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FROM THE BLACK KNIGHT ARCHIVES: GARY PLAYER AND THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

Jun 29, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

From his 1960 appearance wearing black and white pants in protest of his native South Africa’s apartheid regime to his recent comments supporting the R&A’s removal of Muirfield from The Open Rota, Gary Player’s appearances and achievements at The Open Championship are interwoven with his efforts to encourage equality in golf, sport and life. From his first Open Championship win in 1959 to his third in 1974, and in the years since, Player has stood for equality. The Black Knight Archives offer a glimpse into Player’s record 46 appearances at the Open Championship, including both his golfing achievements and the issues he stood for.

In 1959, Gary Player won his first Major Championship at The Open in Muirfield at age 23. At the time, he was the youngest Champion Golfer of the Year in the modern era. This program from 1959 depicts the famed Claret Jug on its cover. On the occasion of his first Major win, Player actually thought he had surely lost and left the course. He had to be called back for the prize giving. He would go on to win The Open two more times on the regular Tour and three times on the Senior Tour.

Following his 1959 victory, Gary Player returned as the defending champion to the 1960 Open Championship at the Old Course in St. Andrews. There he quietly made an important statement regarding racial equality. Wearing a pair of pants made up of one black leg and one white leg, Player took a stand against the policy of apartheid in his native South Africa. At several points in his career, especially when playing in the Civil Rights-era United States, Player was accused of racism because of his affiliation with the nation of South Africa, with spectators throwing ice in his eyes, telephone books at him, and screaming on his back swing. However, Player long stood against the apartheid policy of his home country, inviting black golfers (Lee Elder) and other athletes (Arthur Ashe) to play in South Africa in efforts to move toward integrated sport and society.

This 1968 program shows a few past Open Champions. In 1968, Player himself became a two-time Open Champion after battling against bad weather at Carnoustie, the longest course in Open history at 7,252 yards.

At the 1974 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, Player completed a wire-to-wire victory to become the first modern golfer to win The Open in three different decades. At one point during the championship, Player had to play against a wall left handed. This image shows Player getting out of this difficult position with his caddy Alfred “Rabbit” Dyer looking on. Rabbit was the first black man to caddy at the Open Championship and despite opposition, Player stood by his side.

As this photo from the 2000 Open Championship shows, Gary Player again donned the same pair of black and white pants that he had worn 40 years earlier. This time, Player wore the pants in celebration of the demise of apartheid and freedom for Nelson Mandela.

Player continues to stand up for equality, even if it puts him on the opposing side of the course where he won his first Open Championship, Muirfield in Scotland. Player released a statement agreeing with the R&A that Muirfield should be removed from the courses on the Open Rota due to the club’s vote to continue its men-only membership policy.  Player wrote that “staging the championship at any venue that does not admit women as members is simply unacceptable.”

Gary Player will be in attendance at this year’s Open Championship staged at Royal Troon, which is poised to change its own all-male membership policy to allow women as members before the 145th Open Championship is staged there July 10 – 17.

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JASON DAY, WORLD’S TOP GOLFER, PULLS OF OUT OLYMPICS OVER ZIKA FEARS

Jun 29, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Jason Day, the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, became the latest player to pull out of the Olympics because of concern over the Zika virus.

“The reason for my decision is my concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it may present to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family,” he said in a statement.

Day, 28, of Australia, won last year’s P.G.A. Championship for his first major title.

Golf is in the Olympics this year for the first time since 1904. But with a large number of key players pulling out, its future may be in doubt.

Barry Maister, an International Olympic Committee member from New Zealand, this week blasted the golfers who have dropped out of the Games. “I think it is appalling,” he told the radio station Newstalk ZB. “I don’t like it, and I don’t think the sport should be allowed to continue in the Games under that scenario.”

Maister added, “Just getting in with your name and then putting up some second- or third-rate players is so far from the Olympic ideal or the expectation of the Olympic movement.”

With Day out, the top three golfers from Australia (Day, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman) have decided not to go to the Olympics. And the top three golfers from South Africa are all not going: Branden Grace, Louis
Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

Shane Lowry also pulled out of the Olympics on Tuesday, citing Zika, meaning the top three golfers who could represent Ireland are also out: Lowry; Rory McIlroy, ranked No. 4, who also cited the virus; and Graeme McDowell, who said he wanted to be with his wife, Kristin, during herpregnancy. Vijay Singh of Fiji has also pulled out.

Gary Player, the 80-year-old captain of the South African team, joked last week that he was ready to step in and play if needed.

In addition to Zika fears, golfers have cited a busy schedule as a concern. The British Open and the P.G.A. are both being held in late July, just before the Games.

Golf has been the hardest-hit sport, but the American cyclist Tejay van Garderen also withdrew from the Games over the virus. Some athletes and coaches have said they will preserve sperm for possible future pregnancies before traveling to Rio.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus linked to severe birth defects. Hundreds of thousands are infected in Brazil, and the virus has been tied to thousands of cases of microcephaly, which causes unusually small heads and brain damage in newborns. The virus can be sexually transmitted.

Some scientists have called for postponement or cancellation of the Games because of the health emergency. Olympic officials say the risk is minimal.

The top-ranked American, Jordan Spieth, No. 2 in the world, is still expected to compete.

None of the world’s top female golfers have backed out of the Olympics, even though they ostensibly face a greater health risk.

Since the decision to add golf to the Summer Olympics program, the reaction of the top players has been lukewarm. With many major events on the annual calendar, the value of an Olympic medal is not the same as it is for athletes for whom the Olympics is the pinnacle of their sport.

Plenty of athletes in those sports are still eager to compete. “Everyone keeps dropping off one by one,” said the 18-time gold medalist Michael Phelps, who is competing in the United States swimming trials in Indianapolis. “Nobody wants to go. But hopefully I get to go soon.”

Serena Williams, speaking at Wimbledon, acknowledged that “it’s difficult for someone that’s in a sport like golf because their main goal, like tennis, is to win slams,” but said of playing at the Olympics, “It is really one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had.”

Article courtesy of The New York Times

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12 THINGS GARY PLAYER CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT

Jun 28, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Plettenberg Bay
Most legendary sports figures have their own special oasis. For Gary Player, Plettenberg Bay on the southern coast of South Africa provides the Black Knight with a home away from home.

Gary Player Stud Farm
Gary Player calls the Great Karoo of South Africa home. He has plenty of roommates as it is home to hundreds of thoroughbred racehorses.
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” - Gary Player

Rolex Watch
“A Crown for Every Achievement.” The Black Knight’s relationship with Rolex goes back to the 1960s.

Links at Fancourt
Designed by Gary Player and opened in 2000, the world-renown Links at Fancourt was host to the 2003 President’s Cup and is Africa’s top ranked course according to Golf Digest.

Green Juice
Kale, Spinach, Carrot Tops, Celery, Cucumber, Sunflower Sprouts, Pea Greens, Cabbage Leaves, Sorrel, Stinging Nettle, Purslane, Collards, Beet Greens, Swiss Chard, Apple, Lemon, Ginger. Garlic to your taste.

Gary Player African Wildlife Conservation Portfolio
Wilderness is critical to our wellbeing. The five picture series of African wildlife has raised more than $200,000 for The Player Foundation.

Player Wine
The prestige series, comprising nine select tastes is produced in South Africa winery in the heart of the Stellenbosch wine lands.

Leafy Greens Café
Leafy Greens Café is a Johannesburg vegetarian restaurant with a difference. Located on a blissful organic farm in Muldersdrift, it is Gary Player’s favorite place to dine.

Fitness Routine
With a nickname like Mr. Fitness, it is no surprise the Black Knight practices a strict workout regime. Stretching, core exercises, leg presses, dumbbell exercises, skipping and treadmill sprints fill his mornings.

Blair Atholl School
What started out as an effort to educate children in the rural area of Johannesburg has blossomed into a self-sufficient school annually educating more than 500 children. The Player Foundation provides a feeding scheme, medical and dental care, transport services, adult education and training, and a number of recreational facilities for the students.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones
With more than 25 million kilometers traveled during his storied career, Gary Player doesn’t leave for a trip without packing this essential item for some peace & quiet.

Vivienne Player
Gary Player met his wife of almost 60 years on the golf course. They married a few years later after the Black Knight won the Australian PGA. They have six children and 22 grandchildren.

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IN CONVERSATION WITH GARY PLAYER…

Jun 28, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

GolfBusinessNews.com talks exclusively to icon of the game and nine-time Major winner, Gary Player, on the eve of the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at Wentworth Club…

Q: What is the format for the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at Wentworth?
It follows a similar theme to the other tournaments in the Gary Player Invitational global series which are staged in the USA, China, Japan, Abu Dhabi and South Africa. The events pair golfers from the professional Tours with businessmen, celebrities and international sports figures.

The proceeds from these tournaments and other special events provide funding through The Player Foundation for our beneficiaries including, DepaulUK, the Blair Atholl School in South Africa, the Pleasant City Elementary School in Palm Beach, the Masizame in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, and AIDS infected children in Baoshan, a drug-infested city located on the China-Burma border.

The sole purpose of these events is to raise important funds for our chosen good causes under our global moniker, a union of golf and giving.

Q: Who is Berenberg?
Berenberg was established in 1590 and today is one of Europe’s leading privately owned banks. With its headquarters in Hamburg and strong presences in Frankfurt, London, New York and Zurich it works from 19 offices across Europe, America and Asia. It delivers its expertise through four divisions – private banking, investment banking, asset management and corporate banking.

Q: What is its heritage in golf?

Berenberg has actively supported the sport of golf for many years. From 2010 to 2013, the bank was the principal sponsor of the Berenberg Masters, a widely respected tournament on the European Senior Tour, and was held in Fancourt, South Africa in 2010, at the Cologne Golf and Country Club in Germany in 2011 and 2013, and at the Wörthsee Golf Club in Germany in 2012. Since 2014, the bank has been the main sponsor of the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational in London and New York. I am a brand ambassador for Berenberg, and their portfolio of ambassadors continues with Martin Kaymer, Colin Montgomerie and Branden Grace. Berenberg is a simply a huge supporter of golf and charity.

Q: You’re still going strong at 80, and the Gary Player Foundation continues to raise millions of dollars for charitable causes. Is there a target to hit, and by when?

We are aiming for $100 million by 2025. That’s our goal. Since its establishment in 1983 by my son Marc, The Player Foundation has raised more than $62 million to the support of children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.

What began as an effort to provide education, nutrition, medical care and athletic activities, for a small community of disadvantaged children living on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa, has now blossomed into an organization that circles the globe bringing aid to underprivileged children and impoverished communities.

Q: Why do you feel it is important golf steps up and supports good causes?

Golf certainly does is part in regards to charity. I believe we have raised more money than all other sports combined. The world’s top professional golfers have the opportunity to generate incredible wealth through massive amounts of prize money and endorsements. It is exactly this wealth in professional golf that allows the sport to excel at giving back. It is important golf constantly steps up and makes a difference.

I think this difference comes when you realise the talent you have is really just on loan to you, and can be taken away tomorrow. True success is judged by your relationship with your fellow human beings and that’s why it’s important to always give back.

Q: Tell us more about the charity DepaulUK which receives funds from the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at Wentworth?

DepaulUK is a wonderful charity doing a very important job. They help young people who are vulnerable and disadvantaged, and is based around the UK tackling homelessness at every level. It’s Nightstop UK service offers emergency short-term accommodation in the homes of local volunteers on a night-by-night basis. They helped more than 50,000 young people since it was founded in 1989.

Q: Aside from your impressive charity work, at 80-years-old you are still the figure-head of a successful global business in Black Knight International, run by your son, Marc. Is it not time to slow down?

Rest is rust. Retirement is a death warrant. People having to retire from a company when they’re 60 or 65 is hogwash. How could someone tell me I’ve got to retire at 80 when I could still beat most guys under 40 in a fitness contest? How can I retire when I’m still traveling more than most people that ever lived? And how can I retire when I’m still working on my ranch mixing cement, carrying poles, driving a tractor and planting trees? I plan to keep working and helping those in need until the day I die. We do have a succession plan in place and hope my brand will continue after my death too.

Q: You are also captain of the South African golf team at The Olympics in Rio. There has been much debate around some professional golfers from certain countries deciding not to compete. Is golf as an Olympic sport a nice to have, rather than a need to have?

Firstly, I’m sorry to see some professionals withdrawing from the Olympics. I respect everyone’s reasons for not playing, but I hope that the International Olympic Committee will not remove golf from the games in the future. I would have given anything as a young man to participate in the Olympics. I am very thankful this year to have my chance to walk into the arena in Rio as captain of the South African team.

The Olympics will undoubtedly grow the game worldwide no matter who plays and who doesn’t. So many eyes will see golf on TV that maybe never had the chance to do so before. Many people fought tooth and nail for decades to get golf back in, a true worldwide effort. And we should be showcased on the biggest stage in sports. Golf needs to be an Olympic sport because of its global appeal. Players today make so much money and should be giving back. The Olympics, in my opinion, is one way they can do this since there is no prize money.

Q: Should golf feel confident about its future?

Golf has much to feel positive about. In the professional game we have talented young stars like Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and my fellow countrymen, Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen. All are wonderful players and respect the game. Golf is in safe hands.

However, we are facing challenges head on as a sport at the amateur level. There are great initiatives out there encouraging people from all walks of life to try the sport for the first time. We need to continue to think deeply about how we keep golfers coming back round after round.

Q: How would you personally like to be remembered?

I’ve often said I want my epitaph to say, “Here is a man who was interested in his fellow man, in education and health, and he bettered the lives of people around the world.”

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GARY PLAYER SAYS HE KNOWS THE FLAW IN JORDAN SPIETH’S SWING

Jun 13, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, is heading into this week’s US Open with a glaring fault in his swing, one that Gary Player believes he can fix and give the young American a chance to win more majors than even Jack Nicklaus.

Asked which one of the game’s current “Big Three” he’d like to be going into the second major of the season at Oakmont, Player picked out Spieth, who is bidding to become the event’s first back-to-back winner since Curtis Strange achieved that feat in 1989.

“If you look at The Masters this year, it was very interesting,” noted the 80-year-old South African, who was speaking at Royal Troon during a patrons’ day for Mercedes-Benz ahead of next month’s Open Championship at the Ayrshire venue. “You had Rory McIlroy swinging the club beautifully and you had Jason Day playing beautifully. Then you had Jordan Spieth playing very badly. As he said himself, he had his B game that week. He had a 7 at a par 3 (the 12th in the final round) yet still beat them (McIlroy and Day).”

Unfortunately for Spieth, of course, that untimely quadruple-bogey as he closed in on a second successive Masters triumph opened the door for Englishman Danny Willett to claim the Green Jacket, though the Texan has taken just three events to return to winning ways on the PGA Tour. According to Player, his victory in the Dean & Deluca Invitational in Fort Worth last month delivered proof of two things.

“All you hear now from golf commentators is how far players hit the ball,” added the nine-time major champion. “Yet 70 per cent of golf is from 100 yards and in. Golf comes down to the mind and putting, not long driving, as we have been brain-washed to think. No-one putts anywhere near as good as Jordan Spieth. In fact, Jordan Spieth around the green is as good as any man that has ever lived.

“However, he has a fault in his swing and I would love to spend 30 minutes with him to straighten that out. I’ve hit more balls – 11.2 million – than any man that has ever lived. I’ve also been around the best players in the world for 63 years and I see this fault in his swing and they are not finding it.

“He goes to a tournament a few weeks ago and says he doesn’t know where the ball is going and loses the tournament by one shot. This guy is so good around the green that if he can get rid of this fault in his swing, he might turn out to be the best player that ever lived. That is the possibility.”

Asked by Scotland on Sunday why, if it is such an obvious fault, it wasn’t being picked up by Spieth’s long-time coach, Australian Cameron McCormick, Player said: “I dinnae ken, laddie. It’s a bit like asking why could the coaches who taught Tiger Woods not teach him the right thing when he was changing his swing? Tiger Woods never had a lesson yet he won the US Open by 15 shots…15 shots! If he never had a lesson in his life, he would have gone on and won 22 majors by now. He’d have broken every inconceivable record. Yet he goes and has lessons. One guy tells him this, another guy tells him this and he ends up being confused.

“People think I am talking nonsense but I have only met one person in my 63 years as a pro that really and truly knew the golf swing. He was Ben Hogan and he wouldn’t tell you much.”

Oakmont is where Tommy Armour, the “Silver Scot”, won his US Open in 1927, claiming the title in an 18-hole play-off with Harry Cooper. It’s also where Colin Montgomerie lost out in a similar play-off to Ernie Els in 1994, when the shoot-out also involved Loren Roberts.

In the last US Open there, the 2007 event that saw Argentina’s Angel Cabrera come out on top, the winning total was five-over-par. On a course where the par-3 eighth measures 288 yards, the par-5 12th is 667 yards and the ninth is now a 477-yard par-4, having been a par-5 prior to 2007, players are predicting a stiff examination this week, even by US Open standards.

“It truly is, I think, the hardest golf course we’ve ever played,” reported Phil Mickelson of a visit last week in preparation for his latest bid to land that elusive US Open trophy after finishing runner-up six times in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2013. “They let the rough grow long – if it’s wet they’ll leave it like that, if it’s dry they’ll thin it out because less balls will hit the fairway.

“A lot of golf courses, when it challenges you tee to green the way Oakmont does, it usually has a little bit of a reprieve on the greens. [But] you really don’t at Oakmont, they are some of the most undulating, fast, difficult greens to putt.”

Concurring, Spieth said: “If the fairways get too firm, it could potentially be scary and could be almost too challenging to hold them in certain cases. The best player will come out on top this week. You will have no crazy circumstance or bounces or this or that. You have to golf your ball around this place and the person who is in full control of their entire game will win this US Open.

“I know that if you win a US Open at Oakmont you can say you’ve conquered the hardest test in golf, because this is arguably the hardest course in America day-to-day. That would obviously be a tremendous honour. Any time you win the US Open, you’ve won the hardest test in golf that year, but this is potentially the hardest test in all of golf.”

At least they are trying to master it with modern equipment. On his visit to Royal Troon, Player couldn’t resist picking up an old wooden-headed driver he came across in the professional’s shop and found himself shaking his head in disbelief. “I looked at it and said, ‘I would give anything to see Rory and these guys playing this driver’. It looked like a piece of bloody crap and it makes you think, ‘how did we produce the scores we did with that type of equipment?’ Amazing.”

Article courtesy of The Scotsman

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GOLF THE MAZAGAN WAY

Jun 13, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The first thing that you notice when you play Mazagan is just how immaculate the tee boxes are. They are perfect. There’s not a divot in sight or a blade of grass out of place, and this is May when the course is coming out of its busy winter period. I am instantly impressed, and if not a little bit surprised.

The first hole takes you past some villas on the left, but this is by no means a villa development with a golf course; it is anything but that.

The next surprise is the quality of the greens. Immaculate, true and fast. I ask the Director of golf what they are running on the Stimp and he tells me 11. But if they have a competition he’ll make sure they run even faster. Gulp!

And it’s not just speed that the greens offer, but cunning pin placements, with the flags changed every day. This is a course that will keep you guessing.

If you think about it, most golf courses in the UK will have a green keeping staff of perhaps three of four. Here they have a staff of 20, and it really shows in the general condition of the course and the quality of the greens, tee boxes and fairways.

The course is the work of Gary Player Design, and was laid out in 2009 so it is now properly matured.

One of the fundamental principles of Gary Player’s GPD is that it must respect the environment, as Gary Player is “a rancher at heart, and leaving a piece of land better than we found it is extremely important to me.”

Fair play Sir Gary.

This is why the course uses “Platinum Paspalum”, as it is particularly resilient to salt water and can be watered with recycled water from the resort.

At 7,500 yards Mazagan is the longest course in Morocco, but with four different tee boxes it has been designed to cater for all levels of golfers, which is another key principle of Gary Player Design.

I’d have to say that it’s not for the absolute beginner, even off the front tees. The course has too many teeth for a complete novice, but there’s a Nike sponsored academy on the resort to get the real novice course ready.

The core ingredients that are on offer at Mazagan are great conditioning, fantastic greens, and a really challenging course that will take you more than a few rounds to figure out properly.

Which is why the resort finds that most guests play the course all week, rather than being tempted by the nearby inland course.

It’s by far and away the best course I have played in Morocco, and that includes Gary Player’s Golf Mogador course in Essaouira, which is another high quality track – but doesn’t have the full links experience that is on offer at Mazagan.


The heart of this Par 72 links course is set alongside three kilometers of white sandy beach, and it is proper links because there is always a breeze off the Atlantic, which is both refreshing and an integral part of the challenge that is on offer here.

Back to the course, and another key feature is that there are no concrete card paths: rather you ride along sandy paths, which give the course an even more natural feel.

The best holes are right on the beach front, with the 15th, 16th and 18th particularly strong and beautiful. But in all honesty there’s not a dud hole on this course.

One caveat, whilst the fairways are generous, if you do hit a wild one, you will be punished. Go into the succulent-rich rough and you have zero chance of finding your ball.

And the locals know this, so keep a few Dirhams on you and you’ll be able to snap up a bargain bag of quality balls. Just don’t tell the Director of Golf I said that.

This is a very high quality golf experience that will deliver for golfers of all standards. This is much more that a normal golf resort. Enjoy!


Article courtesy of Golf Punk

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LIES, DAMN LIES & STATISTICS

Jun 10, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player has branded the research document released by the R&A and USGA into driving distance as ‘laughable.’

The document, released last week, claimed that distance was up only 1 percent on four of the seven main tours, while it had decreased by the same percentage on the other three tours.

But speaking at Royal Troon five weeks before the start of the Open Championship, the nine-time major winner hotly disputed the findings and said you only have to see for yourself how far the players are hitting it to know that it’s a growing problem within the game.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” said the 80-year-old. “You can’t take an average. Take the 20 longest hitters from whatever era you like, put it together and compare it to now – and you’ll see a 50-yard difference.

“I know because Nicklaus was leading driver with 287 and today, it’s got to be at least – well, the longest drivers like Rory – you keep hearing that he’s regularly hitting it 340-350 yards. That never happened in our time. It’s really laughable.”

In 2005, when still playing on the Champions Tour, Gary Player called for equipment changes, saying that continued releases and growth in driving distances was ‘ruining golf’.

And he raised his concerns about St Andrews as an Open Championship venue in the decades to come, claiming players will soon be able to reach the green off the tee on almost half of the holes on the Old Course.

“I mean, there’s a guy called Jamie Sadlowski, he would stand on the first tee at St Andrews and drive over the green,” added Gary Player. “Never mind stats, eyes don’t lie and there are many players in the world who would drive over the green. So, I’m not interested in these stats. I’m seeing things that were not possible – 360, sometimes 400-yard drives.

“And this is why I’ve been vehemently outspoken about the ball. We’re in for big trouble if we don’t change the ball. In the years to come, you’ll see players drive the green on eight of the holes at St Andrews. Will that be an Open Championship? It’ll be laughable.

“We’ve got a tsunami coming because we’ve got guys going to the gym now and working out – which I was condemned for and called an idiot for doing – so it’s really a lot of crap. It’s Mickey Mouse what you’re seeing now because soon we’re going to see real athletes. It better change, otherwise they’re [R&A/USGA] going to be caught with their pants down.”

Article courtesy of Bunkered

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GARY PLAYER: MUIRFIELD WILL WIN BACK THE OPEN WITHIN 10 YEARS

Jun 10, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The South African is among the 14 players to have tasted victory in golf’s oldest major at the home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, where members failed to deliver a two-thirds majority last month over a proposal to admit women on the same terms as men.

That decision led the R&A to announce it had dropped Muirfield from the Open Championship rota with immediate effect and would not consider it again for the event unless mixed membership was in place.

Speaking yesterday at Royal Troon, where a move to open the club’s doors to women members ahead of this year’s Open Championship at the Ayrshire venue is set to be rubber-stamped at a special general meeting on 1 July, Player said Muirfield was “too good” to be left out in the wilderness.

The 80-year-old believes that won’t happen, though, as he reckons the membership issue will have been resolved to the satisfaction of the R&A by the time it will be due for Muirfield to host the event again, which is likely to be 2023 at the earliest.

“What I see happening – and I hope I’m not wrong – is that by the time it comes round to when the tournament would next be due to go there, plus or minus eight or nine years probably, which is a long time, I think you will have a brand-new lot of members and I think that they will change and go to a mixed membership,” said Player. “There’s no question about it in my mind . In fact, if I was a betting man, I’d be heading to Ladbrokes right now!”

In just his fourth Open Championship appearance, the man known universally in the game as “The Black Knight” shot rounds of 75-71-70-68 to claim the Claret Jug on the East Lothian coast by two shots from Englishman Fred Bullock and Belgian Flory Van Donck.

Player, who also triumphed in the event in 1968 and 1974, still talks of turning up for that event ten days early to practice and using a sob story about being poor to befriend Colonel Brian Evans-Lombe, the club secretary at the time, as one of his favourite memories from an Open Championship career spanning 40 years. “The course at Muirfield is too good for it not to host the Open Championship, which, of course, has way more history attached to it than any other tournament,” he added, before entertaining guests of Mercedes-Benz, one of the event’s patrons, at Royal Troon, where the hand of Mother Nature has delivered a scenario whereby water was being pumped off the course two months ago but is now being applied through sprinklers following the recent dry spell. “It would be a shame if the event didn’t go back there.”

Player insisted it was purely a “coincidence” that the last six Open Championships to be held at Royal Troon have all been won by Americans. “There is no particular reason that I am aware of – it is just one of those things,” he said of a statistic that is sure to be of encouragement for the likes of Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler as they prepare for their first Open at the venue.

He also described the task force set up by the Americans ahead of this year’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine as “hilarious”. He said: “I’ve got such a kick out of seeing the Americans form a panel to try and work out why they lost eight of the last ten matches in the Ryder Cup.

“If it was me, I’d be saying, ‘man, he’s better than me and next year I’m going to be better than him. I’m going to work my butt off’. There’s no need to have a panel.”

Article courtesy of The Scotsman

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EXPERIENCE GARY PLAYER’S HOLE-IN-ONE “THE MOMENT” AT THE MASTERS

Jun 1, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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MASTERS CHAMPION DANNY WILLETT HEADLINES A STELLAR FIELD FOR THE BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

May 31, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

An all-star field has been announced for the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at Wentworth Club in London on July 18, including 15 Major winners and current Masters Champion, Danny Willett.

Black Knight International and title sponsor Berenberg will bring together stars from the men’s and women’s game, following The Open at Royal Troon, under the banner of a Union of Golf and Giving. The Player Foundation, that supports children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world, will raise much-needed funds for the chosen beneficiaries.

Competitors from the men’s game include tournament host Gary Player, Tom Watson, Danny Willett, Branden Grace, Martin Kaymer, Colin Montgomerie, Jason Dufner, Tom Lehman, Fred Couples, Padraig Harrington, Charl Schwartzel, Marc Leishman, Paul McGinley, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Rich Beem and David Howell.

From the women’s game, Juli Inkster, Carly Booth, Suzann Pettersen, Georgia Hall, Joanna Klatten, Emma Cabrera-Bello, Victoria Lovelady, Danielle Montgomery, Caroline Martens, Anna Rawson, Courtney Harter, Alex Peters, Lauren Taylor and Sarah Jane Boyd will take part in the event at Wentworth Club’s Edinburgh Course, a Gary Player-designed layout.

“To be able to bring together a group of friends and fellow professionals that have collectively won 42 Majors is something very special,” said Gary Player. “I am confident our union of golf and giving, supported by our title sponsor Berenberg, will make a difference and positively affect the lives of vulnerable young people.”

“We are proud to be a part of the Gary Player Invitational global series that raises funds for such worthwhile causes,” said Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, Managing Partner of Berenberg. Berenberg was founded in 1590 and is the second oldest bank in the world.

“The tournament will not only raise money for Depaul UK, an organization that helps homeless young people in the UK, it will also be a meeting of our brand ambassador family, consisting of Gary Player, Colin Montgomerie, Martin Kaymer, Branden Grace, and Georgia Hall.”

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational forms part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational series, which has helped The Player Foundation raise more than $62 million for charities worldwide.

“I’m thrilled to be participating in the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational in London this year, and to be supporting The Player Foundation and its on-going contribution to helping those less fortunate around the world,” said reigning Masters champion Danny Willett. “This is an amazing charity led golf tournament that allows us to help others while doing what we love, and I am so happy to be a part of it.”

In addition to the United Kingdom, annual events are staged by Black Knight International in Abu Dhabi, Japan, USA, China and South Africa.

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FROM THE BLACK KNIGHT ARCHIVES: GARY PLAYER AND THE U.S. OPEN

May 27, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Twenty-nine appearances, nine top 10 finishes, two runner-ups, and one victory - a victory which completed the career Grand Slam and launched Gary Player into golf immortality.

Player’s history with the U.S. Open is full of great moments, some of which have been captured on film or through objects that now rest in the Black Knight Archives. This peek into the archives shows just a few of Player’s many mementos from the U.S. Open, not only from 1965, but from throughout his long and illustrious career.

Player won the U.S. Open in 1965 at the age of 29, making him the youngest Grand Slam Champion. The event was the fourth and final Major he needed to complete the career Grand Slam. That day in June of 1965 will always be an important anniversary for the Black Knight. 2016 marks 51 years since Player completed golf’s greatest achievement.

This official program from the 65th U.S. Open sold for $1.50 in 1965. The tournament was held at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri for the first and only time. The course was the longest in U.S. Open history at the time, a monster measuring 7,191 yards and the weather was sweltering. Player battled with Australian Kel Nagle for the title all the way into a Monday playoff, winning with a 71. With that win, Player became only the third man in history to win all four Majors and complete the career Grand Slam.

Upon winning the U.S. Open and being presented the winner’s check, Player immediately handed it right back to Joe Dey, Director of the USGA, to be donated to cancer research and junior golf development. His own mother had died from cancer when Player was only 8 years old and he wanted to contribute to the fight against the terrible disease. His contribution to junior golf was in honor of his own difficult childhood and his belief that golf could help young people.

Since 1965, Player’s U.S. Open win and resulting Grand Slam have been memorialized and commemorated in many forms, including this money clip. The face of the money clip is inscribed with the details of each of Player’s four Major victories as well as his name. The money clip was a gift presented to Player to honor his achievement.

The USGA also remembered Player’s U.S. Open win during their centennial celebration in 1995. This commemorative coin marked both the USGA’s centennial and listed Player’s accomplishments in USGA events, including his U.S. Open win in 1965 and his two Senior U.S. Open wins, in 1987 and 1988.

In Player’s other appearances and attendance at the championship many memories have been made. The U.S. Open is a special part of his career and will remain so. The 116th U.S. Open will be held this year at Oakmont Country Club. Although Player will not be in attendance, he will closely watch as Phil Mickelson vies in his third attempt to join Player, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as career Grand Slam Champions.

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“FELT LIKE WINNING THE BRITISH OPEN” - GARY PLAYER

May 24, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

“Experiencing the assembly at Grey College felt like winning the British Open.”

These were the words of South African and World golfing great, Gary Player, during his visit to the City of Roses on Monday.

The nine-time major champion visited the Free State school where he was the guest speaker at the Grey Academy & e-Learning programme fundraiser breakfast.The boys were in for a treat when Player addressed them in assembly before speaking to businessmen and women.

Player left the assembly with tears in his eyes after being overwhelmed by the unique experience in the hall.The 80-year-old golfing legend then personally chatted to a group of the boys who have experienced hardship in their lives in one form or another and gave them words of encouragement and valuable advice.

Working with the underprivileged and the youth has long been a passion of Player, both on and off the golf course, and the next crop of young South African golfers really excites the inspirational figure.

With players such as Brandon Stone, Haydn Porteous, Zander Lombard and Bloemfontein’s very own Dean Burmester making waves in local and international golf, Player, told Courant that he is optimistic about South African golf entering a golden era.“It’s very exciting for me and the thing that I’m the most excited about, is that there is golf tournament of prominence everywhere in the world every week.

“These guys are getting more publicity for South Africa than any other sport, without a question. They are getting people of the high echelon as well as the lower echelon or the lower middle-class type person. What we need is tourism, badly, in South Africa, because our crime is so high and people are scared to come here.

“If we never had crime everybody would have a job and a home and we would live in luxury. But be that as it may, they are representing us so well, they behave well, they dress well, they speak well and they are playing well. I’m so proud of them. In their ambassadorial roles they are number one.”

While Branden Grace is tipped to be the next South African golfer to win one of the four majors, the aforementioned names are certainly ones to remember and it’s almost without a doubt that they will be following in the footsteps of Player, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Trevor Immelman.

The next major will be the will be the US Open at the Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.

Article courtesy of Morgan Piek

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WENTWORTH CLUB ANNOUNCES GARY PLAYER DESIGN FOR EDINBURGH COURSE RENOVATION

May 20, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Wentworth Club has announced the appointment of Gary Player Design to carry out the renovation of its famous Edinburgh Course as part of the multi-million pound investment programme being undertaken by the Club and its owners Reignwood Group.

Player’s involvement will mark a continuation of his long and proud association with the Club, dating back to his 1965 World Match Play victory at Wentworth, and his subsequent input into the original design of the Edinburgh Course, which opened in 1990.

Wentworth Club will draw upon Player’s 65 years of elite golfing experience and market-leading design credentials to establish the Edinburgh Course as one of the premier golf courses in the world.

Over the next year, a number of improvements will be made to the course, including:

• A comprehensive renewal of the irrigation system
• A new bunker programme
• A world class driving range and short game practice area
• The replacement of grasses on putting surfaces

The announcement is the latest in a string of significant developments revealed at Wentworth Club and continues its relationship with world leading course designers on the renovation of its three golf courses. Earlier this year, Ernie Els was unveiled as the designer who will lead renovations of Wentworth’s West Course, which will begin in earnest after this year’s BMW PGA Championship.

Both appointments form part of Reignwood’s wider commitment to make Wentworth the world’s leading private golf and country club.

Commenting on the announcement, Player said, “Having played at Wentworth Club many times I’ve always found it to be one of the world’s elite golfing venues and I am excited to help shape the future of golf at Wentworth, building a course which is as thrilling to play as it is to design.

“Our objective for the Edinburgh Course is to renovate the features and infrastructure to create a world-class golf course. It will be challenging yet fun to play, and have a look and character that is unique and quite different from the demanding Championship West Course.”

Wentworth Club Chief Executive Stephen Gibson said, “We are absolutely delighted to be working with Gary Player Design on developing the Edinburgh Course. He is one of the greatest ambassadors for the game and knows better than anyone what it takes to both play and design great courses.

“This appointment demonstrates the Club’s clear commitment to becoming a world-class golfing venue and we cannot wait to begin work in the coming weeks and months to ensure the very best golfing experience for our members.”

In addition to the improvement projects for the West Course and Edinburgh Course, the Club’s East Course will also undergo an extensive renovation, with a design partner to be announced soon. The upgrades to the golf courses complement the wider investment programme at the famous Wentworth Club, which will see significant enhancements across all its facilities, including to its tennis & health and fine-dining facilities and the overall level of service provided to members.

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GARY PLAYER SHARES MEMORIES FROM SCOTLAND AND TIPS FOR HEALTHY LIVING

May 18, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player first arrived in Scotland aged 19 in 1955. He had £200 in pocket and slept on the beach at St Andrews before taking part in his first Open Championship.

The 80-year-old is worth considerably more now and stays in the finest hotels on his regular visits to the country where his Glaswegian grandparents were born.

But the South African still recalls that first night under the stars in Fife.

“The hotels were all about £50 a night, so I put on my waterproofs and slept on the beach where they later filmed Chariots of Fire,” he recalls. “I could the hear the ocean and had a wonderful night.

“I would have slept there for the rest of the week but they’d probably have put me in jail.”

Player never won an Open at St Andrews but two of his three championships were won in Scotland; at Muirfield and Carnoustie.

The Open remains pinnacle

Ahead of this year’s event at Royal Troon, the nine-time major winner thinks the Open is the toughest test in world golf.

“It’s very exciting it’s still the ultimate test,” he told BBC Scotland.

“It can be normal sunshine in the morning then in the afternoon you could be playing in the wind and the rain. I always say it’s a man’s tournament.”

So who is the great man tipping for success at this year’s Open?

“The best player in the world is Jason Day, he has a phenomenal swing. So does Rory McIlroy and the other player in the top three I think is Adam Scott.

“But the best putter is Jordan Spieth. He is a phenomenal putter. I continually hear about long driving in golf, but that’s not the game. The most important part is your mind and how you putt.

“Putting it makes you feel like Tarzan, but if you miss a short one you feel like Jane.

“It’s the man who really has that great week of putting [who will win]. It’s the mind and I cant emphasise that enough.”

Fitness fanatic

But Player puts just as much emphasis on the body and is still fanatical about fitness, even in his ninth decade.

“I do 1300 sit-ups and crunches four times a week, I still push 400 lbs with my legs and run on the treadmill at max,” he explains.

“I still average 70 for a round of golf, that’s 10 shots better than my age!”

Player acknowledges his role as a pioneer in changing the way professional golfers approach their sport.

“When I first started playing the only weights golfers lifted was putting martini in your glass,” he laughs.

“I can’t deny I had an influence in changing that. These days they travel with a portable gymnasium, the way people like Rory McIlroy train is magnificent.”

Player is an evangelist for a healthy lifestyle and is hoping Scots listen to his message.

Eat less, exercise more

“The less you eat the longer you live,” he says. “Most people eat like every meal was the last supper.

“I breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and have dinner like a pauper. But let me tell you you Scots are in the top three for the worst eaters in the world. If I lived here I don’t know how my heart would be.

“I would never eat bacon, sausage, white bread or milk. I fed that stuff to my dog and he died three years ago.

“But Scots would never give up their haggis, neeps and tatties.

“I say to people, drink a little less, stop smoking, eat less and buy a treadmill. I think people should under eat and over exercise. In Britain you are facing an epidemic of diabetes in future.

“I really want to get my message over to young people. They, as my ultimate hero Winston Churchill said, are the trustees of posterity. But young people today are deteriorating.

“You see them punch drunk on their computers, at dinner on their little boxes, no conversation. They come home from school and they are on it, it’s important to have knowledge but you have to get out and exercise.”

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WHY I CRIED AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL

May 18, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Irish pop star Ronan Keating, an ultra-keen golfer, is still on cloud nine following his first-ever visit to the Masters accompanied by his wife Storm. Here’s the full story of one of the best weeks of the Boyzone singer’s life. So much so that he cried tears of joy….

“I am a lucky man, no doubt about it. I have had some incredible experiences, like singing with Elton John at Madison Square Garden or performing with Pavarotti in Modena in Italy. I didn’t plan these events, and I certainly don’t take them for granted. It’s just that performing is what I do for a living. But recently I prepared a bucket list of things I want to experience in my life, things that I’d like to plan.

And so it was that I found myself in the august surroundings of Augusta. I have played good and bad golf for more than 25 years: I absolutely love the game and if I could do anything other than sing it would be to play professional golf.

I stumbled upon the game when I was about 13 and my brothers were living and working in New York. To make a few extra quid, they caddied in upstate New York and when they came back to Ireland they brought the game with them. We were a working class family and Gaelic Football was our sport. But when my brothers returned I took up golf, and ever since I have been hooked.

Going to the Masters was on my bucket list, so for my 39th Birthday my wife Storm organised a trip to Augusta National. I found out in the course of a 20-hour journey from Australia that we would be guests of our good friend Gary Player. Yes, Gary is a friend and someone I admire greatly in my life.

He is an inspiration to me, and I wish that all the young golfers would spend some time with Gary and understand what it takes to be great as he is truly one of the best players of all time. He also had a hole-in-one at the Par 3 event on the Wednesday leading up to the tournament - not bad at 80 years young! I’m still waiting for my first ace.

Walking through the gates of Augusta National, I squeezed my wife’s hand and thanked her. I actually couldn’t believe I was here, we checked in our phones and proceeded through the security scanners and we were finally in.

I cannot tell you how manicured and perfect everything is - it’s like a scene from a Nicholas Sparks novel, with white picket fences and the greenest grass you have ever seen ( I even asked someone if they sprayed the grass and he replied “hell, no sir”). I once read a book called ‘Golfing with God’ in which the writer imagines that Heaven is whatever you want it to be so his version of heaven was Augusta National. Now I understand why.

These are the most coveted golf acres in the world, and the hardest golf course to become a member, unless, of course, you are a captain of Industry or a Fortune 500 boss. And yet this little skinny kid from Dublin was there! I stood at the side of the first fairway and took it all in, the lush fairways, the elevated tee box (which blew my mind because on TV it all looks so flat).

Conveniently, my mate and former world No. 1 Lee Westwood was about to tee off on 10 so we headed there. He was my tip for the tournament, so we planned on sticking with him for the event. Lee was playing with Tom Watson and Tom had confirmed that this would be his last Masters so you can imagine the crowds and the love that was shown for Tom on every hole. It was quite overwhelming but hard to see any golf as the crowds were five deep on every tee and green.

We watched all sorts of golf through the afternoon - holes in one, cuts, slices, fades, an albatross, birdies, bogeys. It was incredible to watch these men, and to see them putt 20 feet in one direction for the ball to turn and turn again to finally reach the hole. It really was an education, mind boggling in fact.

Come Saturday and the cut was decided, the game was well and truly on and our host Gary Player invited us to visit the Clubhouse. I never imagined I would get this opportunity in my lifetime so we arrived at Magnolia Lane, the 300-yard driveway that leads to the Clubhouse, the coveted street that is exclusively for players and members.

Gary told me that every year when he arrives on the first day he gets out of the car and walks the 300 yards and gives thanks for all he has achieved and done in his career: Can this man get any cooler?

It’s the perfect clubhouse with its dark green carpet and white walls, and the silver trophy sits in the bay window.  Gary and I then took the narrow winding staircase up to the Champions Room. So there I was with one of the greatest golfers in the history of the game, inspecting the trophy cabinet and the personalised lockers of all the past winners. This may sound unlikely, but I started to cry as I was so overwhelmed by what I was seeing.

Sunday came around and Storm and I got up early to play Champions’ Retreat, a complex of three nine holers designed by Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. This place is truly amazing: the attention to detail is incredible, although the greens are like Augusta, so there is no shame in three-putting. We loved every minute. After this fabulous experience, we returned to Augusta for what was set up to be one of the most exciting final days for years.

Lee was teeing off at 2:15 and he was playing alongside fellow Englishman Danny Willett so we got our walking shoes on and off we went.

The conditions were perfect, the sun was shining and there was little or no wind. It wasn’t until the back nine that things really started to heat up when leader Jordan Spieth with a 5-shot lead started to falter and open the door for Willet and Westwood

Danny was looking stronger but I kept hoping that Lee would catch a break and move into the lead. Then, on 15, after an approach shot that leaked over the back of the green he chipped in for an eagle and we went wild. It was electric and we really thought that this was it: it was his turn finally to put on the green jacket.

Sadly, Lee bogeyed the next and Danny just got stronger. The final three holes were the most exciting golf I have ever watched, willing on my friend to win but also admiring the exciting charge from Danny. It doesn’t get any better.

Walking up 18, we couldn’t even get near the green. It was 20 deep as all the chairs were placed surrounding the final hole. We jumped up and down and tried to catch a glimpse between the people in front of us, and it makes you realise how exceptional the coverage on TV is, as you get to see every shot from every angle. Nevertheless, it doesn’t convey the atmosphere or the beauty of the course. It’s hard to take it all in.

In the end, Danny Willett brought it home in spectacular fashion and my wife and I sat ringside as a very unhappy Jordan Spieth placed the green jacket on Willett’s shoulders to rapturous applause. And, with that, the sun set on our once in a lifetime adventure, and item one on my bucket list was ticked off….

Article courtesy of Today’s Golfer

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GOLFING GREAT PLAYER IS PITCH PERFECT IN PARADISE

May 17, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Sporting great Gary Player showed class is permanent in Paradise yesterday (Monday) as the 80-year-old handed out a golfing masterclass to Celtic first-team players Stuart Armstrong and Craig Gordon and Hoops legend Tom Boyd.

Having won nine majors during a stellar career, including three Open Championships, the South African is recognised as one of the greatest players in the history of golf.

At Celtic Park to help promote the upcoming Open at Royal Troon - which takes place between July 10 and 17 - Player brought along the iconic Claret Jug trophy, awarded to the winner of the tournament since 1873.

After sharing some stories and comparing silverware with Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld, who was in possession of the European Cup, Player took on Armstrong, Gordon and Boyd in a closest to the pin competition with a twist.

The ‘fore’ participants each hit five shots out the NW corner of the Jock Stein Stand and attempted to land their ball near to a flag planted in the centre-spot.

With Gordon in the lead, Player stepped up for his turn and his pitch-perfect performance left the Celts in a spin and full of admiration.

But speaking to Celtic TV, the golfing great confessed that it wasn’t the first time he had played from this type of unusual lie.

He said: “We had a stadium golf tournament in South Africa that my son and I arranged. We had these tees away up at the top of the stands and artificial greens with water and bunkers put in, and we brought out Lee Trevino and a few other top players in Johannesburg for it, but coming here today and being with these Celtic players was a thrill.

“I’m a big soccer fan and my son-in-law, who is Italian, just lives for soccer. When I was at school in Johannesburg, I also captained the soccer first-team.

“Walking into the stadium, it was a great thrill to imagine it being full of people. In 63 years of my life I have played in a different type of stadium so this was a great delight. My grandparents were born here in Glasgow as well so this was a heart-warming experience for me.

“The Celtic players had nice swings but to win the league five times in succession is pretty impressive and it was interesting to speak to Craig, who I know was badly injured and never thought he would come back and has made this great comeback which is remarkable. To win the last game of the season 7-0 was also very exciting and promising.

“Of all the major championships, the Open is still my favourite,” he continued. “The Masters has the advantage of being played in the same place every year, it’s beautiful and the best organised, but the Open is the ultimate as you have to use your natural talents and your feeling.

“You could have a wedge to the hole today, and tomorrow it could be a four-iron, so yardage is irrelevant. Your instinct is very important along with your touch and eyes. The Open Championship is the oldest and has a great tradition, and the R & A have done a marvellous job.

“Celtic being associated with the R & A means that I am here and it’s been terrific. To meet Bertie Auld, who is almost my age, and to see him in good shape was fantastic and meeting the young guys was a thrill as well.”

Article courtesy of Celtic FC

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TRAVELING WITH GOLF’S ULTIMATE TRAVELER

May 10, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Let’s make it official. Gary Player is The Most Traveled Man in Golf. Having played global golf for over 60 years, he has earned that title.

And having recently shared a plane with The Black Knight from Florida to Missouri, it’s clear he’s not stopping anytime soon. Since February and through mid-May, Player will have been to eight countries and seven states in America. “I love travel and I love people,” says Player.

I can relate. And I can listen. Which is a good thing when you sit across from a legend with a lot on his mind.

I asked if he felt the respect and appreciation from the current crop of young tour players:

“I don’t hang out with them enough to know the answer to that question,” says Player. “I’m an admirer of their manners, the dress code and the way they handle the public and the press. They owe it to them and their sponsors. When that guy Chambeau came up to me on the practice tee at Augusta and said, ‘Thank you very much for tweeting on my victories and wishing me good luck.’ He’s a very well-mannered young man. I find them all very well-mannered. It’s a different generation. It’s a different time.”

And when I asked about the Big 3 of his time compared to the concept of a current Big 3:

“Billy Casper used to say, ‘The Big 3 and me.’ Billy Casper won two majors, man. That’s his point of view, and I accept it. And I loved Billy, but you’ll never see a Big 3 like Arnold, Jack and myself again. Not talking about playing. It would be very forward of me to say that. We won between us, at least fifty majors. I’d like to work that out exactly, because this comes up all the time. Regular and Senior majors.”

(Nicklaus, Palmer and Player won a combined 53 regular and senior major championships.)

“We won over 350 tournaments together as well. So, can any three do that? Yes, they can. But they’ll never have the life that we had. Today, they have a private jet, they finish, swoosh, they’re gone. They have business. They have outings. They have all these commitments. And they can get back to their families. We couldn’t do those things.”

Having combined the experience of the past with modern resources, Player is doing it all now. From consulting and charming business partners and clients on a regular basis, to building golf courses at The Greenbrier for Jim Justice and a 12-hole course at Big Cedar Lodge for Johnny Morris.

“I’m very excited about it,” says Player. “I told Johnny that a short course like this can grow the game and especially help introduce the concept of speed of play.”

Maybe even more spectacular than Top of The Rock, which is the nine-hole course built by Jack Nicklaus and used in the Bass Pro Shop’s Legends of Golf, Player’s short course will feature more infinity greens overlooking the tree-choked topography of the Ozarks.

“It’s such a pleasure to work with someone like Johnny,” says Player. “We’ve done courses for millionaires and they never come out. Johnny doesn’t just come out, he comes out for all the right reasons. He cares.”

Throughout the flight, Player also offered opinions on Tiger Woods:
“Let’s hope he comes back and wins. Wins majors. But man he’s got an uphill battle.”

Ben Hogan:
“The first time I played golf with Ben Hogan was a U.S. Open. We played 36 holes. He said six words to me: ‘Good mornin’, fella.’ And, ‘Well played son.’ But I loved playing with him.”

Bobby Jones:
“I once worked up the nerve to ask Mr. Jones a question about Augusta National. I was young. I had only played the Masters a few times, and I said, ‘Mr. Jones, I can’t figure out how to make a birdie on the third hole. Do you have any advice for me?’ He didn’t look up, only leaned in, and said, ‘Son, you’re not supposed to make birdie on the third hole. It’s designed for you to try to make par.”

Mark McCormack:
“Mark signed me. Then Jack. And then the Pope. The Pope! And then Pele. And then Twiggy. This guy was a genius. People think he only worked with golfers. He was signing movie stars.”

Jordan Spieth:
“Jordan Spieth, in my eyes, has a small problem in his backswing. And if he gets that rectified, let me tell you something, this guy is going to do things as well as anybody as I’ve ever seen.”

The 2016 Masters:
“McIlroy plays this year at Augusta, and he plays magnificent golf but he finishes 10th, or whatever it is. Spieth played terrible. When I say terrible, he came with a B-game, which he admitted. When are we going to learn that it’s not about striking the ball? It’s not long distance. It’s the short game! I mean, even the way he played, Jordan had a chance of winning the Masters. Remember how he finished 17 and 18 on Saturday? And then on Sunday, he drove it in the bamboo at No. 4. How the hell it came out, I don’t know. He drove it left on No. 5. Comes to No. 10 and drives it right. Drives it into the tress at 11. And you saw what happened at 12. The one thing you can’t do—the 52 times I’ve played there—I don’t ever remember knocking it into the water. I might have, but I don’t remember doing it. You play to the middle of the green. You’ve got a lead! Come on, man. At 13, his ball goes through the branches. He missed the putt on 16. And now, he comes to 17, he drives into the middle of the fairway and hits it into the bunker. So, did he really deserve to win the Masters? No. But I didn’t hear any accolades for Willett, who drove it like a bullet, he hit these beautiful iron shots and putted well, and played with big balls. We aren’t hearing much about that.”

What we have recently heard about is #SB2K16, a Bahamian adventure involving Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Smiley Kaufman and Justin Thomas.

No shock, that upon getting caught up on the wild adventures, brought to us by various forms of social media and seemingly sponsored by Casamigos Tequila, an 80-year-old Gary Player wanted a piece of next year’s action:

And on that note, a fitting thought on what will forever be The Big Three:

“Jack, Arnie and I were brothers. We wanted to beat each other. I can promise you, we were three of the fiercest and competitive players who ever lived, but when we lost, we’d look the winner in the eyes and we’d say, ‘Well done, I’ll get you next week.’”

Article and picture courtesy of Matt Ginella

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PGA TOUR’S HONDURAS OPEN MAKES ANNUAL STOP AT GARY PLAYER DESIGN’S INDURA BEACH & GOLF RESORT

May 5, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The PGA Tour Latinoamérica makes its annual stop this week at the Gary Player-designed Indura Beach and Golf Resort in Honduras from May 5-8, 2016. This is part of a three-year agreement in which Gary Player’s course will host the Honduras Open.

“Designing Indura was a very exciting and rewarding project,” said Gary Player. “I love opportunities to bring championship style golf to areas that have not yet had a chance to host a professional event. It is fantastic when we are able to make an impact and grow golf on a global scale.”

Nearly 150 professional golfers from 22 countries will converge upon Central America’s flagship project that has set the standard for championship golf in the region. The golf course was designed in 2012 by the Black Knight, who has nearly 400 courses to his credit. Since the early 1980s, Player has designed courses all over the world while practicing environmentally sensitive techniques as well as focusing on playability for all skill levels.

This week, the world-class golfing experience will have professionals playing alongside pristine beaches and the tropical jungle, proving to be a remarkable golfing experience. Each hole features varying design characteristics, strategic value, and aesthetic beauty.

Stretching along the shore of Tela Bay, the golf course was carefully designed to naturally integrate the spectacular setting where a backdrop of mountains and tropical jungle meets the beauty of golden, sandy beaches and the Caribbean Sea. Specifically, Indura Beach and Golf Resort has 18 holes with five tees, allowing all types of players an enjoyable experience. Nine of the 18 holes are located in the middle of the jungle among all types of wildlife, from monkeys to crocodiles.

“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, President of Gary Player Design. “We are thrilled for Indura’s second annual tournament on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica and know it will continue to provide an excellent fan experience and great test for professionals.

Golf participation and professional tournaments continue to grow in Central America since the PGA Tour Latinoamérica was formed in 2012. The Honduras Open presented by Indura Beach and Golf Resort is the ninth stop of 2016 for the PGA Tour Latinoamérica.

Picture courtesy of PGA Tour

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THE 3M GREATS OF GOLF RETURN TO INSPERITY INVITATIONAL

Apr 28, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

A special and popular Saturday tradition returns to the Insperity Invitational presented by UnitedHealthcare when the 3M Greats of Golf gather on May 7 for the fifth consecutive year.

Fans will have the rare opportunity to see Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Trevino tee it up in an exceptional exhibition Saturday afternoon of tournament week at The Woodlands Country Club Tournament Course.

This legendary and world class group of the game’s greatest players will tee off following the last tee time of the official competition. These nine players will be grouped in threesomes and will play an 18-hole scramble format.

In 2015, World Golf Hall of Fame members Nicklaus, Trevino and Player combined to shoot 13-under to win by two strokes over Charles Coody, David Graham and Tom Weiskopf.

The Big Three defend their title this year against two other teams — David Graham, Tom Weiskopf, Tony Jacklin and Hale Irwin, Ben Crenshaw, Dave Stockton.

“Saturday has become the highlight of the week for our fans and the players who are competing in the official tournament and for those in the Greats competition,” said Insperity Invitational Executive Director, Bryan Naugle. “We are always grateful that the Big Three and those competing with them are enthusiastic about coming back and sharing their skillsand laughter with the fans, corporate partners and other players.”

This group includes seven World Golf Hall of Fame members, has more than 300 PGA TOUR victories, over 50 major championship titles and more than 190 PGA TOUR Champions wins.

Thirteen players in golf history have won six or more major championships– Nicklaus (18), Player (9) and Trevino (6) are three of them.

The Insperity Invitational offers free grounds only admission tickets courtesy of Insperity, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Woodforest National Bank and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The grounds ticket also includes free parking and shuttle service. General public parking will be at Woodforest Bank Stadium located at 19115 David Memorial Dr, Shenandoah, TX 77385

Article courtesy of CBS Houston

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GARY PLAYER, GOLF AND FITNESS ICON, TO DELIVER KEYNOTE AT CLUB INDUSTRY CONFERENCE

Apr 26, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

World Golf Hall of Fame member Gary Player, dubbed “Mr. Fitness” for his lifelong dedication to a healthy lifestyle, will be the keynote speaker this summer at the Club Summit for Golf, Sports and Spa/Fitness Management. The event, organized by the Club Spa and Fitness Association, the Florida Chapter of the Club Managers Association of America and the U.S. Professional Tennis Association, is scheduled for July 31-August 3 at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida.

Player, a native of South Africa, is the most successful global golfer of all time, with more than 165 professional victories worldwide. He is one of only five men to capture golf’s coveted Career Grand Slam, winning all four of golf’s majors by age 29. He also is the only professional golfer in history to win the Grand Slam on the Senior Tour. In 2015, he celebrated his 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam achievement.

Player’s noted physical fitness regimen began as a youngster when older brother Ian encouraged him to stay fit as Ian went to serve in World War II. When the 5-foot-7, 150-pound Player first traveled around the world to the United States and faced the more powerful Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, he realized that physical fitness was the only way to contend with his long-time friends even though few golfers in the 1950s to 1970s exercised and almost none used weight training. As a result, he earned the “Mr. Fitness” nickname and he appeared naked on the cover of ESPN: The Magazine’s “Body Issue” in 2013. To this day, Player’s legendary workouts, which often include sets of 1,000 sit-ups, normally last 90 minutes and occur the first thing in the morning, unless he is traveling and has to condition in the evening after numerous appearances. He also speaks regularly on the importance of good diet, and health & fitness for children and adults around the world.

“Eating properly and staying in top physical shape have been the keys to my success both on and off the golf course,” Player said. “At age 80, I am still as energetic as I was in my 40’s. Having access to gyms during my worldwide travel remains an essential part of my lifestyle. I am happy to see that private clubs and the CSFA are focusing on the importance of fitness facilities and that more club members require these features, which are now just as important to private club life as golf, tennis and dining.”

Player currently serves as the global ambassador for the World Golf Hall of Fame, having been inducted in the inaugural class in 1974. He has also been dubbed “The Black Knight” and “The World’s Most Traveled Athlete™” having traveled more than 16 million miles, another reason for his focus on staying physically fit.

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INDIA’S DLF GARY PLAYER COURSE AWARDED BEST NEW 18-HOLE GOLF COURSE

Apr 25, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

DLF’s Gary Player course was awarded the best new 18 hole golf course by Indian Golf Industry Association, promoters of The India Golf Expo 2016 which saw participation from over 50 of India’s leading Golf Clubs, Golf coaches, superintendents and greens keepers and a host of international delegates.

The fifth edition witnessed a galaxy of eminent speakers including Gregg Patterson, General Manager of The Beach Club, Los Angeles; Iain Roberts, Group Executive Director, Missions Hills, China; James Graham Prusa, Director, SKY72 Golf, Korea; Anil Seolkar, President, Indian Golf Union; Cui Zhiqiang, former Secretary General, China Golf Association; Harish Bijoor, brand expert and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.; Phil Ryan, Pacific Coast Design among others.

The two-day event, supported by Ministry of Tourism – Government of India, the Indian Golf Union (IGU) and Golf Course Superintendents & Managers Association of India (GCS&MAI), witnessed a series of panel discussions ranging from golf tourism, sustainable development, best practices, resource management and branding of golf. Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board made a strong pitch and sought help from various stakeholders to explore golf potential in the State particularly in Orchha, Khajuraho and Sanchi where land parcel is available for golf course development. “Madhya Pradesh is wooing foreign investors and the key will be development of social infrastructure including clubs, hotels and golf courses. The State is home to nine National Parks, five Tiger reserves, 25 Sanctuaries and three world heritage sites. We would like to put Madhya Pradesh on the golfing map,” said Ms Tanvi Sundriyal, Additional Managing Director of Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation

In line of the support extended, the Ministry of Tourism has suggested creation of better marketing network. Mr Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India emphasized on the need to package and market world class golfing facility to the International audience using branch offices which the Ministry has overseas. The Ministry of Tourism will be developing a micro site on the Incredible India website that would feature and give a unique perspective of the golf industry in India.

Gregg Patterson, President, The Reflective Experience and General Manager, The Beach Club, was one of the star speakers at the Expo. From his reflections on the club experience, Patterson emphasized on creating communities: “The Club leaders and club managers need to see what we’re selling a little differently. We may think we’re selling food and beverage, but what we’re really selling is the social encounter realized through the culinary experience. We may think we’re answering phones and providing information at the front desk, but what we’re really doing is extending the warm communal embrace to all who call or visit. We may be explaining rules and regulations to member children when we hold our ten-year-old orientation, but what we’re really doing is socializing the next generation of club members.

“Once we understand the business we’re really in-creating communities, club managers will change the programs we provide, the emphasis we give to various events, the strategic directions we adopt and the selection criteria we use for the people we hire as managers and as board members to “sell” the real club experience. Community attracts and community “sells.” Members join and stay. Staff join and stay. Guests see it when they visit. Get thee community. It sells,” signed off Patterson, creating enough ‘Buzz’ among the golfing community in attendance.

Article courtesy of Indian Sporting News

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COOLEST PHOTO SHOT AT 2016 MASTERS AND STORY BEHIND IT

Apr 14, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The ageless Gary Player made his 31st career hole-in-one, acing the 115 yard, seventh hole of the Masters’ Par 3 Contest. There were a record nine aces on April 6. But the shot of the day belonged to renowned wildlife photographer David Yarrow, who captured the 80-year-old Player making his record fourth ace in the contest.

“I’ve shot Maradona winning the World Cup and historic moments at the Olympics, but I think this is the greatest sports photo I’ve ever shot,” Yarrow said.

He previously assembled Gary Player’s African Wildlife Conservation Portfolio as a tribute to Player’s late brother, Ian, a conservation pioneer who spearheaded efforts to save the White Rhino from near extinction.

Yarrow was Player’s guest at Augusta – his first time shooting the Masters since 1996 – and had special access to shoot The Big Three.

Armed with a Nikon DA-10 camera, Yarrow headed out to the par-3 course with few preconceived notions. He set up at the seventh hole for one simple reason: “It frames so well, and I thought I could simply get a shot of the gallery clapping for three of the greats of the game as they walked up the hill,” he said. “Nothing special.”

Bo Wood, media manager for Gary Player Group, had walked the first six holes inside the ropes with the Black Knight. A year ago at the Par-3 Contest, Wood captured a stunning image of Jack Nicklaus acing the fourth hole. But now the battery of his camera was on low, and he had turned it off to conserve what little power remained. Moments before Player teed it up, a single thought raced through Wood’s mind: “Man, if something incredible does happen and I miss it, I’m going to get fired.”

He turned his camera back on, crouched down behind Player, and snapped a shot that shows Player holding his follow-through, still gazing at the ball in mid-flight. It landed approximately 20 feet to the right of the hole, and Player began walking after it. The patrons’ whipped into a frenzy as the ball funneled toward the hole as if drawn by a magnet.

“You just hear this roar of the crowd, and that’s when I just took off,” Wood recalled. “I knew he was going to make some great reaction. I thought he was going to do the leg kick, too.”

That would come later.

Both Wood and Yarrow described the roar as deafening.

“Of all the pictures I’ve seen of Augusta, I’ve never seen that many people celebrating in focus,” Yarrow said.

He has studied the faces and reactions of the thousands of people captured for posterity in the photograph. Among his favorite patrons are a handful of witnesses holding their cameras aloft in celebration and missing out on capturing this magical moment.

Perhaps they will be interested in buying a copy for a good cause. Yarrow hopes to sell 30 copies of the timeless black-and-white image (37 inches by 72 inches) to raise $500,000 for the Gary Player Foundation and improve the lives of underprivileged children around the world. Yarrow can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Story courtesy of Adam Schupak

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PLAYER: LIFETIME OF EXERCISE, HEALTHY EATING, PREPARES HIM FOR NEXT DECADE

Apr 13, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

My first recollection of professional golf was the names of the big three for my era, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player. At that time Palmer was the star, Nicklaus rising quickly on the horizon, and Player, the South African.

I can’t tell you why but my favorite of the three was Player. It could have been his name, or maybe the accent, or possibly how easy it was to recognize him on the course in his legendary all black outfit, but it was always Player.

Fast forward to my first job out of college as a sportswriter for the Danville Register, April 5, 1980. My assignment for the day was to cover the Greater Greensboro Open (GGO) along with my boss Jerry Ratcliffe, now the head of sports for the Daily Progress in Charlottesville.

The thing I remember most about the round was the swirling winds that made scoring so difficult. After getting beaten by the wind all morning and part of the afternoon, we adjourned to the clubhouse to catch some of the guys finishing up their rounds and that’s when I met Mr. Gary Player.

Player was holding court with a group of writers already assembled hanging on his every word like kids hearing a ghost story. It didn’t take long to realize you were in the presence of someone special. Player talked about numerous topics from his disgust with apartheid policies in South Africa to the earnings of pro golfers and if they were overpaid. They weren’t he said. I had no intention of disagreeing.

Player was 44 years old at the time. At age 80, Player is no longer a member of any tour, but he is still an active player whether at his home in the United States or at his ranch in South Africa. He made news last week for scoring a hole in one during the par 3 tournament on Wednesday and then opening the tournament Thursday morning with a remarkable drive for an 80 year-old.

In fact, Player was the spryest of the big three at the opening tee. At 86, Palmer was no longer able to take part in the opening tee shot while Nicklaus didn’t appear to move as well as Player either. So what is Player’s secret to longevity?

The first thing you must understand is it is not a secret and Player shares his life habits with anyone that will listen. Player is very outspoken about his beliefs about the body beginning with treating it as a “holy temple.”

For Player, it is a combination of diet and fitness training that begin for him at the age of nine. Player tells the story of his brother Ian heading off to fight in WWII at 17 and Gary told him he was going to be a professional athlete. Ian responded by giving Gary a set of weights and told him to look after his body, treat it like a holy temple, and exercise for the rest of his life.

Player began to work on his “temple” immediately. Player was destined to be a small man, as at his prime, he was 5’6” and weighed 155, but it was all muscle. He picked up golf at age 14, began playing professionally at 17, and won his first pro tournament in 1958 at the age of 20.

Player loves to tell the story of a golf course architect who once witnessed Player squatting 325 pounds the night before the U.S. Open. Soon afterwards, an article appeared in one publication quoting the architect as saying that Player wouldn’t last long on the pro tour because of his workout regimen.

Needless to say, Player’s attention to detail with regards to his fitness was of great benefit to him during his playing career and since he gave up the tour. He won his first major in 1959 and by 1965 his victory in the U.S. Open gave him a “Grand Slam,” victories in the four major tournaments. He was the third person to do so and is still the only non-American to have completed this feat. He won his last major in 1978, his ninth and eventually won nine more majors on the senior circuit. In 1998, at the age of 62, he became the oldest player to make the cut at the Masters. In 2015, Player played the entire year and scored below his age of 80 in every round.

Player’s workout routine is fairly consistent, only changing slightly depending if he is in the United States or South Africa. The mainstay of Player’s routine is sit ups and push ups because Player, whose 15 million miles of travel logged is the most of any athlete ever, said that they can be done anywhere. Player will do 1,000 of each with his last set of sit-ups done with 100 pounds of weight placed across his chest or by doing the entire workout of sit-ups on a stability ball.

When in the states, he will spend 30-45 minutes jogging on the treadmill in his home gym. On his ranch in South Africa, Player had 200 steps built into the hillside and he will alternate between jogging, walking and taking two steps at a time.

He swims for about 20 minutes while holding on to a paddleboard and using just his legs. His strength workout includes 20-25 reps of lunges and squats, wrist curls, forward and reverse, with 20-pound dumbbells.

His workout also includes 20-30 minutes of meditation, believing it is just as important to keep the mind strong as well as the body.

Player said someone once questioned him on spending $10,000 to set up his gym with everything he wanted. Player responded that if people were just as willing to spend money on fitness equipment as they were on cars, the world would be a much healthier place.

In the last six years, Player said he has gone to mostly a vegetarian diet with emphasis on vegetables and fruits. The results for Player have been a need for less sleep, lowered cholesterol and better digestive system.

Player said he avoids bacon, hot dogs, cold cuts and all animal fats. He never eats donuts or the like. He also does not drink milk. He treats himself every two months to a beer or a whiskey drink.

Player is greatly concerned about educating the American public in particular about the ills of diabetes. “If you look at the number of diabetics, there’s going to be 100 million diabetics in 40 years time,” Player said on his website. “People eat like it’s the Last Supper. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. You don’t put gas in your car when you park it in the garage at night.”

Article courtesy of Star-Tribune

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PLAYER APPRECIATES THE RARE OPPORTUNITY AT THE GREENBRIER IN WEST VIRGINIA, USA

Apr 13, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

“You will never see this happen again,” said legendary professional golfer Gary Player.

Player said getting the likes of himself, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino to design a golf course together will be a once in a lifetime event.

“We have as much experience as any four players who have ever lived and to get all four of our ideas and formulate them into one idea, we should be able to do something with great quality,” Player said.

Player, a native of South Africa, was visiting The Greenbrier on Tuesday to see progress being made on the golf course.

“I went through about 15 holes yesterday and going through another few today,” Player said.

The 3-time winner of the Masters said that right now there is mostly clearing happening at the mountaintop golf site.

Contractors are having to remove 800,000 square meters of soil and cut and replant trees to fit the design of the course.

“We are trying to replace some of the trees and replant some others,” Player said. “We are very aware of environment.”

Player spoke highly of the Oakhurst community’s centerpiece golf course that will overlook the historic Oakhurst Links course, the oldest golf club in America.

“This is going to be a very beautiful golf course,” Player said. “You can imagine this beautiful drive up the mountains amongst trees and flowers and then come to this clubhouse right on top of the mountain.”

Pebble Beach and other coast courses won’t have much on the new course, Player boasted.

“It might be a golf course with the best views in the world,” Player said. “Pebble Beach and other courses you see the sea all the time, but here you’ll have incredible views and we’re taking advantage of that.”

Player said that the combination of his and the other three legendary golfer’s minds, plus their course designers and the design team at The Greenbrier was going to create a “knockout” course.

“We’ve grown up together, we’ve played together all over the world. We know each other very well,” Player said. “It’s a fascinating experience. My company has designed over 300 courses, but never have we had three other people involved. Jack and I have done a course together.”

The course is being designed to suit Greenbrier Sporting Club members but also be a “very tough course for a tournament” to be held there.

Greenbrier owner Jim Justice’s ultimate goal is to have the U.S. Open played at the new mountaintop course.

Player said that, depending on the weather, the plan is to have a soft open for the golf course and then the following year “it will be absolutely perfect.”

When asked how long it would take to get a major played on the course after it opens, Player said that it all depends on Justice.

“Everyone will try to help him, but the quality of the golf course will speak for itself,” Player said.

To host the U.S. Open in West Virginia would be “massive,” Player continued.

“It will be a great thing to have in this state, it’s a state that would deserve to have it,” Player said.

When the course finally opens, those who play it will find many take-aways.

“They’ll take away the friendliness of West Virginia, take away the quality of The Greenbrier, take away the quality of the course and its beauty,” Player said. “They’ll take away that this was a great challenge for them.”

The new golf course is planned to be an 8,042-yard, 18-hole course.

Player also spoke briefly about his incredible hole-in-one during the Par-3 contest at this year’s Masters tournament on the seventh hole.

“At 80 years of age, it was a big thrill,” Player said. “I had hit one on that hole in prior years.”

However, there was something more that fascinated Player than just hitting the hole-in-one.

“My daughter was on the beach in South Africa and tweeted us,” Player said.

Then more reactions around the world poured in from China, India and Australia.

“It’s amazing that a billion people see that hole-in-one,” Player said. “Then a billion people see Jack and I hit on the first tee and a billion people see me out drive Jack.”

Article courtesy of The Register-Herald

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LIFE LESSONS FROM GARY PLAYER

Mar 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

At 80 years old, golf legend Gary Player remains a fitness icon.

“I’m 80, but really I beat most of the guys at 40 in the gym,” jokes Gary Player. Except, that’s not a joke. The World Golf Hall of Famer is still practicing what he preaches about the benefits of diet and exercise. With National Nutrition Month and Diabetes Alert Day (March 22) upon us, we caught up with the South African fitness icon to glean a few words of wisdom.

Daily exercise routine…
“I still do 1,300 crunches and sit-ups. I still push 300 pounds with my legs and I run on the treadmill.”

Best fitness investment…
“All a person’s got to do is invest in buying a treadmill, and putting a treadmill in their bathroom. And every morning before they have their shower just get on that treadmill for a lousy 10 minutes.”

Diet advice…
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. You don’t put gas in your car when you park it in the garage at night.”

Foods to avoid…
“I don’t eat a lot of meat. I don’t eat bacon, at all. I don’t drink milk. I would never eat a hot dog or cold meats or bologna and that kind of stuff. I would never eat a donut. I would never eat all of this crap! You look at the way people eat — honestly they eat like it’s the Last Supper.”

Foods to enjoy…
“I love all kinds of fruit. Vegetables, love vegetables. Right in front of me now I have a glass of green juice, which is spinach, broccoli, kale, all the vegetables.”


On learning from Nelson Mandela…
(Prior to Mandela becoming South Africa’s first President, after spending 27 years in prison.) “He said, ‘I have no hatred. If I have revenge and hatred then we will never bring people together.’ And every time I was around him, I could not stop crying. I could not, because I realized how a man could have so much love.”

On giving golf tips to Elvis Presley…
“I said, ‘You’ve got to learn to use the hips, to wind up and unwind.’ He says, ‘The hips?’ And I say, ‘Yes.’ And he says, ‘Watch this, baby!’ And he gave me that Elvis hip movement.”

On the growing diabetes epidemic…
“If you look at the number of diabetics, there’s going to be 100 million diabetics in America in 40 years time. Eventually the government will run out of money if people keep getting sick like this.”

Final thoughts…
“Look after yourself, man. Your body is a holy temple. The greatest gift you can have is your health.”

Article courtesy of Athlon Spots

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GARY PLAYER RETURNS TO BASS PRO SHOPS EVENT AT BIG CEDAR LODGE

Mar 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge is coming in April, and to much fan-fare the event will have $25 tickets across the board for the April 20-24 tournament.

Other new things to watch this year includes new big-name players for the competition, which features two-man teams playing one 18-hole round at the Springs Course at Buffalo Ridge, one 9-hole round at the Top of the Rock par-3 course, then a final 9-hole round at Top of the Rock.

The two players on the winning team each will receive a $230,000 check out of the $2.8 million purse.

Chasing that for the first time next month will be Davis Love III, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain for this fall’s match at Hazeltine National golf course in Minnesota. Also debuting will be Curtis Strange, a World Golf Hall of
Fame member who won back-to-back U.S. Open titles in the late-1980s.

Lee Trevino, who was here in the first Legends of Golf in 2014 and did not make the trip last year, has committed to the event, and also competing will be Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Andy North, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Tom Lehman, Mark O’Meara and Corey Pavin.

“It’s all the names you’re going to recognize,” PGA Tour Champions president Greg McLaughlin said at Tuesday’s Media Day gathering at Top of the Rock, “but the neat thing is you’re going to be able to come out and see Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus play in a real tournament. It’s not a hit-and-giggle.”

Another new feature will be the Saturday Family Fun Day. All fans age 17 and under will receive a complimentary ticket with a paid adult admission. At the conclusion of play, families can meet Lehman and watch a demonstration from former long-drive champion Dan Boever on the driving range.

There was plenty of talk Tuesday about not only this year’s tournament, which is right at three weeks away, but about two new courses under construction.

The Gary Player Course is a new 12-hole course that is on schedule to be ready by the end of this year, and the Buffalo Ridge site is adding the Ridge Course, scheduled to open by the end of 2017.

That Ridge Course is being designed by the respected architectural firm of Coore and Crenshaw, with much of the course on the old Murder Rock Golf Club site.

“It’s a unique, one-of-a-kind place, and every time I come here, I am even more impressed,” said Tom Fazio, renowned golf course architect who designed the Springs Course. “I’m actually going to just bring people here, because there aren’t enough words that can describe it, and you can’t believe it until you see it.”

Johnny Morris, the founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, is heading the drive in the quest to make Branson and the surrounding area more of a golf destination.

When asked if his grand plan was to someday host a PGA Tour event on one of his courses at Buffalo Ridge, he didn’t hesitate.

“That would be our big-picture dream, to build it to that quality,” Morris said.

Morris also handed over a $500,000 donation to College of the Ozarks on Tuesday, one of two main charities the tournament donates to every year.

“There’s no way to dream that we’d have a more worthwhile institution or cause to support than College of the Ozarks,” Morris said.

The sinkhole that formed last May is still a formidable sight, on one end of the driving range at Top of the Rock, but it shouldn’t affect the tournament or the fans’ experience.

The site is still being explored to see if a link can be found between it and a cave that was discovered earlier in the area.

Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge

When: April 20-24

Where: Top of the Rock and Buffalo Ridge golf courses

Tickets: Call 888-347-4426 or visit bassprolegends.com

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GOLF DIGEST PODCAST: GARY PLAYER TALKS ALL THINGS MASTERS

Mar 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

For many casual golf fans, Gary Player likely ranks fourth among players in history most commonly associated with the Masters, behind Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods. It’s a hard triumvirate to crack, but when you consider Player’s career stats at Augusta National you start to wonder whether the South African who turned 80 last November deserves a little more love.

Consider the Masters history that the former three-time champion has made since making his debut in the event in 1957:

He holds the mark for most Masters played: 52.

He was the first international player to win the Masters, winning in 1961.

When he won his third green jacket in 1978—rallying from a seven-stroke deficit on Sunday—he was the oldest player to win the event at the time (42 years, 5 months, 8 days).

His closing 64 in 1978 matched the all-time 18-hole scoring mark at the time and remains tied for the best final-round score as well as the best final-round score from a winner.

From 1959 to 1974, at 16-year span, Player finished in the top 10 all but three times. In a seven-year stretch (1959-’65) he never finished worse than tied for eighth. And in a five-year period (1961-’65) he didn’t finish worse than tied for fifth.

It’s not surprising then that Player professes in admiration for Augusta National in this week’s Golf Digest Podcast while explaining the secret to his success. He also discusses her near misses, what it’s going to be like without Arnold Palmer joining him and Nicklaus as an honorary starter, and who he thinks has the best shot at winning next week.

Listen to the full interview with Ryan Herrington of Golf Digest

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THE WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM NAMES SELECTION COMMISSION CO-CHAIRS FOR 2017 INDUCTION CLASS

Mar 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum today announced 18-time Major winner Jack Nicklaus will join fellow Hall of Fame Members Nancy Lopez, Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam as Co-Chairs of the Selection Commission for the World Golf Hall of Fame. The Selection Commission will elect the Class of 2017 which will be inducted Monday, May 8, 2017, the week of THE PLAYERS.

Lopez, Player and Sorenstam will return for a second term, while Nicklaus will replace Arnold Palmer and join the process for the first time.

“Being elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame, especially with the inaugural class (of 13) in 1974, was one of the unquestioned highlights of my career,” said Nicklaus. “It was a sign of respect and validation for the hard work I put into a game I have always loved and considered the greatest game of all. To now have the opportunity to join the Selection Commission, including my friends Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player—all great players, wonderful people, and all highly respected in our game—gives me the opportunity to perhaps make someone else’s career and life very special with this honor. The Commission is an esteemed group of global leaders in our game, and I am honored to have the opportunity to help them advance the World Golf Hall of Fame and its tremendous work. And it should be a lot of fun along the way.”

“We are honored and excited to have Jack Nicklaus join the Selection Commission,” said Jack Peter, President of the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum. “From his storied playing career to his current contributions to the game, he certainly has a firm grasp on the sport’s pulse and will be an incredible asset to the Selection Commission. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Palmer for helping us transition to our new Induction process. He has been, and continues to be, one of the Hall of Fame’s most engaged and insightful supporters.”

The Selection Commission will review candidates in four categories: Male and Female Competitor, Veterans and Lifetime Achievement. Later this fall, the Commission will assemble to discuss the merits and vote on the 16 finalists. A candidate must receive at least 75 percent of the vote to be elected. The Class of 2017 will be announced later this fall.

Also announced today was a change to the qualifying age for enshrinement. Effective immediately, candidates must be at least 50 years of age at the start of the year in which selections are made, replacing the previous age requirement of 40. The exception would be if a player was at least five years removed from being an active participant on his or her respective Tour.

“We work very closely with our Hall of Fame Members to ensure all aspects of the Induction criteria are shrewd and judicious,” added Peter. “As players continue to elevate their fitness levels and continue to play at a high level for a longer period of time, moving the age requirement to 50 ensures that we are able to celebrate their careers at the proper time.”

The Class of 2017 will be inducted on May 8th, the Monday of THE PLAYERS, and the 2019 class will be honored at Pebble Beach the week of the men’s U.S. Open. 

For more information, visit WorldGolfHallofFame.org.

World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum Selection Commission

Co-Chairs  

Gary Player, Nancy Lopez, Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam

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TRIPLE GLORY FOR MODRY LAS GOLF CLUB

Mar 24, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Gary Player-designed Modry Las Golf Club has been named Poland’s best golf course for the third time at the country’s premier golf awards ceremony. The West Pomerania Gary Player-designed course picked up the top honour at the PGA – Polish Golf Awards, which have been awarded to Poland’s foremost golf venues and personalities since 2007.

This latest accolade follows a busy end to the 2015 season when Modry Las was awarded Poland’s national prize at the international World Golf Awards in Portugal. As Arthur Gromadzki, chairman of Modry Las, explained, receiving both international and national recognition has been one of the resort’s key objectives.

“It was always our ambition to create a golf resort that could be enjoyed by both visiting golfers and local players,” he said. “These awards represent our commitment to ensure that everyone is welcome at Modry Las, whether they are experienced global travellers or Polish golfers looking to enjoy the service and standards of an international resort.”

He continued: “Being named the best golf course in Poland is a great honour, especially as the award comes from the people that know our country the best – the Polish people. It is also extremely pleasing because the award recognises Gary Player’s wonderful design and the beautiful countryside that surrounds the course as well as our continuing efforts to continually raise standards to make Modry Las a truly international resort.”

This year’s Polish awards were regarded as huge success by the organisers. “The 2015 awards were extremely successful due to the record number of votes cast,” explained Roman Fedorczuk, founder of Polishgolf.pl; the organisation behind the Polish awards. “It has been the best year to date and, as a result, this year’s results were particularly fitting.”

Modry Las, which unveiled eco-friendly property opportunities and a much-anticipated nine-hole golf course during the 2015 season, is set for a notable year with two important tournaments being staged on the championship course. The World Amateur Golfers Championship and the International Polish Ladies Championship will both be contested over the undulating fairways and smooth-running greens at Modry Las.

Holding a qualifying stage and joint hosting the national final, Modry Las will be a key venue for the Polish leg of the world’s largest amateur golf championship. “The World Amateur Golfers Championship is a wonderful event that brings together golfers from across the world,” noted Gromadzki. “It is a fantastic tournament and we are extremely pleased to be hosting it alongside Binowo Park Golf Club.”

Regarded as the world’s largest amateur golf tournament with 40 national championships, the World Amateur Golfers Championship is designed to give amateur golfers the thrill and prestige of representing their nation on an international stage. “It is great for the championship and for Poland that Modry Las will co-host the event,” said Slawomir Pinski, managing director of Binowo Park Golf Club. “It is after all a superb opportunity to showcase the very best of golf in Poland. Staging the World Amateur Golfers Championship across two venues will give Poland’s leading amateurs a true golfing test and a fantastic experience to savour.”

Modry Las Golf Club consists of an 18-hole championship course designed by Gary Player and a nine-hole par-three course. On course accommodation is available through beautifully designed Garden Suites and self-catering cottages.

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THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL’S IMPACT REACHES JAPAN

Mar 23, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Gary Player Invitational presented by Mazda concluded the second leg of its global series in Japan after Tuesday’s charity auction, which raised more than $125,000 for Support Our Kids to benefit the children of the tsunami disaster in Tohoku.

Golf icon and tournament host, Gary Player, spent the past few days in Tokyo where he attended charity concerts, golf events, and a gala dinner and auction continuing his philanthropic efforts around the world. The week also saw international entertainers and sports figures join the Union of Golf and Giving including famed Irish singer Enya and Japanese baseball star Tatsunori Hara.

Musashigoka Golf Club played host to the Celebrity Golf Day where top businessmen played alongside the Black Knight. The following day at Kasumigaseki Country Club, site of 2020 Olympic Golf venue, brought a Children’s Clinic and Kid’s Golf Competition to one of Japan’s most prestigious courses.

“My time in Tokyo has been filled with absolute joy,” said Gary Player. “I first came to Japan in 1957 hoping to grow golf on an international level. To now have an annual Gary Player Invitational event here is very special. Japan is a wonderful country, and we cannot wait to be back next year to continue to raise money for the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster.”

The Player Foundation, established by Marc Player, selected Support Our Kids as the beneficiary of the event to aid the suffering children of Tohoku. The event also helped promote the restoration of North Eastern Japan, which in 2016, commemorated the fifth year since the disaster.

With the cooperation of 11 embassies of countries around the world including the USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Republic of San Marino, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Support Our Kids project assists children who are still living under stressful circumstances in the aftermath of the disaster. They believe children will play a significant role in the reconstruction of Tohoku and aim to nurture these children into becoming full reconstruction leaders through experiences overseas.

“I want to thank Mr. Akizawa, Mazda, Jidaino Souzou Koubou, Bourbon, Kose, Rolex, SAP and all of our other sponsors for helping to make this week a world-class event,” said Gary Player. “It was an honor to be here and I look forward to coming back to Japan very soon.”

The Gary Player Invitational in Japan forms part of the world-leading charity golf series, which has raised more than $62 million for charities worldwide. The Player Foundation, aims to donate $100 million to the support of children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.

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GOLF’S GLOBAL AMBASSDOR, GARY PLAYER, VISITS VIETNAM

Mar 17, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Global golf icon Gary Player continues to stake his claim as the World’s Most Traveled Athlete ™ after a visit to Vietnam, which he believes will become a major player in the emerging golf market of Asia.

Golf is now more than ever a global sport, and the Asian community has embraced this as many players from the surrounding areas are having excellent professional success. For example, the International Presidents Cup team included five Asian players in last year’s competition.

After successful developments in other evolving markets including Bulgaria, China and Abu Dhabi, Gary Player and his design team have been engaged on multiple projects by Vingroup, who is a leader in Vietnam’s tourism industry featuring golf courses, international luxury hotels, resorts, beach villas and amusement parks. It is an ideal scenario for the Black Knight to design championship courses in a golf hungry region.

“The development of playable courses throughout Asia would help boosting the popularity and accessibility of the sport to amateurs in this part of the world,” said Gary Player. “This will be a grassroots effort, and Vietnam certainly will play a large role in developing the game in the Far East. We are privileged to work with Vingroup, a company known for producing first-class establishments.”

Creating a local golf scene is vital to jump start the growth of the game in Vietnam, and involving one of the all-time greats in Gary Player will only help garner interest from locals to tourists to professionals. With golf set to be on sports’ biggest stage at this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the world will soon realize the impact golf can have on a local and national economy.

Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design and who accompanied Mr. Player said, “Our team has visited Vietnam many times to lay a foundation for our business, and Gary Player is personally in tune to the opportunities for the growth of the game there. His personal commitment to Vietnam will no doubt leave a lasting legacy in this important and growing market.”

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IAN PLAYER’S LEGACY CONTINUES TO INSPIRE

Mar 15, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Dr. Ian Player, pioneering conservationist and international environmental diplomat, passed away a little more than a year ago on November 30, 2014; however, his legacy remains through the many accomplishments of his lifetime. Ian was as accomplished a conservationist as Gary Player, his brother, is a golfer. Both brothers pursued their goals with determination and great success. We remember Ian on his birthday, March 15th.  Using the Shakespearean allusion, he often said “I was born on the Ides of March.”

Ian’s work in environmental education, conservation, and activism contributed greatly to today’s wildlife conservation in South Africa. Dr. Player served on the Natal Parks Board beginning in 1952 and went on to become the Chief Game Conservator. Operation Rhino, spearheaded by Dr. Player in the 1960s, saved the threatened White Rhino from extinction. Ian not only successfully relocated the few remaining White Rhinos to safer and larger habitats, but he also facilitated the move of some White Rhinos to zoological gardens and safari parks around the world to ensure the breed’s survival. His efforts in conservation also led to the establishment of an anti-poaching network in South African game reserves. Ian’s work resulted in bodies of research, documentary and popular films, many books, and other efforts in awareness for the cause of saving the rhino and other endangered species.

In addition to leading the team that saved the White Rhino from extinction, Ian worked on many other wildlife conservation projects. He led the efforts to create the first two wilderness areas to be declared in South Africa and the African continent, the wilderness areas in iMfolozi and St. Lucia. Furthermore, he conceived and conducted Operation Crocodile in which crocodiles were airlifted (for the first time) from the high salinity water of Mkuze River to the safety of fresh water in other parts of Lake St. Lucia.

Ian’s work was global. As a world-renowned conservationist, he was often asked to lead conservation projects in other nations. He traveled and worked extensively to save many of the world’s threatened species of wildlife. He also successfully initiated the World Wilderness Congress in 1977, bringing conservationists from all over the globe together to debate and act on the environmental concerns of the day. The Congress continues today under the auspices of Wilderness Foundation Global and the WILD Foundation, and is the world’s longest-running, public, international conservation project with a significant history of practical and inspiring accomplishments.

In addition to leading conservation projects, Ian supported environmental education, promoted awareness of conservation needs, and helped to found many wildlife conservation and education organizations, including the Wilderness Leadership School, World Wilderness Congress, the WILD Foundation, and Wilderness Foundation, S.A. and U.K.  Much of his early work was done during the apartheid years in South Africa, when he worked side by side with his Zulu mentor and brother, Magqubu Ntombela, defying these racially unjust laws to create a new environmental ethic in South Africa.  He also established the Duzi Canoe Marathon, one of the world’s most famous canoe races, and the Natal Canoe Club. The Duzi Canoe Marathon continues to raise awareness for environmental and conservation causes. These efforts all reflected his remarkable determination and his devotion to conserving the natural world, developing humanity’s relationship with and respect for the wilderness, and sharing the importance of nature and wildlife.

Gary Player remembers his brother as “a great South African, a dedicated conservationist, a gentleman, a scholar, and to me, a loving brother.” Player felt that “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.”

Ian’s colleagues and successors continue to build on his work and to carry out his vision around the world. His legacy inspires those who strive to save the natural world for all of us. 

For more information on Dr. Player’s legacy and his impact on organizations that continue his work today, visit http://www.wildernessfoundationglobal.org.

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THREE-TIME MASTERS WINNER GARY PLAYER IS GLOBAL AMBASSADOR FOR GOLF

Mar 11, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

It’s fitting that Gary Player was the first international winner of the Masters Tournament.

No player has traveled more to promote golf, and no one is a better global ambassador.

The South African won his first green coat in 1961 and added victories in 1974 and 1978.

All three of Player’s Masters victories featured excitement over the closing holes.

The first win came courtesy of an Arnold Palmer collapse on the final hole. Palmer was bidding to become the first repeat champion in tournament history, but his typical final-day rally unraveled when he made double bogey on the 18th hole.

Player entered the final day - a Monday finish in 1961 because of rain Sunday - with a four-stroke lead over Palmer. Two early birdies increased Player’s lead to six, but Palmer made up the deficit and took the lead after 12 holes.

Player struggled for much of the back nine, but closed with three pars to finish with 74 and a 280 total. Palmer came to the 18th hole needing only a par to edge Player.

It wasn’t to be. His approach shot found the bunker on the right side of the green, and he bladed his third shot across the green. After using a putter to get the ball on the green, Palmer needed to sink his 15-foot putt for bogey to force a playoff. The putt missed, and the diminutive Player had his first triumph at Augusta National.

By the time of Player’s second triumph, in 1974, he was well established as one of the game’s top players and one of only four men to have won all four of the game’s major championships. He also was known as a physical fitness buff whose stamina and work ethic were legendary.

Starting with a pair of 71s, Player found himself five behind Dave Stockton at the midway point. A 66 in the third round, however, cut Player’s deficit to just one stroke.

No less than half a dozen of the game’s top players battled it out on Easter Sunday, but Player’s closing 70 was good for the win. He punctuated his two-shot victory with a tap-in birdie at the 17th hole after hitting his 9-iron less than a foot from the hole.

Player’s final victory at Augusta National Golf Club was his least likely and most spectacular.

The South African found himself trailing Hubert Green by seven shots going into the final day of the 1978 Masters. But seven birdies over the final 10 holes - including a clutch 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole - gave Player a closing 64.

Playing well ahead of Green and a slew of other contenders, Player posted his 277 total and then had to sweat it out as Green, Tom Watson and Rod Funseth played the final holes.

“It was agony, sheer agony,” he said of his one-stroke victory.

Green had the best shot at forcing a playoff after hitting his approach some four feet from the pin. But he missed the sidehill birdie putt, falling into a tie for second with Watson and Funseth.

Player’s final-round 64 matched the course record and also made him the oldest winner at age 42.

Although both of those records have been eclipsed, Player’s status in Masters history is secure. He holds the record for most starts (52) and has joined fellow Big Three members Palmer and Jack Nicklaus as honorary starters.

Article courtesy of the Augusta Chronicle

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MASTERS MEMORIES WITH THE BLACK KNIGHT

Feb 29, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament are amongst the most respected golf courses and Major tournaments in world. I have such admiration and reverence for this event that every year the first thing I do when I arrive in Augusta is have my wife drop me off at the front gate entrance to Magnolia Lane, reliving my first walk into the clubhouse in 1957. I embark on this walk alone through the blooming dogwoods and azaleas reflecting on my past victories, and am very grateful to have won not only once but three times in 1961, 1974 and 1978. I admire how the Masters Tournament Committee honors their past champions by granting them a lifetime exemption to play each year.

I made 52 appearances (one year of my life), the most ever, which I attribute to my fitness regimen and healthy eating habits. It also is why, at 80 years old, I can drive the ball more than 250 yards straight down the middle. Out driving Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer at the Ceremonial Tee Shot each year is a great thrill now because their length off the tee used to give them such a distinct advantage over me during tournaments. But not anymore!

The year was 1961 and I was 25 years old. There was no doubt in my mind it was my time to conquer Augusta National, when so many other great players had come up short. Mark McCormack, the founder of IMG and my manager at the time, came to visit my wife and me at our house we rented for the week. I told Mark the Green Jacket would be mine on Sunday. It was destiny. Something I had visualized on my way to becoming a world champion. My hard work, dedication and belief paid off, as I became the first non-American to win The Masters.

I won the tournament by one stroke against my good friend and rival Arnold Palmer. This was particularly sweet because he was the darling of the golfing world, especially in America. The only people cheering for me that day were my wife and my dog! It was an incredible feeling to shake up the balance of power in golf. It was my second Major Championship, and kept me on my path to golf’s ultimate achievement, the career Grand Slam. Who would have thought a little runt from South Africa would take down this great American golf icon? It was truly amazing not only to win, but to be the first foreigner to wear the Green Jacket.

After returning to South Africa, I was contacted by Clifford Roberts, the Chairman of Augusta National. During all the excitement, I did not realize I was not allowed to keep the honorary Green Jacket awarded to the winner. Mr. Roberts, a strict disciplinarian, called and informed me of my mistake and that I should return it immediately. Somewhat, tongue and cheek, I replied that he should come and get it to which he replied that I could keep it as long as I promised never to wear it in public. To this very day, nearly 60 years later, it hangs in a black leather garment bag in my closet at home.

Article from Golf E Turismo

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THE LADIES’ GOLF UNION AND THE R&A TO MERGE

Feb 28, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Ladies’ Golf Union (LGU) and The R&A are to proceed with a merger of the two organisations.

Following an extensive consultation exercise, agreement has been reached on the merger of the two St Andrews-based bodies with the process due to be completed in the coming months.

The LGU organises a series of prestigious championships and international matches including the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the Curtis Cup and the merger will be an opportunity to further develop these world class events.

An announcement was made in February 2015 that a potential merger between the LGU and The R&A was under consideration. Since then discussions have taken place between the respective Boards and the LGU’s shareholders - England Golf, Scottish Golf, the Golf Union of Wales and the Irish Ladies Golf Union - and there has been unanimous support for the proposal.

Trish Wilson, the Chairman of the LGU, said, “The LGU has a long and proud tradition of supporting women’s and girls’ golf.  Funded by the lady golfers of Great Britain and Ireland, the LGU has positioned golf as a game for all women and girls.  My gratitude is due to our shareholders for their foresight and support in this move.

“I would like to thank the Chief Executive of The R&A and his team, and the foresight of his predecessor, for their initiative and conviction in achieving this outcome. Building on the strong relationship it already enjoys with The R&A, the LGU looks forward to realising the potential of this merger.”

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “The LGU and The R&A have a wealth of experience in running successful championships and we have a shared focus on supporting the development of golf. The merger will enable us to capitalise on the strengths of the two organisations for the wider benefit of the sport, including the development of golf for women and girls.

“This is a historic move and an important step forward for golf on these islands. I would like to thank the LGU Board for their commitment and enthusiasm throughout this process and their stakeholders, including Ricoh and IMG, for their tremendous support.”

Planning is underway to integrate the staff from both organisations and to implement the agreed governance structure. The LGU’s championships and international matches will run as normal this year with the existing LGU team managing those events.  The business operations of the LGU will be brought into The R&A group of companies with effect from 1 January 2017.

Article courtesy of the R&A

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TOP GOLFERS HAIL SAADIYAT BEACH GOLF CLUB

Feb 10, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Twenty leading golfers, both male and female, joined one of the game’s legends, Gary Player, to compete in Monday’s 2016 Gary Player Invitational at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi hosted in partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

Among those taking part was England’s Andy Sullivan, fresh from his runners-up finish at the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday, who is being tipped for inclusion in Europe’s squad for their autumn Ryder Cup defense against the United States.

Also present for the event raising money for underprivileged children were cricketers Mahela Jayawardene, Jonathan Trott and Nathan Hauritz.

“I’ve heard so much about the Gary Player Invitational event series and couldn’t wait to finally play at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club,” Sullivan said. “We play a lot of tournament golf and attend many Pro-Am events but this one is really special. Off the back of starting my season at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship it was great to join so many peers back in Abu Dhabi and support Mr Player.”

Player, 80, a nine-time major winner, said: “We have worked tirelessly for over 30 years now to stage special and memorable events around the world. The GPI series has grown to include new events in the UAE and
Japan this year, and with the support of trusted partners such as Abu Dhabi Sports Council we are able to deliver world-class golf experiences and in doing so create powerful fundraising platforms. This event was the first of a long and successful journey here in Abu Dhabi.”

On behalf of the female professionals, Ladies’ European Tour star Caroline Martens added: “As an LET professional, it’s great to join a golfing legend and top male professionals for this union of golf and giving. The opportunity to use golf as a catalyst for great charity causes is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of our chosen career.

“I was also lucky enough to take part in a special ladies’ golf clinic at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club yesterday, which was a thrill to help broaden the appeal of this unique event to include more ladies golfers here in Abu Dhabi.”

The inaugural Gary Player Invitational in Abu Dhabi is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised more than $62 million (Dhs 227.72m) for charity worldwide. The event was held under the Patronage of Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth, and Community Development, and hosted in partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

Article courtesy of Gulf News

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PLAYER: SPIETH THE GREATEST PUTTER I’VE EVER SEEN

Feb 9, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Nine-time Major winner and Grand Slam Champion Gary Player says World No.1 Jordan Spieth is the best putter he’s ever seen.

“Rory McIlroy and Jason Day have the best swings but the best putter is Jordan Spieth,” said the 80-year-old South African on the sidelines of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

“He might be as good a putter as I’ve seen. Although Tiger Woods takes a lot of beating, what he did. But this man day-in day-out is such a great putter.

“It’s going to be fascinating to see who does the best in the end,” he added of Spieth, McIlroy and Day. “All I can say is that the old saying that the Scottish people came up with, ‘you drive for show and you putt for dough’, is so damn true. This man is such a putter.”

Player also credited Spieth’s decision to play in Abu Dhabi and Singapore recently but waved off fears of burnout surrounding the jet-setting 22-year-old American. “I think tiredness is in the mind. I don’t know how you get tired playing for $1 million (Dh3.67 million) every week.

“I’m pleased to see he’s playing internationally. All the superstars of the game played international golf and proved that they could win anywhere in the world.”

Of flailing 14-time Major winner Tiger Woods, who is struggling with a persistent back injury, Player said: “He’s at the crossroads, and we are all hoping that he will do well, because he is vitally important for golf.

“He gave golf a boost as much as I’ve ever seen in my life. So it’s important that he comes back. But what a challenge he’s got on his hands.

“Fifty percent of me says ‘yes’ [he will return] because he was the most talented man that ever lived, and 50 per cent of me says ‘I have my doubts’.

“We were so accustomed to seeing him hit a chip shot this close, or holing a putt across the green or hitting his driver 330 yards down the fairway. Now you see him in the rough and duffing chips; and three knee operations, two back operations and a few of the other problems he’s had – wow – but if anyone can do it, it’s Tiger Woods.”

One player who appears to have made a comeback this week after almost quitting last season is four-time Major winner Ernie Els.

“He just had a bad patch and that happens to everybody in their lives,” Player said of Els, who had been struggling with his short game after the ban of the belly putter and a bad case of the yips, which are involuntary shakes that plague golfers on the green.

“I keep hearing people say, ‘well, he’s 46’, but strictly speaking that’s the prime of your life. He’s still a young man, he’s not old, I mean I’m 80 and I’m averaging 70 on a normal golf course.

“I’m expecting big things from Ernie, I really am, because he has such talent.”

Article courtesy of Gulf News

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2016 GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL SCORES AN ACE FOR LOCAL CHARITY IN ABU DHABI

Feb 9, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The 2016 Gary Player Invitational was a hugely successful event, not just in terms of a world-class experience and its high-profile Tour Professional participation, but also in raising funds for charity.

An all-star cast of golf professionals and celebrities joined Gary Player this week at Abu Dhabi’s ocean-front Saadiyat Beach Golf Club over two days to celebrate a Union of Golf and Giving.

As part of a global series that has now raised more than $62 million for charities worldwide, the Player Foundation has set a target of raising $100 million by 2020. Last night, at a stylish Gala Dinner held at the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, another big step towards that goal was taken as the tournament raised $100,000.

“I felt honored to be invited to play alongside and assist Gary Player at the Gary Player Invitational,” said international cricket star Daniel Vettori. “The event was first class, at an absolutely stunning venue. To top it off, raising money for those less fortunate is always a treat and I’m just glad we were able to support Mr. Player and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council’s efforts in some small way.”

ZHO’s Secretary-General, Mohamed Al Hameli, commented, “We are very appreciative of the funds and support received from The Player Foundation, without which we would not be able to help improve the lives of individuals in the UAE with special needs. We want to continually improve our efforts and in keeping with Mr. Player’s enduring commitment to promote the benefits of sport, health and wellness, the funds raised will go to benefit our new sports centre and the newly titled Gary Player Gymnasium at the Baniyas Club.”

The Black Knight’s quest to raise $100 million dollars for children by 2020 is off to a fantastic start. Golf has proven it provides a tremendous outlet to help those in need.

“Golf has done more than perhaps any other sport in raising monies for worthy causes,” said Gary Player. “The PGA Tour has surpassed $2 billion in charity fundraising and our global series of events has played its part too. I am as proud of this as any other career achievement and the special recognition in the naming of this fabulous new facility is quite humbling.”

HE Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, which sponsored the inaugural UAE Invitational, added, “Gary Player is not only a great Ambassador for the game of golf, but also in promoting the benefits of a sporting society. His career achievements as a Grand Slam Champion are legendary, as are those in driving outstanding philanthropic initiatives, such as the Gary Player Invitational series. The union of golf’s great virtues and its ability to make such an impact on society are some of the many reasons we have chosen to bring this event to Abu Dhabi to complement our world-class event portfolio and as an important social development platform for years to come.”

The Gary Player Invitational in the UAE is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series. The Gary Player Invitational in Abu Dhabi is under the Patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and hosted in partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council. The event is sponsored by: TDIC, Rolex, SAP, Callaway, Bell Helicopter, Spinneys, Sport 360, Golf Digest, Arabian Radio Network, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas.

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RYDER CUP HEROES, FUTURE STARS & EUROPE’S BEST LADIES TARGET VICTORY AT GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Feb 8, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Twenty leading golf professionals, male and female, will join sporting icon, Gary Player, to compete in this week’s 2016 Gary Player Invitational at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi hosted in partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

The unique make-up of professionals, across multiple tours, nationalities and age brackets, along with sporting celebrities and invited business guests is one of the many distinguishing factors of this world-leading charity golf tournament.

“We have worked tirelessly for over 30 years now to stage special and memorable events around the world,” said Tournament Host, Gary Player. “The GPI series has grown to include new events in the UAE and Japan this year, and with the support of trusted partners such as Abu Dhabi Sports Council we are able to deliver world-class golf experiences and in doing so create powerful fundraising platforms. This event will be the first of a long and successful journey here in Abu Dhabi.”

Trevor Immelman added: “I’ve played in a couple of Gary Player Invitational events in SA and had the privilege of receiving valuable information and support from Mr. Player. He is an inspiration to us all, not just in terms of his golf game but also the good he’s done for so many charity causes around the world. I’m looking forward to the Gary Player Invitational in Abu Dhabi and hopefully to attend many more events in the future.”

Another three-time European Tour winner and rising star, Andy Sullivan said: “I’ve heard so much about the Gary Player Invitational event series and can’t wait to finally play at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. We play a lot of tournament golf and attend many Pro-Am events but this one is really special. Off the back of starting my season at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship it will be great to join so many peers back in Abu Dhabi and support Mr. Player.”

On behalf of the female professionals, Ladies European Tour star Caroline Martens had this to add: “As an LET professional it’s great to join a golfing legend and top male professionals for this union of golf and giving. The opportunity to use golf as a catalyst for great charity causes is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of our chosen career. I was also lucky enough to take part in a special ladies golf clinic at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club yesterday, which was a thrill to help broaden the appeal of this unique event to include more ladies golfers here in Abu Dhabi.

The inaugural Gary Player Invitational in Abu Dhabi is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised more than $62 million for charity worldwide. The Gary Player Invitational UAE is under the Patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and hosted in partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council. The event is sponsored by: TDIC, Rolex, SAP, Callaway, Bell Helicopter, Spinneys, Sport 360, Golf Digest, Arabian Radio Network, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas.

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CHILDREN TO BE THE WINNER AT 2016 GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL IN ABU DHABI

Feb 7, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Today, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Black Knight International, and The Player Foundation announced the local beneficiary partner for the 2016 Gary Player Invitational, being staged for the first time this week at Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, will be the Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs (ZHO).

Golf icon and Grand Slam Champion, Gary Player, visited ZHO at Al Mafraq to witness some of the charity’s local work and met some of the individuals benefitting from their care. During Gary Player’s visit, ZHO revealed its decision to rename the gymnasium within a new sports centre, which will open at the Baniyas Club, as the Gary Player Gymnasium.

ZHO’s Secretary-General, Mohamed Al Hameli, commented, “We are obviously delighted to be chosen by Gary Player and The Player Foundation as their charity partner. We have some very ambitious plans for our new sports centre and the funds raised at this event will assist with the future development. Mr. Player’s pioneering commitment to promoting the benefits of sport, health and wellness, made our decision to rename the gymnasium in his honor a very natural and fitting thing to do.”

Funds will be raised through team entries during tomorrow’s Pro-Am tournament at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and at a silent and live auction at a Gala Dinner at the Park Hyatt Saadiyat Island.

Tournament host Gary Player said, “We have raised more than $60 million for charities worldwide, including schools in South Africa and the USA, homeless individuals in the UK, and AIDS infected children in China. I have been extremely impressed by the work of the Zayed Higher Organization and look forward to helping them with their fundraising projects to improve the lives of those less fortunate here in Abu Dhabi.”

The Gary Player Invitational UAE is under the Patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and hosted in partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council. The event is sponsored by: TDIC, Rolex, SAP, Callaway, Bell Helicopter, Spinneys, Sport 360, Golf Digest, Arabian Radio Network, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, and Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas.

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GARY PLAYER NAMED HOST OF NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE

Feb 6, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

More than 35 years after he designed the course on which it is played, Gary Player will be the official host of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Dubbed Africa’s Major and hosted by golfing legend Gary Player, the Nedbank Golf Challenge will be played from November 10-13 at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City in South Africa’s North West Province, and will be sanctioned by The European Tour. It will form the second leg of the lucrative three-part final series of The European Tour.

Known as South Africa’s greatest-ever sportsman, Player was only the third golfer after Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen to win all four Major Championships, the career Grand Slam of golf. Only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have since matched the feat.

“I’m honored to be so closely associated with such an important tournament in my homeland,” said Player. “I’m proud that the Gary Player Country Club continues to provide the challenge for some of the world’s best players to show off their talents, and I’m especially pleased that this will happen in South Africa.”

Since its inception in 1981, the tournament has attracted some of the greatest modern golfers, and its roster of champions includes golf’s best such as Severiano Ballesteros, Nick Price, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Ernie Els, and many others.

Selwyn Nathan, Executive Director of the Sunshine Tour, expressed his pleasure about the association of Player’s name with the tournament.

“Gary Player is one the greatest players the game has known, and he brings a special presence to a great tournament,” he said. “He won the career Grand Slam at 29, and he represents the excellence the Sunshine Tour strives to produce from the young players who start their careers on the local circuit.

“His enthusiasm will add immeasurably to a great tournament, and honouring him in this way will continue an association with a tournament he helped to start in 1981,” Nathan added.

Keith Waters, Chief Operating Officer of the European Tour, said: “Gary Player is synonymous with the Nedbank Golf Challenge, so it is fitting that his name is officially attached to the title.

“He brings so much to the event – and to golf in general – and inspires so many players, so we are delighted to have him on board in this official capacity.”

Graeme Stephens, Chief Executive of Sun International, said: “With the Gary Player Country Club as the jewel in Sun International’s golf course crown, we’re thrilled to have the man who designed a course that has consistently been rated one of the best in South Africa even more closely associated with the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

“Gary Player brings a zest for life to anything he does, and we couldn’t be happier to be associated with that enthusiasm.”

Mike Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Nedbank, said: “Gary Player is a fixture at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and it is entirely appropriate that his name becomes linked with the name of a tournament in which he played a major role in starting.

“He represents excellence in so many fields, and there can be no better fit for Nedbank as title sponsors of the tournament.”

Picture courtesy of Getty Images

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN PRESIDENT SCOTT FERRELL TO ATTEND THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL IN ABU DHABI

Feb 5, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design, will attend the Gary Player Invitational UAE at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on February 8, along with a host of professional golfers and celebrities celebrating the Union of Golf and Giving.

Ferrell joined the Gary Player Group in 2001 and works closely with Player to ensure that his design philosophies and vision are perfectly executed within each project the division accepts.

Under Ferrell’s leadership, the prominent golf course design company has secured projects in emerging markets around the world including the Middle East, North America, Central America, Europe, Africa, China, and India. Gary Player Design has continued its focus on the Black Knight’s philosophy of creating visually appealing golf courses, while making environmental stewardship a priority.

“I vividly remember my first trip to Abu Dhabi nearly 10 years ago when I learned about the ambitious plans TDIC had for Saadiyat Island,” says Ferrell. “Being part of those plans, not to mention being the first course on the Arabian Gulf in the UAE, frankly, made this project one of the most important in the history of Gary Player Design. I really look forward to returning to Saadiyat for the Gary Player Invitational.”

Eighteen professionals from 12 countries, including Major champions, will join tournament host, sporting legend, and Grand Slam Champion, Gary Player, to help raise funds for underprivileged children. During the last 30 years, The Player Foundation has raised more than $60 million for charity.

The Saadiyat Beach Club is sure to impress all who attend the event. Since opening in 2010, the course has gone from strength to strength, and 2015 marked another year in which awards and accolades have been bestowed upon the golf club. The course took home honors as the United Arab Emirates Best Golf Course at the 2015 World Golf Awards, firmly securing its position as one of the jewels in Abu Dhabi’s golfing crown.

In addition, the Gary Player signature golf course has been awarded certification from Audubon International, recognizing its efforts to preserve and encourage wildlife on the course and in surrounding areas.

“Environmental sensitivity is incredibly important to Mr. Player,” Ferrell said. “I know how gratifying it is to him and our entire team to see Saadiyat’s continued commitment in this area.”

In order to be awarded certification, US-based Audubon International required evidence of the Saadiyat Island club successfully implementing and carrying out activities that significantly protect and encourage natural wildlife and habitation. Audubon International commended the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club’s documentation of wildlife and habitat value, nurturing of natural habitat areas, and restoration of degraded habitats. 

For more information on Gary Player Design, visit http://www.garyplayer.com

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TOP GREEN HONORS FOR THE LINKS AT FANCOURT

Jan 29, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Links at Fancourt, a prestigious leisure resort course in George, designed by golf legend Gary Player, took top green honors, becoming certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for the third time in five years.

The Links 18-hole golf course at Fancourt is the only course in Africa, and one of only 890 courses in the world, currently awarded sanctuary status by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary program for golf courses, a program helping management at golf courses to protect the environment and preserve the natural heritage of the game of golf.

The Links, inspired by the famous links courses of the British Isles, is set in endless lush countryside against the majestic Outeniqua Mountains and is considered a masterpiece of golf courses. It was designed by the Black Knight and features undulating, windswept terrain with a dune-style landscape.

With Fancourt having achieved a number of awards including The Links golf course being voted No. 1 in South Africa in Golf Digest SA’s Top 100 Golf Course rankings for 2015 and 2014, as well as being listed in Golf Digest as one of the 100 Greatest Golf Courses in the World in 2014 and 2015, the team is delighted to add this green recognition to their collection.

Tara Donadio, director of cooperative sanctuary programs at Audubon International, the US nonprofit organization facilitating environmental education and sustainable management of natural resources, says, “To qualify for the accolade, the team at The Links golf course had to demonstrate dedication to environmental responsibility in a number of categories. This included environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, water conservation, chemical-use reduction and safety, water quality management, as well as outreach and education.”

According to Donadio, the project at The Links golf course involved three years of environmental dedication driven by Chris Gomersall, grounds and gardens manager at Fancourt, and was implemented by Jacobus Fortuin, golf course superintendent at The Links golf course.

Donadio says the team established an environmental management system improving performance in management of water, electricity, waste and invasive alien vegetation species, provided a safe habitat for wildlife along lakes and educated golfers on the importance of natural areas at the course.

“The Links golf course team have shown a strong commitment to the environment and have had success with many projects including building native habitats and implementing a strong outreach program. We commend the fine example they have set protecting environmental quality, promoting efficient operations, providing a sanctuary for wildlife and conserving natural resources for future generations,” says Donadio.

Lloyd Martindale, golf general manager at Fancourt, says the team is honored to receive this coveted certification and trusts it demonstrates that golf courses can have a positive impact on the environment if constructed and managed properly. He says the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary program for golf courses is a vital resource for golf course management teams helping to enhance the valuable natural areas and wildlife habitats that golf courses provide.

“We will continue to drive sustainable management of our land, water, wildlife and other natural resources, minimizing potential harmful impacts, reducing waste and improving efficiency of golf course operations. We aim to continue ensuring natural resources are sustainably used and conserved to preserve our ecosystem for generations to come,” says Martindale.

Article courtesy of Fancourt

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GARY PLAYER | PROFESSIONAL GOLFER, PHILANTHROPIST & GOLF COURSE DESIGNER

Jan 26, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player is, quite simply, golfing royalty and in a class of his own. He is one of the most recognizable faces in golf and in the sporting world. Player is also a renowned golf course architect with more than 350 design projects throughout the world. Black Knight International, the company founded by his son, Marc Player, includes Gary Player Design, Player Real Estate, Gary Player Enterprises and The Player Foundation. The Player Foundation built the Blair Atholl Schools in Johannesburg, South Africa which has educational facilities for more than 500 students from kindergarten through grade eight.

The foundation has since expanded efforts in all corners of the globe, raising funds for impoverished children through six Gary Player Invitational events – in Abu Dhabi, Japan, Europe, China, USA and South Africa. More than $60 million has been raised in 30 years and counting. He has a long list of accolades including the South African Sportsman of the Century in 2000. Additionally, he is the only modern golfer to win the British Open in three different decades and holds many Lifetime Achievement Awards. He was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga by President Mbeki of South Africa for excellence in golf and his contribution to non-racial sport in South Africa in 2003, amongst many other prestigious awards.

I am Driven By | At 80-years-old, I am as driven today as I was when I first turned professional. It is that mentality that made me successful. Early in my life, as a teenager, I set a goal to become a world champion – and accomplished that feat. Many sacrifices were made along the way, but that was part of the process. You have to set goals for yourself. Today, my focus is on raising money for underprivileged children through The Player Foundation. Our goal is to raise $100 million for those in need.

My Highlights | My loving wife of 60 years, my children, and my grandchildren are the most important parts of my life. And seeing them grow has been the greatest joy of my life. As far as my career is concerned, winning the career Grand Slam on both the Regular Tour and Senior Tour are my greatest golfing achievements.

Difference Between Good and Great | Some people have that “IT” factor. They refuse to lose. They refuse to give up. They thrive under pressure. Greatness sometimes cannot be explained. But it’s not always because they are the most talented. The hardest workers put themselves in the best position to achieve success.

A Key Talent | My ability to overcome adversity started when I was a young boy. It’s my greatest attribute. My mother died of cancer when I was 8-years-old and my brother left to fight in WWII. Soon after, I made a decision to create an extraordinary life for myself. I love the Latin word reverisco, which basically translates into ‘flourish under adversity.’ Thankfully, my father worked his tail off to provide me with a great education, and even took out a loan to buy me my first set of golf clubs. To achieve my goals, I had to outwork the competition, not just rely on my God-given talent. And I still outwork my competition today!

How I Use My Mind | The mind is the most important of all. A person’s mind is unbelievably powerful. If you stay positive and focus on your goals, nearly anything is possible. You can train your mind to cope with pain or fatigue. This gives you a huge advantage over any competition or obstacles in your way of success.

Dealing With Doubt | Never let those things enter your mind. If you fear defeat, you will be defeated. Channel your nerves into positive energy. Stay positive, trust in your training, and know you did everything in your power to put yourself in a position to be successful. Do not fear failure.

Performing at My Peak | For as long as I can remember, I have taken care of my body by exercising regularly and eating proper food. If you fuel your body with junk or sparsely exercise, you put yourself at an extreme disadvantage. I still hit the gym four or five times a week, eat right and hydrate. I am 80, but honestly I have the energy of a person closer 40!

Future Dreams and Ambitions | I want to spend more time with my family, and continue to stay active. Travel. Rest is rust! The main goal I have left to reach is to raise $100 million for underprivileged children around the world through The Player Foundation. We are well on our way with a plan to reach this number by 2020.

Best Advice I’ve Ever Received | The great Ben Hogan once told me, “The secret is in the dirt.” It made me realize you have to practice harder and longer than your competitors. I derived my favorite saying from this which is, “The harder you practice, the luckier you get.”

Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I worked so hard during my career as a professional golfer, so I don’t really have any regrets and am satisfied with how I impacted the game globally. However, it is not important to me to be remembered as someone who won the Grand Slam or Major championships. When my time is up in this world, I want to be remembered as a person who changed people’s lives. I want to have 100 million more people exercising regularly, eating better and embracing life. There may be a time when Major championships are forgotten, but when you can impact the lives of those less fortunate, that will never be forgotten.

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KOŽÍŠKOVÁ LEAVES EUROPEAN WINTER FOR SUNNY SOUTH AFRICA AHEAD OF 2016 FNB DUSI

Jan 25, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

As the 2016 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon draws ever closer, ladies favourites Abby Solms and Anna Kožíšková’s are looking forward to reuniting again ahead of the 18-20 February spectacle after having spent much of the recent months training individually, halfway across the globe from each other.

As was the case ahead of their 2014 FNB Dusi challenge, the pair have been preparing on separate continents with Adie based at Natal Canoe Club in Pietermaritzburg and Kožíšková with her husband in Hungary.

Kožíšková’s bid to be in top shape when she arrives in South Africa on Tuesday, 26 January was made even tougher with her having to deal the harsh Eastern European winter conditions.

“I cannot wait to get to South Africa for one of the best races that I have ever done!” current K1 Marathon World Champ Kožíšková mentioned excitedly.

“I have just finished my final cross-country skiing training camp, my last race was over the weekend and then I will be flying to South Africa on Tuesday.”

“I finished second in my last race two weeks ago, which I was really happy with and it showed that I am in good shape at the moment.”

With one outing at the FNB Dusi under her belt already, Kožíšková feels that she will be better equipped to deal with the Dusi’s tough conditions this time around than she was in 2014.

“At the moment it is 12 degrees below zero so it is going to be interesting when I get into the heat of the Dusi Valley!

“The big advantage for me is that I know the river now; I know the rapids and the portages which is important going into such a big race like the Dusi,” she stressed.

2014 was a race that did not quite go the way of Kožíšková and Solms as the pair finished a narrow second behind Robyn Kime and Abbey Ulansky.

The Czech star would however have gained invaluable experience from such a tough three days in the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

“2014 was a tough race for us as I cut my knee open on day one and had to get ten stitches as well as breaking my paddle on the Island portage on day three.

“We still came second though, which was great for us.

“I am really looking forward to this special race in such an incredible part of the world!” an excited Kožíšková mentioned.

Despite having gained years of experience on the uMsundusi and uMngeni Rivers, Kožíšková ‘s partner Solms had hoped to have spent more time on the river ahead of this year’s FNB Dusi than the crippling drought has allowed.

“When Anna arrives we will have to do some river prep, if we are able to,” Solms said.

“I realised during the StaminoGro 50-Miler that I do need to brush up on quite a few lines.”

Solms’ FNB Dusi rustiness has also have been compounded somewhat by her decision to opt out of a competitive K1 effort in 2015 in favour of a social effort with her father, Patrick Adie.

“With not racing last year I didn’t do the river prep that I did in the past.

“Things always change on the river, like hyacinth, too.

“I would really like for Anna and I to be able to do some river sessions together before Dusi!”

While eager to return to the waters upon which she and Kožíšková will compete on in just a few weeks’ time, Solms will draw confidence from the peak physical condition she is in after much hard work both on the water, the trails and in the gym in recent months.

Solms’ river skills also received a welcome sharpening this past weekend during her resounding victory at the N3TC Drak Challenge in the Southern Drakensberg, prompting many to label the pair as undoubted favourites to lead the charge for the 2016 FNB Dusi women’s title.

“It is my best opportunity to win the Dusi yet!” said the six-time FNB Dusi runner-up.

“It is unfortunate that Abbey Ulansky and Robyn Kime – our main competition two years ago – won’t be entering but I am going to be as fit and prepared as I ever have been, as if Abbey and Robyn were there on the start line.

“There are other strong women’s crews like [two-time Under-23 Marathon World Championships bronze medallist] Jenna Ward and [Hungary’s two-time Under-23 Marathon World Championships winner] Vanda Kizsli.

” You can’t be too blasé. Anything can happen, so you need to be as ready as possible come race day.

“On the start line, I am going to be as prepared as I can be!”

Article and picture courtesy of Dusi

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FIELD SET FOR 2016 GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL AT SAADIYAT BEACH GOLF CLUB

Jan 25, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Abu Dhabi’s stunning, ocean-front Saadiyat Beach Golf Club will host an outstanding field of golf professionals when the 2016 Gary Player Invitational tees off on Monday 8th February.

18 professionals from 12 countries including two of the world’s Top 40 - Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger and England’s Andy Sullivan - will join tournament host, sporting legend and 9-time Major Champion, Gary Player, to compete in the Union of Golf and Giving to help raise funds for underprivileged children.

ADSC’s General Secretary, His Excellency Aref Al Awani, said, “A field of Major Champions, Ryder Cup Captains, rising global stars and multiple European Tour winners, alongside golfing icon Gary Player, provides another unique moment in cementing Abu Dhabi’s position on the global golf stage. By adding top female professionals, as well as the UAE’s own Ahmed Al Musharrakh, this is one of the most unique fields ever assembled for a Pro-Am event in the UAE. This provides a powerful complement to our core vision of creating a healthier and sporting nation; something Gary Player believes in so passionately.”

The Gary Player Invitational UAE is part of the world-leading GPI charity golf event series, which has raised more than $60 million for charities worldwide. The eco-conscious Saadiyat Beach course, which was designed by the Black Knight, will provide an enjoyable golf experience for all participants.

“I am excited to see such an interesting cross-section of professional golfers joining our cause in seeking to provide a brighter future for those less fortunate than ourselves,” said Gary Player. “I can’t wait to be back at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club for what is sure to be a memorable event and the start of a very important UAE charity drive over the next five years. With the support of our wonderful host, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the facility owner TDIC, we are able to deliver a world-class golf experience and, in doing so, create a powerful fundraising platform.”

The full 2016 Gary Player Invitational field includes, from Austria: Bernd Wiesberger; from England: Andy Sullivan, David Howell and Melissa Reid; from South Africa: Trevor Immelman; from Ireland: Paul McGinley; from India: Jeev Milkha Singh – the first Indian pro to join the European Tour; from Sweden: Kristoffer Broberg, Rikard Karlberg and Camilla Lennarth; from Spain: the 2013 winner of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Pablo Larrazábal and Emma Cabrera-Bello; from Italy: Matteo Manassero; from France: Romain Wattel and Gregory Havret; from Denmark: Lucas Bjerregaard; from Norway: Caroline Martens; and the first Emirati to turn professional, Ahmed Al Musharrekh, will represent the host country.

2008 Masters Champion Trevor Immelman said, “I have the greatest admiration for Mr. Player’s career and his tireless work for charitable causes around the world. Mr. Player has provided me with so much valuable support and knowledge throughout my career, and as I embark on my career renaissance, his wisdom and experience is more valuable than ever. A day with Mr. Player is like nothing else, and I’m delighted to participate in this year’s GPI in Abu Dhabi.”

On behalf of the female Professionals, 2015 Ladies European Tour Order of Merit runner-up, Melissa Reid said, “Everyone knows about Mr. Player’s legendary achievements on and off the course and I’ve witnessed first-hand his totally unique appeal, charm and energy at many GPI events. I’m thrilled to be playing once again at Saadiyat Beach in Abu Dhabi – it’s an incredible venue.”

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational series, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY MAZDA LAUNCHES ITS DEBUT IN JAPAN

Jan 22, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Black Knight International and Jidaino Souzou Koubou have partnered to celebrate the Union of Golf and Giving by staging the Gary Player Invitational presented by Mazda in Japan on March 19-22, 2016.

The Player Foundation, established by Marc Player, has chosen Support Our Kids as the beneficiary of the event to aid the suffering children of the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster and tsunami. The event also will help promote the restoration of North Eastern Japan, which in 2016, commemorates the fifth year since the disaster.

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

Japan is the second event of the 2016 Gary Player Invitational series, which will continue later this year in Europe, New York, China and South Africa.

“I am so excited to be visiting Japan again and that we are able to host the Gary Player Invitational in such a special country. We have not forgotten the tragedy of the great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, and our efforts will help change the lives of many young people who have been affected,” said Gary Player, Tournament Host.

The event is managed by the Executive Committee Chairperson, Mr. Wataru Takeshita, and by former Manager of the Yomiuri Giants, Mr. Hara, a promoter of Support Our Kids. Furthermore, Gary Player will host a celebrity charity golf event, kids golf clinic and a business management seminar titled, “How to Win,” presented by Katsuyuki Kiyomiya, Manager of the top rugby league team, Yamaha Motor Jubilo, concluded with a charity gala auction dinner.

A charity concert produced by Shigeaki Saegusa will be held as an opening performance at Suntory Hall in Tokyo on Saturday, March 19. Joining the entertainment lineup will be an up-and-coming 15-year-old violinist, Mone Hattori, a 17-year-old cello player, Yuya Mizuno and representing Soma-shi, Fukushima Prefecture, a chorus group called “MJC ensemble” consisting of junior and senior high school girls who actively perform around the world will join the event as the representative from the earthquake stricken area.

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QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS… WITH GARY PLAYER

Jan 15, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

We start this new series with one of the most decorated individuals the game has ever seen, Gary Player. A man who over five decades has won 167 times world-wide, notably including nine Major Championships and nine Senior Majors. He is one of only five men to have won golf’s career Grand Slam.

Tips & Tuition

If you had one tip to give a 20 handicap golfer, what would it be?
“Keep your head still when you putt. Listen to the ball drop into the hole. You will drop several shots off your handicap immediately.”

What’s the best advice you’ve been given by anyone on tour, and by whom?
“When I first turned professional and sought advice from other players, they mostly told me my swing was too flat. It was discouraging. But Ben Hogan - my golf idol - said to me, “Son, your swing can never be too flat.” This was a very important event in my life because I realized success would come from hard work and not the critique of others.”

What’s your last thought before you hit a driver?
“Rotate! Rotate! Rotate!”

Favourites

Favourite course and why?
“The Old Course at St Andrew because it is the Home of Golf.”

Favourite hole and why?
“That’s tough. I love No. 11 at Augusta, No. 17 at St. Andrews and No. 9 at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City.”

Favourite club in the bag?
“None. I have a special weighted club that helps me stretch (both ways) each time before I play or hit on the range. Everyone tells me they have never seen anything as effective!”

What is your favourite Ryder Cup moment?
“Well, I am always a spectator being from South Africa, but my favourite part is the celebration at the conclusion of the match, no matter which team wins. Golf usually is an individual sport, so celebrating with teammates after a competition is special.”

What has been your favourite tournament to compete in over your career?
“The Open Championship when on tour. It is the epitome of all golf tournaments. And since my playing days, the Gary Player Invitational global tournaments have become so special because we raise money for underprivileged children around the world.”

Who would make up your dream fourball?
“Lee Kuan Yew, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela”

Personal Highlights

If you had to pick the greatest shot from your career, when and where would it have been?
“In the 1972 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, I hit my ball into heavy rough behind some tall trees that blocked my view of the green. It was a blind shot, but I decided to go for it and hit my nine-iron iron within three feet to set up a birdie putt that gave me a two-shot lead heading into the final two holes.”

When was your first hole-in-one (as a pro or amateur)?
“My first hole-in-one was as an amateur at Virginia Park GC near Johannesburg in 1950. I had only been playing golf for a few years. It was on the 15th hole, I’ll never forget that moment! I’ve had 27 as a professional in tournaments.”

What and where was your first professional pay cheque?
“I believe it was the Santa Tournament at The Wanderers Golf Club.  I finished second to Bobby Locke and won £200. That was in 1953, my first year as a pro.”

Memories from the Tour

Most unusual thing that has ever happened to you on the golf course?
“I saw a naked woman streak down the fairway! Not something you expect to see during a golf tournament…”

What is the weirdest experience you’ve ever had with a fan?
“The streaking fan probably was the weirdest moment too.”

Can you describe the greatest round you’ve ever personally witnessed?
“At the 1978 Masters, I was down by seven shots heading into the final round. I was 42-years-old and not expected to contend for anymore Major Championships. Most thought I was passed my prime. But I was in such good shape and I knew if I played my best golf, I had a chance to win my third Masters. And I ended up beating three guys by one shot. It probably was the best round of my career.”

What’s the most nervous you’ve ever felt on the golf course?
“Definitely at my first Open Championship in St Andrews. I stepped up to the first tee and was a bit overwhelmed that I was playing at the Old Course. Keep in mind I had slept on the beach the night before. Even though the fairway is incredibly wide, I nearly hit the ball out-of-bounds. I never forget hearing the starter ask, “What is your handicap, son?” I responded, “I’m a pro, sir.” He said, “Well you must be a hell of a chipper and putter.” I returned to St. Andrews after I won The Open in 1959. That same starter was there and said, “YOU won The Open?! It’s a bloody miracle!””

The State of the Game

If you could change one rule of golf, what would it be?
“The R&A and USGA need to come together and require that all equipment companies cut their ball back 50 yards for professionals. It will help save so many resources and money being spent on lengthening golf courses worldwide and make records more meaningful.” 

What has been golf’s best technological improvement?
“Everything. From the clubs to course maintenance, it’s night and day from the days of Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen. There are no spike marks on the greens. Bunkers are raked perfectly. And the clubs! If we played with the equipment we have today, no doubt we would post similar incredible scores.”

Can you suggest one idea to combat slow play?
“Stop lengthening courses. Yes, updates are necessary, but owners can redesign their course to make it more challenging without adding 1000 yards. No one wants to play a six-hour round. And disqualify those that cannot play to the rules.”
What We Didn’t Know

Do you have any superstitions? – tell us about them.
“No superstitions for me. I don’t believe in them.”

Do you have any hidden talents?
“I consider myself a decent gardener, planting trees especially.  My wife says I have green fingers! And I can identify many birds by their calls and sing back. They answer me, too!”

Do you have any other famous family members, sporting, long-lost or otherwise?
“My brother, the late Dr. Ian Player, is a world renowned conservationist credited with saving the white rhino from extinction. He passed away in 2014, but his legacy and what he accomplished will live forever.” 

If you weren’t a professional golfer, what would you be doing?
“I am a farmer at heart, and love to work and get my hands dirty. My horses and my farm are my passions now. I could easily live out my days in the Great Karoo of South Africa, but I also love to get out and help people which is why I still travel eight months out of the year.”

Article courtesy of the European Tour

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GARY PLAYER’S THRACIAN CLIFFS HITS NEW HEIGHTS IN 2015

Jan 6, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

European golfers are continuing to discover the Gary Player-designed Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort in their droves as the award-winning Bulgarian resort looks back on another record-breaking golf season for 2015.

Latest figures revealed by the luxury resort indicate that 2015 has been a record year for visits, with total bookings up by more than 25 percent compared to the same time last year.

The numbers demonstrate the burgeoning interest from golfers across Europe, all keen to experience Thracian Cliff’s first-class facilities, which include one of the most dramatic golf courses on earth, as well as a new restaurant, piano bar and beach club, added this year.

The prestigious golf haven has seen its most remarkable growth from the UK market – more than 30 percent – but France and Eastern Europe are also gaining ground, with booking increases of 20 and 25 percent, respectively.

A Thracian Cliffs spokesman said: “We are thrilled to see such a dramatic increase in bookings from our key golfing markets this year and it fills us with an immense amount of confidence for 2016.

“We are delighted to have improved upon last year and to have raised the caliber of the resort even further, helped by several new developments. Thanks to our passion and dedication to continuously improve the guest experience, we’re optimistic the best is yet to come.”

Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort successfully hosted the 2013 Volvo World Match Play Championship and scooped the ‘European Golf Resort of the Year 2014’ award – bestowed by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO).

Golf legend and course designer Gary Player said, “You will not find a golf course like this anywhere else on the planet. Pebble Beach is renowned as the best site and I would say Thracian Cliffs rivals Pebble Beach.”

With two high-spec residential villages – many with panoramic sea views – gourmet restaurants, a bijou spa and its own beach club, Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort offers plenty for both golfers and lifestyle seekers, all within the unique environment of the Cape Kaliakra coast.

The location of the resort – which benefits from plenty of sunshine, lying, as it does, further south than Florence, Monaco or Marseille – boasts the perfect climate for the regular special events which take place on the unspoiled Bendida Beach, located directly on the seafront of the resort.

Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort http://www.thraciancliffs.com

Article courtesy of Golf Business News

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STILL FULL OF FIRE

Dec 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player celebrated his recent 80th birthday with a party for 300 guests at the Sun City SuperBowl.

The event was the culmination of many celebrations held this past year in his honour, and Gary literally bounced into the arena to a thunderous burst of razzmatazz as the guests awaited his arrival, and remained full of energy the entire night, singing the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire” on the stage with Irish vocalists Ronan Keating and Brian McFadden, and later in the evening sweeping up in his arms the female violinist member of the band Freshlyground.

Not many 50-year-olds would have been as ebullient or engaging as Gary was for hours on end. He’s just so full of “go.” He went to bed after midnight, and bright and early the next morning I bumped into him, chirpy and smiling, in the lobby of the Palace of the Lost City, heading off to the golf course to tee up with clients. He looked the very opposite of how a partygoer is meant to look the next day.

It was a memorable occasion for Gary and wife Vivienne mostly for the fact that the entire Player family, 37 of them from around the world, barring three grandchildren who had school exams, were there to celebrate with him. His two sons, Marc and Wayne, daughters Amanda, Jennifer, Michele and Theresa, plus 19 grandchildren were there alongside old family friends, including Johann and Gaynor Rupert, who sat next to Gary and Vivienne, and prominent member of the local golf industry. The party was held by The Friends of Gary Player, and they made sure his favourite songs were played throughout the evening. Idols judge and Metro FM radio presenter Unathi Msengana was the MC.

The celebrations were followed by the 16th annual Gary Player Invitational tournament at Lost City, and showing typical competitiveness and a wonderful sense of occasion, Gary retained his title in the Alliance format 36-hole event. His first victory as an octogenarian, which mean he maintains achievement of having won a professional title in every decade of his life since his teenage years. His team of Keating and businessmen Dr. Han-Walter Peters and Sello Moloko shot 36-under-par to win by 11 strokes. Africa’s premier charity golf tournament raised a record R6.2 million for charities supports underprivileged children in South Africa.

Afterwards, Gary said it was the best week of his life. Well, he would, wouldn’t he?


Article courtesy of Golf Digest South Africa

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A POEM BY GARY PLAYER

Dec 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

17 turned Pro

Hoping to make a little dough

My father almost died of fright

But ended up in sheer delight

For a boy who traveled to school by tram

Ended up winning the Grand Slam

From a tram to a jet

The world famous people I have met

Known this girl for 66 years of my life

She has turned out to be my champion wife

Children and grandchildren of which I am so proud

It’s like flying with a perfect dream on a cloud

Now at 80 having changed the lives of hundreds of thousands through money

Folks this is for me, peaches and honey

To all my friends in this room

You have swept a clear road to success for me with your broom

Thanks

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LEISHMAN WINS NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE AT GARY PLAYER COUNTRY CLUB

Dec 22, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Marc Leishman brought the curtain down on an emotional 2015 with a stunning victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday.

The Australian nearly lost his wife in April after she fell seriously ill with toxic shock syndrome, a rare but life-threatening bacterial infection which resulted in her being put into an induced coma.

Thankfully, Audrey pulled through but Marc admitted he feared the worst and was prepared to give up golf to care for their two young children.

Fast forward eight months and Mrs Leishman is now recovering, and her husband has ended the calendar year with his first win on The European Tour after finishing six shots clear of Henrik Stenson at Gary Player Country Club.

Leishman came into the final round with a one-shot lead, and a brilliant closing 67 moved him to 19 under, making him just the second Australian to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge after Robert Allenby’s triumph in 2009.

The victory completed a stunning day for Australia on The European Tour with Nathan Holman claiming the Australian PGA Championship earlier in the day.

The final round turned into a straight shoot-out between 2008 champion Stenson and Leishman, and while the Swede recorded a closing level par 72, he could not keep pace with Leishman who pulled away with four birdies on the back nine.

It’s amazing. I’m so happy. It’s not very often you can walk up 18 with a good cushion and enjoy it - Marc Leishman

“I knew it was going to be a really tough day, I knew I had to play well. Henrik’s an awesome player and I knew he’d make me earn it, which he did.

“I’m really pleased that I could play as well as I did and have a little bit of a buffer there at the end.

“Golf’s a lot easier when you don’t have to make up lost ground, especially on this golf course where there’s trouble everywhere. I was really happy to not have too many bogeys. I definitely found out where the trouble was in the practice round.”

He added: “I’m pretty happy to have this year over, to be honest. Audrey got very sick and I lost an uncle who I was very close to. This tops off what was otherwise not a great year. Three weeks ago we moved into a new house, so this will help pay for that.”

Chris Wood finished in third place on nine under with defending champion Danny Willett, Victor Dubuisson, Branden Grace and Robert Streb all a further shot back.

Leishman and Stenson both looked to be in trouble on the first but the Swede did well to make par after sending his tee shot right while Leishman holed a testing putt from the fringe.

Jaco Van Zyl, the third member of the final group, had dropped a shot on the first but recovered with a brilliant approach on the next to secure his second eagle of the week and get to 11 under par - having picked up six shots over the week on the second.

Stenson went left off the tee on the third and had to lay up, resulting in a dropped shot, while Leishman also gave one back after finding the sand with his second shot.

Pars followed at the fourth and fifth for the leading group but when Van Zyl put his tee shot on the sixth left and made a double-bogey, it looked like developing into a two-horse race.

Stenson found the sand on the seventh to drop a shot and when Leishman made a testing ten-footer for birdie on the par three, the lead was three shots.

But the World Number Seven is made of stern stuff and he holed a 15-foot putt on the eighth for a birdie while Leishman could only make par after putting his second shot in the bunker.

Both of the leading duo then made birdies on the par five ninth as Van Zyl recorded a second consecutive bogey to effectively end his chances of victory.

Further gains followed for Leishman and Stenson on the tenth and when the former put a stunning approach on the 13th to within a foot, the lead was back up to three.

Leishman had birdied the 14th in all three of the previous rounds this week and had a four-foot putt to make it four out of four but let the chance pass before Stenson got in big trouble on the next.

He put his tee shot into the trees on the left to drop a shot as Leishman rolled in a 20-footer for birdie, and the 32 year old had a five-shot lead to take up the last three holes.

And when he got another one to drop from similar range on the next, the final two holes became a procession as Leishman eased his way to a comfortable victory with Stenson chipping in on the 17th before bogeying the last.

Wood was two over for his round as he stood on the ninth tee but he made an eagle on the par five and then followed it up with a birdie before a hat-trick of gains from the 14th catapulted him up the leaderboard.

Willett appeared to have put his back problems behind him in an unblemished 68 with Dubuisson also going round four under par with a brilliant chip-in on the sixth the highlight of his round.

A double bogey on the last saw Streb slip to a 73 while Grace also dropped a shot on the last in his 71.

Byeong-hun An, fresh from being crowned the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, was then at seven under with Charl Schwartzel and Thongchai Jaidee a further shot back.

Article courtesy of the European Tour

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GARY PLAYER’S DESIGN INFLUENCE FELT ACROSS THE WORLD IN 2015

Dec 22, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player shows no signs of slowing down, even after his 80th birthday and celebrating the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam. 2015 highlighted a milestone year for the Black Knight, as he continued to impact the golfing world and leave his global footprint across the golf course design industry. This year, the Black Knight team designed courses in countries world-wide including India, Italy, the United States, Democratic Republic of the Congo, China, Peru, and Vietnam.

More than 40 projects are under design or construction on five continents ranging from Gary Player Signature layouts to a collaboration with legends of golf to family style short-courses for those still learning the game.

“Gary Player’s global appeal and vast design experience have allowed us to shift our focus to virtually any emerging market around the world”, said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design.  “Declines in traditional markets simply don’t have as much impact when your leader is an international icon who is staying incredibly active.”

One of the most exciting projects in the works is for the historic Greenbrier Resort in the United States. For the first time, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Lee Trevino are collaborating on an 18-hole Championship course with hopes of hosting a Major championship. With more than 1000 courses designed between the four golf icons, this one-of-a-kind experience surely will attract the attention of golf’s governing bodies.

On Player’s home continent of Africa, the Black Knight team was selected to design the first Championship caliber course in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“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 Senior Designer Jeff Lawrence.

In the Far East, Vietnam has emerged as a golf destination as China’s government assesses sensible golf development criteria. Gary Player Design has been engaged in multiple locations and continues to expand its footprint in Southeast Asia.  Senior Designer Steven McFarlane, who has led much of our work in China, said, “Vietnam is a wonderful country with fantastic golf course sites, and with considerable government support, we expecting to be working there for years to come.”

In addition to designing new courses, several professional tournaments were played on Gary Player-designed golf courses around the world.

The European Tour hosted the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club in South Africa, DLF Golf and Country Club in India was the site of the Ladies European Tour Hero Women’s Indian Open, and Indura Beach and Golf Resort in Latin America made a strong first impression on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica at the 2015 Honduras Open.

During the year Gary Player Invitational charity series tournaments were played on Gary Player-designed course and hosted legends of golf and entertainment including Tom Watson, Annika Sorenstam, Michael Douglas, and Ronan Keating. The world-leading charity golf series raised more than $1 million for underprivileged children in 2015. With six events planned in 2016, The Player Foundation will charge closer to their goal of raising $100 million for charity.

“From golf course design to philanthropy, there is a great deal left that I want to accomplish,” said Gary Player. “I plan to stay active by helping those in need for as long as I can. It is my hope that I will be remembered for being more than just a golfer. I really want to impact people’s lives.”

Photo courtesy of the PGA TOUR

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EXCITING HEAD-TO-HEAD BATTLES ADD SPICE TO LAUREUS AWARDS

Dec 9, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

An exciting year of sport has thrown up some potentially classic head-to-head battles to win Laureus World Sports Awards.

Usain Bolt v Lewis Hamilton; Serena Williams v Katie Ledecky and All Blacks v FC Barcelona are among the contests that we could possibly see when the Laureus World Sports Academy cast their votes for the most prestigious honours in sport.

First, though, the leading sportsmen, sportswomen and teams of 2015 have to receive enough votes from the world’s media to reach the shortlist. The Laureus Nominations Panel, consisting of leading sportswriters, editors and broadcasters from more than 100 countries, is voting now to select six Nominees in a variety of categories.

The Laureus World Sportsman of the Year category promises to be one of the closest ever. The world’s greatest sprinter Usain Bolt will be looking for his fourth Laureus Award, while world No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic will be hoping for his third. Among a list of strong contenders are three-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, football greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, basketball giants LeBron James and Pau Gasol, athletes Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford, cyclists Chris Froome and Alberto Contador, world golf No.1 Jordan Spieth and unbeaten boxing legend Floyd Mayweather.

American tennis star Serena Williams is also a three-time Laureus winner and will be hoping for another Nomination for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award. Among others, she could be up against 18-year-old US swim sensation Katie Ledecky, athletes Genzebe Dibaba, Allyson Felix, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Dafne Schippers, football World Cup stars Carli Lloyd and Marta and skiers Marit Bjorgen and Anna Fenninger.

Rugby World Cup winners the All Blacks, Champions League winners FC Barcelona and the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team will be among the favourites for Nomination for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award. But they face a strong American challenge from the US Women’s World Cup Team, New England Patriots, Kansas City Royals and Golden State Warriors, plus Great Britain’s Davis Cup Team and Spanish Men’s Basketball Team which won the European Championship.

The most open competition could be for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award, where a wide range of sports and countries could have Nominees. The Chile Men’s Football Team won their first ever Copa America, Belgium’s Max Verstappen became the youngest Formula One driver at 17, golf’s Jason Day and Brooke Henderson, British swimmer Adam Peaty and Australian jockey Michelle Payne all made personal breakthroughs, while Bahrain’s Alzain Tareq, at ten, became the youngest ever swimmer in the world championships.

Some of the biggest names in sport made noteworthy returns in 2015 and could be potential Nominees for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award, including Rugby World Cup winner Dan Carter, ski star Lindsey Vonn, swimmer Michael Phelps, and athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill. Australian surfer Mick Fanning returned to action just six days after fighting off a shark attack in South Africa.

Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman and Olympic legend Edwin Moses said: “We have a group of sportsmen and women here who are simply la crème de la crème. Whoever is nominated, it’s going to be one of the closest contests ever in so many of the categories. I have never known a year when you can look at the potential Nominees and see so many possible winners. This year the vote of the Laureus Media Nominations Panel is so important. There is quality everywhere and we need their vast knowledge and experience to produce the best shortlist.”

The names of the Nominees for these five categories, plus those for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year, which are chosen by specialist
panels, will be announced in the New Year.

The eventual winners of the Laureus World Sports Awards will then be chosen from the lists of Nominees, in a secret ballot, by the 53 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy - the living legends of sport honouring the greatest athletes of today - and announced at the Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony.

Among the sporting greats who have previously been named as winners of Laureus Awards since 2000 have been Usain Bolt, Sebastian Coe, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Alex Ferguson, Lewis Hamilton, Yao Ming, Rafael Nadal, Pelé, Steve Redgrave, Ronaldo, Michael Schumacher, Kelly Slater, Shaun White, Serena Williams and Zinedine Zidane.

Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports more than 150 sports-based community projects in 35 countries around the world that have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people.

Members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, backed up by a group of more than 150 Laureus Ambassadors, volunteer their time to support the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, whose mission is to use sport as the means to combat some of the world’s toughest social challenges facing young people today.

These include juvenile crime, gangs, HIV/AIDS, discrimination, social exclusion, landmines awareness, education and health problems such as obesity. Since its inception Laureus has raised €85 million to support
projects around the world.

Article and picture courtesy of Laureus

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GARY PLAYER COUNTRY CLUB VOTED AS THE BEST

Dec 8, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The home of admired Nedbank Golf Challenge, Gary Player Country Club, has been voted as South Africa’s best golf course by readers in The Star Newspapers Readers Choice 2015.

“The Gary Player Golf Course continues to be rated as one of the worlds top courses, which is a great source of pride for Sun City. There is certainly no greater stamp of approval than a vote of confidence from a customer,” said Mike van Vuuren, Managing Executive at Sun City.

The Gary Player Golf Course is one of the most difficult and demanding courses in Southern Africa. It is also one of the most well-kept courses, managed by Quintin Byleveldt. Both the Gary Player and the Lost City Golf Courses were designed by well-known South African golfing legend, Gary Player.

The Star Readers Choice programme, which sees thousands of readers vote for their favourite places and businesses over a period of six weeks, is a respected platform for gauging public opinion and votes of confidence.

The Black Knight, who recently chose to celebrate his 80th birthday at Sun City, made history in November 2015 when he won the Gary Player Invitational tournament, presented by Coca-Cola, for a record consecutive time at the Lost City Golf Course.

Sun City recently revised the course rates to ensure accessibility of its two golf courses. The rate structure, now the same for both courses, has also been considerably simplified, making it easier for golfers and groups to choose their option, book and play.

Article courtesy of Mzansi Life

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GARY PLAYER CC TO CHALLENGE PROS AT 2015 NGC TOURNAMENT IN SUN CITY

Dec 2, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Fireworks will be on display when some of the world’s finest players tee off in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City in South Africa on Thursday.

The four-day event, dubbed Africa’s Major, will feature a strong field of 30 players from around the world who regularly compete at the highest levels in major sanctioning bodies.

“I love this tournament and I am thrilled to be back at Sun City, said Gary Player, Tournament Host of the Nedbank since its inception in 1981. “Everything here is first-class, from the golf courses to the gym, and Sun International does a tremendous job staging this annual event.”

Fans are likely to enjoy their money’s worth at the picturesque venue north of Johannesburg, which has been a favorite amongst the best professionals as well golf lovers for years.

The condition of the course will, however, offer a particular challenge this year due to the dryness of the fairways and greens. Good rains normally give the surface a sparkle that makes putting easyier, but no such luck this time around. This should only add to the intrigue, and it may mean we’ll be hearing more “ooohs!” for dropped shots than “aaahs!” for birdies than was the case in the past.

The other notable fact is that players will be out to make a mark on what will be the competition’s last 30-man field in the current format.

From next year, the number of competitors will be increased to 72, with the challenge being played before the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in the third week of November in the UAE.
Success in the competition has been the preserve of European players recently, who have won the past five events.

Englishman Danny Willett (2014), Thomas Bjørn of Denmark (2013), Germany’s Martin Kaymer (2012) and England’s Lee Westwood (2011 and 2010) claimed the crystal trophy.

The contest has been eluding South Africans, with Trevor Immelman having been the last local star to win the event, in 2007.

Defending champion Willett will again be the man to watch after enjoying a good season on the European Tour. He won the Omega European Masters by defeating young English compatriot Matthew Fitzpatrick by a single stroke in Switzerland in July.

Last year, he was in great form when he commanded the leaderboard with apparent ease in the final round to beat fellow countryman Ross Fisher by four strokes.

Kaymer is also likely to give a good account of himself in his quest for a second title at Sun City.The cool German is renowned for a great swing that helps him to find the green with ease.The lanky player will be making his fifth appearance at Sun City – a venue he loves with a passion.

With the withdrawal from the contest of Ernie Els, South Africans will be pinning their hopes on Louis Oosthuizen OR Charl Scwartzel to steal the Europeans’ thunder.

“King Louis” the country’s highest-ranked golfer, at 15th, is yet to win the challenge.

The 2010 British Open kingpin has enjoyed a brilliant golfing run so far. He missed lifting the British Open trophy again in July after finishing as joint runner-up at St Andrews in Scotland.

Oosthuizen will compete alongside compatriots in the field including Branden Grace, Charl Schwartzel and debutantes Jaco van Zyl and Thomas Aiken.

Article courtesy of Sport24

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FIT PLAYER TURNS 80 YEARS YOUNG

Nov 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player said he was too choked with emotion to do justice to his birthday party speech, which turned out pretty well anyway.

But when it came to singing and dancing, the octogenarian wowed a packed Superbowl on Wednesday night as he let rip alongside Ronan Keating, Brian McFadden, Freshly Ground, and the Bala Brothers.

“That was a night to remember,” said South Africa’s greatest ever sportsman after friends, family, and special guests from around the world had paid homage to the man who turned 80 on November 1 yet has the energy and drive of someone half that age.

Yesterday morning, after just five hours’ sleep, he was on the Lost City golf course, which he designed, for a social round with Sun International VIPs ahead of the charity-driven Gary Player Invitational, which begins tomorrow.

It was close to 40 C at a baking Sun City, but Player insisted he didn’t feel the heat as he reeled off great shot after great shot on the outward nine. He also corrected the swing faults of the other members of his group.

“Much better. If only I could get my wife to listen like you do,” he joked to one of them.

It was, of course, just lighthearted banter as Player the previous evening had paid special tribute to Vivienne, his wife of 58 years and his greatest support in his long and hugely successful career which has seen him win 167 tournaments across the world, including nine Majors and nine Senior Majors.

His has certainly been a full life, and Player remains as energetic as ever as he travels to all corners of the planet – whether it be to design golf courses, actually play the game, raise millions (more than R800 million to be precise) for underprivileged children, or visit the many family members who make up the ever-growing Player tribe.

“I still feel like a young man. The other day in Atlanta I pushed 410 pounds with my legs, I did 1,300 crunches with a 100-pound weight on my last 200.”

The Black Knight has engaged with the poorest of the poor in his humanitarian work, as well as the rich and famous.

Thinking about the importance of the hips in the golf swing reminded him of one person who certainly did fall into the “rich and famous” category – Elvis Presley.

“Elvis asked me for a golf lesson once. He didn’t have great technique, but when I told him to swing those hips, his face lit up and he began dancing away. And, boy, could he swing those hips!”

Ah, the memories, Gary. And you’re still making new ones.

Article courtesy of The Star

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN COURSES AROUND THE WORLD SHINE AT ANNUAL AWARDS

Nov 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player Design saw November bring top accolades to many of their courses around the world, displaying the golf course design firm’s vast global portfolio, as well as its strong commitment to a sustainable and environmentally sensitive approach.

In the United States, The Cliffs at Mountain Park earned the coveted Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary designation. The Gary Player-designed course joins an exclusive global group to achieve this important milestone. Open to members and guests for just two years, the golf community certainly took notice of the distinct challenge and natural beauty of the unique setting among the Blue Ridge Mountains. In addition to this wonderful achievement, Golfweek’s Ultimate Guide to Golf recently ranked the Gary Player-signature course No. 36 in the Top 100 Best Residential Courses in America.

“Usually it takes several years for a new course to establish itself in the golf world,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. “Our purpose with Mountain Park was to create a golf experience that offers a wide range of playing scenarios unique to The Cliffs’ compendium of world-class courses while making sure we stayed true with our core values.”

At November’s World Golf Awards ceremony in Portugal, several courses by Gary Player Design in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East received awards in a wide range of categories.

The Gary Player Country Club at Sun City resort was named Africa’s Best Golf Course, and it will host the world’s best golfers the first week of December at the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge. A long time host of Africa’s Major, the tournament officially became part of the Sunshine Tour and European Tour in 2013.

For the second straight year, Modry Las Golf Club picked up Poland’s national prize as the country’s best golf course, which aims to benchmark excellence in golf and golf tourism. It affirmed Modry Las as one of central Europe’s leading golfing venues at a time when Poland is emerging as a bone fide golfing destination.

The Gary Player-designed Saadiyat Beach Golf Club took home honors as the United Arab Emirates Best Golf Course. Since opening in 2010, the course has gone from strength to strength, and 2015 marked yet another year in which awards and accolades have been bestowed upon the golf club, firmly securing its position as one of the jewels in Abu Dhabi’s golfing crown. The venue will host the first ever Gary Player Invitational in the UAE in 2016.

Earlier this year, the club was recognized by IAGTO in its Excellence Awards for 2015, picking up one of the Diamond Awards following high scores across the board from an expert judging panel.

“We are very fortunate to work with wonderful ownership and committed clients to bring out the best in Gary Player-designed courses. In 2016, we will open several projects ranging from championship caliber courses that could host Major championships to unique short-courses designed to introduce the game to new golfers,” said Ferrell.

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“GIVNG BACK TO THE WORLD WILL BE MY LEGACY”

Nov 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

As a young man, I made it a point to be the hardest worker possible. This stemmed from my mother dying of cancer when I was 8-years-old, my brother leaving at age 17 to fight in World War II, and my father sacrificing so much to give me everything I needed to be successful even though we were poor.

Becoming a world champion in golf became my top priority. It consumed me. This certainly was not an altruistic act. I dedicated so much of my life to becoming the best, countless sacrifices were made on this path. Many times I had to leave my family for months at a time. It was very hard. And I am so thankful that my wife, Vivienne, understood my passion and took on the burden of raising our six children.

I chose to become a professional golfer at age 17, but it was not to my father’s liking. He had surrendered countless hours to work to give me proper education. I was expected to go on to university and become a doctor or lawyer. But dreams of a global education by traveling through playing the game I love established precedence in my life.

When I set out to accomplish a goal, I work as hard as possible to achieve whatever feat I set forth.

As I have turned 80 this month, my best years of competitive golf almost seem like a distant memory. However, I can still break my age almost every time I hit the links.

My full concentration is now with The Player Foundation, and our goal to raise $100 million for children. My son, Marc, established our foundation and first school in 1983, and we have raised more than $60 million bringing aid to underprivileged children and impoverished communities around the world.

The Foundation is funded primarily by six Gary Player Invitational events. The annual tournaments are staged in the United States, China, Europe, Japan, Abu Dhabi and South Africa. The proceeds of these tournaments and other special events provide funding for an ever-expanding number of institutions around the world, including the Blair Atholl Schools in South Africa, the Pleasant City Elementary School in Palm Beach, USA, and AIDS infected children in Baoshan, a drug-infested city located on the China-Burma border.

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. 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.

The 2015 global series raised more than $1 million for our beneficiaries, but our work is far from over.

For me, this stage in my life is far more important than all the tournaments I won during my playing career. There may come a time when my career Grand Slam is forgotten. That may be hard to understand, but golf is just a game. Yes, it gave my family and me a great life. But there are billions of people around the world that need help.

More importantly, my success also has given me the opportunity to create what I feel is a far more important legacy, changing people’s lives.

When my time on the earth is up, I would like to be remembered as a person who helped their fellow man, and someone who has made life better for millions of people. I plan to see our goal of raising $100 million for charity through to the end. When you can change people’s lives and have a positive impact on the world, that will never be forgotten.

We are not far off.

This article first appeared in Golf E Turismo

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SAADIYAT BEACH GOLF CLUB RECOGNIZED AT WORLD GOLF AWARDS

Nov 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Gary Player Designed Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has been named as the United Arab Emirates Best Golf Course at the second annual World Golf Awards.

Voted for by the general golfing public and announced at a glamorous awards ceremony on the Algarve, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club claimed the prestigious award thanks to its emphasis on providing golfers with an unforgettable golf experience in Abu Dhabi.

The World Golf Awards serve to celebrate and reward excellence in golf tourism, world class courses and golf destinations, providing an extension to the highly-regarded World Travel Awards which celebrated its 22nd anniversary earlier this year.

Scott McCaw, director of Golf at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club was delighted with the victory, commented: “We are extremely happy to claim such a significant award, the whole team at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club work tirelessly to ensure our guests receive the best golf day imaginable.

“We are blessed with a fantastic Gary Player layout which golfers enjoy all-year round.

“We are heading in to our Peak season and we look forward to welcoming golfers from across the world to celebrate in our victory.”

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club was also joined in the winners-circle by its partner hotel, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort which won the United Arab Emirates’ Best Golf Hotel.

Thanks to a range of stunning packages available with Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, guests can stay in opulent surroundings, play golf at the award-winning golf course and experience all that Saadiyat Island has to offer
including its abundance of local wildlife in the area, including strolling mountain gazelles, dolphins and the protected hawksbill turtles.

Since opening in 2010, the Gary Player-designed course has gone from strength to strength and 2015 marks yet another year in which awards and accolades have been bestowed upon the golf club, firmly securing its position as one of the jewels in Abu Dhabi’s golfing crown.

Earlier this year, the club was recognised by IAGTO in its Excellence Awards for 2015, picking up one of the Diamond Awards following high scores across the board from the expert judging panel.

Moreover, Saadiyat Beach will be part of the 2016 Gary Player Invitational global series. The tournament is set for early February, and will bring together the best of golf, entertainment and business to raise much needed funds for underprivileged children and impoverish communities around the world.

Information courtesy of Saadiyat Beach

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THE BLACK KNIGHT MAKES GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL HISTORY

Nov 16, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

In a year of great memories, Gary Player added another when he won the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola for a record second consecutive time at the Lost City Golf Club on Sunday.

Player led his team of Irish singer Ronan Keating and businessmen Dr. Hans-Walter Peters and Sello Moloko to a commanding 11-stroke victory on 36 under par. And the Grand Slam champion also won the individual competition by six shots.

The team of Ladies European Tour player Danielle Montgomery, cricketer Mark Boucher and businessmen JP Cuvelier and Hal Dyball took second place on 25 under par.

The victory wrapped up what has been a year of memorable moments for the Black Knight, who in 2015 has celebrated the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam, his 80th birthday, and being named as the captain of South Africa’s inaugural golf team for the Olympic Games in Rio next year.

And it ended a remarkable week of “Golf and Giving”, with Africa’s premier charity golf tournament raising a record R6.2 million for charities supporting underprivileged children in South Africa.

“We had a wonderful team out there. I gave Ronan a few lessons during the round and changed his swing significantly, and I don’t think I’ve seen anybody improve their golf so much in five holes. Hans Walter played the best game of golf I’ve seen him play, and Sello is such a strong man and he was knocking them on the green on the par fives. So we combined really well,” said Player.

Keating was overjoyed to have won his first Gary Player Invitational trophy.

“Unbelievable. A first-time victory for me, but even more special is that I got to play with Gary Player for two days. I had the time of my life. It’s a bonus to win. I played well and Gary helped me so much. I can’t wait to get back onto the golf course and see if it’s for real.

“And The Player Foundation has done so well with the amount of money raised. I’m very proud to be a part of it and I hope I can be back here next year.”

Moloko also described the moment as the highlight of his golf career.

“It was very special to play with Gary Player, and then to win with him as well. He’s phenomenal. At 80 he still hits the ball so far and is still so active, and doing so well for the less fortunate by using his brand to raise the kind of money that he does.”

It was a fitting end to the 16th Gary Player Invitational South Africa, and which brings down the curtain on the global series in 2015 which has now more than R800 million across the world.

“The support we have received from the Gary Player Invitational series truly has made a difference in the world,” said Marc Player, GPI series founder and CEO of Black Knight International. “From the professional golfers, businessmen and celebrities to our sponsors, they make it all possible to change people’s lives.”

FINAL SCORES IN THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

-36 Gary Player, Ronan Keating, Sello Moloko, Dr. Hans -Walter Peters
-25 Danielle Montgomery, Mark Boucher, JP Cuvelier, Hal Dyball
-22 Carly Booth, Roland Schoeman, Gideon du Plessis, Robby Wray
-22 Richard Sterne, Thomas Msengana, Stephanie Zinser, Steve Elford
-21 Thomas Levet, Brian McFadden, Daniel Gavagnin, Per Classon
-20 Emma Cabrera-Bello, Graeme Smith, Chuck Colton, Dave Woolam
-13 Jean van de Velde, Johnathan Joseph, Reon Barnard, Stuart McKenzie
-9 Wayne Player, Aaron Mokoena, Robert Lilja, Karl Svensson

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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PLAYER, KEATING HIT THE HIGH NOTES AND LEAD GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

Nov 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Black Knight is well on his way to defending his title in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola after guiding his team including Irish singing sensation Ronan Keating to a one-stroke lead in the first round at The Lost City Golf Club on Saturday.

As he has always done, the 80-year-old Player led from the front with an individual round of one-under-par 71 as his team of Ronan Keating and businessmen Dr. Hans–Walter Peters and Sello Moloko finished on 19 under par.

Last year, the Grand Slam champion stunned the field when he led his team to a six-stroke victory and broke his age by 11 shots on the final day.

Behind them, Ladies European Tour star Danielle Montgomery’s team of cricketer Mark Boucher and businessmen JP Cuvelier and Hal Dyball, as well as multiple European Tour winner Thomas Levet’s team of singer Brian McFadden and businessmen Daniel Gavagnin and Per Classon are tied on 18 under par.

Keating described the experience of playing with Player and leading the tournament as easily the best day of his own golf career.

“It’s such a buzz for me. But I’ll be honest, I was nervous on the first tee this morning. You don’t want to play badly in front of Gary Player,” he said.

“He is the most energetic and generous man. He read every one of our putts on every single hole, he worked on all of our swings and our grips, and he changed my grip which made a world of difference to my game. He didn’t stop all day, and he still had to play a round of golf himself.”

Their team’s quest for glory will be seriously challenged in Sunday’s final round, with Levet’s team in particular making a very strong charge on day one before being overtaken by Team Player.

“I always play well when I play with the best,” said businessman Gavagnin, referring to the leading role played by their professional Levet. The European Tour player set the tone for a fun-filled day when he teed off the first on his knees and hit it straight down the middle. And McFadden did his part when he closed with a great putt at the last to help his team into contention.

“I had four nett eagles and 14 blobs. It’s probably a record. But we had a good team,” said the popular Irish entertainer.

“Daniel was very steady and kept making two-pointers, and Per was three under after nine or 10 holes and was playing out of his skin.”

It was a similar story for the team of Montgomery, Boucher, Cuvelier and Dyball.

“We all dovetailed really well, and playing with two world-class sportspeople such as this is just an absolute treat,” said Dyball.

McFadden was finished well before Keating, and his team held the clubhouse lead for most of the day before the surge from Team Player. It prompted him to issue a challenge to his good friend when he declared, “I can’t wait to see Ronan’s face when he sees our score. I did play a bit of a rollercoaster round, but it’s probably best if Ronan said nothing at all.”

But it’s safe to say at the end of round one, it was Keating who had found love on the golf course with a maiden victory in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola within sight.

ROUND ONE SCORES IN THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

-19 Gary Player, Ronan Keating, Sello Moloko, Dr Hans Walter-Peters
-18 Danielle Montgomery, Mark Boucher, JP Cuvelier, Hal Dyball
-18 Thomas Levet, Brian McFadden, Daniel Gavagnin, Per Classon
-14 Emma Cabrera-Bello, Graeme Smith, Chuck Colton, Dave Woolam
-13 Richard Sterne, Thomas Msengana, Stephanie Zinser, Steve Elford
-12 Jean van de Velde, Johnathan Joseph, Reon Barnard, Stuart McKenzie
-8 Carly Booth, Roland Schoeman, Gideon du Plessis, Robby Wray
+5 Wayne Player, Aaron Mokoena, Robert Lilja, Karl Svensson

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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ALL STAR AUCTION RAISES RECORD R6.2 MILLION AT GARY PLAYER’S CHARITY PLAYOFF

Nov 14, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

In an already monumental year for Gary Player, the sporting legend’s charitable tournament of golf and giving, the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, raised more than R6.2 million in donations and during its all-star auction dinner at the South African leg of the series at Sun City last night.

The Gary Player Invitational South Africa, which finds itself in its 16th year as the sport’s premier charity event, has raised more than R800 million across the world in an effort to help sustain the worthy causes supported by The Player Foundation. All proceeds raised from the event will go to charity beneficiaries - Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands in partnership with Qhubeka.

“I am thrilled that once again we managed to raise a significant amount of money for our foundation,” said Gary Player. “The generosity in the room tonight was truly special and it’s a great privilege that such a substantial amount was raised under the umbrella of golf and giving.”

The Gary Player Invitational is frequented by international celebrities, prominent business executives and pro-golfers who gather upon Gary Player designed courses to team up in support of The Player Foundation’s contribution towards the betterment of others. With 2015 bringing Gary Player’s 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam, this year was no exception as guests rubbed shoulders with the likes of Graeme Smith, Aaron Mokoena, Ronan Keating, Carly Booth, Roland Schoeman and Richard Sterne.

Presenting sponsor,  The Coca-Cola Company are extremely proud of the partnership with Black Knight International and the results the tournament achieved over the years. “We are always excited to be involved in this premier charity golf event that celebrates the partnership of influential business and sports leaders to raise funds for beneficiaries supported by The Player Foundation. We recognise that healthy and thriving communities are critical to the sustainable future of our world. Uplifting vulnerable communities with focus on women and children is a shared goal for both The Player Foundation and Coca-Cola.”

The most sought-after auction item of the evening was The Masters fetching R 425 000 with other items on auction such has The Open, Wimbledon, Swarovski crusted Rhino sculpture, The Gary Player Wildlife Collection by David Yarrow, UEFA Euro in Paris 2016 and many more.

“The support we have received from the Gary Player Invitational series truly has made a difference in the world,” said Marc Player, GPI series founder and CEO of Black Knight International. “From the professional golfers and celebrities to our sponsors, they make it all possible to change people’s lives.”

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING.

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PLAYER IN TOP FORM AHEAD OF GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

Nov 13, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The evergreen Gary Player issued a warning to his fellow competitors in this week’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola when he came through Friday’s official tournament pro-am at the Lost City Golf Club declaring his game to be in excellent shape.

“I played really well today. I’m fortunate in that I score an average of 70 when I play. Even on a bad day I beat my age by six shots,” said Player, who in November turned 80. “I feel grateful to have reached the age of 80 and still feel like 50.”

Friday’s official pro-am set the tone for a thrilling 36-hole tournament to come on the weekend and featuring a stellar list of sports stars, celebrities and business leaders. And all eyes will be on Player to see if he can defend the title he won in spectacular fashion here last year.

On that occasion, the Grand Slam champion broke his age by 11 shots in the final round as he led his team to a six-stroke victory on 29 under par, and his individual score on the final day beat three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington.

It was a moment witnessed by Aaron Mokoena, his playing partner and a participant again in this year’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola.

“It’s great to see him still so healthy, and I hope he does win it again because he has so much energy and it rubs off on us,” said the former Bafana Bafana captain.

“For me, winning is great. But the more important thing is just to be here again supporting this great cause and helping Gary in giving back. I have so much respect for the work he does for charity. To me he is like Nelson Mandela in a white skin.”

Olympic swimming champion Roland Schoeman can certainly appreciate Player’s longevity in his sport. Schoeman will seek to become the first South African to have competed at five Olympic Games as he hopes to qualify for Rio in 2016, and says Player’s dedication to fitness has inspired him.

“Gary is a living legend. You have to admire how he broke with the tradition of the time in his sport and started training with weights and took his fitness seriously. That’s why he can still be out here at the age of 80. He eats well and takes care of himself, and for me as an athlete that’s an inspiration.”

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OLYMPIAN SCHOEMAN DIVES IN TO SUPPORT GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

Nov 12, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Olympic swimming gold medalist, Roland Schoeman, has joined a strong line-up of sports stars, professional golfers, celebrities and business leaders in this week’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at The Lost City Golf Club.

Schoeman will make his third appearance in global golf’s most prestigious charity series after also playing in 2006 and 2008, and said he was delighted to be supporting Player in his ongoing drive to raise funds for underprivileged children in South Africa.

“Gary is an absolute ambassador for this country and we need more role models like him,” said Schoeman.

“There are too many people who bicker and moan about the state of affairs but who aren’t willing to make an active change in this country. We need people that are investing time, money and energy here. We need an event like this golf tournament that is helping out charities. We need to help the youth of this country, otherwise we’re looking at a dismal state of affairs.”

The 10-time world record holder and three-time Olympic medalist forms part of a fantastic list of sports stars supporting the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, which will be played from 13-15 November.
Graeme Smith, South Africa’s most successful cricket captain, fellow cricketer Mark Boucher and former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena are also in the field for the tournament.

They join professionals Player, his son Wayne Player, French stars Jean van de Velde and Thomas Levet, South Africa’s Richard Sterne, and Ladies European Tour players Emma Cabrera-Bello, Carly Booth and Danielle Montgomery.

The celebrities in the field include singers Ronan Keating and Brian McFadden, and radio and television personalities Thomas Msengana and Johnathan Joseph.

This year’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola is set to be one of the most memorable in the history of the series, beginning with South Africa’s greatest sportsman celebrating his 80th birthday at an emotional gathering of family and friends in the Sun City Superbowl on Wednesday evening.

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN’S MODRY LAS NAMED POLAND’S BEST GOLF COURSE

Nov 10, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Modry Las Golf Club has been named Poland’s best golf course at a prestigious global awards ceremony in Portugal. For the second consecutive year, the West Pomerania Gary Player designed-course picked up Poland’s national prize at the World Golf Awards which aims to benchmark excellence in golf tourism.

The accolade came in a category that has seen the number of nominees nearly double since the awards were launched a year ago. More importantly, it affirms Modry Las as one of central Europe’s leading golfing venues at a time when Poland is emerging as a bone fide golfing destination.

“It was a great honour to pick up the award at the World Golf Awards, especially as we retained the title from last year,” said Arthur Gromadzki, Chairman at Modry Las. “Golf in Poland has seen huge strides forward in the past few years and we are extremely proud to be at the forefront of this expansion.”

He continued: “Modry Las opened six years ago and since then we have added a fabulous nine-hole course and doubled our on-site accommodation. As a result, much has changed since Gary Player first came to Poland to inspect our beautiful countryside and tranquil lakes. We have achieved a lot, but despite the progress, our objective remains unchanged and that is to deliver a distinctive and exceptional golfing experience.”

Since opening in 2009, Modry Las has added new Garden Suites and a stunning new nine-hole course, Orli Las, which many view as a championship course in miniature, to its acclaimed 18-hole championship. The improvements have attracted universal praise as well as a host of accolades. For instance, Modry Las became the only Polish entry in Germany’s leading golf magazine’s Top 100 list of European golf courses and was named Poland’s best golf course by the country’s leading golf website http://www.Polishgolf.pl.

This latest award is the culmination of over six months of voting by professionals working within the golf travel and tourism industry, as well as votes cast by the public. World Golf Awards managing director Christopher Frost said: “It is an honour to recognise Modry Las as Poland’s Best Golf Course for a second consecutive year. Our voters, from across the golf hospitality world, have recognised the stunning location, exceptional facilities and pristine environment available at the course as the best on offer and it is with pleasure we present them with the title this evening.”

Modry Las received votes from leading tourism professionals and consumers from across the globe, which Gromadzki said reflects another busy year at the Polish resort. “This award cements Modry Las as a truly international resort,” he said. “This has been an extremely busy year for us with the highest number of international visitors ever. The votes cast for Modry Las only bolsters our determination to create the best possible golf resort experiences.”

Article courtesy of Modry Las golf Club

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‘CAPTAIN’ SMITH READY TO LEAD IN GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

Nov 9, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

South Africa’s most successful cricket captain, Graeme Smith, has confirmed his place in a stellar field of pros and celebrities who will tee it up for charity in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at The Lost City Golf Course at Sun City from 12-15 November 2015.

The former Proteas cricket captain will join the global field of professionals, celebrities and business leaders in a Union of Golf and Giving.

Smith is the most successful cricket Test captain of all time, winning 53 of the 109 Tests in which he led Proteas. After becoming South Africa’s youngest captain at the age of 22, he went on to claim the world record for captaining in the most Tests.

Smith will make his debut in the tournament and as part of a South African sports captain’s trio including fellow cricketer Mark Boucher and footballer Aaron Mokoena.

Boucher captained the Proteas in four Tests and returns to the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola seeking his second victory after being on the winning team in 2003.

Mokoena captained Bafana Bafana and made 107 international appearances for his country. He also played for Blackburn Rovers, Portsmouth and Bidvest Wits. Mokoena returns hoping to successfully defend the title he won with tournament host Gary Player in 2014.

They will be joined by world-renowned musicians Ronan Keating and Brian McFadden, and radio and television personalities Thomas Msengana and DJ Spoony, Johnathan Joseph.

The professionals in the star-studded field include a first-time appearance by Wayne Player, the son of tournament host Gary Player, as well as French stars Jean van de Velde and Thomas Levet, South Africa’s Richard Sterne, and Ladies European Tour players Emma Cabrera-Bello, Danielle Montgomery and Carly Booth.

Montgomery, Cabrera-Bello, and Booth, a two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, are regular supporters of the Gary Player Invitational.

“This is such a super mix of participants and we are truly humbled by the response we have received from everyone. This has been such a busy year on a number of fronts and it really means a lot that our friends have taken time out of their schedules to be with us and help us raise money for The Player Foundation. I am sure this is going to be one of our most memorable tournaments in history.” said GPI series founder Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International.

PARTICIPANTS FOR THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA
Professionals

1. Gary Player
2. Wayne Player
3. Richard Sterne
4. Jean van de Velde
5. Thomas Levet
6. Carly Booth
7. Ronan Keating
8. Mark Boucher
9. Aaron Mokoena
10. Brian McFadden
11. Danielle Montgomery
12. Johnathan Joseph
13. Graeme Smith
14. Thomas Msengana
15. Emma Cabrera-Bello
16.  Roland Schoeman

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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AT 80, GARY PLAYER STILL FIT AS EVER

Nov 4, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player might very well be entitled to the last laugh, but that is not his style. The golf Hall of Famer takes more pleasure in knowing that what he long ago believed was the way to live life and approach his career is accepted theory, if not practiced by all.

But when Player, who celebrates his 80th birthday Sunday, turned professional more than 50 years ago, the idea of exercising and lifting weights in golf was largely confined to the 12-ounce curls that were a part of the post-round experience.

Dumbbells were for dummies, he often heard.

“My favorite example is not from a fellow golfer, but from a famous golf architect,” said Player, when contacted via email. “I will not mention the name, but one day he saw me squatting with 325 pounds the night before the U.S. Open. And there was quite an article that Gary Player will never last.

“When I went on tour in 1963, I mentioned his name and I said, ‘I hope you’re noticing this, I’ll be joining you in heaven one of these days, make sure there’s a good golf course and a good gym with lots of weights.’ “
Player made it clear he was chuckling at the memory.

“Looking back on the attitudes of golfers toward exercise, I am very proud to be the first to have helped changed their mindset,” Player said. “Golfers were not really thought of as athletes even just a few decades ago.

Now, they train like athletes do in other sports like rugby. Tiger Woods and now Rory McIlroy are great ambassadors for promoting fitness in golf. The PGA Tour even has a traveling gym. We have come a long way from when I had to go to the local YMCA.”

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Player and various estimates put his worldwide travel at 15 million air miles. He compiled nine major championships, winning his first at The Open in 1959 and capturing his last at the 1978 Masters. Along the way, he compiled 24 PGA Tour victories but worldwide amassed more than 160 titles, including 73 on the Sunshine Tour in his native South Africa. He played in the Masters 52 times.

A prolific golf course designer with more than 350 on his resume, Player also won nine major titles on the Champions Tour.

Along with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Player—nicknamed the Black Knight because of his preference for black attire—was part of the Big Three and fought to make his way among such popular and successful players.

In 1961, Player became the first international golfer to win the Masters—aided by a Palmer double-bogey on the last hole. And in 1965, he became only the third player—and so far, only non-American—to win the career Grand Slam when he captured the U.S. Open, giving him victories in all four major championships.

But Player does not trace his fitness prowess directly to wanting to win golf trophies. While it helped him as a golfer, fitness became a part of life that he continues today. Player had yet to start playing golf regularly when his brother, Ian—8 years older than Gary—persuaded him being fit would be important.

“It started when my brother left for war at age 17 to fight alongside the Americans and British in WWII,” Player said. “I told him I was going to be a professional athlete. Knowing I was going to be small, he gave me a set of weights and made me promise to look after my body, treat it like a holy temple, and exercise for the rest of my life.

“This led me to becoming a fitness advocate. My school also played a vital role in encouraging sports.”

Player, who was just 5 feet 6, 150 pounds, began playing golf at age 14 and had turned pro by 17. He won his first pro tournament in 1955 at 20, his first PGA Tour title coming in 1958 at the Kentucky Derby Open.

Throughout that period, Player was ahead of his time as he traveled the world.

“In the early part of my career, people thought I was an absolute nut for training with weights,” Player said. “But I stuck to my workout routine even during tournaments, and it paid off big time. Training the way I did gave me an edge no one could top because I knew I was in the best shape of anyone on tour. That was a big part of my mental game. The critics said that Gary Player will not last as a professional golfer past age 35. I think I proved them wrong.

“My fitness and proper diet are the reasons I have been so successful. If I didn’t take care of my body with a strict regimen that I still practice today, as well as eating proper food, I might be dead. I am turning 80, but feel 40.”

According to his media manager, Bo Wood, Player works out four or five times a week, with various types of leg, lower-back and neck stretching, sets of one-legged squats, 1,000 mixed crunches—the last done with
extra weights—several core exercises, weighted wrist roles, sprints on the treadmill and sets of heavy leg presses. Wood said Players’ emphasis is on exercises that are good for golf, not necessarily other sports.

“I usually go to the gym with him when I am with him,” said Wood, who works at the Gary Player Group in Greenville, S.C. “This year at the Masters he leg-pressed 400 pounds. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen in the gym.”

And if that’s not enough? Player said he has broken his age in every round of golf he has played this year.

Although there have been some who believe heavy weight training can be detrimental to golfers, Player believes it is OK “as long as you are working the correct muscles. Your body needs rest, so you don’t push yourself toward an injury. Exercising your legs, hips, core, back and arms the right way for golf are the most important. Endurance is vital to longevity.”

Player seemingly has plenty of both. In addition to his golf course design business, his company is involved in many other aspects of golf. He continues to travel extensively between his homes in the United States and South Africa, where he spends hours each working on his farm. And he’s even active on Twitter, sending out his good wishes to all of the winners on the various tours each week.

As for his best tip, Player keeps it simple when it comes to weight loss and continued health. “That’s easy,” he said. “Eat less, drink water and exercise more!”

Article courtesy of ESPN

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GARY PLAYER CONTINUES HIS 80th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS IN SHANGHAI, CHINA

Nov 4, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golfing legend Gary Player, who marked his 80th birthday on Sunday, was in Shanghai yesterday to support the HSBC Golf Business Forum and attend a special dinner to mark HSBC’s 150thAnniversary.

Player has won nine Majors and is an inspiration to all as he enters his ninth decade showing no sign of slowing down, beginning each day with 1,000 sit-ups and pushing 300lb on a leg machine. Player has won 167 professional golf tournaments worldwide and is one of only five men to capture golf’s coveted career Grand Slam. He also won nine Major championships on the Senior Tour and is the only player in history to complete the career Grand Slam on both Tours.

Gary Player said, “This is a big week for golf in Asia. I have no doubt China will win Olympic golf medals over the next several decades, such is the rate at which our sport continues to develop in this country. With the HSBC Golf Business Forum and the flagship World Golf Championships - HSBC Champions taking place here in Shangahi, it feels good to be here and support our game. ”

Giles Morgan “We are delighted to welcome Gary Player to Shanghai. We are very honoured to have him here to share in this special week of activities for the HSBC Golf Business Forum as he too celebrates such an important milestone.”

The HSBC Golf Business Forum is taking place at the Pudong Shangri La Hotel in downtown Shanghai gathering the game’s most influential voices and global innovators at the world’s premier golf business event.

The 11th World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions is the final World Golf Championships of the year and takes place at the Sheshan International Golf Club, 5 – 8th November with a stellar field confirmed including, reigning Champion and World No.4 Bubba Watson, World No. 2 Jordan Spieth, World No. 3 Rory McIlroy, World No.5 Rickie Fowler, World No.7 Henrik Stenson, 2013 Champion Dustin Johnson, 2011 Champion Martin Kaymer, 2008 Champion Sergio Garcia and the inaugural 2005 winner David Howell.

For more information please visit http://www.hsbcgolf.com and http://www.garyplayer.com

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GARY PLAYER: “I ACHIEVED EVERYTHING I WANTED TO IN GOLF”

Nov 3, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golfing legend Gary Player turns 80 on Sunday. In between designing golf courses, raising money for education and working on his ranch, Player spoke with USA TODAY Sports about his life, achievements, and what he thinks of golf today.

Q: Even at 80, you have so much on your plate. What keeps you the busiest?

A: I achieved everything I wanted to in golf. I work on my ranch five months a year, which is my paradise. I have a great desire to help the young people of the world because even in a country like America, you can have 100 million people with diabetes in 40 years’ time. What is the best cure for diabetes? Diet and exercise! That’s my great dream now. To get this message out to young people around the world. Also, I’ve set myself a goal to raise $100 million for underprivileged people, mainly on the them of education.

We have it set up in China, we have it set up in Abu Dhabi, in the Middle East, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela and I started this and we raised a lot of money for young black children. We have set up in London for homeless people. We play the tournament in five parts of the world, and wherever we raise the money, we give the money to that country. Now, my great dream is before I die to raise $100 million around the world for underprivileged children and education.

Q: How close are you?

A: We’ve raised $60 million. The thing of it is I’m designing golf courses. I’m doing after-dinner speaking. I want to be the best orator of all athletes, so I’m still learning to keep my mind sharp. I keep working hard, because as I say, retirement is a death warrant. People should forget about that word, retirement. Keep working! Keep moving! It’s so important.

But it’s easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than to get people to diet and exercise.  Nobody wants to do it. All we’ve got to do is a simple, simple thing. People have got to get a treadmill, put it in the bathroom, and when they wake up, before they have their shower, walk on it for a lousy 10 minutes. That’s easy to do.

The other thing is, the less you eat, the longer you live. Don’t eat a lot at night before you go to bed. Have tiny, little dinners. Two nights a week, I try to have no dinners. Today, I feel like a lion! You don’t put gas in your car before you park it in your garage at night. You need a good breakfast and a good lunch, when you’re moving and you need the energy. You don’t need the energy at night! Your body needs a rest. My advice to people: Exercise for a lousy 10 minutes a day. Eat less, and eat sensibly.

Q: Golfers today care more about their fitness, and they’re working with trainers. You’ve been doing that from day one. What effect has that had on the game?

A. You know how good I feel when I see young guys working out now? When I started it, nobody lifted weights. They saw me squatting with 325 lbs., and they came out and said, ‘Gary Player will never last. He’ll be finished when he’s 35.’ I won a tournament on the U.S. tour at 63! I used to go down to a YMCA and wait my turn! It was very difficult. I was flying around the world, and you had to find out where there was a YMCA.
Now, they have a traveling gymnasium on every tour in the world. They do everything to help these guys. It’s another world.

Remember, these guys are great role models, these young golfers. They show the world how they are working out, and it definitely has an influence which makes me feel so, so good, because I was ridiculed. They thought I was a nut. They said you cannot lift weights and play golf. You cannot do those kind of exercises. You can imagine, I went through a barrier of being ridiculed and criticized. I was always told I was doing the wrong thing and influencing people incorrectly. You can imagine how I feel today — very relieved.

Q: What do you think of the younger golfers?

A: Jason Day and Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, and there are others. There are a lot of guys like mushrooms in the field. All of a sudden they will shoot up, and they’ll do well. I’m a big fan. They are behaving well. They dress nicely, they’re speaking well, they have good manners. It’s terrific.

All other sports are play and away. Golf is play, and stay. No sport has the longevity that golf does. And no sport get the coverage that golf does. There is a golf tournament almost every single week of the year around the globe.

So these young people are playing golf, and it’s the passport to the world. It’s teaching them so much. They’ve got to be on time. You know, I was only late once in my life. It was in Tampa. Two seconds late on the tee, and I was penalized two shots. I said to the guy, how can you tell me I’m two seconds late? He said, ‘Look at the digital clock. It doesn’t lie.’ It’s still a debatable issue, though! There’s no Mulligans in life. That’s the discipline of golf.

You can play forever, and I played with a man who had no legs, and he was a zero handicap. I played with a man who was blind, and he occasionally broke 80. I challenged him to a match, and he said, ‘I don’t want any strokes!’ I said, ‘If you don’t take any strokes, I’ll murder you!’ He said, ‘No, we’ll play at midnight at my home course.’

Q: What do you think of golf being a part of the 2016 Olympics?

A: I’m excited as can be because I’ve just been named the captain of the South African team. I’m very excited about that. I had the privilege of being in the Olympic games in 1956, and I had the honor of meeting Jesse Owens at that time. We had many political discussions and here I’m captaining the South African team in Brazil. ...  It will promote golf to the hilt, because you’ll have the smaller nations of the world seeing golf for the first time of any significance. It could make a very big difference.

Q: How do you expect South Africa to perform?

A: We’ve got as good of a chance as anybody! We’ll probably have Branden Graceand Louis Oosthuizen, who are both rated in the top 10 players of probably the world, so they’ll do as well as anybody.

Q: Tiger Woods has been dealing with many health issues. Will he be able to come back and win another tournament?

A: It’s a very debatable issue. First of all, the man was the most talented man to ever play golf. I’m very careful about making predictions about a man who is so talented. He has an enormous mountain to climb. Three knee operations. Two back operations, and a few other things that have happened in his career. He had the yips in a couple tournaments.

He’s got a monumental task, but if anyone can overcome that, it’s Tiger Woods. I hope that he does come back and win tournaments, and win majors. Because when he plays, the barometer goes up. More people. More media, and the sponsors and the public are all there to see him play the way he used to. Only God knows, and it’s up to Tiger as well. But he’s got as big a challenge as anybody has ever had in the game.

Q: Finally, what do you want your legacy to be?

A: My legacy that I’d like to leave is that I helped change lives. If we all do something, it doesn’t matter what position you’re in. I’m fortunate enough to be in a commanding position where I can raise a fortune of money to underprivileged people, and children who are suffering and who are poor. But you don’t have to do that. If you can do some little thing — and this is where America is so great, Americans are great at contributing to society…

The big thing is, the great thing I would like to be remembered for, not for my golfing prowess, but a man who tried to help the world, who tried to help people who are suffering. When I was a young man, I suffered. My mother died. My brother went to war at 17 to fight with the Americans and the British.  My sister was in boarding school. I struggled like a dog as a kid, and I said when — I never said if —I become a champion, I’m going to help people who struggle. That is my legacy.

Article courtesy of USA TODAY

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WAYNE PLAYER BACK ON FAIRWAYS IN GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

Nov 3, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

For the first time in the history of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, host Gary Player will be joined by his son Wayne as part of the glittering array of sports stars, celebrities, professional golfers and business leaders set to take part in South Africa’s leading charity golf tournament.

Wayne Player joins a list of professional golfers including multiple European Tour winners Richard Sterne and Jean van de Velde who will tee it up at The Lost City Golf Course from 12-15 November.

They will be joined by a host of celebrities including world-renowned musicians Ronan Keating and Brian McFadden, radio and television personality Johnathan Joseph, former Proteas cricketer Mark Boucher and former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena.

Wayne Player’s inclusion in this year’s tournament will make for an even more memorable event for his father, Gary, who will be honoured with an 80th birthday celebration prior to the tournament. And it will bring back memories of a time when they shared the fairways as fellow competitors in 1982.

When Wayne qualified for the U.S. Open that year, they became the first father-son duo to play in a U.S. Open and Open Championship the same year.

“I have always loved to watch my dad play golf and interact with other players, friends, fans, and business associates. His ability to strike a perfect one iron may have made him famous, but it is his ability to engage others in meaningful conversation and inspire them with his stories that endears him to millions,” said Wayne.

Sterne has been a long-time supporter of this union of golf and giving, while Van De Velde will be making their debut in the charity series.

The celebrities will all present a strong challenge for this year’s title.

Mokoena returns to defend a title he won with Player in 2014, and is looking forward to making another contribution to a series that has already raised more than R800 million for charities worldwide since its inception in 1983.

“Gary is an incredible person and it was an honour for me to be a part of the 2014 tournament. I came from humble beginnings so I know exactly how powerful these kinds of events are for the underprivileged.”

Boucher was on the winning team in 2003, while the trio of McFadden, Keating and Joseph have all finished second in this tournament before.

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 IS 80 ON SUNDAY BUT STILL DOES 1300 SIT-UPS A DAY AND NEVER SHOOTS MORE THAN HIS AGE

Oct 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player is 80 on Sunday but still does 1,300 sit-ups a day and never shoots more than his age… No wonder he still gets a kick out of life

Player has won nine majors and shows no sign of slowing down as he approaches his ninth decade

When at home in South Africa he rises at 5am each day and spends 12 hours working on his farm.

A 30-minute conversation with Player might be better than any pep talk with a guru specialising in positive thinking.

His name will always be linked with Arnold Palmer’s and Jack Nicklaus’s, immortalised in the moniker and deeds of the Big Three

Gary Player is 80 on Sunday and his days still begin with 1,300 sit-ups and pushing 300lb on a leg machine. He hasn’t had a day this year when he’s played 18 holes and not shot lower than his age.

He will spend his birthday flying from Florida to China and then on to Bangkok. In the world of business he’s still representing companies around the globe and designing golf courses from here to Timbuktu. When at home in South Africa he rises at 5am each day and spends 12 hours working on his farm.

So when you ask the inevitable question — ‘er, have you ever given thought to slowing down a touch?’ — it’s as well to hold the phone a good distance from your ear.

‘Let me tell you, Derek,’ he begins. ‘Retirement is a death warrant. I remember in Britain a few years ago when you had that outcry when people were asked to work a year longer. Well, I’m 80 and I’m still the same as when I was 22. I’m still curious to learn, and I don’t believe in retirement. I want to die working.’

A 30-minute conversation with Player might be better than any pep talk with a guru specialising in positive thinking. Sure, a lot of the material is recycled. But the answers are delivered with such zest and passion you’d have to be a total cynic not to take anything from the experience.

When I ask him what was the greatest disappointment during his fabulous career, the answer is delivered with such emotion you’d have thought it happened yesterday rather than in 1962.
‘I was leading Arnold Palmer by two shots with three holes to go at the Masters and he hit his tee shot to the 16th up on the right, where you can’t go,’ he said. ‘I was 20 feet away and I said to my caddie: “We’ve won this”.

‘Well, he hits his shot, it’s travelling about 100mph because it’s impossible to stop the ball from up there, and doesn’t it hit the hole and go in. At the 17th he hooks his tee shot into Eisenhower’s Tree, and then hits a five iron to 35 feet and holes that one as well. So we have a play-off and I’m leading him by three shots with nine holes to go…and he shoots 31 for the back nine. I tell you, that was one tournament Arnold won with miracles.’

With that, he starts laughing uproariously.

His name will always be linked with Palmer’s and Jack Nicklaus’s, of course, immortalised in the moniker and deeds of the Big Three. Now, apparently, we have a modern version with Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth. Interestingly, when asked which of the original Big Three they most identified with, all three went for the man in black.

For McIlroy, it was a stature thing and the fact that Player competed as an international golfer in a game in which three of the four majors are held in America. For Day, it was overcoming ludicrous odds to make it on the world stage; and for Spieth, competing against men who can thrash the ball 30 or 40 yards further.

‘That was a great compliment and one I really appreciated,’ said Player, who lost his mother when he was eight and was introduced to the game by his father, a miner, who took out a loan to buy his son a set of clubs. ‘It meant a lot because I also admire them. They have so much responsibility on their shoulders but they behave accordingly and are terrific role models.

‘Who’s going to win the most? Well, that’s impossible to answer. Who has the most ambition and desire as the years pass? I think Rory and Jason have the best technique but Jordan is so mature and clearly the best putter. What a short game, and that’s so important. When are all these experts who rave about length going to learn that 70 percent of shots are taken from 100 yards in? So we’ll see, but it’s going to be great to watch.’

Was Player’s own story the greatest golf has ever told? Unless or until Rory fulfils his destiny, he remains unquestionably the finest non-American golfer of all time.

‘I’ve definitely got the best world record of anyone, and that was my dream,’ said Player. ‘I won seven Australian Opens, and that’s still a record. I won the World Match Play five times in Britain, I won in South America and Africa and lots of times in America, of course. Are there any regrets? Not as such. But I was offered a million dollars a year by someone in 1961 with the proviso I live in America for five years rather than go back and forth. I refused, because I love Africa and the quality of life I enjoyed there with my family.

‘But I’d have won a lot more majors if I’d taken up the offer and stayed in America, and so there will always be that question in my mind of whether I should have said yes, rather than a regret.’

And so to this landmark birthday, which he will celebrate a week late, in his beloved South Africa. ‘We’re all gathering at Sun City, where they’ve kindly supplied 300 free rooms and free golf for everyone, so it’s going to be an incredible party,’ he said.

‘I’ve got all my family together, including all 22 grandchildren from every corner of the world. I’ve got friends coming from China, America, the Middle East, Britain, everywhere, so it’s going to be wonderful. I feel very blessed to reach such an age in such condition but it’s also my reward for listening to the man upstairs and looking after myself all these years. It frustrates me when I look around and see so many young people eating too much and getting fat. Why is more not being done to teach them you can’t do anything without your health?

‘As for me, I’ll never stop. When I’m 90 I’ll still play golf and I’ll still break 80.’

Player by name and, clearly, a player to the end. Happy birthday, Gary.

GARY PLAYER’S PICKS

Best golfer: Ben Hogan. He served in the war for five years and lost three more years because of a terrible car crash. So he didn’t play in 32 majors during his prime and yet still won nine.

Best tournament: The Open. I loved the fact you could hit a seven-iron 200 yards one day and the next it wouldn’t go half that distance.

Best victory: The 1965 US Open, when I completed the career Grand Slam.

Best achievement: I’m very proud of the fact I’m the only golfer to win the career Grand Slam on both the regular and senior tours. I did that because I was in exactly the same shape at 50 as I was when aged 25.

Best quote: ‘And the harder I practise the luckier I get.’ (Delivered on the practice ground in Texas in the 1960s after a spectator remarked how lucky Player was to keep holing bunker shots).

HIS FIVE HEROES

Winston Churchill
I wanted to become a great orator, because sportsmen were supposed to be poor ones. No-one had a greater command of English than Churchill.

Nelson Mandela
It was a great thrill to share the last few years of his life with him. Every time we met it used to make me cry.

Lee Kuan Yew
Singapore leader presided over a nation with no guns, no drugs, no litter, no graffiti and a high standard of education.

Mother Teresa
Someone who dedicated her life to the betterment of others.

Mahatma Gandhi
Like Nelson, a man of great peace who had such a huge influence on the lives of a billion people.

Article courtesy of The Daily Mail

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EVERGREEN GARY PLAYER TURNS 80 ON SUNDAY

Oct 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player will celebrate his 80th birthday this Sunday amidst what has been a remarkable year and which promises to become even more memorable for the ageless icon of world golf.

Player turns 80 in a year in which he has celebrated the 50th anniversary of his Grand Slam victory and still graced magazine covers as the evergreen “Mr. Fitness” of world golf.

“I’ve always said that everything we have is just on loan to us. I consider it a blessing to have had 80 years of such a wonderful and privileged life, and to have shared this with so many people,” said Player, adding that he felt more like 40 years old.

“I don’t feel 80 at all. I feel as strong and healthy as ever, and more inspired than ever to keep making a difference in this world.”

It has indeed been a special year for the Black Knight. Player was honored with a birthday celebration at Soweto Golf Club in August where he enjoyed a heartfelt tribute by some of the pioneering golfers of South Africa.

And South Africa’s most successful golfer ever was also named as the captain of the inaugural South African Olympic golf team for the Rio Olympics next year.

Player has remained as active and relevant as ever with his charitable efforts through his global Gary Player Invitational series, which raises funds for disadvantaged children worldwide.

The 2015 series teed off in London in July, with the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational tournament at Wentworth raising $225,000 for DePaul, a charity helping to combat youth homelessness.

This was followed by the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational in New York in October, where a further $212,000 was raised for The Player Foundation.

The series will reach a thrilling climax at the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola in South Africa at the Lost City Golf Course from 12-15 November, which is expected to raise another record amount for charity.

The tournament will coincide with a special gala dinner to celebrate Player’s 80th birthday party at The Palace of the Lost City that week.

The Gary Player Invitational Series remains the world’s leading charity golf series and has raised more than R800 million for charities worldwide. The South African tournament will join the other global events in helping to meet The Player Foundation’s target of donating R1 billion by 2020 in support of children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.

The field for the South African tournament, including top professional golfers, business leaders and celebrities, will be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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THE BLACK KNIGHT: 80 MILESTONES

Oct 28, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player has won 167 professional golf tournaments worldwide and is one of only five men to capture golf’s coveted career Grand Slam. He won nine Major championships on the PGA Tour and nine Major championships on the Senior Tour and is the only player in history to complete the career Grand Slam on both Tours

Off the course, Player has raised more than $60 million for underprivileged children’s education globally through the efforts of The Player Foundation; he has designed nearly 400 golf courses worldwide; he has bred more than 2000 winning racehorses on the Gary Player Stud Farm in South Africa; and in recognition of his achievements in golf as well as his dedication to charity, Player has received many awards including the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award and the PGA Tour’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He currently serves as the Global Ambassador to the World Golf Hall of Fame and has been dubbed the Black Knight, Mr. Fitness, and The World’s Most Traveled Athlete™ having travelled more than 25 million kilometers.

In celebration of the Black Knight’s 80th birthday, we have compiled a list of 80 milestones throughout his life. From the golf course to his racehorse stud farm, Mr. Player continues to live his life to the fullest.

1935 Born to Harry and Muriel Player in Johannesburg, SA - one of three children

1943 Mother, Muriel Player died when Gary Player was 8-years-old, brother Ian went to war at age 17 and gave Gary his first seat of dumbells asking him to promise to exercise and take care of himself if he wanted to be a professional athlete, something he has done all of his life

1949 Received first set of clubs from father, Harry Player and plays first round at Virginia Park Golf Club

1953 Went to King Edward School, won Victor Ladorama best all-around sportsman, turned professional at age 17

1955 Won Egyptian Match Play, the first of 167 professional tournament victories

1956 Won the first of 13 South African Opens - 1956, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981

1957 Married his wife, Vivienne, after she received a telegram proposal announcing a tournament win and they now had enough money to get married.  58 years later, they have six children and 22 grandchildren. 

1957 Won the first of 6 Western Province Opens - 1957, 1959, 1960, 1968, 1971, 1972

1958 Won first PGA TOUR event, the Kentucky Derby Open, 24 total PGA Tour victories

1958 Won the first of seven Australian Opens, which is still a record - 1958, 1962,1963,1965,1969,1970, 1974

1958 Won the first of six Natal Opens - 1958, 1959,1960,1962,1966,1968

1959 Won the Open Championship at Muirfield (1)  - 4 years after sleeping on the beach in 1955 the night before his first Open Championship

1959 Won the first of 12 South African Masters - 1959, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1972 (2), 1974, 1976 (2)

1959 Won the first of five South Africa PGA Championships - 1959, 1960, 1969, 1979, 1982

1959 Won the first of five Transvaal Open Tournaments - 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966

1960 In a silent protest against the apartheid system in South Africa, Gary Player wore black and white pants for the 1960 Open Championship, and later arranged for golfer Lee Elder to play in the South African
PGA Championship for the first integrated sports event in SA since apartheird became official government policy

1961 Won The Masters Tournament, becoming the first international player to do so (2)

1962 Won the PGA Championship at Aronimink GC (3)

1965 Won the U.S. Open at Bellerive CC (4), became third person to achieve the career Grand Slam and is still the only International player to do so

1965 Won the first of three World Cup Tournaments - 1965 (Individual & Team), 1977

1965 Won the first of five World Match Play Tournaments - 1965, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1973

1965 Won the first of three World Series of Golf - 1965, 1968, 1972

1966 Received the Bob Jones Award from the USGA

1968 Won the Open Championship at Carnoustie (5)

1968 Won back-to-back Australian Masters - 1968, 1969

1969 Won the first of two Tournament of Champions - 1969, 1978

1971 Won the first of five General Motors Tournaments - General Motors Open 1971, 1973, 1976, General Motors International 1974, General Motors Classic 1975

1972 Won the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills (6)

1973 Received first of several awards from Metropolitan Golf Writers Association - Gold Tee Award 1973, Family of Year Award 1981, Winnie Palmer Award 2015

1974 Becomes first person ever to shoot 59 in a professional tournament at the 1974 Brazilian Open

1974 Won The Masters Tournament (7)

1974 Won the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes (8)

1974 One of the original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame, now their Global Ambassador

1978 Won The Masters Tournament (9) and would continue to play in as a professional until 2009, setting a record for the most number of Masters played in…..52

1982 Won the Inaugural Skins Game - 1982 and two additional Senior Skins Games - 2000, 2001

1983 Established The Player Foundation to aid underprivileged children and impoverished communities, they have raised more than $60 million

1983 Opened the Blair Atholl school to educate underprivileged children around his Lanseria estate

1985 Won Quadel Senior Classic the first of 19 Champions Tour titles

1986 Won the first of three Nissan Skins Games - 1986, 1988, 1991

1986 Won the first of three Senior PGA Championships - 1986, 1988, 1990

1987 Won the first of two U.S. Senior Open titles when he won by six strokes at Brooklawn CC

1987 Won Tournament Players Championship

1988 Won the Senior Open Championship at Turnberry to complete career Grand Slam on the Senior Tour

1988 Defended his U.S. Senior Open titles when he defeats good friend Bob Charles in an 18-hole playoff at Medinah

1990 Won the Senior Open Championship at Turnberry

1990 Met Nelson Mandela following his release from the Robben Island prison

1993 Won the first of two Bank One Senior Classics - 1993, 1995

1994 Named an Honorary Member of the R & A

1994 Horse from the Player Thoroughbred Stud Farm—Broadway Flyer—competed in the English Derby

1995 Received honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of St. Andrews

1995 Designed Kau Sai Chau, the only public golf course facility in Hong Kong

1997 Inducted into the Captains Club at the Memorial Tournament

1997 Won the Senior Open Championship at Royal Portrush

1997 Won the Shell Wentworth Masters

1998 Became second oldest winner in Champions Tour history at the Northville Long Island Classic at age 62 years, 9 months, 22 days

1998 Became the oldest player to make the cut at The Masters at age 62

1999 Received Honorary Doctorate in Law, University of Dundee, Scotland

1999 Established the Nelson Mandela Invitational to raise funds for underprivileged children

2000 Named South African Sportsman of the Century

2000 Named the winner of the PGA TOUR’s Ambassador of Golf Award

2003 First of three Captaincy of Presidents Cup International Team - 2003, 2005, 2006. An unprecidented tie announced with Jack Nicklaus at the 2003 Presidents Cup at Fancourt

2003 Received Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award for dedication to charity

2003 Awarded the Order of Ikhamanga (in gold for exceptional achievement) by President Mbeki of South Africa for excellence in golf and contribution to non-racial sport in South Africa

2003 Celebrated his 50th year as a professional

2004 Performs induction speech for Charlie Sifford at the World Golf Hall of Fame

2005 Received Golf Course Builders Association of America “Don A. Rossi” Award

2006 Received the Payne Stewart Award from the PGA Tour in recognition of philanthropic achievements and the exemplary manner in which he has conducted himself on and off the golf course

2006 Received KPMG Golf Business Forum Lifetime Achievement Award

2007 Won the ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award from the Golf Writers Associaton of America for his cooperation, quotability and accommodation to the media

2009 Bettered his age (73) three times in an event when he did so at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai

2010 Won pro tournament in seventh consecutive decade, the second of back-to-back Legends of Golf Tournaments - 2009, 2010

2010 Received Asia Pacific Golf Summit Lifetime Achievement Award

2011 Inducted into the Asia Pacific Golf Hall of Fame

2012 Became the 10th recipient and first international winner of the PGA Tour’s Lifetime Achievement Award when he was honored at THE PLAYERS Championship

2012 Joined Arnold Palmer & Jack Nicklaus as official starters at Augusta National, reuniting the “Big Three” which was coined by Marc McCormick in the mid 1960s

2013 The oldest athlete chosen to appear nude in the ESPN’s The Body Issue

2015 Named Captain for the 2016 Summer Olympic South Africa Men’s Golf Team

2015 Continues to travel even as he approaches 80 years of age.  The World’s Most Traveleled Athlete with more than 26 Million KM and counting

2015 Designer of 400 golf courses on 5 continents, including his self-sustaining, environmentally friends golf course on his farm.  He is recognized as a leader in designing sustainable and environmentally friendly golf courses as a tribute to his brother Dr. Ian Player, one of the world’s leading conservationists who passed away in 2014 and is recognized for his efforts in saving the white rhino

2015 Resides on his thoroughbred racehorse stud farm in the Great Karoo of South Africa where he has bred more than 2000 winners.  Gave the keynote address at the Thoroughbred Owners Conference in Kentucky in 2014 where he was recognized for his dedication to the industry

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COMPLEAT GOLFER: THE LEGEND TURNS 80

Oct 28, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

For over 60 years, Gary Player has been an icon of South African golf. It’s hard to imagine the sport in this country without him and the foundations he has laid for our current players to follow. Yet there is enough evidence to suggest that the nine-time Major champion does not quite get the credit he deserves in his home country.

Nine Majors. Only two golfers in the modern era – Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods – have won more and Player has earned the same number as Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Trevor Immelman combined.

His detractors argue that Player is a bit too quick to talk about himself, but when you’ve won 165 tournaments, designed 400 courses and raised over $60 million for charity, I’d like to think that you’ve earned the right to do a bit of self-promotion. As Lee Trevino once said of Jack Nicklaus, this man is a legend in his spare time.

At an age when most people are happily slowing down, Player remains as energetic as ever, keeping up his busy schedule and adding extra miles to his record as the world’s most travelled athlete. It makes him hard to pin down – one day he could be in the US, the next in China and, very occasionally, he can be found ‘relaxing’ on his stud farm in Colesberg in the Northern Cape, the place he calls home.

Brendan Barratt sat down to reminisce with the serial winner to find out more about what makes him tick.

Brendan Barratt: Congratulations on your 80th birthday, Mr Player. You really have had a remarkable life, haven’t you?

Gary Player: It’s been a blessed life. My success is far beyond what I could ever have imagined – and I was always extremely positive about doing well. I remember one night Vivienne’s mother and father said, “You want to marry our daughter, how are you going to support her?” 

I said, “Well, I’m going to be the best golfer in the world.” They said, “You’re a young boy of 16, playing golf. Yes, you’re a zero handicap but you’re talking about being a world champion. We don’t know…” And I got quite upset, maybe because of my positive vibes and my passion and my work ethic; I think I’ve worked harder than any sportsman that’s ever lived. But they were right. I would say the same to somebody with one of my children.

BB: You’ve always been able to draw strength from the tough times, haven’t you?

GP: All the no’s in life are very important for you. The adversity that you have in your life is the greatest gift you can have. When I first went over to England, the pro there said I had a very flat position at the top, which is not good, and he said the best thing this young guy could do is go back to South Africa and get a pro job.

I shot 70-64-64-68, won the tournament and beat Bobby Jones’ record.

BB: And of course you went on to become one of the game’s greatest…

GP: People often ask me, “What is it that makes a superstar?” For me, ‘superstar’ means you have won at least six Majors, and not many people have done that. There’ve been about 12 or 13 and they are classified as superstars. I knew how hard I had to work to become a superstar and what I’d have to do. It didn’t matter whether I was born a hundred years ago with my makeup or if I was born when I was, or I was born now. I would’ve still been a superstar because I have a passion and a work ethic that exceeds everybody else’s.

BB: So you think you would have been able to keep up with the big hitters of today?

GP: Golf has evolved into a power game. Of course they’re hitting it a long way, because they’re using a club and a ball that goes 50 yards further than when we played. They’re not longer than we were. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and these guys are no longer than Jack Nicklaus was. Jack Nicklaus often hit a drive of 320 yards with a lousy wooden head and a terrible damn ball, and Nicklaus was just as strong as any of these guys. He would’ve hit the ball 350, 360 yards.

For people to ask, “How would you fare today?” because they’re moving the ball such a long way, I say we would fare better. We would fare better than we fared in our time, because we never played greens where there weren’t a hundred spike marks on them, now there’s not one. We never played bunkers where you had a machine raking it even – it was all done with your feet or a rake, first by feet and then later came the rake.

The clubs that you use now, in our time, were illegal. Metal shafts, metal heads. You fade the ball, put a little lever on your club, and you start drawing it. People who live today can’t comprehend the conditions that we played in.

BB: Today’s golfers are earning substantially more money and travelling has become a lot easier too.

GP: I watched Ernie Els leave the Irish Open after a poor performance and the commentators said, “There goes Ernie Els’ G5!” I was thinking, isn’t this amazing? The guy’s leaving in a G5 jet, which is hard for me to comprehend. It’s fantastic. I think it’s wonderful, but this was just not in our vocabulary.

Then you see them play every week for a first prize of a million dollars. Rickie Fowler won $1.8 million this year in the Players, which is more than I won officially on the regular tour in America during my whole career – and I won nine Majors! I’ve got no objections to that, but how would we fare? We’d do better. 

BB: You do see, for the most part, that the modern tour pros have very solid, mechanical golf swings though – whereas in your prime a lot of players went by feel.

GP: You talk about great golf swings. Look, I don’t think there’s anybody playing today who can compare to Nicklaus; who can compare to Sam Snead; who can compare to Ben Hogan or Bobby Jones. Bobby Jones lived a hundred years ago and he still had as good a swing as anybody playing today, with a hickory shaft and ball, a club and a ball that hit one hundred yards less, and if you look at the scores he shot, it’s remarkable. So people have very little idea what they’re talking about when they want to make comparisons.

I think one of the greatest tragedies to have happened in golf is [the fall of] Tiger Woods, who was on his way to breaking every record ever known.

He was the most well-known man on the planet, a golfer, for a while. He wins the US Open by 15 shots. He’s reached the epitome of perfection. He’s going to break every record and be the greatest athlete the world has ever known. So what does he do? He goes for a lesson the next week and this guy teaches him stuff that was detrimental to his swing. From that day onwards, he never really played like he should’ve. It was the start. He still won Majors after he had the lesson, but it was the start of the ruin. He was so talented that he could have a thing wrong with his swing and still win. Then he went on to the next coach. He goes to guys who, if they had to tee up at Augusta in the Masters, couldn’t break 85. Surely, if you’re going to go for a lesson, why not go to somebody who’s been in the arena and can play and knows about the game who’s hit millions of balls.

BB: Health and fitness have obviously played a huge role in your longevity. Even now, as you approach 80, you’re looking stronger than most 60-year-olds.

GP: My body is something that I’ve looked after longer than possibly any athlete who’s ever lived, and more vigorously. To me, now, I’m 80, I’m a young man. It’s all in the mind. The other day in Atlanta, I pushed 410 pounds (186kg) with my legs. I did 1 300 crunches with a 100-pound (45kg) weight on my last 200. I still run on the treadmill, do my push-ups, watch my diet well. When I was younger I was asked, “What’s the next big thing in technology?” I was always known as a bit of a nut for my opinions and I said, “Weight training, they’ll all be doing it.” They said, “You’re mad, the only exercise pros do today is the olive they put into a Martini.”

So nobody did weights when I did weights. We never had a travelling gymnasium. I had to go down to the damn YMCA and wait my turn with 20 people who want to use the same equipment. Eventually in the stinking gymnasium, you had a towel – there’s an old towel – and a guy had to put the weights on your shoulders and you did your squats.

In 1953 they said, “This man is mad, you can’t do weight training and play golf.  He’ll never last.”  One of the famous golf architects said “Gary Player will never last past 35,” so when I won a tournament at 63 on the tour, I sent a message up and I said, “I’ll be there one of these days, make sure there’s a good gym at the golf course where you and I’ll be playing.”

BB: Okay, so let me ask you now, what is the next big thing in technology?

GP: Eating. In time to come we will not be eating anything we eat now. There’ll be a complete vegan-type diet, away from the meats, where all the meats are being injected with steroids. There’ll be no more fish because five billion people’s sewage goes in the ocean every day. People are dying like flies because of the food we’re eating, so there’s got to be a change away from all this high-fat, high-sugar, high-dairy product foods. 

BB: You’re still playing decent golf, aren’t you? Breaking your age just about every time you tee it up.

GP: I’m now in my 80th year and I’m averaging 70 now. I swing the club today way better than in my prime. Way better because I’ve found certain things out that I almost did in my career. I was on it and got off it. If I’d stuck to that I wouldn’t have been second in seven Majors. I would’ve definitely won more. If I swung the club in my prime like I swing it now, of the seven runner-ups I would’ve won at least four of those seven. But be that as it may, ifs do not count. 

BB: Can you even imagine a life without golf in it?

GP: Oh, very much so. When I was young, no. When I was young, because I was so poor starting out, I was obsessed about being a world champion. My wife has been my great inspiration in my life. No man could ever have had a wife better than I’ve had to make the sacrifices that she did over all these years. But, had she said to me when we first met, “Look I’m not going to marry you because you’re going to be travelling all the time,” I would’ve said, “Well, I’m sorry.”

As much as I adore her, and no man could adore a wife more than I do, I would’ve said, “I’m sorry. You must find somebody else because I’m going to be a world champion.”

At my latter stage, yes. I live without golf basically, compared to what I used to. My life is still full with golf, but a different way now. Raising money, playing some golf tournaments, all my outings for different companies, enjoying my golf, not under the pressure that I was, swinging better, travelling as much almost as I ever was. 

I’ve had a feast. Do I miss playing? A little bit, but not much. I have my farming, which I love as much as golf, maybe more, because at least I see more of my family.

BB: You must be immensely proud to be inducted into the Southern Africa Golf Hall of Fame?

GP: Being inducted into the Hall of Fame in the same year as my 80th birthday is something I appreciate. But I don’t want to have on the walls of the Hall of Fame a list of Gary Player’s tournament wins and achievements, because that is not as important as what I’ve tried to do outside of golf, which is different to most athletes.

BB: What are some of the things, outside of golf, that you are most proud of?

GP: Studying the English language, trying to learn other languages, trying to serve our people, travelling around the world, dining with all the presidents of America,  the Emirs of the Middle East, the royal families, the villages of Africa and India where I learnt as much from the poor people as I learnt from the higher echelon.

Having appeared as a South African, through golf, in front of more people live than any South African ever and to be on television more than any South African ever, representing my country with great pride, what an honour. By the time the end comes, we’ll raise over R1 billion for underprivileged people and change people’s lives in China, in America, in Europe and here in South Africa. 

I’ve travelled more miles than any human being ever – 63 years of travel. To have broken apartheid in sport.

BB: What was your role in helping to bring an end to apartheid in sport?

GP: This is the first time this will be written officially: in 1969 I went to see John Vorster. A man’s political principles don’t dictate whether or not I play golf with him. If the leading Chinese president asked me to play golf with him, and I do not believe in communism, I would play with him because I have respect for his position. And that’s what happened with John Vorster, I played with him.

I went into his office and said, “I want to put a spoke in the wheel of apartheid and sport because sport is my business.” He said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “I want to bring Lee Elder, a black golfer, to play on our tour.”

He thought about it for what seemed like an hour. Then he looked at me and said, “Go ahead.” And Lee Elder came here under great duress. The black people there put big pressure on him, and he came. I was called a traitor, right in this airport here, Cape Town. They used to have a little restaurant downstairs where you get on the plane, to the right-hand corner. They called me a “groot veraaier”, that’s a traitor, because I was doing this. I was president of our PGA. I stood there at the meeting at Wanderers and I said, “Gentlemen, change is the price of survival. We’ve got young black pros here. We have an all-white committee. We’ve got to put a black, or two blacks on the committee and vote them on today.

“You’re gonna be voting within half an hour and I appeal to you to vote for a black man to get on the committee. If you don’t, I have no choice but to resign in protest.”

They never did, and I resigned as president.

I wore black and white pants at St Andrews on the 1st tee as a quiet demonstration against apartheid, and I did it later in 1961 and ’66.

I sponsored many black players, such as Vincent Tshabalala, Papwa Sewgolum and Reggie Mamasela to play overseas. At the time I was so frustrated they weren’t allowed to play in our tournaments that I went to my business friends and we collected R300 000 for tournaments for only the black pros, which was something at least. 

BB: What about the pressures that you felt playing under a South African flag abroad during the sanctions years?

GP: I was barred from playing in Japan, Denmark, Sweden, India, from all these countries, which cost me at least $10 million. I had to endure demonstrations and I lost the PGA Championship because of it. 
I’ll go to my grave knowing I won 10 Majors. I lost the 1969 PGA by one shot to Raymond Floyd and they were throwing telephone books at my back, ice in my eyes, balls between my legs while I was playing. They were running out of the galleries, charging me and skidding on the green and tearing the green up.

I had 50 policemen walking around with guns, and they said to me, “You can withdraw,” and I said, “I’m not withdrawing”. I said, “I don’t believe in apartheid. I live in a country that has an apartheid system.” I said, “If you wanna kill me, go ahead and kill me. I’m not going home.”

BB: Who were some of your golfing heroes when you were growing up, when you were starting out?

GP: Ben Hogan was my golfing hero because he was basically my size and he was the best golfer I ever saw in my life, as far as striking a ball. There’s not a player living today who can compare to him. That’s with the clubs he used. Not a player could compare. Sam Snead; no you can’t compare anybody today to Sam Snead. Can you imagine if you gave those people the conditions we have today?

I played a lot of golf with Bobby Locke. One of the 10 best putters who ever lived. He set the bar for me in South Africa. One of the great moments of my career was when I won the Ampol Tournament in Australia, with a £5 000 first prize. This was in 1956 and it enabled me to marry Vivienne.

After that, Bobby Locke challenged me to 108 holes. We played at Benoni and he beat me 2&1 over 36 holes. We then went to Germiston, which played in my favour because I used to outdrive him by 50 yards. He was 1 up with two to play, but I birdied 17 and 18 and we tied.

Next we went to Royal Durban. In those days, if you saw the crowds we had at our tournaments, when Bobby Locke and I played and when Jack Nicklaus came here, and Arnold Palmer. We had crowds like you never saw in your life because we didn’t have TV. At Royal Durban we were all square with one hole to play, the 108th hole. I missed the green pin high to the right. I had to chip over the bunker and I holed a 10-footer to beat Bobby Locke. He was an amazing chipper and putter, amazing, and had a marvelous temperament. He was a great gentleman on the golf course, but a barman’s nightmare after the round.

BB: You were 17 when you turned pro. What was that like, going out into the big, wide world as a South African, breaking new ground?

GP: Can you imagine? There was no money in pro golf. My mother was dead and my father said, “Are you mad? You want to be a pro? You’ve got to go to university. You go to a great school, you’ve had a wonderful education, but you’ve gotta go on to university and get a degree.”

I said, “Dad, my degree is going to be more important than any university degree in the world. I’m going to travel round, I’m going to be the best, dad. And I’m going to practise harder than anybody else. I’m going to be the best.”

BB: How tough was it starting out?

GP: I saved my money and I left for Britain in 1955 with £200 in my pocket. That was my total wealth and Killarney Country Club sponsored me an air ticket. I slept on the beach at St Andrews because I couldn’t find a hotel that I could afford. The next day I found a hotel room for 10 shillings. It had no curtains. I went to the manager the next morning and said, “I’m itchy, there are a lot of bugs in my bed.” 

He said, “What do you expect for 10 shillings, butterflies?”

I said, “You told me it’s facing the sea.”

He replied, “I said the WC, not the sea, son.”

BB: You’ve had America as your base for so many years. Why has it been so important for you to keep coming back to South Africa?

GP: Because I am obsessed about being a great ambassador for a country that I adore and its people. It’s my birthplace. I was grateful for the opportunity to play the local tour so I always played a minimum of four tournaments a year. One year I played in the Australian Open and won it, flew from Australia back to Johannesburg, which took 40 hours, had lunch in my house in Honeydew and got on a plane that evening to Brazil and won the tournament in Brazil. I then got on a plane that Sunday night, flew back to Johannesburg and played in our PGA, finishing second.

BB: Would you like to see more of our top players playing more regularly in South Africa? Do you think they owe it to us?

GP: Yes, I think there’s no question they do. Look, loyalty is a gift. I tell my children and grandchildren not to ever expect loyalty. Loyalty, if you get it, you’re lucky. I believe that every South African should be back
here to be playing some tournaments because this is where they started. If it weren’t for here, they wouldn’t have what they have. 

BB: You’re still playing tournaments now; isn’t that a great tribute to the longevity of the game?

GP: We played the other day in the Legends of Golf. Nicklaus and I played together. We finished second. He played like a dog, I carried him. If he played well we would’ve won. And they said, “For second here it’s $34 000.” I said, “What?” That’s more money than I had when I won my first Masters, or my second Masters and almost as much as I got for my third Masters, because I got $40 000 for my last Masters. R400 000 at the age of 80 for finishing second in the tournament? Then we went down to Houston to play the Insperity Tournament, and Trevino, Nicklaus and I played. It’s an 18-hole event for over-70s. We shot 13 under par and won.

This is why I continuously tell young people, “Play golf. It’s basically injury-free.” We’re just watching American football, where players are getting brain diseases. You look at rugby, all those guys are finished at 30, and then they can hardly walk. Here I am at 80, still playing in tournaments, still winning prizemoney, more than I did when I was a young man. You’ve got to be nuts if you don’t play golf.

BB: I’d like to go back to prize money. Do you think the modern golfer is just too comfortable with finishing tie-25th? He gets $75 000 for coming 20th, you know?

GP: I hear a lot of players saying, “Well I won $100 000, it’s very nice.” With me, if I didn’t win I didn’t care what the hell it was. When I finished second in the Masters three times, it ate me up, and it still does today. Prizemoney was not the criteria. I wanted to be the best, and so when I hear players talking about, “Well I didn’t win but I made this amount of money,” it irks me.

BB: We have a lot of South Africans playing in the States. They’re following, pretty much, in your footsteps, you knocked those doors down.

GP: It’s very encouraging to know that I was the first foreigner to go there and win the Masters and win the US Open, and win the Grand Slam. These guys started saying, “Well if a little guy like Gary can do it, you know, I can do it.”

BB: What about the distance debate, are we losing the game through this quest to desperately get more and more distance? Nowadays, the guys don’t shape the ball as much. They just hit it and find it and play.

GP: Well, you look at the two worst drivers I’ve seen in the history of golf, for top players – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson – they’ve been No 1 and No 2. I get so sick and tired of people talking about length. Golf is won from 100 yards in. Seventy percent of shots are played from 100 yards in. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have proved that you don’t have to drive the ball straight. Vijay Singh once said to me, “I don’t worry about hitting the fairway, I just hit it as far as I can.” There’s not very much rough in our tournaments any more, which is a shame. They should have big rough in all the tournaments. He said, “Our grooves can stop the ball out of the rough anyway, and they don’t get fliers like they used to.” 

BB: So it’s a matter of finding the right coach and sticking with him?

GP: I never saw the greatest players of all time have coaches. Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus. They had occasional lessons, but to have this continuous coaching is detrimental to your game. No question. You’ve got to tune it. You’ve got to have somebody just tune you slightly. Ernie Els has never, ever played the way he should have. Ernie’s record is nowhere near as good as it should’ve been. With the talent that Ernie had, he should’ve done way better. He started listening to every Tom, Dick and Harry. He should never have listened to anybody. With the beautiful swing he had and with the putting stroke he had, and to see him playing and missing cuts, finishing second last in tournaments now, it’s just so upsetting to me.

BB: What’s the answer for the distance problem? You have a 7 000m golf course that I can’t play, but the pros can. There’s such a discrepancy.

GP: The ball has ruined the game. The ball has done immeasurable harm to the game and I blame the R&A and the USGA and the PGA, our leaders, who I have great admiration for, but they haven’t forced the discipline into the game that was really needed. If you look what’s happened now, you go to St Andrews, the home of golf, and they take the 14th hole, a hole of 600 yards, they move the tee back 60 yards, and then still hit a driver and a 6-iron on a calm day. Around the world they’ve spent hundreds of millions, billions of rands changing golf courses. Even in Colesberg where I live in this Iittle tin shanty clubhouse with 40 members saying, “Should we make it longer?”

I said, “What the hell for? It’s more water, more fertiliser, more machinery, more manpower. Make it shorter, they can enjoy it more.” And so all these golf courses that they changed are all going bankrupt because they are too long.

BB: Is it too late? Can we get it back?

GP: It’s too late. It’s too late because now the answer is to cut the ball back further. It’s not a matter of will-they-do-it; it’s a matter of when. The hundreds of millions of dollars that have been invested into the changing of golf courses across the planet, unnecessarily so, all they had to do was change the mould and make the ball go 50 yards less – for the pros only. Nothing else would’ve had to be changed. It would’ve cost $40 000 for a mould, whatever it costs, instead of hundreds of millions. And let the technology exist with all your amateurs. Let them have a ball that goes 50 yards further, that’s what enticed them to play.

Now they come out with a rule – no long putter. Marvellous for the pros, I couldn’t agree with more, it’s the most wonderful thing. But you’re going to tell this lady, who plays golf and has the yips, that she can’t use this putter? Are you mad? It’s chasing more people away. They’re professionals and chasing people out of the game instead of bringing them in.

BB: Mr Player, you could retire tomorrow… put your feet up on the farm and just see out your days. What keeps you going?

GP: I’d be dead in a year. I get up on my farm at five o’clock in the morning and I work all day until six o’clock. I work like a Trojan on my farm, and I go to the gym, and when I go back to America, I play and I practise and I travel. I work as hard today at 80 as I worked when I was 25. Rest is rust. Me, retire? I’ll keep working. I should live to be 100 unless some accident happens. 

BB: When you were playing and making great friendships, was it difficult to separate the friendship on the golf course?

GP: I was more focused then. I played my best when I was irritable and uptight. Contrary to what all these guys will say, “Enjoy it… Have fun out there!” I’m in the ring, man. I’m boxing. I take my eye off my opponent, I’m gonna get knocked right out. I had to be like Tiger – focused. That’s how I played my best.

A tournament took a lot out of me, and some Mondays I’d just spend the whole day in bed, resting, then Tuesday I was ready to go again. If I could’ve played every week for $1 million, I would’ve played 40 tournaments a year. That’s the difference. Tiger plays 18.

BB: If I were to give you one shot back in your career, one that you would like to have over, which would it be?

GP: In 1971, I stood on the 18th hole at Augusta and had a 6-iron in my hand. Billy Casper and Gene Littler were playing the 18th hole together, and I was watching them because I was 150 yards away on the fairway. They made pars, so I needed a par to tie, or a birdie to win. The flag was front left. You only have seconds to make the decision.

Now if I was there today, I’d hit the ball right in the middle of the green, because if you push it a bit, it kicks it left. If you go past the pin it runs back. You’ve got a putt for a birdie. So what did I do? I was playing so well, I took the 6-iron and I aimed at the flag and it went like a bullet. It was so straight I had to lean over sideways to see the flag.  And it goes thump into the bunker, five inches from perfection. It was buried in the lip and I was lucky to get it out.

The night before I die, like Jean van de Velde, he’ll say “Car-c-c-c-c-c-Carnoustie” and I’ll say “Ma-m-m-m-Masters”.

Article courtesy of the Compleat Golfer

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TEEING OFF Q&A: GOLF LEGEND GARY PLAYER

Oct 27, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Long before Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, golf’s “Big Three” were Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Player, a nine-time major champion on each of the Regular and Senior tours and one of five players to win the career Grand Slam, was the featured speaker at the Western Golf Association’s Green Coat Gala fundraiser at the Peninsula Chicago on Oct. 16. The event raised approximately $800,000 for the Evans Scholars Foundation, which provides full college tuition and housing scholarships to caddies.

Player, about to turn 80, turned professional in 1953, winning 24 times on the PGA Tour and 167 tournaments on six continents. He took time to speak with reporters prior to the Green Coat Gala. This is an edited transcript of that interview.

Reporter: Just talk a little bit about the role of the caddie and the game, how important it is, and especially how important a caddie is when you were playing out on the PGA Tour.

Gary Player: “Well everybody has a different version of how important a caddie is. If you spoke to the greatest player that ever lived, Ben Hogan, he didn’t put any emphasis on the caddie whatsoever. He merely carried the bag, was on time, kept the clubs clean. He never asked him where to putt or what club to use. I’ve had a wonderful caddie in a man called Alfred Dyer, an African American who traveled with me for 17 years. I never relied on him what club to use, but he had a great sense of humor and I got out of him what I needed to play well. And that was to be happy, to relax as much as possible. He was always on time, he was a great representative of what I stood for, and that was the important thing.”

Reporter: Gary, one of the things that you’ve been known for, and it seems like you maybe were the first major player to do so, we hear the guys doing it today…

GP: “Not maybe, definitely.”

Reporter: Fitness! Today players are in the fitness trailer and it seems like you embraced fitness in golf long before everybody else did.

GP: “Well, there was another man called Frank Stranahan, and he and I used to do the weight training, and one famous golf architect, who, I will not mention his name, one day saw me squatting with 325 pounds the night before the U.S. Open, and there was quite an article that Gary Player will never last. So I offered when I went on Tour in ‘63, I mentioned his name and I said I hope you’re noticing this, I’ll be joining you one of these days, make sure there’s a good golf course and a good gym with lots of weights. Because you see, weights stand you in good stead. Weights develop muscle, as aerobic exercises so develops the mind. And one, as an athlete, must not be intent on just developing the body, but the mind as well. Because the mind is probably the essential ingredient when it comes down to winning and losing and being a star versus a superstar.”

Reporter: How would you rate the golf organizations that are in charge of the game today?

GP: “No, they are working diligently and doing the best to their ability, but they’re scared to cut the ball back. You know America is very much of a litigious society, and instead of leading with strength and saying, look, we’re going to cut the ball back, they’re going to have to. Because as sure as I’m sitting here, and this will be on tape, it’s just a matter of time they do it. They’re going to have to do it. Because you haven’t had a LeBron James, a Michael Jordan, ever play golf. And they’re coming. Because golf, all these super strong athletes, which we have never seen in golf as of yet are saying: listen, these guys are making more, I make more money at 80 then when I was world champion. Now, what other sport can you do that? So these guys are saying: What am I playing all these contact sports for when I can have a sport that I can go on.”

Reporter: How do you think Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day at this age compare to you, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus at that age?

GP: Favorably. Now, will they continue? That’s the thing. Arnold, Jack and I must have won, I don’t know, 40 major championships, they’ve got a long way to go, but they certainly have the ability. Will they have the desire? Will they have the passion? This is something that nobody can answer. You can never make predictions in golf.”

Article courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

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GARY PLAYER’S DLF GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB HOSTS PRO TOURNAMENT IN INDIA

Oct 26, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player’s new signature course at DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon, India, near New Delhi was the site of this year’s Hero Women’s Indian Open, which is part of the Ladies European Tour.

Players from around the world gathered for the LET event at the challenging Gary Player designed course, and it was rookie Emily Kristine Pedersen who was victorious, edging out Cheyenne Woods, Becky Morgan, and Malene Jorgensen by one stroke. Many players reveled at the distinct test they faced.

“Without doubt, it is a challenging course and one where no one can take any chances – not that a golfer can take it easy on any golf course,” said Sharmila Nicollet. “I did have a couple of days of practice at the course, but a competitive round, the first ever on this course, was something else. An educational experience, if I may call it.”

Nicollet continued, “The closing stretch is quite challenging and in particular the last four holes – I dropped a shot on both 17th and 18th, but I am glad I was able to grab that birdie on Par-5 15th. Actually when I left the 17th with a bogey, I was almost relieved as it could have been worse.”

The course designed by Gary Player, opened earlier in 2015 for all to enjoy and is sure to leave an unforgettable impression on its members and guests from around the world, but especially on professional golfers. At the conclusion of the tournament, the winner finished even-par.

“It’s amazing and I’m so happy. The course has been a big challenge for us. My game has been very good, very steady. I didn’t make any huge mistakes. I kept focused all day,” said 2015 champion Emily Kristine Pedersen.

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.

“It’s very different. I don’t really recognize the place from when we were here last time,” said Gwladys Nocera, 14-time LET winner who played in the Hero Women’s Indian Open on the previous Arnold Palmer designed course at DLF G&CC in 2011 and 2012. “I’m glad I have my caddie with me and I’m hoping he’ll give me some good numbers.”

Although a stern test, the overall reaction to the new venue from the players was positive.

“I still think it’s a special course,” said Bree Arthur. “Gary Player has done a great job. Just to look at! I played here three years ago and I can’t believe what they’ve done. The lake on 18 was the fairway!”

“I am proud of the course we created with DLF,” said Gary Player. “I visited the property many times throughout construction, and I grew more and more excited each time. There is so much drama, and the bunkering is as good as I’ve seen and something entirely new for India. I wish the winner, Emily Kristine Pedersen, all the best and hope everyone enjoyed the test.”

Information courtesy of the Ladies European Tour
Picture courtesy of Golf365.com

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ALL THE WAY INSIDE THE ROPES WITH ANNIKA, CHI-CHI AND THE BLACK KNIGHT

Oct 22, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

A couple of weeks ago, three friends attended the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational, a two-day charity event, at GlenArbor Golf Club, in Bedford Hills, New York. The course was designed by Player, and it’s awesome:

The field for the event was awesome, too.

It included Player, Chi-Chi Rodriguez, Annika Sorenstam, Tom Lehman, Retief Goosen, Natalie Gulbis, Ian Woosnam, Jason Dufner, Mark O’Meara, many others.

Bob G.—an honorary member of the Sunday Morning Group, who also happens to be a member of GlenArbor—sent me these notes:

“Way better than any golf tournament. No ropes, could walk anywhere. Players were relaxed and easy to engage. Although there was some press around, they weren’t in the way. It wasn’t like a big media event, so there was no pressure on the pros to be ‘on.’ Just us and these great golfers hanging out. A bit like having Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera over to play a little baseball in your backyard.

“Chi-Chi, who is 79, looks 65. On the fairway of No. 16, he comes up and says, ‘Hi, I’m Chi-Chi. Thins are so bad in Puerto Rico that the Mafia had to lay off three judges.’

“Annika Sorenstam hits a nice draw with about a 250-yard carry. Ian Woosnam looked grumpy. Mark O’Meara told Grant Gregory, who founded the club, that the greens were faster and better than the ones at Augusta during the Masters.

“Lehman drinks beer; Goosen drinks wine. I had a drink with Rich Beem. Nice guy, but called me ‘Sir.’

Hacker (real name) was there, too. He followed Player and Sorenstam for several holes, and walked right along with them in the fairway. There were only about 40 people in the entire tournament gallery, so he was able to get plenty close:

Peter A. was also there. “It was better than the last U.S. Open I attended, at Torrey Pines,” he told me. “And all the LPGA players are smokin’ hot.”

I couldn’t join them, because my daughter and her family were visiting, and I was busy teaching my granddaughter, who is about to turn two, how to eat goldfish crackers the way the guys in the Sunday Morning Group eat potato chips:

Article courtesy of David Owen, Golf Digest

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GOLF GREAT GARY PLAYER HEADLINES GREEN COAT GALA

Oct 21, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The legendary Gary Player, one of only five golfers to win the career Grand Slam, was the featured speaker at the Western Golf Association’s fifth annual Green Coat Gala on Friday, Oct. 16, at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago. The event benefitted the Evans Scholars Foundation, a nonprofit organization administered by the WGA that provides full college tuition and housing scholarships to caddies.

Player, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa, is a member of the “Big Three” of the early 1960s & 70’s, which also included legends Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Together, Player, Nicklaus and Palmer ignited golf’s popularity at the dawn of the sports television age. Player came to be identified as the “Black Knight,” as he wore all black pants, shirts and shoes during competition.

Veteran NBC/Golf Channel commentator Mark Rolfing conducted an interview with Player following dinner at the event, where they touched on topics including his career, the emergence of young stars like Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth and the work of the WGA.

“I’ve always been a tremendous admirer of the Western Golf Association for what they’ve achieved ... and what they’ve done for young people,” Player said. “As my hero Winston Churchill once said, ‘The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity.’ The Evans Scholars Foundation is a wonderful cause, and to see more than 10,000 young people benefit from this cause is remarkable.”

After turning pro in 1953, Player won more than 165 tournaments on six continents, including 24 on the PGA Tour and nine major championships as well as mine on the Senior Tour. He is a three-time winner of both The Masters (1961, 1974 and 1978) and the British Open (1959, 1968, 1974); a two-time winner of the PGA Championship (1962 and 1972), and was the winner of the 1965 U.S. Open.

He is still the only non-American to win the career Grand Slam and celebrates the 50 anniversary of that milestone this year.

Evans Scholars Joanna Hernandez and Shalonda Jones, both freshmen at Marquette University and participants of the WGA Caddie Academy, also spoke on how the Evans Scholarship has changed their lives. Hernandez says that through caddying, she has transformed from a shy teenage girl into a mature, confident leader. “I have proven to myself that there is nothing stopping me from achieving anything. It is one of the best feelings in the world knowing all your hard work has paid off. The Evans Scholarship is the opportunity of a lifetime. It is my American dream. With your help, I have finally reached what was the biggest goal of my life – going to college. Now, I can only imagine what else is to come.”

The 2015 Green Coat Gala raised $800,000 for the Evans Scholars Foundation. The Gala co-chairs were Tim and Stacey Cavanagh, Mick and Karen O’Rourke, and Mike and Sharyl Mackey

Article and pictures courtesy of WGAESF.org

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GARY PLAYER, JACK NICKLAUS, ARNOLD PALMER AND LEE TREVINO SHARE DINNER WITH NFL’S ARIZONA CARDINALS

Oct 20, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

When nine-time major winner Gary Player met Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald during cocktail hour Thursday night, somebody came to mind.

“It’s a funny thing ... I met Fitzgerald yesterday and he reminded me so much of Mandela,” Player told ESPN.com on Friday morning after the groundbreaking for a new Oakhurst golf course at The Greenbrier. “He had such love in his heart and warmth.

“I know he’s a real superstar, but he really made an imprint on me. I thought about him a lot last night before I went to bed that an important man like this can play such a vital role in society and I believe he’s doing that.”

Player was here in White Sulphur Springs along with Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino to break ground on an 18-hole mountain course that will overlook historic Oakhurst Links.

Aside from Fitzgerald, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, cornerback Patrick Peterson and offensive tackle Bradley Sowell also met the quartet of legendary golfers, who, combined, have won 40 majors, on Thursday night. Arians had dinner with the golfers, as well as Greenbrier owner Jim Justice and architects and others involved in the new Oakhurst project.

“It was a bucket list for me to have a cocktail with Arnold Palmer and then meet Jack and Lee and Gary Player and watch them discuss building this new golf course, which is a passion of mine, and talk to Jim Justice about it,” Arians said. “It was a very entertaining night.”

Nicklaus felt the same way about talking to the Cardinals as they did meeting him.

“I enjoyed talking with Bruce,” Nicklaus said.

“Larry is a very interesting guy. What a sort of an energetic personality that he has. Bruce was saying he’s not only a great football player but a better person. I like that a lot.”

Player, who said he spent “a lot” of time with Mandela as the two helped raise money for South Africa, said how Mandela decided not to hold a grudge against the apartheid supporters and government, while having an open-mindedness toward an integrated country was what related Fitzgerald to Mandela in his mind.

“He was so charming,” Player said. “He just came across with great warmth and great love. We know he’s a superstar and there’s nothing worse than when you see people that are militant in life.”

After meeting Fitzgerald, Peterson and Sowell, and sharing a meal with Arians, Nicklaus became a Cardinals fan.

“Got another team to follow,” Nicklaus said. “Always followed most of the NFL but you always follow something a little closer when you know somebody.”

Article and picture courtesy of Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Staff Writer
Picture courtesy of Bradley Sowell

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PROFESSIONAL GOLFERS IN AWE OF GARY PLAYER COUNTRY CLUB

Oct 19, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

It has thrilled some of the best golfers in the world, from Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros to Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. And South Africa’s professional sportsmen are just as in awe of the Gary Player Country Club.

When they teed it up in Monday’s first round of the Sanlam Cancer Challenge here, both Herschelle Gibbs and Breyton Paulse agreed that as an iconic sporting arena the Gary Player Country Club is right up there alongside Lord’s, the MCG and the cricket and rugby grounds at Newlands.

Gibbs and Paulse are part of the VIPs and sporting celebrities who annually support South Africa’s biggest charity golf tournament.

At the nearby Lost City Golf Course on Monday, the over 100 amateurs who have qualified from around Southern Africa in their various handicap divisions played in their first round of the 36-hole National Finals.

“I am very pleased that the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City continues to be considered one of the top golfing destinations in the world,” said Gary Player. “As importantly, the leadership at the club does a wonderful job with their philanthropic efforts, as evidenced by the hosting of this event for cancer research and treatment.”

This is the 23rd year of an event that annually raises much-needed funds for the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) for research and treatment of cancer. And this year, the 35 863 golfers who played in 780 club competitions since March have helped to raise a record R3.5 million.

“It’s such a worthy cause and it’s just great to be here and support that,” said Gibbs, who is making his debut in this event and says the opportunity to play the Gary Player Country Club course made his decision to accept the invitation a very easy one.

“It’s just great to play this golf course. It’s in incredible condition again and it never disappoints. Newlands was always special for me because it is so picturesque and the setting is just phenomenal. But when it comes to being in awe of a place, I’d say you have the same feeling here as you get at a Lord’s or the MCG. It’s very inspirational, and for me the Gary Player Country Club is no different.”

Paulse likened the experience of the Gary Player Country Club to that of playing rugby at Newlands.

“The Gary Player Country Club is really a special place. For me, a rugby stadium that brings up the same fondness for a place is Newlands. This course has got great character and a great atmosphere during big tournaments. It’s got something unique about it, and it just stays a fantastic golf course.”

Paulse took time out of his busy Rugby World Cup schedule to support this event.

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world. This creates so much awareness for cancer and provides the financial support needed. It’s always satisfying to see so many people put so much into this event and make it a success every year. But after the Rugby World Cup I’ll put some serious work into my game again and hopefully get back to taking money off Herschelle.”

For more information on the Sanlam Cancer Challenge, go to http://www.sanlamcancerchallenge.co.za

Article courtesy of Sport24

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JIM JUSTICE BRINGS TOGETHER FOUR GOLF LEGENDS TO BREAK GROUND ON NEW COURSE AT THE GREENBRIER

Oct 16, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share


Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier, one of the foremost destination golf resorts in the country and the home to the annual PGA Tour FedEx Cup event, The Greenbrier Classic, has brought together four Hall of Fame golf icons, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino to collaborate on a first-of-its-kind championship golf course, which breaks ground today at The Greenbrier Sporting Club.

The new mountain course, with dramatic elevation changes and spectacular vistas overlooking the historic Oakhurst Links course, is the first-ever collaboration between these four golf legends and will be the centerpiece of Oakhurst, the newest neighborhood planned for The Greenbrier Sporting Club Subdivision. The course, which is set to open in spring 2017, is part of Jim Justice’s vision to one day host a major championship, including a possible U.S. Open, at The Greenbrier. In addition to the new 8,042-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 private ski facility; a clubhouse; dining facilities; a pro shop; an outdoor pool; 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.

“We are so thrilled and honored to welcome four of the greatest golfers who have ever played the game into The Greenbrier family to collaborate on this unprecedented golf course design, the very first of its kind anywhere in the world,” said Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier. “As a proud born-and-bred West Virginian, I could not be personally more excited to bring this incredible treasure to our state, which will bring golf lovers and travelers from around the world to The Greenbrier.”

“The groundbreaking for every project is a special moment and memory in the life of a golf course,” Jack Nicklaus said. “This time, you might say you have four old friends coming together for a new beginning at The Greenbrier.”

“This is such a unique piece of property and the golf course that we are building here will be unlike anything I have ever seen in all my years as an architect or player,” Arnold Palmer said. “The dramatic elevation changes will reveal spectacular views of the Alleghenies and it will surely be a memorable experience for anyone who plays here. I’m so pleased we are breaking ground and making this project a reality.”

“This collaboration is going well, and I am very pleased with the direction of the golf course,” Gary Player said. “It’s just a spectacular mountain setting. And the fact that we are moving dirt makes the project so tangible for those interested in a residence at Oakhurst. Now is a great time to consider a Founding Partnership.”

“This day is one for the history books,” said Lee Trevino, The Greenbrier’s Golf Pro Emeritus. “To be here with Jack, Gary and Arnold for the groundbreaking of such a special course for The Greenbrier Sporting Club—right next door to the oldest golf club in America—it’s just something really special for all of us involved. We’re all excited to have the routing plan completed and to move into the next design phase of strategy. It’s going to be a fun course!”

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.

To learn more about The Greenbrier Sporting Club, please visit: http://www.greenbriersportingclub.com or call 888-741-8989.

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YOUNG AT HEART

Oct 16, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player was sitting at a coffee shop in Baton Rouge, La., early in his career when fellow PGA Tour pro Doug Sanders proposed a scenario: If he gave Player $250,000, a small fortune in those days, would he retire to a ranch in his native South Africa?

Without hesitation, Player responded: “I couldn’t do it, laddie.”

“Why the hell not?” Sanders shot back.

“Because I’m going to win all four Majors.”

Player’s belief in his destiny poured out in such passion and intensity. In 1965, at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, the 29-year-old Player outlasted Kel Nagle in an 18-hole playoff to win the U.S. Open and join a select band of golfers to complete the career Grand Slam.

Fast forward 50 years to the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, where a reporter asked Player whether it felt as though it had happened a lifetime ago.

“It doesn’t, because I’m so young at heart and I’m so fit and I have so much enthusiasm and energy and I’m so busy in my life,” Player said. “I still want to learn. So many people seem to lose their desire to improve and grow as they get older, but I can’t say that has happened to me.”

As one of golf’s “Big Three,” Player set the standard for worldwide tournament play, have won more than 100 titles, including nine Major championships. Born Nov. 1, 1935 in Johannesburg, Player was the youngest of three children to Harry and Muriel Player, who died from pancreatic cancer when he was 8. As a youth, he left the house daily at 6 a.m., boarded a streetcar, then hopped onto the No. 68 bus to attend the finest school around. Looking back on his adolescence from the perspective of adulthood, Player said, “If it’s possible, school took the place of my mother. It made me tough, and it made me hungry.”

He turned professional at 17, and traveling the world became his university. It’s funny that longevity and traveling some 15 million miles became Player’s calling cards. He chuckles at the memory of a long-ago conversation with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer in which he and Nicklaus insisted they would be hanging up the spikes at the ripe age of 35. A few years later, Player walking into the Champions Dinner at The Masters and Palmer kidded, “What are you doing here in this field? I thought you’d be retired by now.”

Player has made idle threats to retire ever since, but he continues to circle the globe with the drive of the Energizer bunny.

“In the days when I was working very closely with him, he’s complain, ‘I can’t do all this. I’m going to die young,’” said IMG’s Alastair Johnston, who represented Player for more than 20 years beginning in the early 1970s. “He’s fly from Tokyo to Lima, Peru to Madrid, Spain and then home to South Africa. When I’d tell him what he was going to make, he’s say, ‘$50,000! Are you kidding me? I’ll swim there.’”

In February, Player addressed an audience at the World Golf Hall of Fame during the unveiling of an exhibit highlighting his career. He still packs a room. As a prelude to launching into the heart of his speech, he said that during breakfast that morning, Debbie Longenecker, his faithful director of administration, lectured him about his tendency, well, to be a lecture. “And my wife says, ‘Don’t be a minister at a church,’” Player said.

Player’s preamble is his way of asking for forgiveness before he launches into his sermon. The man is happiest on his soapbox.

“That’s my mission,” he said. “I don’t want to be remembered as a golfer who just hit a 7-iron close to the hole. SO when I talk about health and wellness, man, that my topic, because my body is a holy temple.”

Then, as if someone accused him of not completing all 1,300 of his sit-ups that morning – the last 200-300 with a 100-pound weight on his chest – he slapped his midsection three times. “Pow! Pow! Pow! Like a 20-year-old,” he said.

For more dramatic effect, Player climbed into a chair and declared obesity and diabetes to be epidemics in America. He recited his hero, the late British statesman Winston Churchill, saying, “The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity.” These are not mere words he has committed to memory. Through his Player Foundation, he has funded a school from kindergarten through seventh grade supporting 1,000 students at Blair Atholl Estate, his South African ranch. At Christmastime, he attends a concert performed there by the youngest students. They sing, “Gary Player had a far,, E-I-E-I-O.”

All these years later, Player seems no close to retiring to that farm than the day he informed Sanders that he would win the Grand Slam. Which raises the question: Could he ever retire?

I’m convince he couldn’t,” Johnston said. “He’s had plenty of opportunities to stay at this farm, but he doesn’t. There’s a reason.”

Said Player. “Rest is rust.”

Talk of turning 80 – an octogenarian, for goodness sakes! – reminded him of the wisdom of Willie Beta, an uneducated black man who worked at Player’s stud farm for years.

“I once asked him, ‘Willie, how old are you?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ I said, “When’s your birthday?’ He said, ‘Everyday.’ What a philosophy. That’s why I believe that age is just a number,” Player said. “Years wrinkle your skin, but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles your soul.”

He paused, then added: “But I’ll be disappointed if I don’t live to be 100.

Article courtesy of Adam Schupak, Golfweek

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PLAYER EXCITED TO RETURN HOME TO LOST CITY GOLF COURSE FOR GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Oct 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

In a year which Gary Player has celebrated some emotional moments on a host of memorable golf courses, The Lost City Golf Club at Sun City may just be the most special of them all.

Player will arrive at Sun City in November for his Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at the end of what has been a year of celebration, from the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam to being named South Africa’s captain of its first Olympic golf team, and to his 80th birthday in the week of this tournament.

And for a man who has always hoped his legacy would be that he cared for his fellow human beings, Player will no doubt view The Lost City Golf Club where his tournament will take place from 12-15 November as one of the more special courses he has been privileged to visit this year.

“It’s been a remarkable year for me. I’ve celebrated at some of the world’s greatest golf courses, such as Augusta National Golf Club, the Old Course in St Andrews and many more. The 50th anniversary of my career Grand Slam also brings back wonderful memories of Bellerive Golf Club, where I won the 1965 U.S. Open to complete my career Grand Slam,” says Player.

“And I had a wonderful day with the people of Soweto at Soweto Golf Club, playing with some of the real characters of Soweto golf and celebrating my birthday with such a special community there. All of these golf courses have a different meaning for me. But I’ve always loved The Lost City Golf Course, and with it being the venue for our charity tournament that has done so much good over the years, I cannot wait to get back there and end the year off on a high note.”

Player designed The Lost City Golf Course several years after the more iconic course at Sun City, the Gary Player Country Club. But he has always felt that The Lost City Golf Course shouldn’t be viewed as inferior to its neighbour, and in some senses offers an even greater challenge.

“It’s a course that is unique in character. The bushveld atmosphere gives it that African feel, and in that sense I always feel like I’m truly at home when I play there. I think it’s a fabulous advertisement for what golf in Africa is truly like.”

And as the home of a celebrity charity tournament that is the ultimate “Union of Golf and Giving” which has helped The Player Foundation to raise more than R800 million for children’s charities around the world since 1983, and where Player and his amateur team won for the first time last year, this is indeed a golf course that holds special memories for South Africa’s greatest golfer.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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SHARING THE WISDOM OF GARY PLAYER

Oct 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

For some reason, the most relevant people in sports are millennials.

LeBron James can reach 24.4 million followers with a single tweet. He’s got the power to influence an entire generation in the palm of his oversized hand.

Can you name a role model in play right now over the age of 40?

With the exception of Peyton Manning, each birthday celebration exponentially reduces a marquee athlete’s face time on “SportsCenter.” The sound bites eventually fall on deaf ears.

It’s sad, really.

Gary Player was in the neighborhood on Monday, sharing all kinds of wit and wisdom before he worked over an impressive guest list gathered at GlenArbor to support his namesake charitable foundation.

The world traveler will be 80 in a couple of weeks.

“My life is full, absolutely full,” Player said with a measure of humility. “I think retirement is a death warrant.”

Nothing is off the record with this gentleman.

A lot of the material is recycled, but the inspirational messages are fresh to anyone reading this on a smartphone. There has to be room on the locker-room bulletin boards for old-school observations.

“We can’t take credit for the success we have,” Player said passionately. “It’s a gift that’s loaned to you from God. It’s been taken away from many people. Look at Tiger Woods on the way to becoming the greatest player that ever lived. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to him. He’s not a cinch to do it anymore. He was always a cinch to break all kinds of records. It’s debatable now. We’ve seen it happen to David Duval. Tom Watson, a superstar, never won for 10 years. Nothing is guaranteed.”

There is value in reflections from a man who’s spent a lifetime competing and contributing around the globe.

“You can go to Harvard, Stanford, Princeton or Yale and get degree after degree,” Player said. “To actually experience something is by far the greater advantage.”

Work ethic is another favorite topic of the 5-foot-6 underdog who often went toe to toe with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

And in many instances, he won.

“You see, being small was the greatest advantage in the world because adversity makes you work harder and appreciate things more,” Player said. “I had to work harder. Without boasting, I can say these hands here have hit more golf balls than any human being who has ever lived because I had to in order to survive against these big guys.”

Player has a role model, too.

“Nelson Mandela, our great father in South Africa, is one of the five greatest men, probably, that lived in the last century,” Player said. “He’s a man who went to jail for 20 years for doing the right thing, not the wrong thing, and I spent a lot of time with him. Every time I was around him, I couldn’t help but cry. Every single time. He was so full of love and so full of forgiveness.”

Athletes who really have a desire to give back do more than sign game-used equipment or checks.

Player has raised more than $60 million for charity. He’s built schools at home in South Africa, provided hope for the homeless in London and for underprivileged children in the U.S.

The ambitious goal is to raise another $40 million in the years ahead.

“As our great president Mandela said so aptly, sport can change the world,” Player said.

Fitness is another favorite topic.

Player is clearly grateful for the opportunity to compete over the years on a grand stage.Watching generation after generation here succumb to unhealthy lifestyles inspires a little fire and brimstone.

“I see what’s happening in the greatest country in the world, the United States,” he said. “I see how the youth are deteriorating, 25 percent already obese. All the diseases – heart, cancer, diabetes. People are dying like flies and we’re taking exercise out of schools instead of increasing activity.

“Quit the drugs. Quit the damn alcohol. Quit the smoking. Exercise. Get off your butt.”

Amen.

Article courtesy of Mike Dougherty, The Journal News

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GARY PLAYER TO RETURN TO OLYMPICS, 60 YEARS AFTER MEETING JESSE OWENS AT MELBOURNE GAMES

Oct 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player plans to be in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics next year as the South Africa golf team captain, and although his sport returns to the Games after a 112-year absence, it won’t be a foreign experience.
Player, who turns 80 on Nov. 1, attended the Melbourne 1956 Olympics when he was 21 years old.

There, he met Jesse Owens, the four-time Berlin 1936 Olympic champion who was at the 1956 Games as a representative of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, according to Owens biographies.

“I was aware that Hitler would not shake his hand, which is hard to believe,” Player recalled Monday while hosting the Gary Player Invitational at GlenArbor Club, an hour outside of New York City. “But with a man like Hitler, anything was beyond one’s comprehension. I remember that, and I remember [Owens] winning, and I saw videos of him winning, and I spoke to him about these things. I was very proud to meet him and to see what he did as a start for change for the black man around the world.”

What did Owens say to Player?

“He said he tried to behave well and to show Hitler the opposite of the thoughts that he had of him, that he just tried to show him that he was well-behaved, he was a good competitor and that he had appreciation for people, which, obviously, Hitler did not have,” Player said.

In 1956, Player was embarking on one of the most impressive golf careers. He won his first professional tournament one year earlier. He played in his first Masters four months after attending the Melbourne Olympics.
“I’ve always held the Olympics in high esteem,” Player said. “It brings people of the world together. My great president, Nelson Mandela, said sport can help change the world, and that’s absolutely true. You’re getting nations that are having wars against each other suddenly competing against each other and realizing, why are we fighting each other? We should all be enjoying each other’s different systems of government and beliefs. So the Olympics are significant in my life.”

Player’s role as South Africa Olympic golf team captain won’t be as burdensome as, say, when he was Presidents Cup captain. The South African golf team in Rio will likely consist of no more than four golfers — two men and two women.

“I suppose watching them practice and helping them tune-up a little bit with tiny little things,” Player said. “I’m not a believer in what takes place today, making significant changes in golf swings. We’ve seen how that’s hurt Tiger Woods.”

Woods dropped to No. 321 in the Official World Golf Ranking this week and is extremely unlikely to qualify for the Olympics. He would likely need to be ranked in the world top 15 on the ranking cutoff date July 11 for a shot at Rio.

Woods’ niece, Cheyenne Woods, is No. 311 in the women’s rankings this week, marking the first time she’s ranked higher than her uncle in equivalent.

“If Tiger Woods had never had a lesson after he won the U.S. Open by 15 shots [in 2000], Tiger Woods would have broken every conceivable record that ever lived,” Player said. “We need Tiger Woods to come back. Will he come back? It’s debatable. He got so mixed up with all the different coaches, and so that’s the last thing I would ever do is try and make any changes in my team. We just have discussions of being positive and having patience and enjoying the moment and being honored and grateful to be at the Olympic Games. It’s the mental, psychological help, mainly.”

Player, at 80, could become one of the oldest people to march in an Opening Ceremony, should he be allowed.

“I don’t know, what your role, if you’re entitled to do that,” Player said. “I would imagine you are. So, it’s something to look forward to.”

The rules for who may participate in the Parade of Nations have not been finalized yet, but they will likely follow the models from previous Olympics, according to the International Olympic Committee.

In London, one coach per discipline was allowed to march. In previous Olympics, six officials were allowed to march per delegation.

In either of those cases, South Africa’s Olympic Committee would decide if Player will be given the opportunity to march in the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 5.

Article courtesy of Nick Zaccardi, NBCSports.com

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THE BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL HOSTS SUCCESSFUL EVENT AT GLENARBOR GOLF CLUB IN NEW YORK

Oct 13, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational concluded yet another successful event with some of the biggest names in golf, business and entertainment, which celebrated the Union of Golf and Giving with golf icon and Grand Slam champion Gary Player. The 2015 global invitational series has been extra special with the Black Knight celebrating the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam and his 80th Birthday, while title sponsor Berenberg celebrated their 425th anniversary.

Participants joined in the fun and giving during a gala auction after an exciting day of golf, and later Gary Player, The Player Foundation and presenting sponsor Berenberg donated a significant contribution during the Gala Dinner. The day’s festivities raised $212,000 for The Player Foundation, which aids impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities around the world.

The team lead by Chi Chi Rodriguez had a winning score of 16 under par and was crowned champion of the 2015 Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at GlenArbor Golf Club.

The all-star field featured the only golfer in history to have been awarded Player of the Year on all three PGA Tours, Tom Lehman; 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner; and ninety-time international tournament winner and LPGA legend with the most wins to her name, Annika Sorenstam. Recent World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Mark O’Meara; 1987 Masters Champion Larry Mize; six-time PGA Tour winner and PGA Champion, Jeff Sluman; and Hunter Mahan, two-time World Golf Championships event winner also joined the event.

In addition, Miss America Kira Kazantsev and former NFL standout Victor Green participated alongside other top players from the PGA, LPGA, LET and Champions tours which included: Tony Finau, Alison Walshe, Retief Goosen, Natalie Gulbis, Rich Beem, Dottie Pepper, Ian Woosnam, Emma Cabrera-Bello, Brooke Henderson, Danielle Montgomery, Paige MacKenzie, Kristy McPherson, Brittany Henderson and Amanda Blumenherst.

“I am very pleased by the success of the event and the funds we were able to raise for The Player Foundation,” said Gary Player. “Our continued support towards impoverished communities around the world would not be possible without the generous contributions made by our sponsors and field of participants.”

Hendrik Riehmer, Managing Partner at Berenberg commented, ”The strong turnout was a great way to celebrate our 425th anniversary this year and Gary Player’s Grand Slam anniversary and 80th birthday. It is important to help make a difference for underprivileged children around the world.”

Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International and GPI series founder, added, “I applaud Berenberg for their continued support in being our title sponsor.  We would not be able to achieve the fundraising success we have without them, and their involvement has been a big factor in shaping our success.”

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 was 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 South Africa, Abu Dhabi and India.

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GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL LAUNCHES IN ABU DHABI

Oct 5, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Black Knight International and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council announced today that the UAE will host a Gary Player Invitational event at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi on Monday, February 8, 2016.

The first of a new five-year cooperation between the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Black Knight International, next year’s event will feature an all-star professional lineup alongside tournament host and global golfing icon, Gary Player. The participants will be announced in due course and provide sponsors and partners’ guests with a once-in-a-lifetime golf experience. The world-leading charity golf series, a true union of golf and giving, has raised more than $60 million for charities worldwide, with the ambition to surpass $100 million in donations by 2020. A specific UAE beneficiary charity will be selected by The Player Foundation, working closely with Emirates Red Crescent.

“Abu Dhabi now holds a prominent position in world golf, and the course design at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is some of our finest design work in the world,” said Gary Player. “The combination of these two factors, as well as His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council’s support, will propel this event to the highest-level. I am very grateful for their commitment as we strive to make a real difference and improve millions of lives worldwide.”

Today also heralded the prestigious announcement of Royal Patronage for the event from His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, symbolizing the intent to establish a position as the UAE’s leading cause-related golf event. Moving forward a number of unique health and wellness initiatives will be implemented in support of the golf event and its charity fundraising.

“We are thrilled to announce our new partnership with Black Knight International and look forward to achieving many great things together,” said His Excellency Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. “I would like to thank His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan for his patronage and with Gary Player’s status as a global golfing icon, the union of three such powerful forces provides us with a unique opportunity to deliver on Abu Dhabi Sports Council’s guiding mission of integrating sports and Abu Dhabi society to form healthier communities.”

The inaugural event will feature a Welcome Reception at the stylish Saadiyat Beach Club on the evening of February 7, followed by an 18-hole Pro-Am tournament and Charity Gala Dinner on February 8 at the event’s official hotel, the Park Hyatt, Abu Dhabi.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational series, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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GARY PLAYER’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE PRESIDENTS CUP

Oct 2, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player is in an elite group of only five golfers to ever win the illustrious Grand Slam - and the only one from outside of the United States. There is no doubting that this charismatic South African is one of the best players in history of golf. He also holds close ties with The Presidents Cup and recently shared his thoughts about next week’s competition to be held in Korea.

What is your best memory from previous Presidents Cups?

When I was captain in South Africa of the International Team in 2003, Jack Nicklaus, the American captain, and I decided after the third playoff hole that the match should end in a tie. There couldn’t have been a better ending to the tournament. It was one of the greatest moments in the history of golf and very special to be a part of.

If you were captaining the International Team this year, what advice would you offer up to them?

Simply to play better. They have the talent to win. Just play better.

What are your thoughts on the International Team’s prospects and South African trio gunning for glory?

It should be time for the International Team to win. The players have talent and the team will get strong leadership from Nick Price. The Presidents Cup is one of the best sporting events in the world.

And a strong contingent of South Africans on the team must please you too?

Absolutely. Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel all have had a good year. It is impressive that a small country like South Africa continues to produce some of the best players in the world. I look forward to seeing all of them compete on this year’s team.

Are you happy to see the recent changes in the competitions format?

Yes. I don’t know if the changes will make a difference, but that is what was decided. As long as nothing is taken away from the fans, it should be fine.

The U.S. Team will put a lot of expectation on the shoulders of Jordan Spieth. It’s still very early in his career, but you must be highly impressed by him?

He is having a remarkable year. Amazing to think that he is just 22. No doubt he is wise beyond his years. You can tell this young man was raised well by his parents. He says and does all the right things. He is has all the makings of a superstar. I expect him to step up and play very well.

Do you think he is as good now as you, Nicklaus and Palmer were in your heyday?

His 2015 season has been superb. Jordan is a remarkable talent and in my opinion is the best putter in the world today. The key for him, just like any golfer, is longevity. Can he continue to win next year, 10 years from now, 20 years from now? He looks like he has the head and game for it.

The possibility of a McIlroy, Spieth and Day rivalry looks to be a real possibility. How excited are you about this?

There is a great amount of young talent on the PGA TOUR right now. You could probably throw a few more names into that list like Rickie Fowler, amongst others. Fans and the media sort of create golf’s rivalries. The best thing that can happen to golf is these guys keep winning majors and competing head to head.

Do you think Grace or any other South African can reach their level on a consistent basis?

I believe all of them have the talent. They are among the top players in the world. We should expect to see more majors to come from South Africans in future.

What’s your opinion on the state of the game at the moment?

The professional game is extremely healthy. I saw the FedExCup champion will make more money than I did in my entire playing career. That is an amazing stat.

But the amateur game needs the most attention and help. We need to find new ways to draw more rounds from the public, and it starts by making golf courses more playable.

You have had an amazing career both on and off the course, but what memory stands out for you as the one you cherish the most?

The day I married my wife, Vivienne, is the most important and best memory I have ever made. And winning the Grand Slam at the age of 29 was the best moment in my golf career.

Your advice is second to none when it comes to golf, so can you please share some with the next generation of golfers?

The harder you practice, the luckier you get.

Any big plans for the milestone birthday in November?

I plan to celebrate with family and close friends in South Africa.

It’s great to see you so active on Twitter, congratulating the weekly winners on the various tours. Why do you feel that it is important to do this?

I like to stay involved in the golfing world. It’s fun to congratulate all the winners that are working so hard to reach their goals. Something I will always remember is when I first spoke to Ben Hogan. He said few words, but they meant so much and encouraged me.

You are very dedicated to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so can you provide an insight into your daily exercise routine?

When I am not traveling, I work out four or five times per week. I make sure to stretch my legs, back, arms and neck. I do 1,000 crunches (the last set with extra weight), squats, several core exercises, weighted wrist roles, leg presses and sprints on the treadmill. I also make sure to fuel my body with proper food and hydration.

Finally, it’s a question that is asked to most golfers and your name pops up on many occasions; what would be your dream four ball?

Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Mother Theresa and the late Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew.

This article originally appeared on the Official Presidents Cup website

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HONG KONG GOLFERS UPSET OVER NEW GOLF CART DRIVER’S LICENSE MANDATE

Oct 1, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Starting Thursday, all golfers in Hong Kong must have a driver’s license to use a golf cart—and that rule includes the city’s only public course.

While not unusual in the United States, the rule is especially maddening in Hong Kong—a city of more than 7 million people—where only about one-third of the population old enough for a driver’s license owns one, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

A course called Kau Sai Chau on an island of the same name off the coast of Hong Kong is one of those affected. Of the island’s three courses, the East course already requires golfers to use carts because of its severe elevation changes, steep inclines and general danger on foot, but did not previously require driver’s licenses.

The mandate is part of a larger regulation by the Hong Kong Transport Department to require all golfers at Hong Kong courses to show proof of a driver’s license before operating a cart, and it will go into effect at private courses as well. According to the Wall Street Journal, this followed a 2013 incident in which a maintenance worker at Kau Sai Chau died when a utility vehicle overturned.

The rule requires golfers to have a local driver’s license in order to operate a cart, meaning foreign visitors of any kind will have to walk—or get a local driver’s license just to play golf with a cart.

Gary Player, who designed two of the courses on the island, suggested a cart-operation test in an email to the Wall Street Journal, writing, “There are many accidents worldwide on golf carts and many players have no experience at all.” He called the current mandate “unusual.”

East course designer Brett Mogg referred to the measure as “extreme” because of the low number of Hong Kong residents with driver’s licenses.

Recently, a 19-year-old college student Ben Suen was playing golf at Kau Sai Chau’s East course and found out first-hand why carts are required. During a recent round his cart suddenly rolled away, without him in it, and crashed into the brush. It was later retrieved by a tow cart. “It wasn’t because I don’t have a license,” Mr. Suen told the WSJ. “People with licenses can have accidents. It’s about being careful.”

Article courtesy of Branden Mohler of Golf.com

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GARY PLAYER SELECTED FOR FIRST DESIGN PROJECT IN VIETNAM

Sep 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player Design announced today that their growing golf course portfolio will expand for the first time into Vietnam, with the Cau Duong development near Hanoi.

The focus of the new course construction in the Far East has shifted to Vietnam, as its government has established an environment conducive to golf centered real estate development and tourism. It is an ideal scenario for the Black Knight to design championship courses in a golf hungry nation. Golf is now more than ever a global sport, and the Asian community has embraced this as many players from the surrounding areas are having great professional success. The 12-person International Presidents Cup team boasts five Asian players in this year’s competition.

The Cau Duong development will feature a Player Design golf course, which will be one of three courses to be built on 275 hectares. Nick Faldo and IMG Design will each design 18 holes to complete the 54 hole complex. The Player Design will be isolated near the Red River, with a dedicated clubhouse and exclusive setting.

“We are just starting the design process, but I envision a links-style course that exceeds 7500 yards and uses the river as a key feature,” said Gary Player Senior Designer Steven McFarlane.  “We also look forward to an environmentally friendly approach, taking advantage of natural vegetation and other existing opportunities on site.”

“It is always exciting to design a course in a new and unique setting,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. “We take Gary Player’s lead in our motivation to help make golf a global game. Through designing courses in parts of the world like Vietnam, we will build on Asia’s success thus far.”

The private real estate firm, Vingroup, will lead the development of Cau Duong. Vingroup has become a leader in Vietnam’s tourism industry featuring golf courses, international luxury hotels, resorts, beach villas and amusement parks.

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REMEMBERING THE GREATEST TIE IN GOLF’S HISTORY

Sep 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

In any sport, leading a team of the best players in the world is an unbelievable experience. I was fortunate enough and honored to be selected as Captain of the Presidents Cup for the International Team in 2003, 2005 and 2007. One of my fondest memories comes from the 2003 tournament at The Links Course at Fancourt when the two teams ended play in a tie. It was one of the most significant moments in the history of professional golf.

I chose Ernie Els to battle against Tiger Woods in a sudden-death playoff. I believe they were ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the world at the time. They tied the first hole. On the second hole, Ernie had a fantastic approach shot and we had a surefire chance to win. But Tiger sank one of the most difficult 20-foot putts I have ever seen in competition.

After the third playoff hole it was too dark to play, and we were still tied. So, Jack Nicklaus (the American Captain) and I decided that because it was such a close and exciting Presidents Cup and both teams and the galleries had been so fair to everyone - unlike during the Ryder Cup - we had to call it a tie. It was the best thing we ever did for an international competition. I remember Jack even said it was the greatest golfing week of his life. That amazed me. It was high up there for me, too. That week was so special. President Nelson Mandela was there, President Bush Sr. was there, President Mbeki was there, and many dignitaries from around the world witnessed this wonderful display of golf and sportsmanship. Being part of that moment was incredible.

I was so thrilled that Nick Price was chosen as this year’s International Captain. I cannot think of a nicer man and fierce competitor to lead the International Team.

The system of matching your players is far superior in the Presidents Cup compared to other competitions (one captain matching the one player against another). For example, in the 2003 singles match Ernie Els was against Tiger Woods, which the public wanted to see. Whereas in other competitions they hand in the teams anonymously, and Tiger could be playing the weakest player on the other team. That is not as exciting as if he were playing against the best. The galleries want to see the best against the best. That makes the captain’s role vital in the Presidents Cup. It takes some skill in regards to matching players against the other team. That’s half the excitement.

My fellow South Africans Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel have been playing excellent golf lately. Having three South Africans on the team speaks to the quality of player we produce from such a small country.

On paper, the International Teams have been as good as the Americans. The long and short of it is they just have not played well enough to win. My advice to the team is to PLAY BETTER. The potential is there. Like in the Ryder Cup, which the Americans have not won in years, it is not about a lack of talent. The other teams have just played better. It’s quite simple.

I will say that it is about time the International Team wins the Presidents Cup. From Jason Day to Hideki Matsuyama to Anirban Lahiri they have so many talented players. It will be very entertaining to watch Jason go head-to-head against Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler. The galleries and television audience are in for a real treat.

This article originally appeared in Golf E Turismo
Pictures from Getty Images

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GARY PLAYER CLASSIC HOSTS TOP AMATEURS IN AUSTRALIA

Sep 25, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Winning a record seven Australian Open titles, global golf icon Gary Player’s name is entrenched in the land down under. One such example is the Gary Player Classic, which was held this week for its 44th year at Pacific Golf Club in Queensland and is one of the longest running junior tournaments in the country.

The annual event sponsored by the South African Grand Slam champion has brought many amateurs closer to their professional dreams and launched the careers for many past champions including current world No. 1 Jason Day, and Major champions Adam Scott, Ian Baker-Finch and Greg Norman.

Day claimed three Gary Player Classic titles as he won the Under 15 division in 2002, and 16-17 division in both 2004 and 2005.

“It is very special that this tournament has had continued success in its more than 40-year history,” said Gary Player. “This country has so much golf talent, you never know where or when we might fight the next Jason Day. My very best to everyone that competed this week.”

Blake Proverbs, Charles Pilon and Jediah Morgan won their respective age divisions of the Gary Player Classic.

The Under 15 division was dominated by Jediah Morgan (Hattonvale Golf Club) over three rounds. After a promising 4-under-par 68, he followed with rounds of 76, 74, and 78 which was enough for a comfortable six shot victory over state team member Louis Dobbelaar (Royal Queensland). The 72-hole Nett winner was Hyin Ho Cho with 309 (Sanctuary Cove).

The 16-17 years division was won by Charles Pilon (Hills) with Steven Cox (Wantima) firing back in the last round but unable to bridge the gap. Pilon held a strong lead throughout the tournament with rounds of 69, 70, and 72 despite finishing with a shaky 76 (287). Cox fought back on the final day with 69 to be the eventual runner-up, finishing the tournament with 290. The 72-hole Nett winner was Riley Todd (Burleigh) with 285.

The final hole proved to be the decider in the 18-20 years division with a close battle between local hope Blake Proverbs (Pacific) and last year’s winner Daniel Gale (Castle Hill).  After a fierce battle, Proverbs was able to secure the win with par on the 18th, while Gale finished with a bogey. Proverbs returned scores of 71, 72, 71 and 72 to finish 287, nine shots clear of third. The 72-hole Nett winner was Jordan McDonald (Pelican Waters) with 298.

Each divisional winner and runner-up took home a high-class Adina timepiece, proudly donated by long-term sponsor Bob Menzies from Adina Watches.

The Gary Player Classic was open to all male amateur golfers who are less than 21 and have an Australian handicap. They must also be members of a golf club affiliated through their District Golf Association.

Information and picture courtesy of golfqueensland.org

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BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL CONFIRMS CELEBRITIES, GOLFERS AND ATHLETES FOR NEW YORK EVENT

Sep 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Black Knight International and title sponsor Berenberg have announced the spectacular line-up celebrating the Union of Golf and Giving at the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational on October 11 and 12, 2015, at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford, New York.

The all-star field includes the only golfer in history to have been awarded Player of the Year on all three PGA Tours, Tom Lehman; 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner; and ninety-time international tournament winner and LPGA legend with the most wins to her name, Annika Sorenstam.

Recent World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Mark O’Meara; 1987 Masters Champion Larry Mize, six-time PGA Tour winner and PGA Champion, Jeff Sluman; and Hunter Mahan, two-time World Golf Championships event winner will also join the event.

In addition, Kira Kazantsev, the newly crowned Miss America 2015 will be participating alongside other top players from the PGA, LPGA and Champions tours include: Tony Finau, Alison Walshe, Retief Goosen, Natalie Gulbis, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Rich Beem, Dottie Pepper, Ian Woosnam, Emma Cabrera-Bello, Brooke Henderson, Danielle Montgomery, Paige MacKenzie, Kristy McPherson, Brittany Henderson and Amanda Blumenherst.

“We are thrilled to see such a tremendous support for our upcoming event at GlenArbor and look forward to a fun couple of days with our friends from the golf, sport and entertainment worlds,” said Gary Player. “I’m delighted that each of these individuals are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to raise money for The Player Foundation.”

The Gary Player Invitational, sponsored by Berenberg, the German private and investment bank that was founded in 1590, 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.

BGPI 2015 Participants

1. Gary Player
2. Tom Lehman
3. Mark O’Meara
4. Larry Mize
5. Jeff Sluman
6. Brittany Henderson
7. Hunter Mahan
8. Jason Dufner
9. Chi Chi Rodriguez
10. Rich Beem
11. Ian Woosnam
12. Annika Sorenstam
13. Dottie Pepper
14. Natalie Gulbis
15. Amanda Blumenherst
16. Emma Cabrera-Bello
17. Brooke Henderson
18. Kira Kazantsev
19. Paige MacKenzie
20. Danielle Montgomery
21. Retief Goosen
22. Tony Finau
23. Alison Walshe
24. Kristy McPherson

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A GRAND SLAM PARTNERSHIP OF GOLF AND GIVING

Sep 21, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola will celebrate its 12th consecutive year when the two iconic global brands join together this November in Sun City, South Africa.

The Pro-Am golf series is recognised as the premier charity tournament in the country, having helped The Player Foundation raise more than R800 million for underprivileged children.

This year takes on even greater significance with the golf world celebrating the 50th anniversary of Player’s career Grand Slam achievement. When he won the 1965 U.S. Open at the age of 29, Player became only the third winner of golf’s Grand Slam. He remains the only non-American, and one of five golfers in history, to have accomplished this feat.

It was also in 1965 when Player and Coca-Cola first joined forces in a relationship that remains strong to this day.

“Coca-Cola have been wonderful partners and have always been committed to the work of The Player Foundation and the Gary Player Invitational series,” says Player. “It’s only when you have a partner who is so closely aligned to your own vision that you can truly make a difference, and Coca-Cola has always shared this vision of creating a sustainable future for our communities.”

The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola directly supports this goal by naming Wildlands, which promotes environmental sustainability in rural communities through an incentivized tree-growing programme, in partnership with Qhubeka and Wings and Wishes, an organization that helps transport critically ill children for treatment, as the official charities of the South African tournament. And it relies heavily on the international brand of Player, who is recognised as much for his outstanding golf career as for the humanitarian efforts that have earned him the title of “Golf’s Global Ambassador.”

Coca-Cola’s ‘Me, We, World’ sustainability framework follows a similar formula for success, taking the strength of a global brand to build stronger communities and promote environmental sustainability. The company supports initiatives such as the Gary Player Invitational series, which promotes active and healthy living in the communities where it operates. At least 1 percent of Coca-Cola’s annual global operating income is invested back into local communities. And goals of reducing 25 percent of its carbon footprint as well as improving water efficiency by 25 percent by 2020 remain at the core of this framework.

“As a company we are humbled by the expectations upon us to play an important role in the development of communities through innovative sustainability projects” says Therese Gearhart, President of the Southern Africa Business Unit and a strong supporter of the Gary Player Invitational series.

“We do not take this responsibility lightly. We are very proud of the fact that these projects make a real contribution to the lives of the people within the communities we serve.”
South Africa is a success story in itself.

“We are very focused on improving access to health care, water and sanitation to needy schools and communities, and empowering women to take better care of their families. We believe that having healthy, thriving communities is the foundation of any sustainable business,”

“We are always proud to be associated with this ‘Union of Golf and Giving,’ and projects where we can help communities in remote villages and townships thrive by enabling them to earn a living collecting recyclable waste and by growing trees. Recycling is a vital part of a sustainable future for all of us.”

Player’s own vision began with a school on his farm and led to a global fundraising drive. For this reason, it’s easy to see why Player and Coca-Cola have excelled in a shared commitment to “Golf and Giving.” This partnership began in 1965 when Player made history, and it continues to this day as Player hopes to shape his legacy.

“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? 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. And I’ve been blessed to have the support of companies such as Coca-Cola to help make this possible.”

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational series, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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WGHOF TO CREATE EDUCATIONAL GOLF EXHIBIT IN SUPPORT OF GAME’S RETURN TO OLYMPICS

Sep 14, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

In anticipation of golf’s long-awaited return to the Olympics, leaders from the golf world came together to create “SWING!”, an educational golf exhibit set to be displayed in the fan zone at the golf venue during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, August 6-21.

Before its transport to Rio, the exhibit will first be displayed in the Olympic Museum from December 9, 2015 to January 31, 2016 in Lausanne (Switzerland).

Under the guidance of the International Golf Federation, the World Golf Hall of Fame led a collaborative effort with its partner organizations, the British Golf Museum, USGA Museum and Golf Canada to conceive an easy-to-understand exhibition for fans at the Olympics.

SWING! is segmented into six “holes,” each offering a theme around the game: “Golf Today,” “Equipment,” “The Game,” “Emblematic Courses Worldwide,” “Golf and its Champions,” “Golf & the Olympics.”

Spanning nearly 1,000 square feet, the exhibition shares its stories of the game through video, graphics and text panels as well as with golf clubs, balls and unique artifacts.

“The creation and subsequent promotion of this exhibition is a boost for golf,” said World Golf Hall of Fame President Jack Peter. “Golf’s return to the Olympics is historic and we believe it is our responsibility to help educate those who are new to the game, its rules, the equipment and the game’s icons. With the help of our partners, we are confident that our exhibit will enable fans to interact and better understand the game in advance of next summer’s Games in Rio de Janeiro.”

Upon commencement of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, it will mark the first time golf has been included in the program since 1904.

For more photos about the exhibition, click here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/127066117@N02/sets/72157657803707522

Article courtesy of WGHOF
Pictures courtesy of The Olympic Museum

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PLAYER SET FOR “GRAND SLAM GIVING” AT THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

Sep 11, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player will crown a remarkable year of major milestones when he returns home to host the South African leg of his global charity series, the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, at The Lost City Golf Club at Sun City from 12-15 November.

This promises to be the most emotional of his Gary Player Invitational tournaments, which are also played in the United States, China, Europe, India and the United Arab Emirates, as the ultimate expression of the “Union of Golf and Giving” that has helped The Player Foundation raise more than R800 million for children’s charities around the world since 1983.

This year will embrace a historic time for Player, as he celebrates his 80th birthday as well as the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam. Player is still the only non-American to have achieved this feat in a select group of only five golfers throughout history. The Black Knight was also recently named the captain of South Africa’s inaugural Olympic golf team for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Player’s Grand Slam achievement has been celebrated throughout the world of golf this year, including a special Sunshine Tour tribute at Soweto Country Club with a community of golfers with whom he has always shared a close bond.

“Gary Player is an icon of world sport, not only golf. He has been one of South Africa’s greatest sporting ambassadors 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.

With another world-class field of professional golfers, celebrities and business executives set to gather for this year’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, Player said he is looking forward to continuing the success of the other global tournaments in the series with an equally memorable South African event.

“This has been such a special year and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than in South Africa and with our friends and sponsors who continue to help us make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children,” said Gary Player.

“Every year we are blown away by the generosity of the people involved in our tournament, from the professional golfers, celebrities and business executives who compete, to those who give so graciously to help our fundraising efforts. Last year was another record year in our fundraising, and I’m looking forward to another memorable tournament this year,” said Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International and the founder of the GPI series.

The 2014 Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola raised more than R3.5 million for the two official charities, the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka and Wings and Wishes. And it was made even more memorable by the fact that Player led his own team to victory for the first time in the 15-year history of this tournament.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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LAHIRI, JAIDEE PROOF GAME IS INTERNATIONAL

Sep 8, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Anirban Lahiri and Thongchai Jaidee hope their milestones as the first golfers from India and Thailand to be picked for the Presidents Cup inspire kids in their countries.

They qualified on their world rankings, making the top 10 automatically on the International team.

Lahiri, who tied for fifth at the U.S. PGA Championship, was ranked 40th, and Thongchai 44th.

Thongchai, the playing captain for Team Asia in a 10-10 draw with Team Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup last year, was looking forward to their participation in the tournament in Incheon, South Korea, next month boosting golf’s popularity in Asia.

“It can help the other young Asian players,” he said. “When they see that I can get into the team, then they, too, will aim for it.”

Golf news is generally buried in the Indian media, unless it’s a home event or an Indian does well. Only in recent years have the majors received prominent attention.

Lahiri said he grew up watching team events such as the Ryder Cup, and was thankful he had something like the Presidents Cup to aim for.

“It’ll be a massive boost for golf in the region,” Lahiri said. “You get so many eyeballs, and everybody in America will be watching.

“To be a part of something historic like that is extremely special. All I want to do is make sure that I get a point for the International team.”

Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han said he was delighted with Lahiri and Thongchai.

“We expect them to contribute immensely toward the International team’s attempt to regain the Presidents Cup, but ultimately, their presence will boost the development of the game across Asia,” he said. “Young golfers will have another reason to aspire for the top, and with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama also in the team, it proves that Asian golf has grown in stature and strength.”


This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
Pictures courtesy of AFP & Callaway

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PITCH & PUTT NOT DITCH & SHUT!

Sep 4, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Foot Golf, Slam Golf, Power Play Golf, Disc Golf, Speed Golf – we’ve had the bloody lot in recent years. People trying to ‘make golf more interesting’. All very commendable, and some shrewdsters may even be making money out of it, but it’s a total waste of time. It’s not golf is it? The answer has been staring us all in the face all this time.

So, GolfPunk’s campaign to ‘Save Our Golf’, starts with the humblest, yet most important ‘proper’ golfing experience we have: The glorious, timeless, wonderful game of Pitch & Putt…

11.37am, July 23rd, 1972, Shanklin Pitch & Putt Course.

Hole three, 87 yards.

An eight year old GolfPunk stands on the tee on the third hole during his first ever taste of the great game. He was already convinced that golf was the most difficult thing he had ever tried to do. Furthermore, it wasn’t nearly as much fun as people made it look.Pitch & Putt NOT Ditch & Shut!

Then the young GolfPunk swung his sawn-off 9-iron he’d been given at the kiosk, and something magical happened. The ball flew out of the screws, high into the air and sailed majestically towards the green. “Good shot!” said his Dad. It was a good shot. It landed on the green and rolled to within five feet of the pin.

The look on the young GolfPunk’s face was a picture – somewhere between shock, awe and ecstasy. The result was the triggering of a thought process we’ve all experienced. First: Golf really isn’t that difficult after all. Second: I should do everyone a favour and turn pro at the earliest opportunity.

Crucially, this first experience of golf didn’t happen at some blazered country club. It happened at a pitch & putt course. When his Dad and he picked up their clubs from the kiosk and paid the green fee, they weren’t presented with a comprehensive list of all the things they couldn’t do. They were simply thanked for the custom and advised to have a great time. Have fun.Pitch & Putt NOT Ditch & Shut!

So they went off and had fun. No one ever forgets their first properly good golf shot.It stays with you forever. And – no matter what heights you reach in the game, no matter how many birdies or eagles you make, no matter how many chip ins you get – from that point onwards you’re chasing ‘that feeling’. I recently had my first hole in one. It was at Princes and I was with five pals, all of whom saw it and shared the same berserk celebrations. It was mad. It was fantastic. But it wasn’t as good as the first time I hit a proper good golf shot at Shanklin Pitch & Putt golf course.Pitch & Putt NOT Ditch & Shut!

Golf clubs, for a mildly nervous eight year old, were daunting places back in 1972. They probably still are for a mildly nervous eight year old. They’re pretty off-putting to a seasoned 42 year old. Drive into most golf clubs and you’ll be confronted with: ‘Don’t do this and don’t do that’. And then give us all your money. What a bunch of arse.

So pitch & putt courses remain the very life blood of the game. Every governing body from the R&A to the USGA claim their brief is to ‘grow the game’ (whatever that means). But I’ve never heard a peep out of any of these guys about pitch & putt. Most pitch & putt courses are council run. My local pitch & putt course at Beechurst in Haywards Heath, was closed down two years ago on account of the fact that the council deemed it ‘not cost effective’ to employ a student on minimum wage sit in a wooden hut and dispense and collect golf clubs through the summer months.

They had different plans for our nine hole pitch & putt course. They were on a mission to replace it with a much more cost effective ‘natural meadow’. Because, in Haywards Heath (a country town surrounded by countryside), we were bang in trouble for a natural meadow.

In an age where we’re told that childhood obesity is a curse it seems crazy that an entry level sport like pitch and putts be denied to those who may not be natural athletes playing for the school first teams. Pitch & Putt allows kids and adults to ‘have a go at golf’. Unlike the plethora of reactant golf related alternatives (foot golf etc), there is no gimmick with pitch and putt. You don’t need to kick things or throw things, or do it as fast as you can. You just play golf. On a pitch and putt course. No pressure. Just step up and have a go, you’ll most likely want to come back and have another go.

How much lottery money has gone into pitch & putt courses? We don’t know. We ARE going to find out but we’re guessing zero. The Olympic legacy’s aim was to get Britain exercising/playing sport. Well, pitch and putt ticks all the boxes. Next year golf is in the Olympics for the first time in decades. It’s a great chance for the world to check out the great game and have a go.

There is a fantastic short course at Trevose in Cornwall. It’s role is to give beginners the perfect intro to golf. The holes range from between 80-200 yards long but most are par fours, meaning that a young shaver who advances his or her ball 70-100 yards with a good hit, is playing the equivalent of a grown up par four. Let’s get a ton of these courses made. Let’s make golf properly accessible.

Jack Nicklaus has hailed pitch & putt as ‘the most wonderful way to introduce people to playing golf’. He should know what he’s talking about.

SO

Do you have a similar story from where you live? Get involved. Join our campaign - make a comment below and let’s start making a difference.

Keep yourselves nice.

http://www.golfpunkhq.com

Article and pictures courtesy of Golf Punk and Tim Southwell

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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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