012, I’ll Have Another won the first two legs but was scratched from the Belmont with a leg injury. In 2008, Big Brown did not finish the Belmont, also due to an injury.

The longest of the three Triple Crown races, Belmont is often referred to as the “Test of the Champion.” It is also the oldest of the Triple Crown events. The race began in 1867 at Jerome Park, New York, and it has continued to attract the strongest athletes in the horseracing world ever since. Winners are given a blanket of white carnations, the traditional flower of the Belmont Stakes.

The Triple Crown is equivalent to the career Grand Slam in golf. Both have many similarities, and are unrelenting tasks that test one’s strength physically and mentally. But perhaps the career Grand Slam is more rare. There are only five golfers that call themselves Grand Slam Champions. Player is one such champion, but that doesn’t lessen his enthusiasm for seeing yet another champion break into either select group.

“I am involved in two of the best sports businesses in the world, horseracing and golf,“ Player said. “I am not a gentleman farmer. I get up at 5 o’clock in the morning to shovel manure, and I do the whole damn lot. The horse business to me is a disease of which I hope to never be cured.”

Picture courtesy of AP

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FOR GARY PLAYER WINNING NEVER GETS OLD

May 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Global golf icon, Gary Player, has shown once again why he is one of the greatest golfers of all time by winning the Greats of Golf team competition during the Insperity Invitational. This Champions Tour event took place at The Woodlands Country Club outside Houston, Texas.

“It was unbelievable how we played together today,” said Gary Player. “It was so much fun, and the gallery was so enthusiastic. It really was a fabulous day.”

The team of Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino stirred memories of their reign atop the golfing world, finishing with a two-shot win. Their 13-under finish was good enough to edge out from behind the team of Tony Jacklin, Don January and Dave Stockton. The trio jumped out to a lead after the third hole, thanks to a long birdie putt, and never looked back.

With the win, Player has now won 166 professional golf victories during his extraordinary career that spans seven decades. Player is no stranger to winning this event. In 2012, the team of Player, Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer won the inaugural scramble showdown with a score of 10-under-par 62. Palmer is struggling with his health and could not make the reunion.

“When we play in these tournaments, everyone wants to win,” Player said. “We thrive on competition. It helps to be playing on a team with guys who also are super competitive. And it helps that they are some of the greatest golfers this game has ever known.”

The exhibition, which featured a trio of three-man teams playing a scramble format over 18 holes, was integrated into second-round play of the Insperity Invitational in 2012. Nine all-time golfing greats teed off during the Champions Tour event. This tournament showcased a rare field where the game’s greatest legends shared laughter and competition throughout the day.

For the past four years, thousands of fans have lined the fairways to watch one of the year’s most entertaining golf events. And for good reason. How often do you see a team that boasts a combined 33 Major victories?

When the event was first formed in 2012, it was thought to be potentially the last gathering of the greats of the game. “Basically, I just went to them all and said, ‘Hey, I’d like to get the band together one more time,’” said Bryan Naugle, Insperity Invitational Executive Director. “Saturday has become the highlight of the week for many of our fans, who are able to see current stars on the Champions Tour compete in the same day. It is also one of the highlights of the year for the players involved because they get to spend a couple of days together in a very relaxed atmosphere.”

As a whole, the Greats of Golf players carried a wide range of impressive accolades onto the course, which included six World Golf Hall of Fame members, more than 300 PGA Tour victories, more than 50 Major Championship titles and more than 150 Champions Tour wins.

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN’S FANCOURT CELEBRATING MILESTONE YEAR

May 21, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share


Gary Player Design’s Fancourt golf course in George, South Africa, is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year.

Fancourt is an internationally sought-after golfing destination, with three Gary Player designed golf courses and some of the best facilities in the world. It is marking the occasion with a tribute to 21 unique milestones that have contributed to the success of the Garden Route’s leading golf destination. All three Fancourt courses boast numerous awards from many global publications.

The Links has been ranked among the World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses, and was ranked the No. 1 course in South Africa by Golf Digest in 2014. It has hosted several prestigious international events over the years, including the Presidents Cup in 2003, when Gary Player was Captain of the International Team against Jack Nicklaus’ US Team. The Links also is ranked in the Top 100 by Golf World. In 2011, the course received a 5 star ranking from the Compleat Golfer. Golf Digest ranks both Outeniqua at Fancourt and Montagu at Fancourt as a Top 100 golf course in South Africa.

“I feel a genuine affinity for Fancourt having been involved from day one as a designer of the original course,” said Gary Player. “This is home to perhaps my greatest achievement as a golf course designer.”

The Links also achieved Audubon Co-operative Sanctuary status in 2011, awarded by the international Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, for its commitment to the environment and preservation of the wildlife on the property.

Fancourt also ranks among its highlights its efforts to assist disadvantaged communities in the Southern Cape through various successful, long-term community outreach projects.

Georgie Davidson, CEO of Fancourt, says, “2015 is an exciting year for Fancourt, with the celebration of our 21 year anniversary throughout the year. To honour the legacy of the past 21 years, a special emblem (XXI) was created and we salute the special people and events that contributed to the incredible journey that has shaped the Fancourt estate, and ushered it into a new era of service excellence.”

Article courtesy of Hotel and Restaurant

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CUT THE BALL TO COMBAT THE BIG HITTERS

May 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

There are rumours that Augusta National officials have bought additional land with the intention of lengthening some of the holes in the future, potentially pushing one hole more than 600 yards. At the moment this is nothing more than hearsay, but it brings up an issue that will come to the fore again when The Open is played at St Andrews this summer – the issue of length and how far the golf ball travels.

While I find this quite exciting, I also find it quite sad because a lot of places in the world follow what Augusta does. Something has to be done to halt this terrible trend where golf courses are being made longer and longer. The expense that comes with longer courses, from fertilizer – which doesn’t do the ground any good in the long term – to costly machinery, extra man hours and, most importantly, water usage, is catastrophic.

The water situation in the world is becoming chronic, particularly in places like the Middle East. It’s only a matter of time before the municipalities will come along and say, ‘You’re using 800,000 gallons of water on your golf course. From next year on, you’re only allowed to use 400,000.’ We can’t keep going the way we are at the moment.

Now, the Augusta membership is a powerful group, and it would be a wonderful start to a new era if these Augusta tournament officials would approach the golf ball companies and say, ‘Instead of us making the course longer and longer as time goes on, could you cut the distance of the balls by 50 yards - just for the pros for this Masters tournament?’ The result would phenomenal.

The cost of changing the mold of a golf ball is insignificant compared to the architectural and construction costs of changing golf courses all over the world to keep up with this craving for extra distance. It would be a great trend if Augusta would say, ‘It’s up to you to stop manufacturing balls that travel so far.’

Augusta is losing its teeth. People might argue that we’ve got to allow for the fact that golfers are much stronger nowadays. Well, I would argue the case that the golfers are definitely not stronger than the time when I played. No way. Are you going to tell me they’re stronger today than Nicklaus? Palmer? Snead?

Those guys were stronger than anybody playing on Tour today. So it’s got nothing to do with strength – it’s got everything to do with equipment.  Of course, it’s important to state that the equipment companies are vital. They are a key aspect to helping the game grow at the amateur level. However, at the top level there is a problem with the ball going too far and it’s having a trickle-down effect around the world.

Our leaders in golf are not using their vision. They are sometimes inclined to act like ostriches with their heads in the sand and say that everything is OK. But when The Open Championship comes to St Andrews in July, on a calm day, there are players in the field who can drive at least six greens on the par-4s. Just look at Bubba Watson. He hit a driver and then a 9-iron over the green at the 15th at Augusta. With that in mind, I must ask: Where is the game going? Wait until the players are built like LeBron James and can drive it 450 yards. That day is closer than you think.

I watched the two-time World Long Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski at one of our Gary Player Invitationals hit 10 drives more than 400 yards. That means he can drive through the green at St Andrews on the first tee. That’s crazy! If the R&A were to invite Sadlowski to hit a few drives off the first tee and let the world see that he can make the green with this technology, it would wake the world up. The state of the game is not fine. Golf really is in trouble.

At first glance, professional golf may look as though it’s never been so healthy. There is first prize money of more than $1 million around the world every week. This will inspire young giants, instead of going into football or basketball, to go into golf. Golf takes less out of you and guarantees more longevity.  Your average professional footballer retires at around 35 years of age. Your average professional Tour player is reaching his peak at the age of 35. He can play on at the highest level into his late 40s and then look forward to a career in senior golf into his 50s and 60s.

In other sports, you have to retire because you’re physically not able to compete at the top level. Your career probably lasts around 15-17 years.  In golf your career can stretch 40 years.

There’s a tsunami coming at us, and we’ve really got to pay attention if our beloved game is to thrive and prosper into the future!

Article from World Wide Golf

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GARY PLAYER THRILLED WITH BUFFALO BICYCLE

May 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

On Tuesday, 12 May, Qhubeka presented golf icon Gary Player with a one-of-a-kind signature Black Knight Buffalo Bicycle to thank him for his part in raising almost R5million for the non-profit.

Qhubeka founder, Anthony Fitzhenry, presented the bicycle to Gary Player at his farm in the Karoo. “Today I felt like a kid on his birthday!” said Gary Player. “Thanks, Qhubeka for this fantastic bicycle.”

Qhubeka is a South African non-profit organisation that helps people to move forward and progress by giving bicycles in return for work done to improve communities, the environment or academic results. Having a bicycle changes people’s lives by increasing the distance they can travel, what they can carry, where they can go and how fast they can get there. Qhubeka is World Bicycle Relief’s programme in South Africa.

Fitzhenry commented, “No other athlete in the history of South Africa has given more to charity. Thank you, Mr Player! Gary Player is a champion on the golf course and a champion for human kind!”

The South African Gary Player Invitational (GPI), presented by Coca-Cola, which features Major golf champions, celebrities and top-flight businessmen rubbing shoulders on the fairways, has raised funds for Qhubeka since 2012. An innovative partnership between Coca-Cola, Qhubeka and Wildlands aims to support the Wildlands Waste-preneur project rollout (community members who barter waste for livelihood support items), through the introduction of a Coca-Cola Buffalo Bicycle. The bicycle is bartered for recycled plastic and PET bottles, with a view to incentivising the collection of these materials.

“At Qhubeka our focus is on mobilising people with bicycles because we believe that bicycles can change people’s lives, whether it’s by helping them to access economic opportunity or get to school safely and quickly,” said Executive Director of Qhubeka, Sarah Phaweni. “Qhubeka is thankful to Gary Player for his support. By including Qhubeka and Wildlands as one of the beneficiaries of the Gary Player Invitational, Gary Player has highlighted the need to get more people on bicycles.”

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PLAYER IMPRESSED WITH YOUNG TALENT ON PGA TOUR

May 14, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Rickie Fowler’s victory last week at The Players ignited a conversation that suggests that along with Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, golf may be on the verge of a new “The Big Three,” similar to the famous rivalry among Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

“There is an incredible amount of young talent right now on the PGA Tour. I am not sure people fully realize what a magnificent effort it will be if one of them wins the career Grand Slam,” said Gary Player. “I had hoped Rory McIlroy would win The Masters this past year and join myself, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only golfers ever to win all four Majors. I believe all three of these young men have the talent to do it.”

On Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy conceded the possibility of a prolonged rivalry.

“We had the ‘The Big Three’ in Arnie, Jack and Gary. Even years ago we had Phil [Mickelson], Tiger, Vijay, Retief Goosen, and Ernie Els, that was a pretty good group as well,” he said. “The potential is there. We could be fighting it out for tournaments for the next 15, 20 years. It should be fun.”

McIlroy – who won his first PGA Tour title at Quail Hollow in 2010 and finished second here two years later – also addressed the growing trend of younger champions on Tour.

“The amazing thing about this group of players is that we’ve come on Tour and we’ve been ready to win from the start,” the world No. 1 said. “A lot of guys have come out here and it hasn’t taken them long to learn how to win. We don’t play maybe with as much fear as some of the rookies used to in the past.”

However, this young trio has their work cut out for them to match The Big Three. Player, Palmer and Nicklaus have won a combined 34 Major championships and more than 400 tournaments throughout their careers. At nearly 80, Player and Nicklaus are still winning tournaments. All three are members of the inaugural class of the World Golf Hall of Fame. If McIlroy, Fowler and Spieth come close to matching The Big Three’s accomplishments, golf fans are in for a real treat the next few decades.

Article courtesy of Golf Channel

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YOUNG GOLFERS FITNESS, TRAVEL & EQUIPMENT INTRIGUE GOLF ICON GARY PLAYER

May 12, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

It’s easy to see a shift happening in the balance of power around golf. The young guys no longer fear the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Jason Day come to mind when thinking about the future of the game. Is there a Grand Slam champion in that group? I think so. Looking at the early achievements of this generation’s young golfer, I feel equipment, fitness and travel have played a significant role in their success.

Golf has changed dramatically since I turned professional 63 years ago. Today, the ball travels 50 yards farther, and the shafts are made with the same material used on spaceships. It’s hard to compare two completely different eras of golf because the technology surrounding the game has come such a long way. Imagine if Bobby Jones didn’t have to play with clubs that were a step above broom sticks. Or if Ben Hogan had played on today’s pristine greens and shot from bunkers raked to precision by machines?

As though ushered in with the new technology, there has been an influx of young talent recently. It’s exciting to watch a young group battle for the title of the best in the game. Our world No. 1 is 25 and now our world No. 2 is only 21. But I don’t believe it is too difficult for everyone – no matter what age – on the PGA Tour today to get motivated when you are playing for $1 million prizes every week.

It also seems everyone has a private jet to take them from tournament to tournament. That has to make the travel easier than it was when I first started. I was at Augusta National a few years back on the 11th tee and one 22-year-old tour pro said to me, “What kind of jet do you have?” I told him I don’t have my own jet. I did have one years ago but I got rid of it because it was so expensive. I mean, it was like having three wives, and that means you have three mother-in-laws. The pro replied to my lack of jet ownership by saying, “Oh, my life has changed since I got my own jet.” He was just 22 years old! I thought, Man, times have really changed.

In the early to mid-1950s, traveling became a big part of my career. For the vast majority of my career, you had to win to make a living. I went just about anywhere to play. The South African Tour was still in its infancy and I did not think I could earn enough money to support my family only playing in my home country. I remember 40-hour trips from South Africa to the USA in a small Constellation airplane flying 28,000 feet high in storm clouds. And I thought I was traveling in high style.

Together with my willingness to travel, being fit was one of the most important factors in my success. It allowed me to be a better golfer and a more mentally focused player as well. I was not the most naturally gifted player of my generation, but I was the fittest and best prepared – that was my edge. When you prepare your body and mind to become a champion, you will become a champion.

Today, fitness has become a part of the game. The shift in attitude towards diet, health and physical well-being and away from the belief that golfers do not have to be in good physical shape to win is fantastic for the game and golfers alike. I believe that we are now witnessing a permanent and positive change towards the beliefs that I have had about golf fitness and health for many years.

I had hoped Rory McIlroy would win The Masters and join myself, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only golfers ever to win all four Majors. Rory takes such good care of himself and was raised well by his parents. He is the type of person you want representing this sport. I am not sure people fully realize what a magnificent effort it will be when Rory wins the career Grand Slam. When I completed my Slam at 29, I said to my wife that you will never see that done again. Then along came Jack Nicklaus at 26 and then Tiger at 24. Rory is only 25, and I honestly believe he will do it.

Jordan Spieth has such an unbelievable future ahead. Right now, he is the best putter in the world. Everybody always talks about the great swings of the Tour. The man with the great putting stroke is always the man to beat in the end. Spieth may be one of the best putters the world has ever seen, and his maturity is quite remarkable.

What I am waiting on is to see an absolute freak athlete decide to dedicate his life to golf. We haven’t had a big man really play golf. Wait until we get a LeBron James type of player. I don’t know what they will do with golf when he arrives. There will have to be many changes. Look at Bubba Watson, he hits a driver and a gap wedge to the greens on Par 5s with relative ease. It’s not going to be long until everyone is hitting the ball 400 yards. You will then see things people have never dreamt of.

Article from Golf & Turismo

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RORY DETRACTORS ARE MISSING THE POINT

May 8, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Last month’s Masters Tournament was an occasion to savour Jordan Spieth cruising to his first Major title in the fashion of a true champion. I was surprised to see that Rory McIlroy didn’t really break into contention, but then not many players did, such was the performance from young Spieth.

Although Rory finished fourth after a superb 6-under-par final round, he was six shots behind Spieth’s total. Some poor putting let McIlroy down in the early rounds, and his charge to join the elite list of Grand Slam winners never really got going.

I was surprised to read in the press after The Masters that some distinguished commentators in the game are worried Rory McIlroy might be exercising and working out in the gym too much.

First Tiger Woods bore the brunt of this form of criticism when he burst onto the scene as a true athlete back in the late 1990s. Now they’re moving the focus to Rory, whose physique has changed drastically – and for the better – since he came to the fore a few years ago.

The fact that Rory is No.1 in the world means he can’t be doing too many things wrong. He wasn’t far off at the Masters – he just didn’t putt as well as Spieth. Of course, no one else was able to touch Spieth on the tough greens at Augusta National.

What are the people who should know better talking about? Here I am, in my 80th year, and yesterday I lifted 410lbs with my legs. I did 1,000 crunches and completed the last 200 with 100lbs on my chest. I’m almost 80 and my golf game is getting better, as I’m averaging 70.

Now, of course, some people who don’t believe in exercise are overweight and are going to condemn diets and working out because they have no idea of the benefits. This is mindboggling to me. How can anyone condemn exercise when the world is becoming more and more obese? Our foods have steroids, antibiotics and hormones in them – it’s cheap poison. This is what we should be condemning.

We are blessed that we have people like Rory and Jordan and Justin Rose – these fine young gentlemen and ambassadors of this game. They are excellent role-models.

They don’t use bad language, and their behaviour is exemplary. One shining example of their dedication to the game is what Rory is doing for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open through his Foundation. Golf in Ireland has been on a recent resurgence with Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory all wining Majors, so it’s good that the DDF Irish Open is gathering the support the tournament deserves.

With Rory and his Foundation now benefitting from such excellent sponsorship, as well as from the support of top players confirming their participation, it’s going to be one of the strongest fields the event has ever had.

I’m sure the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be an outstanding event that will hopefully inspire and encourage even more youngsters in Ireland to start playing the game.

Article featured in World Wide Golf

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GARY PLAYER CELEBRATES GRAND SLAM GIVING WITH DEPAUL UK

May 6, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The year 2015 has much cause for celebration for legendary golfer Gary Player, as he celebrates both his 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam victory. Today (Wednesday, 6th May 2015) Player arrived in London to embrace this amazing year and to continue his union of golf and giving by visiting DePaul UK, a charity that works tirelessly to prevent youth homelessness.

Gary Player visited DePaul UK’s London-based Willesden Hostel, a long-stay hostel providing accommodations and specialist support for young homeless people between the ages of 16 and 25. At the hostel, young residents are provided with secure accommodations and assistance that helps them effectively develop life skills and establish a routine in their lives.

The Black Knight met current residents of the hostel, took a tour of the fantastic accommodations and learned more about the services offered with DePaul CEO Martin Houghton-Brown and Berenberg Head of Equities, David Mortlock, before joining in a number of fun activities such as a hole-in-one putting challenge.

It’s fair to say Player was given quite a reception, as he described, “It’s been fantastic to come and see how the money we raise through the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational is put to such amazing use by DePaul UK. I could not have asked for a more special reception by these miraculous young people at Willesden Hostel and I’m honoured to be able to help such an amazing charity.”

CEO of DePaul, Martin Houghton – Brown further added, “I am delighted that the golf legend, Gary Player visited DePaul’s Willesden House today to meet with young people at risk of homelessness. His commitment through the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational to supporting young people in the UK is exceptional. Every young person DePaul supports has a dream, and I hope that meeting a Grand Slam Champion will inspire each of them to achieve their dreams, for family, friends and a great job. Who knows, maybe after today some of them will even go on to become sporting legends themselves.”

The 2015 Berenberg Gary Player Invitational will take place at its now regular UK home of Wentworth on July 20, 2015.  An all-star cast of PGA Tour professionals from around the globe will participate in the event along with Player himself to celebrate the union of golf and giving.

David Mortlock, Berenberg Head of Equities commented, “It’s wonderful for Berenberg to continue our partnership in a year which is so significant for the golfing legend that is Gary Player. And it is also very special for us as Berenberg celebrates its 425th anniversary. This year’s event looks set to be a very special one and we look forward to raising yet more money for The Player Foundation and Berenberg Kids whose principal UK beneficiary is once again DePaul and who I had the pleasure of visiting today alongside Mr Player.”

Images courtesy of Burilson Photography

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN’S MODRY LAS REVEALS FRESH LOOK FOR 2015

Apr 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Modry Las Golf Club was officially opened by Gary Player and Poland’s Vice Minister of Sport and Tourism, Adam Giersz, on July 4, 2009. In 2015, the club is bursting into the new golf season by unveiling its newly redesigned logo and launching its eco-friendly property offering.

The Gary Player-designed course has been awarded numerous international accolades, including being named Poland’s Best Golf Course at the inaugural World Golf Awards last year, and is set to open three stylish Swiss-designed self-catering cottages and six course-side Garden Suites.

Modry Las has released details of the 130 residential plots that are now available to purchase either alongside the Gary Player-designed championship course or overlooking one of the two spring-fed lakes framing the property. With a minimum of 1,000 square meters assigned to each plot, the resort’s International Marketing Director said the launch of the new logo had been timed to highlight the development of the spacious and eco-friendly residences.

“From the outset, Modry Las was intended as the centerpiece of a unique resort incorporating a contemporary residential community underpinned by sporting excellence,” noted Pamela Gromadzki, International Marketing Director. “We took this model and developed it by incorporating environmentally friendly policies that would minimize the impact on the landscape and ensure the resulting homes would feature the latest eco-technologies such as triple glazing, ground-source heat pumps and cavity wall insulation.”

The first onsite show home has been constructed at Modry Las by specialist German eco-friendly house builder HAAS following the designs of a Swiss architect. Showcasing energy saving features such as under-floor heating and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, the HAAS eco-friendly homes can be built in just three months thanks to innovative and pioneering precast building technologies.

“Modry Las, and the countryside that surrounds it is unique,” Pamela Gromadzki continued. “Our absolute objective has been to create an international resort that surpasses people’s expectations of golf in Poland and, more importantly, blends into the beautiful scenery that surrounds it. The property opportunities that now exist at Modry Las achieve this aim, which is also reflected in our new logo.”

Since its launch six years ago, Modry Las has evolved to keep up with the demands and needs of the times. Last year it launched a clean, user-friendly website. This spring it follows in its contemporary path with a fresh logo.

The logo is more than simply a redesign. It represents a larger objective: the creation of a residential resort offering a healthy lifestyle built around leisure and sport.

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GOLF LEGENDS GARY PLAYER & JACK NICKLAUS IMPRESS FANS, COMPETITION AT BIG CEDAR LODGE

Apr 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The legendary duo of Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus gave a spirited effort that earned them second place in the Legends division of the Bass Pro Legends of Golf tournament at Big Cedar Lodge. The event took place from April 24 to 26 in Ridgedale, Missouri.

No other team could quite match up to their accolades, both golfers being career Grand Slam champions with a combined 27 Major championships. This was one of the rare events where spectators saw two of the game’s greatest players, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus, still competing. You also could see the competitive fire in their eyes and hear it in their voices before the tournament began.

“This is a field filled with outstanding talent,” said Gary Player. “Nothing has changed regarding the competitive nature during tournaments. Our goal is a first place finish.”

“First of all, we came here to win a golf tournament. That’s what we’ve done all our lives. That’s what we have fun with. That is our fun,” added Jack Nicklaus.

After a morning rain delay, the World Golf Hall of Fame team shot a 3-under-par 51 at the Top of the Rock course on Friday to be tied for third going into the second day of play.

“I didn’t think we’d play this morning, but the next thing I heard we were. It’s nice to see players and fans come out and support us with weather like this,” said Player.

Playing at the Buffalo Ridge course during round two, the pair shot a 66 and found themselves tied for second with Butch Baird and Al Geiberger at the end of the round.

The Sunday round at Top of the Rock featured nine holes of better ball on the par-3 course. The duo had a bogey-free round with two birdies, good enough to clinch a 9-under-par second place finish in the tournament.

“It was a very exciting week, a very interesting format,” Player said. “I think golf needs more of this.”

Soon, a Gary Player designed unique short course, dubbed the Mountain Top course, will premier. The course is designed wholly for the likes of juniors who are new to the game and executives who would like to play golf but don’t have time for a five-hour round. It’s set up to be a very family friendly course at a top-notch golf destination.

“It is good for children and others just learning the game to play short courses,” Player said. “We are excited to build upon this already magnificent golf destination in the Ozark Mountains. Our design team is extremely proud to create a user friendly course for everyone to enjoy at Big Cedar Lodge. The setting is just outstanding.”

Pictures courtesy of PGATour.com

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BLACK KNIGHT’S ANNUAL SOUTH AFRICAN BRAAI NOW A STAPLE OF MASTERS WEEK

Apr 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Black Knight International’s annual South African Braai has become legendary in its own right during Masters Week in Augusta.

What started out as a small gathering of family and friends has transformed into a lively event that brings together people from all walks of life. Family, friends and assorted guests – from Corporate partners like SAP, Rolex, Callaway and Berenberg to critically acclaimed trick-shot golfers to military veterans – meet in celebration of golf’s greatest international player, Gary Player. This year’s braai was particularly special as The Player Group is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Black Knight’s career Grand Slam and his 80th birthday in November.

Guests had the opportunity to eat food with a distinctly South African flare, make new friends and spend some quality time with one of golf’s true greats.

And for South Africans, there is no better setting for a celebration than a braai. Now, even though the Afrikaans word “braai” means “grill” or “barbecue,” a braai is so much more than an American barbecue. Gone are the hotdogs and gas-grilled hamburgers. Instead, a rich selection of meat, fish and chicken populated the charcoal grill as flames danced under the careful attentions of Chef Nigel Smith and his UK crew.

In fact, you better not let a gas grill anywhere near a traditional braai. Food is cooked over open flames on grills with wood or charcoal acting as fuel. And the food present at this celebration of cultural heritage ranges from boerewors sausage, kebabs, marinated chicken, prawns, and fish.

Some of the favorite food of this year’s braai included boerewors sausage (most often a mixture of pork, lamb, or beef and spices), jumbo garlic and lime prawns, babotie South African curried lamb, herb and lemon fish pacels, soy and garlic glazed spare ribs, a grilled salmon board, crab claws and a wide variety of desserts.

Tradition is very important at a South African Braai. Men usually are the cooks at braais, and no one should interfere with the duties of the cook in charge unless asked to assist. The casual social event, oftentimes taking place in a pot-luck format, is appropriate for any occasion and aims at bringing together South Africans of all backgrounds, despite race or religion. The setting is normally a relaxed atmosphere that allows guests to savor the food and company.

To enhance the cultural experience, Black Knight International serenaded the crowd of nearly 300 with Vusi Sidney Mahlasela Ka Zwane, a Sotho South African singer-songwriter. His music is generally described as African folk and he is often dubbed as “The Voice” of South Africa. His poet activism began in his teenage years while growing up in the South African township of Mamelodi, an area famed as a cradle of culture which has produced many of South Africa’s greatest musicians and writers. With his incredible guitar playing abilities and soulful voice, Vusi captivated the audience with songs such as “Say Africa.”

“We look forward to our South African Braai during Masters Week every year,” said Marc Player, Founder and CEO of Black Knight International. “Having a braai to honour my dad, and to bring a little bit of South African culture to The Masters is something that is truly special. We hope to continue this tradition for years to come.”

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NEARING 80, PLAYER AS FIT AS EVER

Apr 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player’s exercise routine resembles that of a professional athlete in his prime rather than someone of nearly 80. But with a nickname like “Mr. Fitness,” it is not surprising that his fitness level is unmatched by his peers and younger competitors.

Player has always been an uncompromising advocate of fitness, health and diet as well as a longtime proponent of golfers being considered athletes.

“Eating properly and staying in top physical shape have been the keys to my success both on and off the golf course,” said Player. “At nearly 80, I am still as energetic as I was in my 30s.”

The Black Knight fought the naysayers all through his career. The common adage in his early years as a professional was that golfers should not lift weights in fear of over-developing their bodies and resultant swing changes.

“The prevailing logic was that a muscle-bound golfer would lose the natural flexibility that allowed him to swing the club,” Player said.

“I was convinced this was hogwash, and that by combining weight training and other exercises with endless practice on my golf game, I could become stronger while maintaining the flexibility necessary to play championship golf. To say that people thought I was crackers would be to put it mildly, but I proved them wrong.”

Today, similar to 60 years ago, his daily fitness routine lasts for one hour and is the first thing he does at the beginning of the day. While traveling, however, the workout must often come at the end of days packed with engagements, meetings or rounds of golf.

During the week of the 2015 Masters after a day of practicing and playing golf, talking with the press, signing autographs and attending various functions, Player was eager to hit the gym.

I had the opportunity to join in Player’s workout sessions during Masters Week and left the gym amazed, exhausted and motivated.

At 6 feet 3 inches tall and 225 pounds, this 26-year-old found it difficult to not only match each repetition from Player, but also equal the high intensity level that gave him an edge over every competitor he faced. This week, I was his competition. The fiery golf legend was unrelenting to his young employee.

His workout routine consisted of various types of leg, lower-back and neck stretching, sets of one-legged squats, 1000 mixed crunches (the last set done with extra weights), several core exercises, weighted wrist roles, sprints on the treadmill and the most amazing thing I have ever seen in a gym – 10 sets of 325 pound leg presses.

It was simply remarkable.

By the time the hour-long workout concluded, I was lying on the floor drenched in sweat and nearing an out-of-body experience. Player wanted to keep going. I watched from a distance as he continued to coach a few gym rats about proper technique. The man seems to have unlimited energy.

I thought he could not top that performance, and maybe he tried to show off a bit. That was until he told me on the ride back that he would increase the weight later in the week. At this point, I believed him and sure enough he did.

At the next workout session, he leg pressed 400 pounds and amazed a crowd of soccer moms, meat-heads and young aspiring athletes who had gathered around to watch the Black Knight in his other element outside of the golf course, the gym.

And of course, he did not mind stopping his workout to take pictures and give a few fitness and health tips to the starstruck members of Evans Fitness Center.

“Eat properly, exercise regularly and be thankful for all of your blessings,” exclaimed Player. “Every morning that is the first thing I do!”

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1965 US OPEN WINNER PLAYER TO BE HONORED IN ST. LOUIS

Apr 27, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Next up on golf’s Major championship menu is the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. And like the recently completed Masters Tournament, the national championship entertains the possibility of a career Grand Slam being consummated.

At The Masters, Rory McIlroy had the chance. McIlroy has won the U.S. and British Opens, as well as the PGA Championship. If he can add a Masters he will join the Fab Five to capture all four majors in their careers — Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

McIlroy’s pursuit was a big story coming into Masters Week, but Jordan Spieth was the story coming out.

At the U.S. Open on Puget Sound in Washington, Phil Mickelson once again has the slam in play. When Mickelson won the 2013 British Open, it gave him three of the majors and left the U.S. Open as the missing link.

Problem is, it’s the U.S. Open, where Mickelson has finished second six times, where he always stays at Heartbreak Hotel.

In his first attempt at the “improbable quadrilateral” last June, he finished 28th at Pinehurst. If he can get over the hump at Chambers Bay, he will become the sixth member of Grand Slamma Jamma.

The circumstances in this year are especially appropriate for St. Louis. The 2015 U.S. Open marks the 50th anniversary of the 1965 U.S. Open at Bellerive Country Club. That championship was unique in a number of ways, and the last U.S. Open to be conducted in our town.

Most prominently, it was where Player made the final installment on his Grand Slam and secured his place among the greats of the game. To that end, Greg Maracek’s St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame will recognize Player and that historic week when it presents “The Legends of Golf” program Monday at Chaminade Prep.

Along with Player and Bellerive, the awards show also will honor Nick Price, who made the 1992 PGA Championship at Bellerive the first of his three Major titles. Longtime St. Louis golf professional Dick Shapier also will be recognized. All will be on hand to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. In addition, the Jay Randolph Achievement Awards will be presented to local players who have won area golf association events over the past year.

Player and Price will be in town after competing at the Champions Tour Legends of Golf event in Branson, Mo. over the weekend. At 79, Player remains devoted to fitness and conditioning and looks remarkable.

Perhaps he will wear the same shirt he wore at Bellerive in 1965 — the one he washed in his hotel room each night — the one he wore each day of the competition.

The Bellerive course was just more than five years old when the national championship came calling in ’65. Once located on the grounds occupied by the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the club moved to its present location at Ladue and Mason roads in 1960.

Highly regarded architect Robert Trent Jones designed the new layout, with long, turning fairways and humongous greens. It would take years for the grounds to mature. In ’65, some fairways still looked like rippled washboards, as the lines of new turf were still filling in.

The course was set up at 7,191 yards, the longest in championship history to that point. But it didn’t play especially long. As is often the case here in June, the conditions were hot and parched that week. Covering the event for the Los Angeles Times, legendary correspondent Jim Murray called the environment “18 holes of capital punishment.”

Player had won the 1961 Masters, 1959 British Open and 1962 PGA when he came to Bellerive. Two months earlier, he had tied for second at the ’65 Masters. He credits his longtime rival and friend for getting him focused on Bellerive.

“I have to give Jack Nicklaus a lot of credit for my win because he told me, ‘If you want to win, you better come with me a week early and get in a practice round and familiarize yourself with the golf course,’ ” Player recalled when he was in town a few years ago. “I didn’t normally do that and I wasn’t planning on getting there that early. But I took his advice and it really wound up working to my advantage.”

Along with the historic nature of Player’s performance, a number of things made that ’65 U.S. Open special. To that time, the USGA jewel was conducted over three days, featuring a 36-hole finish on Saturday. The marathon finale often produced roller-coaster drama and come-from-behind stories. Ken Venturi’s epic 1964 win in the heat at Congressional was a prime example.

But for a number of reasons, not the least of which was television, the USGA adopted a new four-day format at Bellerive, featuring the 18-hole finale Sunday. Moreover, the ’65 U.S. Open was the first golf tournament to be televised in color.

Coincidentally, St. Louis Country Club had conducted the first televised U.S. Open in 1947. At that time, KSD (Channel 5) had one camera involved, located on a truck behind the 18th green, sending images to the station via telephone wires. At Bellerive, the production included 75 people and more than a dozen cameras.

In those days, the USGA required competitors to use local caddies for the championship. Player’s looper was Frank Pagel, a 16-year-old sophomore at now-defunct Mercy High. Player required Pagel to carry a jar of honey in the bag, which Player used to deal with the oppressive heat.

“Every two or three holes or so, he would take a swig of the honey,” Pagel recalled years later.

The 29-year-old Player had a three-shot lead over Australian Kel Nagle with three holes to play. Nagle, who passed away last January at the age of 94, was the 1960 British Open winner. When Player double-bogeyed the par-3 16th, Nagle birdied No. 17 to create a three-shot swing in one fell swoop. Both finished at 2-over-par 282 to force a Monday playoff.

If you listen closely, you can still hear the moans coming from the press tent.

The 18-hole extra proved anticlimactic. An erratic Nagle hooked a drive on No. 5 that bloodied the forehead of an unsuspecting woman. Rattled by the scene, Nagle hit a spectator in the leg with his next shot and made a double-bogey on the hole.

Wearing that shirt for a fifth consecutive day, Player birdied three of the first eight and led by five at the turn. The ballgame was over and the South African became the first foreign-born player to win the U.S. Open in 38 years. Even more noteworthy, he became only the third player at the time – with Sarazen and Hogan – to complete the Slam.

One of sports’ greatest gentlemen, Player donated $5,000 of his $25,000 first-place check to cancer research (his mother died of cancer) and the rest to the USGA to advance junior golf. Player also tipped Pagel $2,000, which had an income value of close to $30,000 by today’s standards. Pagel used the money to purchase a motorcycle so he wouldn’t have to thumb it to Bellerive anymore.

No doubt Pagel’s motorcycle is long gone. But 50 years later, Player is still going strong. It will be great to see him again. Maybe he’ll be wearing the same shirt.

Article courtesy of STLtoday.com

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LYDIA KO LEANS ON LEGEND GARY PLAYER IN BID TO AVOID BURN-OUT

Apr 22, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Convincing Lydia Ko to take more time off is so important to her coach David Leadbetter that he’s enlisted the advice of golfing royalty Gary Player.

The nine-time major winner will preach a balanced lifestyle, regular breaks and an outside hobby to the world No. 1 New Zealander who Leadbetter worries is at risk of burn-out.

All the greats, Leadbetter said, have had a hobby.

“Player has his thoroughbred horse breeding on his ranch,  Jack Nicklaus had fishing and Annika [former world No. 1 and women’s great Annika Sorenstam] had things going on away from the golf course.

“I was with Gary in Hawaii. We called Lydia – I think we woke her up actually. I just said, ‘Someone wants to talk to you,’ and handed him the phone.

“He’s astounded at the talent level. He wants to see her, play with her and work with her to hopefully pass on some of his experience. He knows how to get it done over a long, long time.”

Just how well even a week off can work for the 17-year-old could be made clear this week.

Ko, who turns 18 on Friday, will defend her Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic title in the US on Thursday (Friday NZ time).

The event is a special one for Ko. Not only will she celebrate her 18th birthday during the second round, but the event is the first LPGA Tour tournament she won as a professional.

So important is it to the two-time New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year that she had the date of the win tattooed on her wrist.

In seven LPGA starts this season, Ko has a win, two runner-up finishes and three more top-10s. She also won the New Zealand Open again.

But some of the deepest motivation may come from her last start. Ko finished in a disappointing tie for 51st at the ANA Inspiration. She ended her streak of 29 consecutive under-par rounds, but more worrying for her was the fact she was never really in contention.

It was her worst finish in 13 majors.

Leadbetter blamed fatigue, saying she was flat throughout.

Ko’s goals when she turned 17 a year ago were to win a Major and become the world’s No. 1 player. She achieved the latter at a canter, but a Major still eludes her.

It will only be a matter of time before she ticks that achievement off her list. The overwhelming belief is that it is matter of when, rather than if, it happens.

But should she play well this week, having spent some time away from her clubs. That might be a lesson as good as any even someone like Player - with nine majors on the regular tour as well as nine majors on the senior tour and nearly 200 professional wins - can teach her.

Article courtesy of Stuff.co.nz
Picture courtesy of 3news.co.nz

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HALL OF FAMERS PLAYER & NICKLAUS HEADLINE OFFCIAL FIELD FOR LEGENDS OF GOLF

Apr 20, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share


The final field has been made official for this week’s Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge event, with 14 current members of the World Golf Hall of Fame leading the way.

The names that will get the most attention are unquestionably the team of Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus, who have 27 majors between them and do not compete regularly on the tour these days.

The last time they were seen, they were serving as The Big Three of the honorary starting group (with Arnold Palmer) at The Masters.

“There’s nothing better than having Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus,” tournament director Kirk Elmquist said. “Two of the greatest of all time, two great Major champions, and to me, the two most internationally recognized golf names, alongside our friend Arnold Palmer, that we could have.”

They are joined by fellow Hall of Famers Lee Trevino, swashbuckling fan favorite Chi Chi Rodriguez, Missouri natives Tom Watson and Hale Irwin, Larry Nelson, Hubert Green, Tony Jacklin, Sandy Lyle, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Nick Price and Colin Montgomerie.

In addition to those 14, 2015 inductees David Graham and Mark O’Meara will be competing.

Those 16 players account for 63 major championships on the PGA Tour. All chasing part of the $2.8 million purse for the event.

And even with all that success, Elmquist said you’ll see a group of players who are mature, down to earth, eager to interact with fans and are thankful for the opportunities they have. Maybe more so than much of the current crop of youngsters on the PGA Tour.

“I know I’m different than I was 10 years ago, and I imagine you try to get more wisdom the more and more laps you get on the track,” he said. “I think these gentlemen certainly exude that.

New names at the tournament this year include Lee Janzen, fan-favorite Jesper Parnevik and Montgomerie. Parnevik is a newcomer to the tour as a whole — he just turned 50 and became eligible for the Champions Tour on March 7.

“You’ve got the beginning of the new chapter in Champions history,” Elmquist said. “That’s going to be fun to watch, to see someone at age 50, here and striking the ball like he was on the PGA Tour a month ago. That’s going to be exciting to see.”

Davis Love III, a big name on the PGA Tour and who was recently picked to lead the U.S. Ryder Cup team at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minnesota, in 2016, is a late scratch in the field. He was confirmed to attend and play, but recently had surgery and was forced to withdraw.

The unique team event on the Champions Tour, which starts with practice rounds on Monday at Buffalo Ridge and Top of the Rock courses south of Branson, features two divisions. The Champions Division is a 54-hole competition that is played in a two-man, better-ball and modified alternate shot format, and the Legends Division is the same format, covering 45 holes and for players ages 65 and over.

Legends Division champions Jim Colbert and Jim Thorpe will be back to defend their title, and the Champions winners from last year will be back — but on different teams.

Fred Funk was battling an elbow injury earlier this year, so Jeff Sluman had to make other arrangements and lined up Tom Lehman as his partner this year. Funk will be able to play, and will be teamed with Eduardo Romero.

Article courtesy of Springfield News-Leader

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A VOTE FOR PUNTER

Apr 16, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

What is it about cricket that appeals to you?
The excitement of facing fast bowlers. Once, in a school match, King Edward, my school, played St John’s. They made 212 all out, and we found ourselves at 80 for 6 when a guy called Ralph Hoffman and I surpassed their total facing their fast bowlers.

I also loved the camaraderie among team members and travelling to matches together. And, not unlike golf, you need to ensure you have a good game plan in order to win consistently.

What has been the best cricketing moment you’ve watched?

Sir Garry Sobers becoming the first batsman in 1968 to hit six consecutive sixes in an over.

You won honours at many sports, including cricket. Why did you not pursue cricket?

I did receive honours for several sports and won the Victor Ludorum trophy for the best allrounder at school. But I realised golf was a sport that I could play professionally forever - and being small of stature I knew I would last longer!

Who is the best cricketer ever?

Definitely Donald Bradman. I saw him every year I went to Adelaide in Australia. He loved golf and I would give him a set of my used clubs whenever I saw him.

The most exciting cricketer I watched was Sachin Tendulkar. He was certainly the best batsman. And of course our own Jacques Kallis - he was one of the best allrounders ever to play the game.

What golf stroke do you think batsmen can utilise to their advantage?

A straight drive past the bowler, and also the cover drive. It’s much like the drive in golf - weight through the ball and follow through.

Lots of cricketers play golf as a second sport. Have you seen anyone decent?

Yes. Sir Ian Botham, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Brian Lara and Kapil Dev have all played in my GPI events and they’re great competitors and players. But best of them all was Ricky Ponting, who I really thought could make it as a golf pro.

Article courtesy of TheCricketMonthly.com

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LEGEND GARY PLAYER SLAMS MCILROY CRITICS FOR ‘HEIGHT OF IGNORANCE’

Apr 10, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

That the sprightly South African is reaping the benefits of a life devoted to full fitness and good health was clear on the first tee at Augusta National yesterday as he joined Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer to strike the opening shots of the Masters.

Each year, legendary former Masters champions are invited back to Augusta to act as honorary starters, leading in recent years to the establishment of another tradition, in which Player invariably hits the ball further down the first fairway than his two venerable friends.

Quite apart from his 85 years, Palmer is recovering from a dislocated shoulder, so he did well to make a swing, never mind propel his ball forward.

Yet Nicklaus, at 75, is four years younger than Player, and a good 10 yards shorter off the tee.

Still committed to a rigorous daily fitness regime, South Africa’s Black Knight was the pioneer and remains the champion of golfers who also take pride in being athletes.

So it came as no surprise when he sprang angrily to the defence of Rory McIlroy following recent criticism of the 25-year-old’s intensive gym workouts from a coterie of Major champions and other talking heads.

“It’s the height of ignorance,” said Player, making no effort to pull his punches. Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger figure large among those who warned McIlroy to beware the perils of bulking up too much in the gym, even though the Ulsterman’s regime is scrupulously planned by leading sports physiologist Dr Steve McGregor.

“Throwing 200lb and 300lb weights around is not going to be good for your golf swing,” said six-times Major winner Faldo.

“The heaviest weight I would ever lift was my body weight. You can play some pretty good golf when you have just got some decent shoulders on you and a strong neck and a strong pair of hands.”

Azinger went even further, alluding to Tiger Woods, whose multiple injuries have been, at least in part, Azinger believes, down to his renowned tough sessions in the gym.

“I am concerned about one thing,” Azinger said in his role as ESPN analyst. “It is not a requirement to get in the Hall of Fame or to win all four Majors to be as fit as (McIlroy) seems to be striving to be.

“His body has changed since I saw him at the Open (last year). His arms have gotten a lot bigger and I have recently seen pictures where he is pressing all these giant weights.

“I am wondering what’s the motivation behind that. I just hope that he’s not changing his body to his own detriment, because his body has changed since July last year.”

Their words infuriated Player, who endured similar if not more widespread criticism as he took the revolutionary path (for a golfer) to the gym in the 1950s and ‘60s.

“It is only because of ignorance,” he fumed. “They used to condemn me and said I would never last. Well, here I am, outlasting them all.”

As he was being swept away to a media conference, Player regretted not having more time to discuss the issue, saying: “We’ve got to sit down and do this properly because that’s important, what you’re talking about.”

Minutes later, sitting alongside Nicklaus and Palmer in the press centre, Player still felt obliged to go into bat for McIlroy in his opening remarks.

Saying he’d heartily welcome “such a wonderful golfer and wonderful young man” into the company of golf’s career Grand Slam-winners, Player complimented McIlroy for “working out extremely hard” and being “very fit”.

He nominated “fitness and patience” as McIlroy’s greatest assets at the Masters (the latter would all to soon be severely tested on the course).

Last year, when defending Woods from similar barbs, Player said: “The night before I won the (career) Grand Slam (in 1965), I was exercising profusely, struggling with 325lb.

“Everybody said, ‘You can’t do that and then play golf. You’re finished, you’ll never have a long career.’

“Well, I won a tournament at 63, so anybody who says that Tiger’s working out too hard talks absolute nonsense.”

The proof was plain to see on Augusta’s first tee shortly after dawn yesterday.

Article courtesy of Independent.ie

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GARY PLAYER MAKES YOUNG PATRON’S DAY AT MASTERS

Apr 9, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

To put it mildly, it was a decent first Masters Tournament experience for 7-year-old Tabb Hinson.

After getting his picture taken at Founders Circle, Hinson had just passed But­ler Cabin when his dad, Michael Hinson, spotted a three-time Masters champion about to exit the clubhouse.

“I said, ‘There’s Gary Player,’ ” Hinson said. “And Tabb decided to wave.”

Player waved back, then motioned the Evans boy to come under the rope. From there, Player took off Tabb’s visor and signed it.

After the awestruck child said, ‘Thank you,’ Player leaned over and the two shared a hug.

“It’s 8:15 a.m., but I don’t see this day getting much better,” Michael Hinson said. “That’s as good as it gets.”

“I’m 46 and still haven’t been under that rope,” Hinson said. “Moments like this are what makes the Masters so special. When I woke up this morning, I never dreamed my son would get a hug from Gary Player at the clubhouse.”

Article courtesy of Augusta.com

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THE STORYLINE GARY PLAYER WANTS TO SEE PLAY OUT AT AUGUSTA THIS WEEK

Apr 7, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Of the five golfers to win the career Grand Slam, Gary Player is the only non-American among the group. But the 79-year-old South African hopes that will change this weekend as Rory McIlroy attempts to make it a sixsome.

“It would be just the most wonderful thing,” Player said Tuesday outside the Augusta National clubhouse. “Not only for the Grand Slam, but for golf in general.”

When Player finished off the career Grand Slam by winning the 1965 U.S. Open he was only 29. At the time, he thought no one else would accomplish the feat so quickly. “And then Jack did it at 26 and then Tiger at 24,” Player said. “And now I really think Rory can do it at 25.”

Player’s reasoning for why he’s rooting on Rory is the message it would send. “Rory takes such good care of himself,” Player said. “He was raised well by his parents. He’s the type of person that you want representing this sport.”

There’s also the theater of the moment. Recalling that Augusta National was the site of McIlroy’s most ignominious in golf—his collapse while holding the least in the final round of the 2011 Masters—Player noted with a wry smile how fitting it would be for McIlroy to vindicate himself here.

“He made a mess that day, but think about it. It’s probably the best think that happened to him,” Player said. “He had to learn from adversity. He had to get knocked down to really be able to rise the way he has. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that.

Article courtesy of Golf Digest

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GARY PLAYER EXCITED RORY MCILROY COULD BECOME SIXTH PERSON TO WIN CAREER GRAND SLAM

Apr 6, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player will attend his 58th Masters this week fully expecting to welcome a new member to the game’s most exclusive club and salute what he considers would be one of the sport’s finest accomplishments.

The great man considers Tiger Woods completing the career Grand Slam at the age of just 24 as the best golfing feat he has seen. So you can imagine how excited he is at the prospect of Rory McIlroy becoming just the sixth player to win all four majors at only 25.

‘I’m not sure people fully realise what a magnificent effort it would be,’ said the South African legend. ‘When I completed my Slam at 29 I said to my wife that you will never see that done again. Then Jack Nicklaus came along and did it at 26 and then Tiger at 24.

‘Now we have Rory, and I tell you this: I honestly believe he is going to do it. I just believe everything is going to fall into place for him, that he will learn from the mistakes he made when he messed up in 2011 and put everything right.’

It is not hard to see why Player would have such a special affinity for McIlroy. Two men of similar stature who came from a foreign land to take on the Americans in the majors in their own backyard; two men with a commitment to fitness with minds strong enough to ward off all the criticism.

Forget Tiger. It was Player, of course, who wrote the book when it came to golfers and fitness. Heavens, he is still doing 1,300 sit-ups and squatting 300lb every morning even now, at the age of 79. He is withering in his contempt of those who say McIlroy is ‘bulking up’ too much in the gym.

‘I’m going to guess most of the critics are fat and don’t watch what they eat,’ he says. ‘Just because they’re lazy, they can’t grasp that fitness is so vital.

‘I was told that because I was so keen on fitness my career in golf would be over early and I wouldn’t win any tournaments after the age of 34. I was told I had no chance of winning the US Open if I was squatting 325lb the previous evening. What rubbish.

‘I’m just so pleased to see travelling gymnasiums on the circuit and that most players see the value of putting themselves through the pain barrier. I used to go down to the local YMCA wherever we were playing and sometimes wait 20 minutes to use the equipment. But it you want to be a superstar, and by a superstar I mean a player who has won at least six majors, there are no short cuts.

‘Rory will be an absolute superstar when he wins the Masters. And yes, I can see a lot of similarities with myself. I love the fact he is a people person, for example, and engages with the fans. That’s what I used to love, and still do. So many pros can’t be bothered to talk to the fans and it’s so wrong.’ Player also gives short shrift to the idea that completing the career Grand Slam is a modern media invention.

‘I tell you it was electrifying when I completed it in 1965,’ he said. ‘I so wanted to follow Gene Sarazen and particularly Ben Hogan and become the third player to achieve it, because Hogan was the best player I’d seen. Jack and I were both in competition to complete it and it was a piece of advice Jack gave me that helped me over the line.

‘I was due to play a tournament at Greensboro in 1965 when Jack said if I wanted to win the US Open and complete the set I should go with him to the US Open site and practise. I said I needed the money, that I had loads of children to look after, but I went with him. So he played a key role.

‘It was amazing afterwards. Everyone wanted to know how a man from a small country who lost his mother at the age of eight and his dad worked in a mine could achieve such a thing. How on earth could it happen?’

Player and Nicklaus have remained lifelong friends. They will be partners in a team competition in the autumn before Player heads to Greece for his 80th birthday celebrations. ‘There will be 35 people there and Jack and I will need to win that event for me to be able to pay for it,’ said Player, laughing.

As for Augusta, he is looking forward as ever to hitting the ceremonial first shot on Thursday alongside Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. And then, 50 years on from his own date with history, he will join every other fascinated observer to see if another non-American can complete the set of majors and join him on what former US Open champion Curtis Strange evocatively refers to as golf’s Mount Rushmore.

Article courtesy of Daily Mail UK

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ELDER MADE BOLD PLAY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Apr 5, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Lee Elder remembers it clearly, with an obvious sense of pride and satisfaction.

He was playing a tournament round of golf and the skies opened up. It began to rain. Outside the ropes, he saw fans who had umbrellas open them. Others weren’t so fortunate, but those with protection offered to share.

And there in South Africa, in 1971, in a country deeply locked in apartheid’s segregation, blacks stood with whites under umbrellas watching golf.

“An unbelievable sight,” Elder recalled recently.

Four years later, Elder would have America’s attention when he became the first black to play in the Masters. What few in the United States even knew is that Elder already had blown through a barrier of infinitely thicker proportions.

“That’s Mickey Mouse, playing at Augusta, to what he did in South Africa,” Gary Player said during a recent visit to San Diego, now Elder’s home.

It was Player, the Hall of Famer from South Africa, who made it happen by convincing then-Prime Minister John Vorster – who the New York Times called “a granite symbol of apartheid” – to allow Elder to play in the South African Open and South African PGA Championship.

Convinced that it was the right thing to do at the right time, Player went to the prime minister’s office – “I was shaking in my shoes,” he recalled – and asked if Elder could play. Player said Vorster paused a long time, stared at him under bushy eyebrows, and finally agreed.

“Man, I get goosebumps thinking about it!” Player said.

The trip wasn’t a gimme putt, though. Elder said he received counsel from the U.S. State Department that he simply couldn’t go to play in South Africa without the other countries of Africa being vehemently, and possibly violently, opposed.

So arrangements were made for Elder to make golf ambassador visits, and before stepping foot in South Africa, Elder went to Liberia, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya. At each stop he met with heads of state and performed exhibitions, sometimes playing with golfers who were no better than 20-handicappers.

“Uganda was the only country with grass on the greens,” Elder said. “The rest of them were sand.”

Once in South Africa, Elder said, “It was really fantastic.”

Elder had stipulated before the trip that he would only play if blacks were allowed to be spectators on the course with whites, which was unprecedented. His one request that wasn’t granted was to visit Nelson Mandela in prison.

Still, Elder flew home feeling as if he’d accomplished something Mandela-like, moving a country, even fractionally, in a more positive direction.

“I felt,” Elder said, “like I really left something permanent there in South Africa.”

Player, of course, was delighted. He had always felt a kinship to black golfers in America because as a South African he said he faced racism in numerous other countries. He recalled seeing signs at the entrances to restaurants: “No dogs or South Africans allowed.”

Said Elder, “I love Gary very much. There’s not a segregated bone in that man’s body.”

Player, 79, led the movement this year to have a party in Augusta to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Elder, 80, breaking the Masters color barrier.

“One of the frustrating things in my golf career is to see these (U.S.) presidents honor athletes for their athletic prowess,” Player said. “And here’s a man (Elder) who has accomplished something far greater, and he’s never been given the recognition.

“If anybody deserves a medal for contributing to society, Lee Elder does.”

Article courtesy of UT San Diego

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STANCE RELEASES GOLF PERFORMANCE LINE OF SOCKS THAT PAY TRIBUTE TO SOME OF GOLF’S GREATEST

Apr 3, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Stance, the brand that revolutionized the sock market, injects some life into the fairways with its new award-winning Fusion Golf Performance line of golf socks. In addition to sock technology fit for the best pros in the game, Stance introduces its first Golf Legends styles that will showcase Hall of Famers Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player, and announces a Payne Stewart style that will be available this fall.

Voted as one of the freshest, most innovative products to hit the market at the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show, Stance’s Fusion Golf Performance socks blend the brand’s unique DNA with its patented Triniti Technology for socks that look as good as they perform.

Stance also announces that former PGA Tour professional and current broadcaster David Feherty has been named to its roster of Punks & Poets, a crew of ambassadors that embody the brand’s spirit of individuality. As one of golf’s most outspoken and knowledgable voices, Feherty’s deep passion for the sport and unabashed honesty make him a perfect partner for Stance’s golf category.

“Stance socks make my arches stay firmer and my toes erect for longer than I ever could have imagined, especially at my advanced age! My feet are obviously more attractive to females, smell better than they used to, and all without the side-effects of other socks,” said Feherty. “Best of all, I can now play a round lasting more than four hours without having to call my doctor. It’s a miracle I tell you! Stance socks are simply arousing.”

As the first brand to put sublimated images of sports legends on socks, Stance expands the concept to the greens with three Golf Legends styles. Chi Chi Rodriguz and Gary Player debut in the Spring line, while fellow Hall of Famer and all-time great, Payne Stewart, will join the Golf Legends sock roster this fall.

Stance’s Triniti Technology enhances playing experience with Traction Control, Quick Wick moisture management, additional arch band elastic and thicker cushions to provide a tighter feel with compression benefits.

Fusion Golf Performance and Golf Legends collections are now available at Stance.com and at green grass and off course retailers across the country including Pebble Beach, TPC Sawgrass, PGA National, Southern Highlands, Muirfield, Golfsmith, Edwin Watts, and Roger Dunn.

Article courtesy of Stance

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THE PLAYER FOUNDATION TO RECEIVE WINNIE PALMER AWARD

Mar 27, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Player Foundation and World Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player will receive the Winnie Palmer Award from the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at the 64th National Awards Dinner on Tuesday, June 9 at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown, New York.

Established by Marc Player in 1983, The Player Foundation has provided quality education, nutrition, medical care and extra-curricular activities for underprivileged children around the globe. Today, through the Gary Player Invitational charity series in the U.S., Asia, Europe and South Africa, the foundation has raised more than $60 million for these important causes. This year’s global series will be played at the Wentworth Club near London, GlenArbor Golf Club outside New York, Shanghai Links Golf and Country Club in China, The Lost City Golf Course in Sun City and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu-Dhabi.

The Winnie Palmer Award acknowledges an individual who consistently gives their time, energy and enthusiasm to those less fortunate. The Award is named in honor of Winnie Palmer, who devoted much of her life to charity work for literacy programs and health care.

Past recipients include Barbara Nicklaus, Dolores Hope, Vivienne Player, Betsy King, Peggy Kirk Bell, and Ernie Els. Created by the Met Golf Writers Association in 2000, the Winnie Palmer Award has been sponsored by Rolex Watch USA since its inception.

Each year, Black Knight International, in conjunction with The Player Foundation, manages and runs a series of prestigious golf events which raises more than one million dollars annually.

“What the Gary Player family and their entire company has done for others is remarkable,” MGWA President Bruce Beck said. “The Player Foundation provides hope, just like Winnie Palmer did for so long.”

Other MGWA award winners Nick Price (Gold Tee Award) and Ron Sirak (Werden Golf Journalism Award) will join Player on June 9. Additional MGWA award recipients will be announced in the coming weeks.

Since 1952, the MGWA has recognized the game’s greatest players, contributors, and organizations at its National Awards Dinner – the longest running and often the largest golf dinner in the U.S. each year.

A special video celebrates the six decades of the MGWA National Awards Dinner. https://vimeo.com/63849701

MGWA member Jim Nantz says, “There is no dinner in America that celebrates golf like this one.”

Article courtesy of Metropolitan Golf Writers Association

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GOLF ICON GARY PLAYER OPENS HIS FIRST SIGNATURE DESIGNED COURSE FOR DLF IN INDIA

Mar 27, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player hosted an intimate group of guests on March 27 and 28 during the unveiling of his new Signature course at DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon, India, near New Delhi.

The 18-hole Signature course by Gary Player Design will open in the coming weeks for all to enjoy, and is sure to leave an unforgettable impression on members and guests from around the world. The prominent design firm continues to develop its rapidly growing portfolio in one of the most populated areas of the world.

“I have enjoyed my “second” career creating courses in new and interesting lands, and India really stands out as a fascinating place to visit,” said Gary Player. “I am very proud of this course, which will truly stand beside any in the world. It is important that I thank the Singh family for their unwavering commitment to quality.”

The Black Knight traveled to DLF Golf and Country Club with his design team and a few friends for the official opening. Player toured the course on Friday, and will play a round with guests from DLF before a gala and dinner on Saturday night.

As the country’s leading real estate developer, DLF showcases the terrific results of their dedication and commitment to excellence in all aspects of the new course. This assurance of superior work can be directly related to DLF’s abundant success in urban residential development.

“We are lucky to have a fantastic partnership with the country’s leading real estate developer, in DLF,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. “Throughout the process they have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to building a world-class golf course in an environmentally friendly fashion.”

The design concept showcases varying features that will add to the character of the golf course. Dramatic land forms, rock quarries, a large lake and extensive landscaping have made the course into a remarkable golfing experience. Gary Player Design’s longstanding policy of a sustainable environmental approach is found throughout the course. Geo-textile bunkers were utilized to reduce maintenance cost, thousands of indigenous trees were planted to reduce the overall carbon footprint, and irrigation needs are provided from a lake fed with recycled and treated water.

“This course is designed to not only create a fun and enjoyable golf outing for the members of DLF Golf and Country Club, but also to host championship events,” said Jeff Lawrence, Senior Designer. “One of our top priorities was to make sure all skill levels can have a pleasant and entertaining experience.”

With more than 20 ongoing projects throughout Asia, Gary Player is certainly making his presence felt in this emerging golf market. Player’s visit to India will be just one of many to the region in the future.

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PLAYER’S VISIT TO WGHOF IS GRAND SLAM SUCCESS

Mar 26, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum, located at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida, opened the “Gary Player: Grand Slam Success” exhibition on February 27, 2015.

The Gary Player exhibition features images and memorabilia from Player’s lifetime as the most successful international golfer of all time, including all four Major championship trophies and his Green Jacket from The Masters Tournament. Displays also pay tribute to his global adventures, the important role his family played in his career, and his life-long commitment to fitness.

Player, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame’s inaugural class of 1974, was in attendance. Throughout the day, Player toured the facility, signed autographs and took pictures with fans, participated in media interviews, cut the ribbon to his exhibit (pictured right), and entertained a packed house at the Opening Ceremony later that night. It was a full day of fanfare for the Black Knight, but his energy was never ending.

“I am so happy to be at golf’s Hall of Fame surrounded by all of the rich history, from Bobby Jones to Tiger Woods,” said Player. “The team here has done a remarkable job of making the history of this great game come to life.”

The exhibition is dedicated to the prolific career and achievements of one of the best players who ever lived. Player, a true golf legend affectionately known as “The Black Knight,” amassed 165 global wins during a remarkable period spanning more than five decades. His victories occurred in 21 countries on six continents. He won nine Majors on the PGA Tour and nine Majors on the Senior Tour.

Player reminisced about his accomplishments with Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. “Gary has played such an integral role in globalizing the game of golf,” Peter said, “and the values he represents are what makes the Hall of Fame so proud to be able to call him our Global Ambassador. We are thrilled to be able to open this exhibition which celebrates not only Gary’s tremendous success on the course, but also shares with guests the impact he has had off the course too, through his commitment to education, family, charity and fitness.”

The pinnacle of the Black Knight’s playing career came with a victory in the 1965 United States Open when he clinched the career Grand Slam – a feat, at the time, only achieved by Hall of Fame members Gene Sarazen (1935) and Ben Hogan (1953). Since that time, only Jack Nicklaus (1966) and Tiger Woods (2000) have won all four Major championships in their careers. Even more, Player is the only golfer in history to complete the career Grand Slam on the Senior Tour.

In addition to admiring Player’s memorabilia, guests also have an opportunity to utilize a state of the art golf simulator. They are able to play many of the same courses where Player captured victories during his illustrious career. The exhibition will be on display through 2015.

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN’S MOUNTAIN PARK COURSE DEBUTS IN BEST 100 MODERN COURSES

Mar 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golfweek’s March issue hit the shelves yesterday honoring The Cliffs at Mountain Park as a Top 100 Modern Course in America.

The golf course made the cut into Golfweek’s sought-after Best 100 Modern Courses in America, heralding its most impressive accolade to date. Golfweek’s team of raters placed the Gary Player Signature designed private course in the magazine, released for 2015, alongside the finest in the country. This is the first time any of The Cliffs’ seven championship golf courses have broken through the Top 100.

“The location offered a unique opportunity to create a special course,” said Gary Player. “The design of Mountain Park will offer a wide variety of playing scenarios which provides diversity and interest. By keeping an open mind to the playable characteristics of Mountain Park, you will fully enjoy a new golf experience.”

The design team opted to route the course on the lowest-lying ground straddling the water, instead of using the high road through the uplands overlooking the Saluda River valley. This allowed the river to be used as a strategic element throughout the course while placing the holes on the ground along the flood plain. Each nine starts on wide-open terrain, then goes though narrower ground before opening again.

“Knowing the golf course began as a flat piece of ground, our vision was to enhance the existing topography to produce a low profile, traditional style golf course,” said Senior Designer, Jeff Lawrence. “Random shaping, unique bunkering, strategic value and a traditional look are the key elements and visual strengths of the golf course. The contrast between the white bunker sand, dark green fairways and tan colored native grasses is undoubtedly visually dramatic.”

The Cliffs at Mountain Park has wide fairways, playable native areas, large gently contoured greens and generous collection areas. The intention of playing fast and firm will be accentuated by keeping all playable areas cut as fairway (except tees and greens), thereby allowing playing options that will create a fun aspect to Mountain Park. Players must think their way around the golf course, not just get up and rip it. Exceptional green-to-tee connections and gentle contouring encourages walking, so players can embrace the opportunity and enjoy the golf via a walking experience.

The Cliffs at Mountain Park has continued to accumulate accolades since its opening in 2013. GOLF Magazine and Golf Digest honored Mountain Park as one of the Best New Courses of 2013 and 2014. Golfweek recognized the course among the Top 100 Residential Courses of 2015. And since 2013, it has been recognized by the South Carolina Golf Panel as one of the top courses in the state.

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TSHWANE OPEN FINAL WRAP

Mar 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

There was no panic, no impatience, just a steely determination to stick to the game plan as George Coetzee chased a birdie on the closing holes to win the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on Sunday.

Fellow South African Jacques Blaauw had earlier blazed his way to a nine-under-par 61 that featured four successive birdies from the sixth hole and two-in-a-row to finish, to post the number – 13-under-par – that Coetzee had to beat.

But Coetzee, having started playing golf at Pretoria Country Club and winning his first tournament there when he was 10, knows all the secrets of the Waterkloof parklands course and he knew patience and sticking to his game plan would eventually pay dividends. 

He systematically went through the first five holes in par and then claimed his first birdie at the par-four sixth after a monster drive to just in front of the green. Writing three successive birdies on his card from the eighth hole allowed the 28-year-old to catch Blaauw on 13-under. Then it was just a matter of waiting for one more birdie; it eventually came on the penultimate hole, by which time a lesser golfer may have become impatient.

“I’ve played those first three holes a thousand times and they’re probably the trickiest on the course, and then the fourth they made a par-four this week. So that’s not where I wanted to make my charge, it’s easy to drop shots there, but I knew when I stepped on to the sixth tee that it was time,” Coetzee said.

“Jacques put me under a lot of pressure and there were other guys racing out of the blocks as well. But I had a good game plan mentally and it was just a matter of playing my game and waiting for my birdies to come. Towards the end, I was waiting for 17, which is usually a birdie chance, and the 65 I shot today was the round I’ve been looking to play, it was controlled and how I wanted the day to play out,” Coetzee said.

Coetzee had started the day tied for the lead with five other golfers – fellow South Africans Trevor Fisher Junior and Wallie Coetsee, Englishman David Horsey, Scotland’s Craig Lee and Spaniard Adrian Otaegui.

But it all turned sour for those contenders, none of them being able to break par.

Although Coetzee said before the tournament that the 6459-metre course redesigned by Gary Player in 2004 was not exactly up his street, his delight at winning his second European Tour title at his home club was obvious.

“I loved the fans, when I was growing up you dream about playing in front of galleries like that and the crowd just seemed to get bigger and bigger. There were hundreds of people following our group and I recognised a lot of them. I never thought, as a kid, that I’d be playing a European Tour event at my home club, so it’s unreal to win here,” Coetzee said.

His previous European Tour title was won in Johannesburg 13 months ago, and he has four other Sunshine Tour wins. But this was achieved in different fashion and Coetzee was especially pleased with that.

“In the Joburg Open win, I was behind on the front nine and then ahead on the back nine, so it went from being aggressive to being conservative. Today I had to mix aggression with cleverness and it was nice to make a birdie to win. Most of my previous wins have come from putting very well, but I’m very happy to have my ball-striking come through today. I’m loving my driver,” Coetzee said.

And with good reason because he hit 13 of 14 fairways off the tee in the final round and gave himself several looks at birdie on the back nine. But as the number of holes left diminished, so thoughts turned to whether Coetzee would finally make birdie or push too hard and end up dropping a shot.

Lee, playing in the final two-ball, was just one shot behind but he would drop a crucial shot on the 15th when his drive went too far right on to a bank, from where he had to lay up before the stream crossing the fairway and then missed a 10-foot putt for par.

That meant it was all up to Coetzee to overtake Blaauw.

His driver on 17 went off to the right, into some trees short of the bunkers guarding the green. But the benefits of playing on his home course once again came to the fore.

“It didn’t happen exactly how I wanted, but I know there are gaps between the bunkers there,” Coetzee said after he had played a lovely, delicate chip to within five feet of the hole to set up the birdie that won the Tshwane Open.

Article courtesy of The Citizen

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GOLF-GOLDEN OLDIES TO PAY TRIBUTE TO NAGLE IN CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE

Mar 11, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Organizers will stage a special Champions Challenge on the eve of this year’s British Open at St Andrews as a tribute to late Australian golfer Kel Nagle.

Nagle, who won the Centenary Open at the home of Golf in 1960, was the sport’s oldest surviving major champion until he died in January at the age of 94.

World number one Rory McIlroy is to join golden oldies Peter Thomson, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Bob Charles, Nick Faldo and Tony Jacklin in the four-hole challenge that will be held at the Old Course on July 15.

More recent champions like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington have also confirmed their participation.

“We are looking forward to a wonderful celebration of the rich heritage of The Open at the Champion Golfers’ Challenge,” Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said in a news release on Tuesday.

“It will be a fitting occasion to recognise the wonderful career of Kel Nagle, one of the sport’s great gentlemen.”

Article courtesy of Reuters.com

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WESTIN SOMA BAY GOLF RESORT & SPA DUE FOR JULY 2015

Mar 5, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. has announced it will expand its portfolio in Egypt with the new Westin Soma Bay Golf Resort & Spa, marking the entry of the Westin brand to the Soma Bay peninsula, Red Sea and the first operating Westin Hotel in Egypt. The agreement with Cascades Hotel Company Soma Bay, marks the conversion of the existing La Residence Des Cascade to a Westin, anticipated to take place by July 2015.

Positioned on the highest point of the Soma Bay peninsula, the year-round resort destination in Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, the hotel sits at the centre of the 18-hole championship golf course designed by Gary Player, combining the best of links and desert courses.

The Westin Soma Bay will offer 210 beautifully-appointed guest rooms and 39 suites, all featuring the latest in-room technology as well as the renowned Westin Heavenly® Bed, Heavenly® Shower and exclusive White Tea Aloe bath amenities. The hotel will also offer seven restaurant venues, including an all-day dining restaurant, a café, a bar and a lounge. Adjacent to the resort is one of the largest and best equipped Spa and Thalasso centres in the world - The Cascades Spa & Thalasso Soma Bay.

“Westin is enjoying phenomenal global growth due to the success of its distinctive wellness positioning, innovative products and brand-led programs,” said Hassan Ahdab, Regional Vice President of Africa & Indian Ocean, Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

“We are excited to announce a second Westin hotel in Egypt this year and extend our collaboration with the Cascades Hotel Company Soma Bay by introducing the brand to the Red Sea in 2015.” Chairman of The Cascades Hotel Company Soma Bay, Samer Yaghnam stated: “We are pleased to be entering into this agreement with Starwood with whom we’ve had a long term successful relationship through the Sheraton Soma Bay. Bringing the high quality Westin brand to this area will further enhance Soma Bay’s position as the leading resort development on the Red Sea.” General Manager of Abu Soma Development Company, the master developer of Soma Bay, Ibrahim El Missiri stated: “This is the beginning of the new phase of development for Soma Bay, and I look forward to many more exciting announcements in Soma Bay in 2015.”

The company will re-open Sheraton Cairo Hotel & Casino in 2015 following an extensive and complete renovation. Starwood will also introduce a new luxury brand into the capital with The St. Regis Cairo in 2016.

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WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM OPENS “GARY PLAYER: GRAND SLAM SUCCESS” EXHIBITION

Mar 4, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum has opened the “Gary Player: Grand Slam Success” exhibition – a display dedicated to the prolific career and achievements of one of the best players who ever lived.

Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, Player attended the grand opening and helped cut the ceremonial ribbon inside the exhibit.

A true golf legend affectionately known as “The Black Knight,” Player amassed 165 global wins over a remarkable period of five decades occurring in 21 countries on six continents. The pinnacle of his revered playing career came with a victory at the 1965 United States Open when he clinched the career Grand Slam – a feat, at the time, only achieved by fellow World Golf Hall of Fame members Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan.

Since that time, only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have won all four Major championships in their careers. Player also is the only person to completed the Grand Slam on the Champions Tour.

“Gary has played such an integral role in globalizing the game of golf and the values he represents are what makes the Hall of Fame so proud to be able to call him our Global Ambassador,” said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. “We are thrilled to be able to open this exhibition which celebrates not only Gary’s tremendous successes on the course, but also shares with guests the impact he has had off the course too, through his commitment to education, family, charity and fitness.”

Located on the second floor of the museum, The Gary Player exhibition features many of Player’s major championship trophies, along with his Green Jacket from the Masters Tournament and many other items from his illustrious career. Additionally, the gallery shares the story of Player’s global adventures, the important role his family played in his career, and his life-long commitment to fitness.

Guests will also have an opportunity to utilize the Hall of Fame’s new state of the art golf simulator within the exhibit, playing many of the same courses where Player captured victories during his career.  The exhibition is also supported through unique video and photography.

The exhibition will be on display through 2015. For more information, including photos, about the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum and “Gary Player: Grand Slam Success” exhibit,” visit WorldGolfHallofFame.org.

Article courtesy of the World Golf Hall of Fame

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Q&A: GARY PLAYER ON HIS NEW HOF EXHIBIT, MICKELSON’S GRAND SLAM CHANCES

Mar 4, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The great Gary Player — nine-time major champion on the PGA Tour and nine-time major champion on the Champions Tour, global jet setter with 165 career wins, one of the Big Three with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer — will turn 80 in November, but he is not slowing down.

On February 27, the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum had its grand opening for the “Gary Player: Grand Slam Success” exhibition. The showcase displays several of Player’s major championship trophies, his Green Jackets, other items from his career and also tells the story of his global traveling, his family’s influence and his regimented fitness.

On the day of the opening, our Kevin Casey caught up with Player for a brief chat on his new exhibit, thoughts on the career Grand Slam, his Masters pick, and exactly how long this fitness buff feels he can stick around.

KC: Did you ever think you would have your own exhibit in the World Golf Hall of Fame?

GP: I was here from the very beginning when I saw them building the place. I’ve always been a great admirer of the Hall of Fame, because I saw how other sports like football and baseball getting their hall of fames done before us. I always knew we would have a hall of fame. I don’t know if I thought I would have an exhibit, but with my record, I thought there was no way they could leave me out of the Hall of Fame.

As for an exhibit of my own, I couldn’t envision at that stage, nobody could, what that would entail in the Hall of Fame. I am honored, and gratitude is a terribly important word in one’s life. I am grateful for it, I appreciate it and I’m a staunch supporter of the Hall of Fame, I represent them without payment.

And now to move it to Scotland this year is a brilliant move because now they will get all of this publicity in Europe and around the world. To take place at St. Andrews, the home of golf, and during the Open Championship, it’s one of the best moves they’ve ever made.

KC: Who do you credit with allowing you to have the career that afforded this exhibit?

GP: My father played a great role because he made sacrifices. He was a very poor man. He bought me my first set of Ryder Wilson clubs. He would watch me practice in the rain or heat. He would walk around and lie in the rain. He was a man of 6-foot-2 and he would be careful when I won big tournaments.

And then there’s my wife, who has made all of these unbelievable sacrifices. I would’ve never stayed married to me if I was a women. I was always going away, always traveling overseas. She had to travel with six children in an airplane without a jet. It took 14 hours with four stops. No, I wouldn’t have stayed married to me. So whatever she does wrong, I forgive her.

KC: You’re one of the five players to ever win the career Grand Slam, and at the moment, Phil Mickelson is trying to go for that, too. You had the same thing as him, needing the U.S. Open to finish it off. What do you think his state of mind is right now?

Gary Player completed the career “Grand Slam” in 1965 at the U.S. Open. He won nine major championships.

GP: I don’t know what his state of mind is. I think he’s a very positive person and I think if you said to me, “Who is the ideal man for a company who wants somebody to endorse my product?” I would immediately go to Phil Mickelson. He’s the role model for the pros on how to treat the press, how to treat the public, how to treat young people. He’s been the No. 1 man there.

Do I think he will win the Grand Slam? No. He’s been very unlucky. He’s aging. He’s at the age where you’re going to start to go, where’s it’s 1 percent or 2 percent. You can’t afford that against the young players that are playing.

And he doesn’t drive the ball straight enough. He’s not a good driver of the ball. I love his confidence in the fact that he thinks he drives it well, but I don’t think he drives the ball well enough. What chance he had was at Pinehurst this year. I thought he would win at Pinehurst, because they didn’t have any rough. I went to play there the week [before the event] and it was wide open and I thought he would win. But I don’t think he will win the Grand Slam, but I sincerely hope he does.

I think the next Grand Slam winner is Rory McIlroy. He’s a much better player than Mickelson now. He’s young. He’s won 3 of the 4, and I think he’ll win it this year. If not this year, he’s playing at a golf course every year that suits him. If Mickelson had to win the Grand Slam at Augusta, I would give him a great chance because you don’t have to drive the ball well there, but it’s the U.S. Open. Whereas Rory, the course suits him, he has a long, high draw and through all the problems he’s had, he’s remained confident. He’s a wonderful young man and he behaves beautifully. I think everything is ready for him. He has tremendous talent, and a phenomenal golf swing, and I think he’s ready to win.

KC: I was going to ask you about your Masters pick this year. I assume then it’s McIlroy?

GP: Yes, McIlroy or Jason Day. Day has got a swing very similar to Ben Hogan. And I thought Hogan, Bobby Jones or Sam Snead had the best swing ever. I just love the way Day and Rory swing. This young guy Spieth, he’s a great competitor. I think he has a little something wrong in his backswing in my opinion, but he can get away with it at Augusta. I think he’ll be tough to beat there.

KC: Your son Marc at one point said that you thought you would live forever. Maybe a bit tongue in cheek, but you do take your healthy very seriously. What age do you expect to or aspire to live to?

Gary Player was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

GP: That’s in God’s hands, and I’m a big believer in God. I’m near 80, and I think I am fitter than the average 40-year-old in America and I would beat the average 40-year-old in America in a fitness contest. I have a blood pressure of 110/70. I have a heart rate resting at 50. I still put the treadmill on maximum. I still push 300 pounds with my legs, and I do 1,300 crunches four times per week minimum.

All things being equal, barring a plane crash or car crash. I’ll come to your funeral, my buddy!

Article courtesy of spacetimeandi.com

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GARY PLAYER IS STILL PERFECT FIT FOR GOLF

Feb 25, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

It was well beyond just a good day at Riviera on Thursday, and not just because the weather for the first round of the Northern Trust Open was Southern California perfect.

Gary Player was in the house.

There is nobody quite like him. Lunch with him is a four-course offering of golf, philosophy, passion and common sense. When they create the next one like him, they will need DNA from Tiger Woods, Billy Graham and Socrates.

South Africa remains his home, but Player still travels the world like he did when he was winning nine major titles. Also like he did when he added four more majors on the senior tour, making him the only one to complete Grand Slams on both tours.

Player is a jet-setting conglomerate. He makes appearances, advises businessmen, represents major golf companies such as Callaway and designs golf courses all over the world.

And he still plays. A lot.

“Seventy-five is a bad score for me,” he says. “I shoot my age almost every time out.”

He has earned the right to brag. He will be 80 in November.

The opinions intersect and intermingle with the wonderful stories and memories. The recent U.S. failures in the Ryder Cup converge easily with his first swing at St. Andrews in 1956.

“You know how the U.S. can win the Ryder Cup?” Player says. “Play better. Don’t make excuses. Just play better.

“They were going to form a committee to study what was wrong and try to fix it. A committee? Are you kidding? Just figure it out. They’re better, so you have to get better.”

He also says he heard a TV analyst talking about how difficult it is for U.S. players to play in Europe, that home advantage was worth two shots a player. Player debunks that with a snort, and it’s not hard to remember that, in the early 1970s, as a star athlete from apartheid South Africa, he was hardly made to feel at home on the road because of his country’s horrible racial policies.

People assumed that because Player was white he was a supporter of apartheid. They kicked his ball into the rough, threw ice in his face and yelled in his backswing, once on a 14-inch putt in the 1969 PGA championship that he missed by four inches in a tournament he lost by a stroke to Raymond Floyd.

“I’ve played in tournaments, like the Masters against Arnie,” he says, “where the only people rooting for me were my wife and my dog.”

His wife and dog were certainly pulling for him when Player stepped to the first tee for the first time at the sacred grounds of St. Andrews in Scotland in 1957. He was a 21-year-old, 5-foot-6 newcomer in his third major. The night before, he hadn’t had enough money to pay the 40 pounds for a hotel room, so he slept on the famous beach at St. Andrews, where they filmed “Chariots of Fire.”

“The first fairway is so wide a blind man couldn’t miss it,” Player says. “The starter is 6 foot 4, he looks down at me and says, ‘Play away, laddie.’

“I was so nervous, I yanked my drive so far left that it actually had a chance of going out of bounds until it hit the marker and bounced back into the fairway. The starter calls me over and says, ‘What’s your handicap, lad?’ I told him I was a pro. He looked at me and said, ‘You must be a hell of a chipper and putter.’ “

Player won the British Open at Muirfield in 1959, then returned to St. Andrews for the event the next year.

“The same starter is on the first tee,” Player says. “He takes one look at me and says, ‘It’s a bloody miracle.’ “

He is legendary for his fitness and work ethic. He holds out his hands and says, “These hands have hit more golf balls than any human on Earth.” He acknowledges that Vijay Singh might catch him, but figures Singh has many years to live before he does so.

Singh was among Thursday’s first-round leaders at five under par.

Player rises from his Caesar salad to punch himself in the stomach. Still rock hard.

He says he is proud of the fitness of most current players and says it certainly wasn’t so in his day.

“They’d laugh at me,” he says. “The only exercise they’d do is lift an olive into their glass.”

His prevailing theory is that there is much more to come from the game of pro golf.

“We haven’t scratched the surface of what’s going to happen,” he says. With nutrition and the good life, he says, there will soon be a “LeBron James-like” player who will “reach all the par-fives at Augusta National, except No. 8, with a driver and a wedge.”

He says that, in balancing the long hitters, players such as Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, “who are not good drivers,” have helped the game by showing it is possible to win with “good shots out of the rough from 100 yards.”

He says he will be at all four majors this year and will, once again, participate in the ceremonial first tee-off at the Masters with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Is that all ceremony, or does a pilot light of competitiveness still flicker?

Player laughs.

“I’ve increased the weight on my barbells,” he says, “and yesterday, I did 1,300 setups, with a 100-pound weight on my chest for the last 100.”

He sees Rory McIlroy and Jason Day as the future biggest stars of golf — “With Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas close behind.”

He tiptoes carefully on the Tiger Woods subject, as so many do, because the fall has been so startling.

“Golf needs him,” Player says. “But if you have the yips, you die with them.”

Article courtesy of the LA Times

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GARY PLAYER AND RENOWNED PHOTOGRAPHER DAVID YARROW PARTNER FOR CHARITY

Feb 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

One of Africa’s favorite sons, Gary Player, has come together with celebrated UK photographer, David Yarrow, to produce a stunning package of African Wildlife fine art photographs. The limited edition collection will be auctioned off at Gary Player Invitational events around the globe in 2015 as a way to make a difference in the lives of others, while also creating a truly unique African bespoke offering.

The Gary Player African Conservation Portfolio will feature six limited edition prints from David’s acclaimed repertoire of work, including five iconic African wildlife shots chosen personally by Gary Player. The five revered African animals making up the set will include the lion, elephant, giraffe, hippopotamus and rhinoceros.

“David Yarrow has proven to be a master at capturing the distinct beauty of Africa that I have always cherished,” said golf icon Gary Player. “I could not be happier to partner with David and bring this collection of breathtaking images of Africa to our Gary Player Invitational events around the world.”

In addition to the five iconic African wildlife photos, a sixth image will be included in the package. This portrait of the golfing legend was taken by David Yarrow in 2014 on the Gary Player thoroughbred stud farm in South Africa’s Great Karoo. The portrait will be signed personally by Gary and complement the iconic African images.

“I am so flattered by this partnership,” said David Yarrow. “Of course I recognize that Gary Player has achieved so much on the golf course, but he sets even higher standards in day-to-day life. He is a family man first and foremost, and beyond that he continues to put others before himself. He has great passion in all that he does and I - in a far more modest way - have the same passion for the task of taking transcending photographs. I take great inspiration from him and so this is a proud moment for me. I will do all I can to help this most wonderful and well-managed foundation.”

This exclusive package will be limited to only 25 signed editions, and the value of the package can easily be seen, with single pieces of work by Yarrow regularly selling for over $65,000. The five wildlife images included have recorded prices that in aggregate would value considerably more than $100,000.

Yarrow also is working to create a bespoke Gary Player portfolio with his teams based in London and Los Angeles to complement the quality and artistry of the wildlife works. The total package will prove to be a collector’s item of great magnitude.

Player will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam in 2015, as well as his 80th birthday. Even in a year as busy as this, Player continues to be motivated to grow The Player Foundation and raise $100 million for charity.

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THE PLAYER FOUNDATION EYES $100 MILLION GOAL

Feb 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

For more than 30 years, The Player Foundation has worked to make a difference on a global scale. To date, they have raised nearly $60 million to help provide quality education for underprivileged children and strengthen communities plagued by disease and crime. The ultimate goal is to surpass $100 million in charitable donations.

In 1983, Marc Player established The Player Foundation in order to provide quality education, nutrition, medical care and extracurricular activities to less fortunate children living in rural areas of South Africa. Over the years, The Player Foundation has funded numerous ventures across the globe. They include constructing a self-sufficient community school in South Africa named the Blair Atholl School, purchasing land for a school to be built in Haiti and funding scholarships for underprivileged children in Mexico and Colombia. The support of an AIDS orphanage in the Yunnan Province of China, the charity Berenberg Kids and Depaul UK in London has made a difference. The Player Foundation is proud to say they have touched lives on six continents.

Each year, The Player Foundation, in conjunction with Black Knight International, manages and runs a series of Gary Player Invitational golf tournaments on four continents to raise funds for charity. The primary beneficiaries are underprivileged children’s educational programs and impoverished communities across the globe. Many professional golfers and celebrities participate in the events. This year’s global series will be played at the Wentworth Club near London, GlenArbor Golf Club outside New York, Shanghai Links Golf and Country Club in Shanghai, The Lost City Golf Course in Sun City and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu-Dhabi.

“We are excited to host this year’s Gary Player Invitational at such outstanding venues,” said Black Knight International CEO Marc Player. “It is a fantastic opportunity to raise money for The Player Foundation, and we believe the global series will continue to make a difference in the world.”

The GPI series goes far beyond the parameters of a typical golf tournament by offering companies a compelling and unique platform for entertainment and networking, while also raising money for children’s charities. Most importantly, it is about a serious commitment to raising much needed funds for underprivileged children around the world under the iconic name of Gary Player.

“I have found that the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others does not thrust itself upon us, but we do not need to look hard for it, either,” Gary Player said. “When you spot the chance to give back to the world, act on it. You will have made life better for others and for yourself.”

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DUSI GEARS UP TO HONOUR PLAYER

Feb 20, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Pietermaritzburg - The huge field of paddlers that will converge on Camps Drift on Thursday morning for the start of the 64th Dusi Canoe Marathon will unite in honouring its pioneer, founder and first winner, Dr. Ian Player.

Player, who passed away on November 30, 2014, came up with the idea, while sitting around a camp fire in Italy during World War Two, of a canoe race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban as a vehicle to unite and forge camaraderie amongst like-minded adventurers.

Player drove the project passionately and was one of eight men who started the first ever Dusi on December 22, 1951. One by one the pairs fell away until Player was the only man left in the race, after his partner Miles Brokensha was forced to quit at roughly halfway.

On December 28, a small group of journalist was on hand to witness “a small blue, battered canoe” paddled by a “bedraggled and exhausted figure” reach Blue Lagoon after six days, eight hours and 15 minutes.

Player went on to compete in two more races, winning both of them, to remain the only paddler with a perfect unbeaten record of wins in the Dusi.

He was respected worldwide for his tireless work as a conservationist, and in particular he was passionate about the serious threats facing the future of the rhino population. Player founded the Magqubu Ntombela Memorial Foundation in tribute to his lifelong friend and guide to encourage conservation awareness amongst the youth of South Africa.

That foundation has been adopted as one of the official race charities of the Dusi Canoe Marathon and the annual Dusi Charity Batch has been renamed the Dr. Ian Player Memorial Charity Batch to support the drive to raise funds for his foundation.
The paddling community will come together 10 minutes before the race start at 06:00 on Thursday to pay special tribute to Dr. Ian Player and, after a moments silence in his honour, the build-up to the race start will begin with a recording of his famous imitation of the Fish Eagle’s cry.

The Dusi race committee plans to make this a regular feature of the race start, in the same way that the recording of Max Trimborn’s cock crow is used to start the Comrades Marathon each year.

To add further impetus to the fundraiser for the Magqubu Ntombela Memorial Foundation, paddlers will be encouraged to buy a black ribbon to wear during the race as a gesture of respect for Dr. Ian Player.

Each Dusi paddler will be given a special white paddling cap to wear during the race that carries an embroidered inscription paying tribute to Dr. Ian Player.

“Just as important is to bear in mind the attitude that Dr. Ian Player brought to this race,” said Dusi Canoe Marathon General Manager Brett Austen Smith.

“He saw the race as a metaphor for life and an opportunity to continually examine oneself and strive to become a better human being. That is something that he would be really pleased to see continuing in the race that he started,” he added.

Player famously said of the Dusi Canoe Marathon: “No man who has ever done the 110 gruelling miles can ever be the same again.”

The 64th edition of the Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 February 2015. More information can be found at http://www.dusi.co.za

Article courtesy of Sport24

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CHARLES SCHWAB AND PGA TOUR SIGN RECORD 20 YEAR MARKETING PARTNERSHIP

Feb 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share


The PGA TOUR and Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. today announced a historic 20-year extension of their multifaceted marketing partnership. This represents the longest marketing agreement the PGA TOUR has ever entered.

In conjunction with the extension, the Champions Tour will be creating a playoff system beginning with the 2016 season, with details on the structure forthcoming. The announcements were made by Schwab Founder and Chairman Charles R. Schwab and PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.

Key elements of the marketing extension include the continuation of:

·  Schwab’s Official Marketing Partner status as the Official Investment Firm of the PGA     TOUR and Champions Tour;
·  Schwab’s umbrella sponsorship of the season-long Charles Schwab Cup competition on the Champions Tour;
·  Schwab’s sponsorship of the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the culmination of the Charles Schwab Cup.

“Charles Schwab has been an exceptional partner of the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour since 1997,” Finchem said. “In particular, Schwab has had a profound impact on the Champions Tour through its sponsorship of the Charles Schwab Cup and, more recently, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Today, we are thrilled to announce that this important relationship will continue another 20 years through this unprecedented agreement.

“Additionally, with this long-term commitment by Schwab, we are delighted to announce that the Champions Tour will be moving toward a playoff format, which we will outline at a later date. Schwab’s interest in continuing its sponsorship for this duration truly is a testament to the dedication, accessibility and hard work of the players and everyone involved with the Champions Tour.”

“So many of our clients and prospective clients are as passionate about golf as they are about investing, and so we’re very excited about having this expanded relationship with the PGA TOUR,” said Schwab. He added, “The parallels between investing and golf are numerous, especially the dedication and commitment they both require, and we look forward to continuing to serve the investment needs of TOUR players and golf fans everywhere.”

Charles Schwab first joined the PGA TOUR’s Official Marketing Partner program in 1997. In 2001, the Charles Schwab Cup was introduced as the Champions Tour’s first-ever, season-long points competition to identify the leading player on the Tour. Two years after the Charles Schwab Cup was introduced, the company became a sponsor of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

“The Charles Schwab Cup has had a major impact on the Champions Tour with the season-long competition highlighting our leading players and significantly improving the stature of the Tour while maintaining the interest of our fans throughout the season,” said Greg McLaughlin, President of the Champions Tour. “I know everyone involved with the Champions Tour is extremely excited that The Charles Schwab Corporation has agreed to continue its sponsorship over the next two decades.”

In addition to the sponsorship elements, Schwab’s marketing program includes consumer engagement and relationship-building assets across multiple PGA TOUR and Champions Tour events and TPCs, plus advertising on PGATOUR.COM and with the TOUR’s broadcast partners. Schwab also provides investment-related services to TOUR players and staff.

Article courtesy of the Champions Tour

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN’S SUZHOU JINJI LAKE COURSE WINS GLOBAL BEST PRACTICE AWARD

Feb 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

Adding to its list of accolades, the Gary Player-designed Suzhou Jinji Lake International Golf Club has been named a winner by the inaugural Global Golf Advisors Institute for Best Practice Excellence Awards.

A delegation of 34 representatives will travel from China to San Antonio, Texas, to join golf industry dignitaries from North America and Europe in a celebration aimed at recognizing excellence in Chinese club management. The awards are the culmination of 12 months of research and analysis coordinated by Global Golf Advisors with 100 of the world’s top clubs from China, North America and Europe.

“We are very proud of our design at Jinji Lake,” said President of Gary Player Design Scott Ferrell. “But good design will not shine if our clients aren’t committed to the best management practices. We are very thankful that the team in Suzhou shares our standards for quality.”

The Gary Player Signature Course located in Suzhou, China, continues to shine nearly 10 years after its opening. The 27-hole course is a creative and unique combination of three different styles of nine-hole layouts. Gary Player’s personal commitment to environmentally sustainable courses is unmatched in the golf course design industry, and he directs and demands his design staff to incorporate eco-friendly practices in all of his courses.

When Gary Player saw the emerging golf market in China, he wanted to set the standard in how a golf course should be designed.

“We take great pride in designing a course in an eco-friendly fashion,” Player said. “Being recognized for our efforts will help us continue to build sustainable courses and uphold our strong commitment to the environment.”

The course is comprised of three very different types of play, which include links, wetlands and forest. The Links Course provides stern challenges with its unique pot bunkers and fairways lined by tall fescue grasses reminiscent of Scotland. The Wetlands Course pleasantly meanders around lakes, rivers and ponds. The Forest Course is set amidst tall and elegant trees, and its high-tech floodlights allow players to enjoy the course day and night.

Managed by IMG, Jinji Lake International Golf Club is located in the Suzhou Industrial Park between Jinji Lake and Dushu Lake. Rob Hill, a partner with Global Golf Advisors EMEA Office and Director of the Institute, said, “Sharing best practices is a key part attributing to the success of any golf business. While it’s important to learn from individual experiences, it can be more effective to learn from the experiences, mistakes and successes of others.”

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THE ROYAL AND ANCIENT GOLF CLUB ANNOUNCES NEW HONORARY MEMBERS

Feb 10, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is delighted to announce that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Dame Laura Davies, Renée Powell, Belle Robertson MBE, Lally Segard, Annika Sorenstam and Louise Suggs have accepted invitations to become honorary members of the Club.

George Macgregor OBE, the Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, said, “It is an honour and a privilege for The Royal and Ancient Golf Club to welcome these remarkable women as honorary members. The Princess Royal enjoys a strong bond with Scotland and has shown great energy and commitment to developing sport through her work in the Olympic movement.

“This is an historic day for the Club and we could not be more proud also to welcome women who have distinguished themselves in golf over many years and have been great players and champions. They are extremely worthy additions to our roll of honorary members and will become ambassadors for the Club as they have been for the sport of golf throughout their careers.”

The Princess Royal follows Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of York and The Duke of Kent in becoming an honorary member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

Having herself competed in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, The Princess Royal is a member of the International Olympic Committee and was a member of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games. The Princess Royal is a Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle in Scotland and has been Patron of the Scottish Rugby Union since 1986.

In September, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club’s members voted by an 85% majority to admit women as members for the first time in its 260-year history. Today’s announcement follows that historic ballot and, in addition to the honorary members, a number of women have been admitted as members of the Club with more set to follow in the coming months.

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GARY PLAYER REMEMBERS GOOD FRIENDS SIFFORD AND NAGLE

Feb 4, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

GARY PLAYER REMEMBERS CHARLIE SIFFORD

“I have such respect for Charlie and what he was able to accomplish in a world that fought against his success. I was extremely honoured to give the induction speech for Charlie when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Charlie and I always had a strong bond ever since we first met in 1958. I have such admiration for this man. I take my hat off to him. The hypocrisy that Charlie had to put up with, yet I never found Charlie bitter. He was so compassionate. I always had a great love and empathy for Charlie. I’ve seen an improvement in golf’s stance toward blacks, and Charlie has played a significant role in that improvement. I said during my WGHOF induction speech, but the same if true here. This honour is not only for just what Charlie accomplished on the golf course, but for the course that he chose in life.”

 

GARY PLAYER REMEMBERS KEL NAGLE

Australia’s former Open Championship winner Kel Nagle has died, aged 94.

The golf icon is being remembered as the “great gentleman” of the game after he died peacefully in the early hours Thursday morning at Sydney’s Mona Vale Hospital, his family said in a statement.

Nagle won the Open in 1960 at the age of 39, beating Arnold Palmer by one shot at the centenary event at St Andrews. It was his only major victory but one of 80 professional tournament wins worldwide, including at least one every year from 1949 to 1975.

His first significant title came in 1949 at the Australian PGA championship, which he went on to win another five times. “Its a sad day for golf,” said PGA of Australia chief executive Brian Thorburn. “We’ve lost a champion of our game.”

Gary Player, to whom Nagle finished runner-up in a playoff at the 1965 US Open, took to Twitter to pay tribute to his friend. “The great “Gentleman of Golf”, Australian Kel Nagle passed away today. My deepest condolences to his family & friends. RIP my friend,” he wrote.

Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt said Nagle’s impressive record had made him “a giant of the game”. “But much more than that, he was an ambassador for his sport and his country, universally liked and admired by his peers,” Pitt said.

“His victory in the 1960 Open Championship was one of the most memorable by any major champion – the way he did that will never be forgotten.”

Nagle is just one of five Australians inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Article courtesy of The Guardian

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CALLAWAY’S INNOVATION CONTINUES TO IMPRESS IN LONGSTANDING RELATIONSHIP

Jan 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Through a relationship that has spanned over a decade, Gary Player, a proud global ambassador for Callaway, has seen the dramatic progression of technologies that the company founded by Ely Callaway perpetually produces. With its consistent ingenuity, Callaway continues to impress with their latest rollout of 2015 equipment that is highlighted by the XR family of woods, irons, and drivers, as well as the award-winning Big Bertha Alpha 815.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Callaway produces some of the best products in the industry,” said golf icon Gary Player. “I am thrilled to be affiliated with the company for well over 10 years now, and year after year, they blow me away with the precision, power, and innovation in their clubs.”

The Black Knight will make his annual stop in Carlsbad this month to get a firsthand look at the new products and future technologies, but will also lend his eye and skills by providing his input on the club development.
Player’s visit to the performance center is well timed as the Black Knight is gearing up for a big year. He will certainly be tuning up his driver as this spring, he will once again reunite “The Big Three” to kick off the Masters Tournament and is looking to outdrive Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

Callaway recently exclaimed, “Big Bertha is Back,” and carries on building upon the notable name with the latest driver in the Big Bertha series – the Big Bertha Alpha 815. The 815 has already made an impression as it has emerged as the best driver launch on tour with many of the impressive cast of Callaway staff pros making the switch.

“I always greatly respected Ely Callaway and his vision for golf and golf equipment and that continues to be seen in the current Callaway team led by Chip Brewer,” said Player. “I am thrilled to head to Carlsbad later this month to get a firsthand look at what is in store beyond the already remarkable 2015 equipment as I gear up for a number of tournaments.”

Player who will turn 80 this year stated that with Callaway equipment in his bag he regularly breaks his age by double-digits.

In addition to celebrating his 80th birthday, the Black Knight will have another cause for celebration as 2015 marks a significant milestone in his career and golfing history. It was 50 years ago that he captured the career Grand Slam at the U.S. Open Championship. Fellow Callaway pro Phil Mickelson will have a chance to match Player’s accomplishment as the U.S. Open travels to Chambers Bay this June.

The Callaway and Gary Player relationship extends beyond the golf course. In his role as ambassador, Player champions Callaway in corporate events and outings, but more importantly, the two come together to support underprivileged children.

“Callaway remains a dedicated partner and sponsor in our Gary Player Invitational global charity series,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “We are thrilled that Gary Player continues to represent Callaway around the world, but together we are really able to make a difference and provide relief and education to children in need through The Player Foundation in all four corners of the world.

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WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM TO OPEN GARY PLAYER GRAND SLAM 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EXHIBITION

Jan 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum will officially open the “Gary Player Grand Slam 50th Anniversary Exhibition”, celebrating Player’s historic accomplishment achieved with his victory at the 1965 United States Open held at Bellerive Country Club. With that victory, Player joined Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen as the only golfers to have achieved the career Grand Slam. Since that time, only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have accomplished the feat.

The exhibition will celebrate not only Player’s career Grand Slam, but will also explore the impact the Black Knight has had on the game of golf globally. Player, who still remains the only international player to accomplish the Grand Slam, was victorious an astounding 165 times during his career with the wins occurring in 21 countries on six continents.

“Gary has played such an integral role in globalizing the game of golf and the values he represents are what makes the Hall of Fame so proud to be able to call him our Global Ambassador,” said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. “We are thrilled to be able to open this exhibition, which celebrates not only Gary’s tremendous successes on the course, but also shares with guests the impact he has had off the course too through his commitment to education, family, charity, and fitness.”

“What an honour it is to have the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum celebrate this significant milestone in my career,” said golf icon Gary Player. “I continue to admire all the work that the World Golf Hall of Fame does for this game, and it will be a great privilege to visit the exhibit later this month for the grand opening ceremony.”

The exhibition will feature many of Player’s major championship trophies, along with his Green Jacket from the Masters Tournament and many other items from his illustrious career. Additionally, the gallery will share the story of Player’s global adventures, the important role family played in his career, and his life-long commitment to fitness. Guests will also have an opportunity to utilize the Hall of Fame’s new state of the art golf simulator within the exhibit, playing many of the same courses where Player captured victories during his career.  The exhibition will further be supported through unique video and photography.

The exhibition will be on display throughout 2015. For more information, including photos, about the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum and “Gary Player Grand Slam 50th Anniversary Exhibit,” visit WorldGolfHallofFame.org.

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN SELECTED FOR MILESTONE PROJECT IN THE REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Jan 28, 2015 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

One of the world’s most respected sporting icons, Gary Player, will make history as he has been selected as the designer of Golf du Kintélé, the Republic of Congo’s first championship golf course in the capital city of Brazzaville.

Among the most active international golf course design firms with almost 400 projects in their global portfolio, Gary Player Design continues to look forward to setting a new standard for golf as they embark on this project in the heart of the Congo.

“Golf continues to grow by leaps and bounds within Africa and it is an honour to bring this first championship standard course to the Republic of the Congo,” said golf icon Gary Player. “With this project, we hope to lay the footprint for golf’s continued emergence in Central Africa.”

For the first championship caliber course in the country, the Gary Player Design team is committed to implementing a strategic and playable course for all levels, while creating a world-class layout to support the high hopes of the overall sporting aspirations of Brazzaville.

The Republic of Congo is set to host the 2015 All-Africa Games in Brazzaville. In preparation for the Games, the development currently under construction will feature a 60,000 seat multi-purpose stadium, a 10,000 seat indoor stadium, a 2,000 seat aquatics center, and various other outdoor venues.

The addition of a Gary Player-designed golf course to the area will certainly enhance and complement the multi-sports complex under construction. Set along the hillside overlooking the remarkable All-African Games stadium and the Congo River, the course will take advantage of the dramatic topography of the site, while producing a layout to supplement and build upon the growing sporting features of the Brazzaville complex and area.

Senior Designer Jeff Lawrence recently completed an initial visit to get an impression of the site.

“We are excited that our client is dedicated to developing a world-class golf experience, and we aim to implement design elements that will lead to the promotion and expansion of the game in this emerging market while captivating and enhancing the natural features of the site,” said Lawrence. 

Complementing the Gary Player course will be a luxury clubhouse and hotel, as well as a small number of residential villas.

Gary Player Design continues to be an industry leader in environmental sensitivity and sustainability. The Golf du Kintélé project will built upon this approach, as the site will contains a number of ecological and maintenance-friendly practices to promote the natural features and indigenous flora along the Congo River.

“Environmental sensitivity continues to be of the utmost importance to Gary Player,” said Scott Ferrell, Gary Player Design President. “Not only do we look forward to creating a fantastic course that will raise playing standards in the Congo and continue to promote the game throughout Africa, but also set a sustainable example for golf in the country.”

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THE SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN: A POTTED HISTORY

Jan 6, 2015 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

The second oldest Open competition in golf, the South African Open Championship hosted by the City of Erkurhuleni, returns for its 104th edition this week at Glendower Golf Club.

Not only does South Africa’s National Open have a long history, it also boasts a rich past, with the likes of Gary Player, Bobby Locke, Ernie Els and Henrik Stenson having all made their mark on the event over the years. Let us take you through the highlights of this fascinating story.

The Early Years

In 1892, the first South African Open - then known as the South African Tournament - was contested as an exhibition match play event with Denholm Walker winning the inaugural edition, before D G Proudfoot went on to win the title eight years in a row from 1893 through to 1902 (no tournaments were held in the Boer War years between 1900 and 1901.)

Laurie Waters and George Fotheringham soon took advantage of it becoming a formal event in 1903 – with the former winning the first 36-hole stroke play edition, and the latter triumphing five times before the outbreak of the First World War.

The Brews Era & the emergence of Bobby Locke

The Brews family made their first mark on their National Open in 1921, with Jock Brews winning the event for the first time at Port Elizabeth Golf Club. This heralded the start of the ‘Brews Era’ with Jock and his younger brother Sid dominating the golf scene for many years to come (Jock winning four of his National Opens and Sid victorious in eight).

Another new venue, Parkview Golf Club, was chosen for the 1935 tournament, and with it emerged one of golf’s super stars, 17 year old A D ‘Bobby’ Locke. Scores of 70-76-75-75 brought Locke his first title and heralded the start of the ‘Locke era’, which was to last 20 years and see him win his home Open nine times & The Open Championship on four occasions.

The Player Years

The legendary Gary Player took over the mantle from Locke and continued to put South African golf on the map, eclipsing Locke’s list of achievements in the process. In the 26 years between 1956 and 1981, Player won the South African Open a remarkable 13 times.

That amazing period included a five-year winning streak for Player from 1965 to 1969, with the last triumph in that run seeing the South African card a sensational final round 64.
A Star Is Born

Player had left a vast void to fill and after his final victory at the South African Open Championship in 1981, the tournament had eight different winners in the next nine years, with five of those champions coming from outside of South Africa. 1992 was to prove another year to remember for South African golf fans, though, as a certain Theodore Ernest Els prevailed less than three years after joining the professional ranks.

Retief Goosen, another future South African Major winner, took the glory in 1995 before Els won the second of his five home titles a year later.

The Modern Era: 1997 -

Since the South African Open Championship has been co-sanctioned by both The European Tour and the Sunshine Tour from 1997, a strong tradition of home-grown success has continued with 12 native victories being registered during that period.

Masters Tournament winner Trevor Immelman won in successive years in 2003 and 2004, before 2010 saw the 100th staging of the prestigious competition as Scotland’s Richie Ramsay prevailed.

Els won the most recent of his crowns a year after thanks to a staggering 25 under par total. There was another big name on the trophy in 2012 as Henrik Stenson added to his list of victories at the Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate before Denmark’s Morten Ørum Madsen won his maiden European Tour title at last year’s event.

Article Courtesy of the European Tour

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HONDURAS’ INDURA RESORT TO DEBUT ON PGA TOUR LATINOAMERICA

Dec 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course DesignEvents & Tournaments   Share

The first Signature Course for Grand Slam champion and golf icon Gary Player in Central America will soon be featured on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica as Indura Beach & Golf Resort signed a three year deal to confirm the Black Knight’s course as the host of the PGA event. The first event of its kind in Honduras, the PGA Tour Latinoamérica will bring together 144 professional golfers to converge upon the Central American flagship project that is poised to set the standard for championship golf in the region from April 20-26, 2015.

“Indura Resort will be a fantastic addition to the PGA Tour Latinoamérica,” said golf icon Gary Player. “Gary Player Design has always prided ourselves on a global portfolio and what we have created at Indura is sure to be an excellent example of how golf continues to prosper in the region and drive tourism.”

“Today is a new page in the history of Honduras because we will have the opportunity to showcase the country to more than 30 million viewers by hosting the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica,” said José Gutiérrez, Director General of Indura Beach & Golf Resort. “I don’t know what other industry can do this. It is an honor and a privilege that we can be the host.”

The new luxury resort on the northern coastline of Honduras has already proven itself as a fantastic addition to the growing tourism industry in the area.

Stretching along 26 miles of the Tela Bay, Indura Resort was carefully designed by the Black Knight to naturally integrate the spectacular setting where a backdrop of mountains and tropical jungle meet the beauty of golden sandy beaches and the Caribbean Sea.

The world-class golfing experience will allow professionals the opportunity to play along the pristine beaches of the Caribbean Sea, into the tropical jungle, and adjacent to large lagoons, which will provide every player with a remarkable golf adventure. Each hole features varying design characteristics, strategic value, and aesthetic beauty, promising a real test.

While strategic elements of the course will provide a thrilling test come April, the golf course, like all Gary Player Design courses, emphasizes playability by all skill levels.

“When designing this course, we made sure to emphasize playability for all levels and the ecological sensitivity that is so important to our firm,” said Scott Ferrell. “We are thrilled for Indura to debut on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica as a new course and are certain that it will provide an excellent experience for fans and a great test for professionals.”

Since the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica was formed in 2012, the growing professional tour featured 17 tournaments across 13 countries in the 2014 season. Now with the addition of Honduras’ Indura Resort to the schedule, it seems that the Tour continues to gain momentum in the emerging golf region of Latin and South America.

Other countries with stops on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica include Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Brazil.

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TITLE YEAR FOR GARY PLAYER AWAITS DURING GRAND SLAM 50TH ANNIVERSARY

Dec 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

If you ask golf icon Gary Player about his victory at the 1965 U.S. Open Championship at Bellerive Country Club, it would be a clear and vivid memory that makes it hardly seem like 50 years ago. While it might seem just like yesterday, 2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Black Knight’s U.S. Open feat that catapulted him to his monumental Grand Slam title.

Player, who went on to become the most decorated and successful international golfer, became just the third individual to clinch golf’s most coveted title. Since Player achieved the Grand Slam, the only other golfers to join him, Ben Hogan, and Gene Sarazen have been Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods proving the sheer difficulty of winning each of golf’s Major Championships.

“The Grand Slam is certainly one of my greatest achievements because it showed that all my hard work had paid off,” said Gary Player. “With that 1965 victory, I became the first non-American to win the U.S. Open in 45 years and became only the third – and youngest, at 29 – to win the Grand Slam. That was an enormous achievement.”

By 1965, South African Player already had achieved unparalleled success for an international golfer as he became the youngest Open Championship victor at age 23 and the first international winner of The Masters.
When Player arrived at the 1965 U.S. Open at Bellerive Country Club with three Major titles to his name, he was convinced that he could, in fact, win the tournament and thus the Grand Slam. That belief proved fruitful as it was Player who was lifted the U.S. Open trophy after a Monday playoff round against Australian Kel Nagle.

While the Black Knight celebrates his monumental feat in 2015, there will be a great deal of excitement as Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson vie for the chance to join the list of Grand Slam winners at The Masters and U.S. Open, respectively.

Nine-time major champion Player is the only international golfer to have his name etched on each of The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, and PGA Championship trophies still to this day. Should Irishman McIlroy prevail in Augusta, he will join Player as the only other international champion.

The South African golfing legend is the only individual in the sport to claim the Grand Slam on the Senior Tour as well.

Winning the Grand Slam is seen as the ultimate feat in golf, but with that, Gary Player has always felt that using his success to give back to those less fortunate has been integral. The Black Knight made history at the ’65 U.S. Open and broke tradition as the first international Grand Slam champion donated all his tournament earnings to charity.

Player had previously promised Joe Dey, Director of the USGA, that when he won the U.S. Open, he would donate his winnings to charity. After being handing the winner’s check following the 18-hole playoff with Kel Nagle, he upheld his promise and handed the winning check back to Dey specifying that the proceeds should go to two important causes:  cancer research, in honor of Player’s mother who died of cancer, and the development of junior golf programs by the USGA.

“I was extremely thrilled to be able to give back at that moment especially since it was such an enormous milestone in my career,” said Player.

Player continues to carry out that vision by raising much needed funds for underprivileged children through The Player Foundation. Since its establishment in 1983 by Marc Player, The Player Foundation has raised nearly $60 million worldwide to create a brighter future for those in need.

2015 will hold many reasons for celebration. In addition the 50th anniversary of the Grand Slam, Player will celebrate his 80th birthday on November 1. For a man whose life soundtrack seems to be “Forever Young,” it is hard to believe the Black Knight still travels the world as enthusiastically as 50 years ago.

“Rest is rust,” said Player. “Age is a mentality. I am thrilled to celebrate my 80th birthday in November, but in my mind I am still in my 40s.”

While life does not seem to slow down for Player, that is a good thing as he will have a busy year in 2015 as he travels to each of the Major Championships to commemorate the Grand Slam, but is also busy with an ever-expanding golf course portfolio and flourishing corporate relationships.

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A LOOK BACK AT GARY PLAYER IN THE MEDIA FOR 2014

Dec 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

As the “World’s Most Traveled Athlete,” no one in golf travels more promoting the game than Gary Player. He continues to relentlessly endeavor to grow the game at all levels and in all corners of the globe. From junior golf to professional events, the International Ambassador of Golf is like the Energizer Bunny. The same can be said for the Black Knight in the media. Player continues to be a mainstay in golf and global media.

Throughout the past year, Gary Player has sustained his position as one of golf’s most relevant and leading voices. He has continued his visibility in global media and left a footprint as he discusses hot topics in golf and fitness with various high level, influential media outlets including The New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, ESPN, The Golf Channel, and beyond.

A leading humanitarian and communicator in the game of golf, he touches the lives of millions of people each year through his great passion for life, the game of golf, health and wellness, as well as his genuine love for people. The authenticity and motivational, loving qualities that Player has brought the game for over the past 60 years remains unmatched.

Following Player’s high-profile 2013 where the then 77-year-old posed nude for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, Player continued to spread the importance of diet, health, and fitness in golf and life. After pioneering exercise in golf, Player proved his ongoing influence as “Mr. Fitness” took the title of the all-time fittest PGA Tour player by the TOUR.

A look back at some of Player’s top interviews and features on the year:
Gary Player: Cowboy On The Green – Fortune

Golfer Gary Player’s Grand-Slam Living – The Wall Street Journal

Golf Great Gary Player On A Mission To Save Lives - CNN

Gary Player Making Mark as Business Tycoon – Sports Illustrated

Pro Files: Gary Player | Sports Illustrated

CNN Living Golf: Gary Player on The Masters


In Depth with Graham Bensigner

For more clips of Player’s interview with Graham Bensigner, visit here.


Top 10: All-Time Fittest PGA TOUR Players


Golfing World Features the Gary Player Invitational Series

 

 

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BRANDEN GRACE CLAIMS ALFRED DUNHILL CHAMPIONSHIP AT LEOPARD CREEK

Dec 15, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

South Africa’s Branden Grace kept his nerve while all around him lost theirs to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship at the Gary Player-designed Leopard Creek Country Club in South Africa.
Grace showed a steady hand to claim his first European Tour victory since 2012 as he carded a final round 68 for a tournament total of 20-under-par 268.

The 26-year-old, who completed the first ever wire-to-wire win in the tournament’s history, ended seven shots ahead of compatriot Louis Oosthuizen, who finished with a 69.

But for the rest of the chasing pack going into the final round it was a day of horrors, most notably Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, who trailed Grace by just a single shot going into Sunday, but feel victim to Leopard Creek as he carded a 17-over 89 as his game fell to pieces. He eventually tied for 49th.

“It’s been a long year and a hard year and now towards the end this is going to be a good Christmas, so it has been a fairytale ending,” Grace said at the trophy presentation.

Grace has never lost after leading at 54 holes, with all four of his previous titles coming in 2012.

Briton Danny Willett was in contention for a repeat of his Nedbank Challenge victory last weekend at Gary Player Country Club as he trailed by three shot. The Brit was faring well on the Gary Player Signature Courses that make up the South African swing on the European Tour, but a double-bogey on the 16th saw him drop six shots in the final three holes to finish with a 76.

He tied third on 10 under par with compatriot Andrew Johnson and home player Trevor Fisher junior.

Only eight of the 75 players who featured in Sunday’s final round carded under 70.

Article courtesy of SuperSport.

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WILLETT TAKES NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE TITLE AT GARY PLAYER COUNTRY CLUB

Dec 7, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course DesignEvents & Tournaments   Share

Danny Willett picked up the second European Tour title of his career after carding a final-round six-under-par 66 to convincingly win the Nedbank Golf Challenge staged at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa.

The Englishman holed six birdies on Sunday to finish 18 under for the tournament and seal a four-shot victory, beating fellow countrymen Ross Fisher and Luke Donald to the prize.

Willett took control at the Gary Player Country Club to deny Luke Donald the chance to toast a victory on his birthday. It was a frustrating final round for Donald, who came into the final day leading by a shot on 13 under, but could only close with a one-over 73.

He ended up finishing two shots behind Fisher, who registered seven birdies and three bogeys in a final-round 68. Marcel Siem finished three shots further back on nine under after shooting a 68, while Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat was fifth on seven under.

Willett’s only other victory came at the BMW International Open in 2012 and he put this win down to an aggressive approach.

“My caddie John and I spoke at the start of the week and came up with a good game plan, to be aggressive off the tee on this golf course,” he said.

The South African golf icon’s namesake course seemed to suit the Englishman, who put on quite the display.

‘It’s visually very intimidating, but I’ve been driving the ball really well and we wanted to give ourselves a lot more wedges and nine irons into holes, whereas some guys are just laying back.

‘We put a new Callaway driver in the bag a few weeks ago and it’s been tremendous.

‘It was just one of those weeks where the swing felt good and it came off. South Africa is a place that’s suited me in the past and I’ve played well golf down here.

“I love the place, love the people - everything about it is great. It’s been a truly fun test of golf.”

Article Courtesy of Daily Mail UK.

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FOR DR IAN PLAYER – THE FATHER OF RHINO CONSERVATION

Dec 5, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share


I care not in which God you believe
Nor which religion you follow
What matters most to the planet upon which we sit
Is that you leave this place better than you found it

Look at what we have been given – and all for free
Day and night, sun and moon, plant and tree
Animals, both pets and wild
People black, white, mostly meek and mild

And yet today, there are those who ruthlessly steal and plunder
And do their greedy best to tear this world asunder
Their targets are the elephants and the rhinos
Their motives make me cry, make me wonder

But there is one man who will always take a stand
Having served his country well in a foreign land
Returned to the soil that he loved, his beloved animals to protect
He started Operation Rhino to save the few that were left

Through thick and thin, they fought the odds
Less than a thousand rhinos left, they took on the sods
Moved the rhinos to safer places, no matter the cost
Without these actions, a species was lost
Magquba Ntombela and Ian Player – such men of honour are few
They did the business, the numbers grew
With courage, commitment and unfailing care
These two went to extremes where few men dare

Well pleased, but never satisfied that the job was done
Ian changed direction and formed the Foundation
A new challenge, the focus now on education
Another mountain to climb and perhaps a little more fun
Ian’s passion a beacon, a path to the sun

He hung up his boots and life followed its course
Then twenty years later all hell broke loose
Again his rhinos under threat
Hope turned to despair
Another tough challenge to be met

The fire burns within this lion-hearted man, but his hands are tied
His eyes became wistful as thousands more died
Man’s greed is insatiable, his cruelty relentless
These ancient creatures completely defenceless

One senses the rage, the despair and the anger
For here is a man who has survived great danger
He will not give up, he will never surrender
On behalf of his rangers and his rhinos and his great rainbow nation
The baton must be passed to a new generation
‘Age shall not weary them’, we all wish it were so
Ian Player is a living legend and a true hero
Attenborough, Durrell, Fossey, Goodall, great names all
But for me, Ian Player is the one – he stands tall


Ray Dearlove
October 1, 2014

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REMEMBERING DR. IAN PLAYER – A CONSERVATION PIONEER & BELOVED BROTHER

Nov 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

My beloved brother, Dr. Ian Player, today cast his canoe onto the river of life that will take him across to the other side. Ian has always played an enormous part in my life and was a tremendous influence as an older brother. I will miss him dearly.

A world-renowned conservationist, Ian was a man who contributed greatly to the world and dedicated his life to saving the precious nature that we have on this earth. It was easy to see his passion for South Africa, its conservation and its people. His efforts did not end in our country though, he traveled the world in the name of nature conservation and spearheaded campaigns to guarantee a future for many species.

We can be certain that Ian lived a full life of adventure and was a constant inspiration to myself and countless others. While he has left this world, we are comforted by knowing that death is not an end, but a beginning of one’s eternal life. He will be joining many who passed from this earthly life before him. Our parents, grandparents and his most cherished friend, Magqubu Ntombela, who was with Ian in the wilderness for over three decades.

Our family will miss him sorely, but now we hope to celebrate Ian’s life. Ian truly made a difference in this world with his heroic efforts for which he was bestowed countless awards and accolades, all of which he richly deserved.

The world has lost a great South African, a dedicated conservationist, a gentleman, a scholar, and to me, a loving brother.

I will take a walk in nature today remembering that one man can make a huge impact. His presence will always be felt for me in the wild and beautiful places of this world because that was where he was happiest. My thoughts are with his wife, Ann, and children Kenneth, Jessica and Amyas, as well as our sister Wilma at this time.

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THE CLIFFS AT MOUNTAIN PARK RECEIVES HIGH PRAISE IN COURSE RANKINGS

Nov 27, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

Only a year after the latest Gary Player Signature Design in the United States opened, The Cliffs at Mountain Park has set itself apart as high praise and honors are aplenty. The links-style course uniquely set among the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina most recently debuted at the number two position on Golf Digest’s listing for Best New Courses.

In addition to the Golf Digest acclaim, the Gary Player-designed track also placed on Golfweek’s Best New Residential Courses and Best Modern Courses rankings for 2015.

“I could not be more thrilled for the success of our design at The Cliffs at Mountain Park,” said Gary Player. “We knew that this was going to be a special course when we created a championship links layout in the beautiful mountain setting, and now to see all the accolades it has been receiving is wonderful.”

With a spirit of Scottish Links, Mountain Park is truly an experience for golfers in America’s Southeast as it incorporates abundant native grasses and environmentally friendly practices. The course is set among more than a million acres of State Parks and National Forests.

The 7218-yard layout was designed to the highest environmental standards, but also with playability for all levels in mind.

“The Cliffs at Mountain Park offers a fantastic experience that is very unique for the area,” said Scott Ferrell, Gary Player Design President. “The course takes full advantage of the beautiful, natural characteristics of the land in order to emphasize sustainability, but it also is a course that is enjoyable for all skill levels with its emphasis on links-style shot making, fast and firm conditions, walkability, and playability. I think all of these aspects have contributed to the success of Mountain Park.”

“It is an exciting golf course to experience,” said Jeff Lawrence, Gary Player Design Senior Designer. “In the design, we concentrated on shot options, wanting to bring the bump-and-run back, bring the contouring of golf back. Mostly, golfers will see that we spent an exceptional amount of time around the greens thinking and being creative.”

A challenge different from any of the other Cliffs’ six courses, Mountain Park continues to distinguish itself on a local and nation level as a course that is on any golfer’s must-play list.

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GARY PLAYER COUNTRY CLUB TO HOST WORLD’S BEST AT NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE

Nov 27, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course DesignEvents & Tournaments   Share

The Nedbank Golf Challenge will once again be the highlight of the South African golf year, with the 2014 tournament to be played on Sun International’s flagship track and golf icon Gary Player’s namesake course, the Gary Player Country Club, at Sun City from 4-7 December.

Recognized as one of the top courses in South Africa, the Gary Player Country Club will welcome the field that includes half of the victorious European Ryder Cup team as well as three former World Number One players.

“With yet another stellar field, the Nedbank Golf Challenge is sure to be a thrill this year,” said golf icon and tournament host Gary Player. “In its 32nd year, the tournament continues to shine and showcase our beautiful country of South Africa on a global stage.”

Africa’s Major, which is co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and European Tour, will feature a world-class field of 30 players competing for a total purse of $6.5-million, as well as standings on the European Tour’s money list and points in the Official World Golf Rankings and The Race to Dubai.

Denmark’s Thomas Bjørn will return to defend his title on the Gary Player-designed golf course that is expected to again be at its best for the prominent African tournament.

In addition to Bjørn, notables returning to South Africa are Lee Westwood, who is making his 10th appearance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and Martin Kaymer who is seeking to add to his 2012 triumph at Sun City.

The illustrious history of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, formerly the Million Dollar Challenge, can be seen by the impressive list of past champions including Johnny Miller, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, and Lee Westwood.

“We compare ourselves a lot with a Major like the Masters at Augusta, because you are presenting the same golf course for the same event at the same time every year,” says Antonie Els, the Director of Golf at Sun City. “We have returning sponsors and clients, media and TV viewers year in, year out, and people expect bigger and better every year. So we challenge ourselves in every little detail to see how we can improve.”
Gary Player will serve as host of the “African Major” once again, but his involvement extends back to the original conceptualization of the Million Dollar Challenge.

The groundbreaking tournament originated from conversation between Player and Sun City developer Sol Kerzner as the Black Knight wanted to launch a tournament to bring the world’s top players to South Africa and wanted to offer something that no other tournament in the world did - a $1 million first place check. 

The Million Dollar Challenge officially launched in 1981 and the rest remains history.

The par-72 Gary Player Country Club is once again sure to be a fierce challenge for the world’s finest players next week.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA AT SUN CITY

Nov 25, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

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GARY PLAYER WINS AT GOLF AND GIVING

Nov 23, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

It’s a “Union of Golf and Giving”, and Gary Player perfected them both when the golf icon led his team to victory in the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) presented by Coca-Cola at The Lost City Golf Club on Sunday.

Following the rousing success of the GPI in raising funds for its charity beneficiaries, which were in excess of R4 million from the gala auction and donations from participants and businessmen, Player and his team of former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena and businessmen Michael Zamkow and David Blue triumphed in Africa’s premier charity tournament by six strokes on 29 under par.

Celebrating 15 years as African’s premier charity golf event, the charity event has helped in raising over R600 million worldwide in order to support the various charitable causes supported by The Player Foundation.

This year’s event, staged at the Gary Player-designed Lost City Golf Course, featured celebrities teamed up with professional golfers and leading business executives all pledging their support in aid of charity. The substantial funds collected at the event will aid charity beneficiaries - Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka.

In the action on the course, respective teams of professionals Padraig Harrington and Ian Woosnam shared second place, behind host Player, on 23 under par.

Team Harrington had led by four shots going into Sunday’s final round. But a remarkable effort by Player to break his age by 11 shots individually and marshal his team through a morning of rain before the sun appeared saw the tournament host on the winning team for the first time in the 15-year history of this event.

“I felt like a young man out there today. It was such a thrill for me to play that kind of golf,” said Player. “There is always a challenge in this game. I’ve just been invited to a big tournament in Hawaii in January so this couldn’t have come at a better time. But I’m just so thrilled at the response we’ve had this year, raising so much money. And I want to thank our sponsors for supporting us for so many years, and our participants who gave so generously of their time and money this year for charity.”

Player’s teammates were in awe of his performance on Sunday. “He’s an incredible person and it was an honour for me to be a part of this,” said Mokoena, who made his debut in the tournament. “I came from humble beginnings so I know exactly how powerful these kinds of events are for the underprivileged.”

And both Zamkow and Blue were full of praise for how Player led their team. “He’s an unbelievable competitor,” said Zamkow. “He pushed us all the way. We went through the rain and the sun, and he just never gave up. He putted superbly and he never stopped encouraging and helping us,” said Zamkow.

“He’s a true sportsman,” added Blue. “He was just so positive out there. No matter what we did, he just kept motivating us. I’ll be back to defend this title next year, that’s for sure.”

As he walked off the 18th green, Player’s wife Vivienne hugged her husband as she’s done so many times throughout one of the greatest careers in the history of golf. And Player responded by handing her the silver baobab trophy that goes to the winning team.

“She said it’s such an iconic trophy because it’s so typically African, and she has always wanted it in our trophy cabinet at home,” said Player.

For a Grand Slam champion who owns every Major trophy in the game, this one will indeed take up a special place in the Player household.

While Player was thrilled to secure his first Gary Player Invitational victory in the series history, the giving spirit was the overwhelming champion as participants came together to aid those in need across South Africa.

“The South African leg of our GPI series is always a fantastic event that produces incredible results in our charity drive,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO and GPI series founder. “We are most appreciative to all our superb sponsors and generous guests who aid in creating a brighter future in South Africa and around the globe.”

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING / #GPI2014

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TEAM HARRINGTON STARTS STRONG IN GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

Nov 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Padraig Harrington’s role as a European Ryder Cup vice-captain this year was deemed invaluable, and he brought this same passion to the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola as his team claimed the lead in Saturday’s first round.

The triple Major champion reveled in his role as team leader of a fourball including Ladies European Tour rookie Amy Boulden and longtime Gary Player Invitational supporters and business leaders Jochi and Wilfried Sauerland.

“We had a great day in the team. We dovetailed well and made our scores when we needed to,” said Harrington after they had secured a four-stroke lead on 17 under par. The team of host Gary Player, former South African football star Aaron Mokoena and businessmen David Blue and Michael Zamkow are their nearest challengers on 13 under par.

But while Harrington was sublime with a personal round of nine-under-par 63 on the Gary Player-designed Lost City Golf Club course, the Irishman took even more delight in the pro-am nature of the event and the spirit of a “Union of Golf and Giving” in which it is being played. “I love pro-ams. I love marshaling the troops. I’ve won a few major tournament pro-ams, and I think it’s because I like the sideshow it brings. It’s a good distraction for me to watch the amateurs figure out why they play the game that they do, where they could improve. I’m fascinated by it.”

Even after leaving the 18th green, Harrington was still handing out tips to amateur partner Jochi Sauerland, taking his cue from his host Player, who is a master in pro-ams.

And Player also again proved his longevity on the golf course when he broke his age and inspired his team to an opening total of 13 under par. It was an effort helped by the strong finish of amateur partner Mokoena, who off his 22 handicap made a par on the stroke 1 17th hole and then parred the 18th as well. Zamkow, an 11 handicap, also finished strong with his par on 18 to give the team great momentum going into Sunday.

The team of Ian Woosnam, cricketer Herschelle Gibbs and businessmen Jaco Buitendag and Robbie Wray are in third place going into Sunday’s final round, and on a total of 12 under par. Buitendag was simply in awe of the experience in what is his debut in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola. “It’s been tremendous. I’ve been blown away by everything. After nine holes with Ian today I said, ‘This is something special and it’s an honour to be a part of it’.”
 
While the amateur tributes in the team focused mostly on the experience playing with Woosnam, the Welshman himself couldn’t stop speaking about how impressed he was with Gibbs’ game.

“Jeepers. When he connects the ball it just goes miles. He does everything pretty good.”

Gibbs was in the winning fourball last year, and is happy to be in the hunt again. “We’re sitting pretty at the moment. I think if Jaco and Robbie can hit a bit of form on the final day, then we’ll really stand a chance,” said Gibbs, who showed his prowess on the stroke 1 17th when he hit a monstrous drive, then a wedge to 10 feet and holed the putt for birdie.

But with the field still reveling in the R3.5 million raised for charity at Friday evening’s auction during the gala dinner and the euphoria of a job well done, Harrington has a message for his team before Sunday.

“We had our good day today, and somebody’s going to have that tomorrow. I go by the Hale Irwin theory that if you’re leading, you play like you’re one shot behind. We can’t protect anything on the final day. If we play well it will take a tremendous effort by the other teams to catch us.”

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING / #GPI2014

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GRAND SLAM GIVING AT GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL GALA

Nov 21, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Living up to its billing as the “Union of Golf and Giving”, the Gary Player Invitational, presented by Coca-Cola, raised approximately R3.5 million for charity at a star-studded gala dinner and auction held last night at Sun City.

The Gary Player Invitational, which celebrates 15 years as Africa’s premier charity golf event, has raised over R600 million worldwide in order to support the various charitable causes supported by The Player Foundation.

This year’s GPI tournament, staged at the Gary Player-designed Lost City Golf Course, features celebrities teamed up with professional golfers and leading business executives all pledging their support in aid of charity. All proceeds raised from the event will benefit charity beneficiaries - Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka.

Golfing icon and tournament host, Player, said he was thrilled with the support shown at this year’s auction.

“It is incredibly exciting and gratifying to see an event like this change the lives of people. The generosity on display last night was just amazing. My great dream is to reach a billion rand raised for charity through The Player Foundation before I retire. And I’m still young, I’m not ready to retire yet,” he said.

The black-tie gala dinner and auction event saw Major champions Ian Woosnam and Padraig Harrington; European Tour contenders Robert Rock, Thomas Levet, Ignacio Garrido and Jake Roos; as well as Ladies European Tour campaigners Carly Booth and Amy Boulden all in attendance.

The professional golfers and guests also rubbed shoulders with actress Vanessa Haywood, former Bafana Bafana soccer captain Aaron Mokoena, Spanish model and actress Inés Sastre, radio personality Thomas Msengana as well as former Proteas cricketers Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs.

The auction’s most sought-after item, an exclusive package to The Masters as a guest of Gary Player and Black Knight International, raised the highest bid for the evening, raking in R 700 000.

Other items on auction included unforgettable experiences at the Open Championship, Wimbledon, Rugby World Cup, and BMW Championship, as well as a sculpture by renowned South African artist Donald Greig, bespoke jewellery piece by Schwartz Jewellers, exclusive Au.Ra brandy, and a trip to Ireland’s Old Head Links.

“The South African leg of our GPI series is always a fantastic event that produces incredible results in our charity drive,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO and GPI series founder. “We are most appreciative to all our superb sponsors and generous guests who aid in creating a brighter future in South Africa and around the globe.”

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING / #GPI2014

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STARS RALLY FOR UNION OF GOLF AND GIVING AT GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

Nov 21, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Some of the biggest names in golf, sport, entertainment and business have rallied around the message of hope and the theme of a “Union of Golf and Giving” that underpins this year’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, Africa’s premier charity golf event.

The tournament, to be played at the Gary Player-designed Lost City Golf Club on the weekend, has brought together professional golfers such as triple Major champion Padraig Harrington and former European Ryder Cup captain and Masters champion Ian Woosnam; sports stars such as South African cricket greats Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Herschelle Gibbs, and former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena; celebrities Inés Sastre and Vanessa Haywood; and an array of business leaders all hoping to contribute to the close to R600 million the global Gary Player Invitational series has raised for charity.

And Gibbs set the tone for the weekend when he put into perspective the impact of such an event.

“I can understand giving hope to these young kids. That’s all they want in life. Hope goes a long way as far as an underprivileged child is concerned. What Gary Player has done over the years, and everybody that has made this tournament possible, has been absolutely fantastic,” said Gibbs, who was part of the winning fourball team last year.

Woosnam also recounted his reasons for being a longtime supporter of this series.

“Gary is a legend, and to be able to come down to South Africa for Gary is always a pleasure. I had a bit of a similar background to him. It was a bit hard in the beginning, so I’m privileged to be in the position I am now. To give people a chance at a better life is something I’m very proud of. I’m glad to be able to give my services, because there are not too many people who can be in such a position to do so.”

Both Kallis and Boucher were in awe of the money this series has already raised globally.

“It’s unbelievable. Any time anybody does something for charity, South Africans put up their hands and try and make a difference. That’s why we are here, to also try and make a difference and hopefully change a few underprivileged people’s lives,” said Jacques Kallis.

“Almost R600 million raised is a great effort. I’m involved in conservation charity and I understand how difficult it is to create the funds in order to put this back into the charity. So R600 million is something I could definitely aspire to. Gary and his team have done an unbelievable job in raising these funds,” added Boucher.

And tournament host and golf icon Player himself spoke of a desire to reach an even greater goal than this.

“It makes me very excited to see an event like this change the lives of people. My great dream is to reach a billion rand raised for charity before I retire. And I’m still young. I’m not ready to retire yet,” said the Grand Slam champion.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING / #GPI2014

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MOKOENA, ROOS COMPLETE FIELD FOR GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

Nov 17, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena and Sunshine Tour professional Jake Roos will complete the field for this week’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at The Lost City Golf Club.

The two will join an impressive line-up of golfers, sports stars, celebrities and top business leaders at Africa’s premier charity tournament in aid of various charities supported by The Player Foundation.

Professional Roos will feature alongside 18-time Major winner and Grand Slam champion Gary Player; triple Major Champion Padraig Harrington; former Masters champion and European Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam; European Tour professionals Robert Rock, Thomas Levet and Ignacio Garrido; and Ladies European Tour campaigners Carly Booth and Amy Boulden.

And Mokoena joins a list of sports stars and celebrities including South African cricket legends Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Herschelle Gibbs; South African model and actress Vanessa Haywood; Spanish model and actress Inés Sastre; and radio personality Thomas Msengana.

“We have another wonderful field for the South African leg of our global Gary Player Invitational series, and we look forward to making another significant contribution to the already over R600 million the GPI series has already raised for various charities supported by The Player Foundation,” said Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International.

Roos heads to Sun City having this year claimed his 15th professional title. The former top-ranked South African amateur has won on the Sunshine Tour, European Challenge Tour, and various mini tours.

And Mokoena joins a long list of former football greats who have played in the Gary Player Invitational series over the years. The 33-year-old South African was the youngest player to ever represent Bafana Bafana and went on to captain the national team and earn 107 caps for his country. He also played for Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth in the Barclays Premier League.

The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola will take place from 20-23 November at The Lost City Golf Club and The Palace of the Lost City.
For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN’S MODRY LAS COLLECTS TOP HONOURS AT THE WORLD GOLF AWARDS

Nov 17, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

Modry Las Golf Club has reaffirmed its position as one of the top golfing venues in central Europe after being named Poland’s best golf course at the inaugural World Golf Awards. The West Pomerania Gary Player-designed course beat off competition from six other Polish venues to claim the title which was presented at a glittering awards ceremony in Portugal.

Following six months of voting by golf tourism professionals, the award announcement was a fitting way for the Polish club to bring to a close a spectacular golfing season. After collecting the coveted award, the resort’s International Marketing Director said she was thrilled to receive Poland’s national prize at the gala evening.
“After celebrating our fifth anniversary, launching a new website and doubling our on-site accommodation, what better way to round off a terrific year than being voted the best golf course in Poland at the World Golf Awards?” asked Pamela Gromadzki.

She continued: “What made this award special was the way it was voted for. These awards were launched to celebrate excellence in golf tourism around the globe. As such, we received votes from central Europe, Scandanvia and western Europe, but also from further afield such as the US. This award cements Modry Las as an international resort that offers a distinctive and exceptional golfing experience.”

This latest accolade will be added to a bulging trophy cabinet at the resort, which became the only Polish entry in Golf Journal, Germany’s leading golf magazine’s Top 100 list of European golf courses earlier this year. It was also selected in Golf World’s 2009 and 2011 Top 100s and named Poland’s best golf course by the country’s leading golf website http://www.Polishgolf.pl.

World Golf Awards Managing Director Chris Frost said: “It is with tremendous pride we present the title of Poland’s Best Golf Course to Modry Las. With its stunning backdrop, the West Pomeranian course utilises some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe to create a truly unique golfing experience.”
He continued: “Opening its doors just five years ago, Modry Las has become one of the most sought-after golfing experiences in Europe. And, with the recent introduction of a specially designed golf academy and the opening of three stylish Swiss-designed self-catering cottages, our voters have recognised the course as the best in class.”

Already boasting an 18-hole Gary Player-designed championship course and a Peter Bronson Golf Academy, Modry Las has seen continual improvements since its official opening in 2009. For instance, new Garden Suites have received great praise and the development of a stunning new nine-hole course indicates this pace of change is not letting up.

At the World Golf Awards, Modry Las received votes from leading tourism professionals and consumers from around the world, which Gromadzki said has given her team a timely boost. “In a busy, competitive marketplace, the amount of votes cast for Modry Las was extremely encouraging and only serves to reinvigorate our efforts to create one of the best golf resort experiences there is.”

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CRICKETERS MARK BOUCHER AND JACQUES KALLIS TO COMPETE AT 2014 GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Nov 17, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Former Proteas wicket keeper Mark Boucher and SA all-rounder Jacques Kallis are the latest celebrity additions to the 2014 Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, which will take place at the Lost City Golf Course and The Palace Hotel at Sun City later this week from 20-23 November. 

Both Boucher and Kallis, who are avid golfers, join the likes of fellow celebrity challengers Spanish model and actress Inés Sastre, actress and athlete Vanessa Haywood and cricketer Herschelle Gibbs as well as professional golfers Ian Woosnam, Carly Booth, Lee Slattery and Amy Boulden, who will all be competing on the golf course at this year’s “Union of Golf and Giving” in aid of charity at Africa’s most prestigious charity golf event.

Celebrating 15 years of giving back this year, the GPI series has raised over R600 million for charity in order to support the various causes supported by The Player Foundation. Later this week, the participants will compete to raise funds for Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka - this year’s charity beneficiaries of the tournament.

Boucher says he is excited to return to the GPI playing field for a third time, alongside golf icon Gary Player.

“It’s always great to raise awareness for a good cause, that’s why I’ve decided to compete again this year at Sun City. Gary Player does a great job of giving back and being a golfer myself, I look forward to the event at the Lost City Golf Course and The Palace Hotel,” Boucher said.

Boucher, like Player, aims to make a difference in the world with his own support of a worthy cause. A proud advocate of rhino conservation, the former Proteas star heads up the Castle Lager Boucher Legacy initiative in South Africa – an initiative he took up after hanging up his cricket gloves for good, due to a career-ending eye injury.

Using a Rhino DNA Index System project, the Castle Lager Boucher Legacy aims to DNA profile each rhino individually in South Africa. In doing so, every rhino horn can be traced back to its source – helping to combat poachers as well as protect the South African rhino species.

Boucher’s charitable efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2013, the Castle Lager Boucher Legacy raised over R1.3 Million to purchase a revolutionary DNA analysis machine, which now processes 24 rhino DNA samples per day - up from only eight samples a day previously.

When he’s not raising funds for his own passionate interests, Boucher is an avid golfer who spends a great deal of his spare time on the golf course. As for fellow Proteas cricketer, Jacques Kallis, he’s “excited to show off his golf skills” at the Lost City Golf Course.

“I’m excited to compete against some of the world’s best golfers and celebrities at Sun City this year. I expect to a little nervous at first, seeing as it’s my first tournament, however I look forward to the challenge,” said Jacques Kallis.

While it’s Kallis’s first time competing at the GPI event presented by Coca-Cola, tournament host and golfing legend Player is thrilled to have both Proteas stars join the field at this year’s tournament.

“It’s a great honour to have two world-class sportsmen such as Boucher and Kallis showing their support to the tournament this year. I look forward to seeing how they fair on the golf course, all in the name of supporting The Player Foundation and our charity beneficiaries,” he said.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING / #GPISA2014

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HARRINGTON ADDS MAJOR PRESENCE TO GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

Nov 11, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Triple Major champion Padraig Harrington has added his name to a professional field for this month’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola that now has a combined 13 Majors and 258 tournament victories worldwide.

The 20-23 November tournament, the final leg in the global Gary Player Invitational series to be played at The Lost City Golf Club at Sun City, will see Grand Slam champion Gary Player lead a field of top professionals alongside an array of celebrities and business leaders in Africa’s premier charity golf tournament.

South African cricketer Herschelle Gibbs has also confirmed his place amongst the former sports greats and celebrities taking part, and joins Spanish model and actress Inés Sastre, and actress Vanessa Haywood. As part of the spirit of this Union of Golf and Giving, they will all be seeking to help add to the over R600 million the GPI series has already raised for various charities supported by The Player Foundation.

Harrington, winner of the 2007 and 2008 Open Championship and 2008 PGA Championship, joins 1991 Masters champion and former Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam, European Tour campaigners Ignacio Garrido, Robert Rock and Thomas Levet, and Ladies European Tour professionals Carly Booth and Amy Boulden in the professional field.

“We have been privileged to have had such incredible support from professional golfers over the years, and this year is no exception. It is really going to be a treat for our celebrities and business leaders to play alongside Major champions and multiple tournament winners,” said golf icon Gary Player.

Harrington’s place in the tournament is certainly timely as the former European Tour Order of Merit winner, European Tour Golfer of the Year and PGA Tour Player of the Year seeks to draw from the inspirational Player as he attempts to work his way back up the world rankings.

“I’ve got to get inside the top 15 in the world to make the Olympics in 2016. That’s the big goal. I really feel good about my game, so I believe I can do it. I’m in a good frame of mind. What you’ve done in the past doesn’t make much difference to the future. You need to be working on things in the present. I’m quite excited about my mental game at the moment,” said Harrington, the vice-captain for the European team in the 2014 Ryder Cup.
For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING / #GPISA2014

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GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL BUILDS UPON SUCCESS TO AID CHILDREN ACROSS CHINA

Nov 4, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Golf icon Gary Player and The Player Foundation continue to provide aid and spread hope for a bright future for underprivileged children across China following another successful Gary Player Invitational (GPI) in Shanghai.

The event featuring a dazzling gala and pro-am tournament added significant funds to the 2014 fundraising campaign to benefit this year’s selected beneficiary, the Zhejiang Xinhua Compassion Education Foundation.

This year was the eighth year that the GPI global charity series, staged by Black Knight International, has ventured to Shanghai, China. Including funds raised at this year’s gala, the charity event, situated between the BMW Masters and WGC-HSBC Champions, has generated over RMB 60 million in China in order to aid in improving lives and providing educational support to underprivileged children.

“I have always felt exceptionally passionate about helping children in need and I could not be more pleased with the outcome of our event here in Shanghai,” said Gary Player. “Through this event, we have the power to create a brighter future for countless children here in China.”

The Grand Slam champion hosted hundreds of businessmen, philanthropists, golf enthusiasts, and celebrity artists including Jasmine Chen at the Jing An Shangri-La hotel for the GPI Gala. The star-studded event included numerous performances and a thrilling live auction before golfers teed it up at the Shanghai Links for the GPI Pro-Am tournament.

“China remains a very important and significant stop for our Gary Player Invitational series as we have been able to create a truly meaningful impact with The Player Foundation’s efforts across the country,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “The success of the event would certainly not be possible without the great sponsors including Rolex, SAP, Callaway, Coca-Cola, BMW, NetJets, Naked Retreats, and the Jing An Shangri-La Hotel.”

Funds raised from the event will go to expand the efforts of the Zhejiang Xinhua Compassion Education Foundation to assist with education and provide meals for children in the rural areas of the country. Since its establishment in 2007, the charity has assisted over 29000 students, as well as built over 120 libraries and over 340 Elementary Schools. The foundation also distributes over 7500 eggs each day in the One Child One Egg Program.

Player, who celebrated his birthday a few days earlier, exclaimed, “Being able to make this great impact for the youth there in China is very special to me and perhaps the best birthday present that I could wish for.”

Following the successful stop in Shanghai, the 2014 Gary Player Invitational series is set to conclude at South Africa’s Sun City Resort on November 20-23.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING / #GPISA2014

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE BLACK KNIGHT

Oct 31, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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PLAYER’S BIRTHDAY WISH A MESSAGE OF HOPE

Oct 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Golf icon Gary Player delivered a strong message of hope as he celebrates his 79th birthday tomorrow with enthusiasm and energy befitting someone decades to his junior.

Recognised as a global humanitarian for his charity work, the Grand Slam champion is celebrating his birthday in China as part of his global tour with the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) series.

The GPI series, staged by Black Knight International, travels to the USA, Europe, China, South Africa, and Abu Dhabi in order to raise funds for The Player Foundation and its many charity beneficiaries around the world. Since 1983, The Player Foundation has raised nearly $60 million to aid underprivileged children. The event in China will be played at the Shanghai Links Golf Club from 3-4 November to support the Zhejiang Xinhua Compassion Education Foundation in providing meals for children in the rural areas of the country.

As his birthday is spent in preparation of the Chinese leg of the widely successful charity series, South Africa’s most successful sportsman has often been called the most positive man in golf for his optimistic and cheerful views on life, which translated well to the golf course with Player accumulating 165 worldwide victories.

Following his many achievements on the golf course, Player has vowed to use his success in order to make an impact on the world.

“What we have done across the globe with The Player Foundation has truly been one of my greatest accomplishments,” said Player. “Over the past 31 years, it is incredibly rewarding to give hope and create a brighter future for children in need.”

The 2014 GPI series will conclude in South Africa later this month and Player especially sees this as a sensitive time for his home country amidst the economic challenges facing the country.

“It has been a difficult time for us as a country, but we’ve faced many challenges before and our success has always been the unity this creates amongst ordinary South Africans who remain determined to make this country the miracle it is,” an emotional Player said from China.

Player’s passion for his country once again shined through as he spoke of his greatest wish at this time.

“I’ve lived through so many changes in South Africa, from the breaking down of Apartheid to the new democracy led by our greatest leader, Nelson Mandela. And through it all, I’ve seen how resilient South Africans are,” said Player. “My own career was built around what South Africa made me as a person. I had no more exceptional talent than the next man, but growing up in South Africa taught me how to work hard and go after your dreams and believe in yourself. Now is the time to keep that miracle alive and keep working to make this country great.”

Player continues to be hopeful for the future and will have much to celebrate in the coming year. In addition to the continued work of the GPI series to fund the bountiful works of The Player Foundation, the Black Knight is set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of clinching the Grand Slam. The anniversary is a significant milestone as Player became the only international golfer to achieve golf’s greatest feat of winning each of golf’s four Major Championships.

After asking Player what he is most looking forward at the age of 79, his response was simply, “Life. It is a beautiful thing. I’m anticipating another fantastic year and have no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.”

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