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THE PLAYER FOUNDATION TO RECEIVE WINNIE PALMER AWARD
Mar 27, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
The Player Foundation and World Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player will receive the Winnie Palmer Award from the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at the 64th National Awards Dinner on Tuesday, June 9 at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown, New York.
Established by Marc Player in 1983, The Player Foundation has provided quality education, nutrition, medical care and extra-curricular activities for underprivileged children around the globe. Today, through the Gary Player Invitational charity series in the U.S., Asia, Europe and South Africa, the foundation has raised more than $60 million for these important causes. This year’s global series will be played at the Wentworth Club near London, GlenArbor Golf Club outside New York, Shanghai Links Golf and Country Club in China, The Lost City Golf Course in Sun City and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu-Dhabi.
The Winnie Palmer Award acknowledges an individual who consistently gives their time, energy and enthusiasm to those less fortunate. The Award is named in honor of Winnie Palmer, who devoted much of her life to charity work for literacy programs and health care.
Past recipients include Barbara Nicklaus, Dolores Hope, Vivienne Player, Betsy King, Peggy Kirk Bell, and Ernie Els. Created by the Met Golf Writers Association in 2000, the Winnie Palmer Award has been sponsored by Rolex Watch USA since its inception.
Each year, Black Knight International, in conjunction with The Player Foundation, manages and runs a series of prestigious golf events which raises more than one million dollars annually.
“What the Gary Player family and their entire company has done for others is remarkable,” MGWA President Bruce Beck said. “The Player Foundation provides hope, just like Winnie Palmer did for so long.”
Other MGWA award winners Nick Price (Gold Tee Award) and Ron Sirak (Werden Golf Journalism Award) will join Player on June 9. Additional MGWA award recipients will be announced in the coming weeks.
Since 1952, the MGWA has recognized the game’s greatest players, contributors, and organizations at its National Awards Dinner – the longest running and often the largest golf dinner in the U.S. each year.
A special video celebrates the six decades of the MGWA National Awards Dinner. https://vimeo.com/63849701
MGWA member Jim Nantz says, “There is no dinner in America that celebrates golf like this one.”
Article courtesy of Metropolitan Golf Writers Association
GOLF ICON GARY PLAYER OPENS HIS FIRST SIGNATURE DESIGNED COURSE FOR DLF IN INDIA
Mar 27, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
Gary Player hosted an intimate group of guests on March 27 and 28 during the unveiling of his new Signature course at DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon, India, near New Delhi.
The 18-hole Signature course by Gary Player Design will open in the coming weeks for all to enjoy, and is sure to leave an unforgettable impression on members and guests from around the world. The prominent design firm continues to develop its rapidly growing portfolio in one of the most populated areas of the world.
“I have enjoyed my “second” career creating courses in new and interesting lands, and India really stands out as a fascinating place to visit,” said Gary Player. “I am very proud of this course, which will truly stand beside any in the world. It is important that I thank the Singh family for their unwavering commitment to quality.”
The Black Knight traveled to DLF Golf and Country Club with his design team and a few friends for the official opening. Player toured the course on Friday, and will play a round with guests from DLF before a gala and dinner on Saturday night.
As the country’s leading real estate developer, DLF showcases the terrific results of their dedication and commitment to excellence in all aspects of the new course. This assurance of superior work can be directly related to DLF’s abundant success in urban residential development.
“We are lucky to have a fantastic partnership with the country’s leading real estate developer, in DLF,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. “Throughout the process they have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to building a world-class golf course in an environmentally friendly fashion.”
The design concept showcases varying features that will add to the character of the golf course. Dramatic land forms, rock quarries, a large lake and extensive landscaping have made the course into a remarkable golfing experience. Gary Player Design’s longstanding policy of a sustainable environmental approach is found throughout the course. Geo-textile bunkers were utilized to reduce maintenance cost, thousands of indigenous trees were planted to reduce the overall carbon footprint, and irrigation needs are provided from a lake fed with recycled and treated water.
“This course is designed to not only create a fun and enjoyable golf outing for the members of DLF Golf and Country Club, but also to host championship events,” said Jeff Lawrence, Senior Designer. “One of our top priorities was to make sure all skill levels can have a pleasant and entertaining experience.”
With more than 20 ongoing projects throughout Asia, Gary Player is certainly making his presence felt in this emerging golf market. Player’s visit to India will be just one of many to the region in the future.
PLAYER VISIT TO WGHOF IS GRAND SLAM SUCCESS
Mar 26, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum, located at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida, opened the “Gary Player: Grand Slam Success” exhibition on February 27, 2015.
The Gary Player exhibition features images and memorabilia from Player’s lifetime as the most successful international golfer of all time, including all four Major championship trophies and his Green Jacket from The Masters Tournament. Displays also pay tribute to his global adventures, the important role his family played in his career, and his life-long commitment to fitness.
Player, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame’s inaugural class of 1974, was in attendance. Throughout the day, Player toured the facility, signed autographs and took pictures with fans, participated in media interviews, cut the ribbon to his exhibit (pictured right), and entertained a packed house at the Opening Ceremony later that night. It was a full day of fanfare for the Black Knight, but his energy was never ending.
“I am so happy to be at golf’s Hall of Fame surrounded by all of the rich history, from Bobby Jones to Tiger Woods,” said Player. “The team here has done a remarkable job of making the history of this great game come to life.”
The exhibition is dedicated to the prolific career and achievements of one of the best players who ever lived. Player, a true golf legend affectionately known as “The Black Knight,” amassed 165 global wins during a remarkable period spanning more than five decades. His victories occurred in 21 countries on six continents. He won nine Majors on the PGA Tour and nine Majors on the Senior Tour.
Player reminisced about his accomplishments with Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. “Gary has played such an integral role in globalizing the game of golf,” Peter said, “and the values he represents are what makes the Hall of Fame so proud to be able to call him our Global Ambassador. We are thrilled to be able to open this exhibition which celebrates not only Gary’s tremendous success on the course, but also shares with guests the impact he has had off the course too, through his commitment to education, family, charity and fitness.”
The pinnacle of the Black Knight’s playing career came with a victory in the 1965 United States Open when he clinched the career Grand Slam – a feat, at the time, only achieved by Hall of Fame members Gene Sarazen (1935) and Ben Hogan (1953). Since that time, only Jack Nicklaus (1966) and Tiger Woods (2000) have won all four Major championships in their careers. Even more, Player is the only golfer in history to complete the career Grand Slam on the Senior Tour.
In addition to admiring Player’s memorabilia, guests also have an opportunity to utilize a state of the art golf simulator. They are able to play many of the same courses where Player captured victories during his illustrious career. The exhibition will be on display through 2015.
GARY PLAYER DESIGN’S MOUNTAIN PARK COURSE DEBUTS IN BEST 100 MODERN COURSES
Mar 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
Golfweek’s March issue hit the shelves yesterday honoring The Cliffs at Mountain Park as a Top 100 Modern Course in America.
The golf course made the cut into Golfweek’s sought-after Best 100 Modern Courses in America, and is its most impressive accolade to date. Golfweek’s team of raters placed the Gary Player Signature designed private course in the magazine, released for 2015, alongside the finest in the country. This is the first time any of The Cliffs’ seven championship golf courses have broken through the Top 100.
“The location offered a unique opportunity to create a special course,” said Gary Player. “The design of Mountain Park will offer a wide variety of playing scenarios which provides diversity and interest. By keeping an open mind to the playable characteristics of Mountain Park, you will fully enjoy a new golf experience.”
The design team opted to route the course on the lowest-lying ground straddling the water, instead of using the high road through the uplands overlooking the Saluda River valley. This allowed the river to be used as a strategic element throughout the course while placing the holes on the ground along the flood plain. Each nine starts on wide-open terrain, then goes though narrower ground before opening again.
“Knowing the golf course began as a flat piece of ground, our vision was to enhance the existing topography to produce a low profile, traditional style golf course,” said Senior Designer, Jeff Lawrence. “Random shaping, unique bunkering, strategic value and a traditional look are the key elements and visual strengths of the golf course. The contrast between the white bunker sand, dark green fairways and tan colored native grasses is undoubtedly visually dramatic.”
The Cliffs at Mountain Park has wide fairways, playable native areas, large gently contoured greens and generous collection areas. The intention of playing fast and firm will be accentuated by keeping all playable areas cut as fairway (except tees and greens), thus allowing playing options that will create a fun aspect to Mountain Park. Players must think their way around the golf course, not just get up and rip it. Exceptional green-to-tee connections and gentle contouring encourages walking, so players can embrace the opportunity and enjoy the golf via a walking experience.
The Cliffs at Mountain Park has continued to accumulated accolades since its opening in 2013. GOLF Magazine and Golf Digest gave Mountain Park the honor as one of the Best New Courses of 2013 and 2014. Golfweek recognized the course among the Top 100 Residential Courses of 2015. And since 2013, it has been recognized by the South Carolina Golf Panel as one of the top courses in the state.
TSHWANE OPEN FINAL WRAP
Mar 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
There was no panic, no impatience, just a steely determination to stick to the game plan as George Coetzee chased a birdie on the closing holes to win the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on Sunday.
Fellow South African Jacques Blaauw had earlier blazed his way to a nine-under-par 61 that featured four successive birdies from the sixth hole and two-in-a-row to finish, to post the number – 13-under-par – that Coetzee had to beat.
But Coetzee, having started playing golf at Pretoria Country Club and winning his first tournament there when he was 10, knows all the secrets of the Waterkloof parklands course and he knew patience and sticking to his game plan would eventually pay dividends.
He systematically went through the first five holes in par and then claimed his first birdie at the par-four sixth after a monster drive to just in front of the green. Writing three successive birdies on his card from the eighth hole allowed the 28-year-old to catch Blaauw on 13-under. Then it was just a matter of waiting for one more birdie; it eventually came on the penultimate hole, by which time a lesser golfer may have become impatient.
“I’ve played those first three holes a thousand times and they’re probably the trickiest on the course, and then the fourth they made a par-four this week. So that’s not where I wanted to make my charge, it’s easy to drop shots there, but I knew when I stepped on to the sixth tee that it was time,” Coetzee said.
“Jacques put me under a lot of pressure and there were other guys racing out of the blocks as well. But I had a good game plan mentally and it was just a matter of playing my game and waiting for my birdies to come. Towards the end, I was waiting for 17, which is usually a birdie chance, and the 65 I shot today was the round I’ve been looking to play, it was controlled and how I wanted the day to play out,” Coetzee said.
Coetzee had started the day tied for the lead with five other golfers – fellow South Africans Trevor Fisher Junior and Wallie Coetsee, Englishman David Horsey, Scotland’s Craig Lee and Spaniard Adrian Otaegui.
But it all turned sour for those contenders, none of them being able to break par.
Although Coetzee said before the tournament that the 6459-metre course redesigned by Gary Player in 2004 was not exactly up his street, his delight at winning his second European Tour title at his home club was obvious.
“I loved the fans, when I was growing up you dream about playing in front of galleries like that and the crowd just seemed to get bigger and bigger. There were hundreds of people following our group and I recognised a lot of them. I never thought, as a kid, that I’d be playing a European Tour event at my home club, so it’s unreal to win here,” Coetzee said.
His previous European Tour title was won in Johannesburg 13 months ago, and he has four other Sunshine Tour wins. But this was achieved in different fashion and Coetzee was especially pleased with that.
“In the Joburg Open win, I was behind on the front nine and then ahead on the back nine, so it went from being aggressive to being conservative. Today I had to mix aggression with cleverness and it was nice to make a birdie to win. Most of my previous wins have come from putting very well, but I’m very happy to have my ball-striking come through today. I’m loving my driver,” Coetzee said.
And with good reason because he hit 13 of 14 fairways off the tee in the final round and gave himself several looks at birdie on the back nine. But as the number of holes left diminished, so thoughts turned to whether Coetzee would finally make birdie or push too hard and end up dropping a shot.
Lee, playing in the final two-ball, was just one shot behind but he would drop a crucial shot on the 15th when his drive went too far right on to a bank, from where he had to lay up before the stream crossing the fairway and then missed a 10-foot putt for par.
That meant it was all up to Coetzee to overtake Blaauw.
His driver on 17 went off to the right, into some trees short of the bunkers guarding the green. But the benefits of playing on his home course once again came to the fore.
“It didn’t happen exactly how I wanted, but I know there are gaps between the bunkers there,” Coetzee said after he had played a lovely, delicate chip to within five feet of the hole to set up the birdie that won the Tshwane Open.
Article courtesy of The Citizen
GOLF-GOLDEN OLDIES TO PAY TRIBUTE TO NAGLE IN CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE
Mar 11, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
Organizers will stage a special Champions Challenge on the eve of this year’s British Open at St Andrews as a tribute to late Australian golfer Kel Nagle.
Nagle, who won the Centenary Open at the home of Golf in 1960, was the sport’s oldest surviving major champion until he died in January at the age of 94.
World number one Rory McIlroy is to join golden oldies Peter Thomson, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Bob Charles, Nick Faldo and Tony Jacklin in the four-hole challenge that will be held at the Old Course on July 15.
More recent champions like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington have also confirmed their participation.
“We are looking forward to a wonderful celebration of the rich heritage of The Open at the Champion Golfers’ Challenge,” Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said in a news release on Tuesday.
“It will be a fitting occasion to recognise the wonderful career of Kel Nagle, one of the sport’s great gentlemen.”
Article courtesy of Reuters.com
WESTIN SOMA BAY GOLF RESORT & SPA DUE FOR JULY 2015
Mar 5, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. has announced it will expand its portfolio in Egypt with the new Westin Soma Bay Golf Resort & Spa, marking the entry of the Westin brand to the Soma Bay peninsula, Red Sea and the first operating Westin Hotel in Egypt. The agreement with Cascades Hotel Company Soma Bay, marks the conversion of the existing La Residence Des Cascade to a Westin, anticipated to take place by July 2015.
Positioned on the highest point of the Soma Bay peninsula, the year-round resort destination in Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, the hotel sits at the centre of the 18-hole championship golf course designed by Gary Player, combining the best of links and desert courses.
The Westin Soma Bay will offer 210 beautifully-appointed guest rooms and 39 suites, all featuring the latest in-room technology as well as the renowned Westin Heavenly® Bed, Heavenly® Shower and exclusive White Tea Aloe bath amenities. The hotel will also offer seven restaurant venues, including an all-day dining restaurant, a café, a bar and a lounge. Adjacent to the resort is one of the largest and best equipped Spa and Thalasso centres in the world - The Cascades Spa & Thalasso Soma Bay.
“Westin is enjoying phenomenal global growth due to the success of its distinctive wellness positioning, innovative products and brand-led programs,” said Hassan Ahdab, Regional Vice President of Africa & Indian Ocean, Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
“We are excited to announce a second Westin hotel in Egypt this year and extend our collaboration with the Cascades Hotel Company Soma Bay by introducing the brand to the Red Sea in 2015.” Chairman of The Cascades Hotel Company Soma Bay, Samer Yaghnam stated: “We are pleased to be entering into this agreement with Starwood with whom we’ve had a long term successful relationship through the Sheraton Soma Bay. Bringing the high quality Westin brand to this area will further enhance Soma Bay’s position as the leading resort development on the Red Sea.” General Manager of Abu Soma Development Company, the master developer of Soma Bay, Ibrahim El Missiri stated: “This is the beginning of the new phase of development for Soma Bay, and I look forward to many more exciting announcements in Soma Bay in 2015.”
The company will re-open Sheraton Cairo Hotel & Casino in 2015 following an extensive and complete renovation. Starwood will also introduce a new luxury brand into the capital with The St. Regis Cairo in 2016.
WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM OPENS “GARY PLAYER: GRAND SLAM SUCCESS” EXHIBITION
Mar 4, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum has opened the “Gary Player: Grand Slam Success” exhibition – a display dedicated to the prolific career and achievements of one of the best players who ever lived.
Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, Player attended the grand opening and helped cut the ceremonial ribbon inside the exhibit.
A true golf legend affectionately known as “The Black Knight,” Player amassed 165 global wins over a remarkable period of five decades occurring in 21 countries on six continents. The pinnacle of his revered playing career came with a victory at the 1965 United States Open when he clinched the career Grand Slam – a feat, at the time, only achieved by fellow World Golf Hall of Fame members Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan.
Since that time, only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have won all four Major championships in their careers. Player also is the only person to completed the Grand Slam on the Champions Tour.
“Gary has played such an integral role in globalizing the game of golf and the values he represents are what makes the Hall of Fame so proud to be able to call him our Global Ambassador,” said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. “We are thrilled to be able to open this exhibition which celebrates not only Gary’s tremendous successes on the course, but also shares with guests the impact he has had off the course too, through his commitment to education, family, charity and fitness.”
Located on the second floor of the museum, The Gary Player exhibition features many of Player’s major championship trophies, along with his Green Jacket from the Masters Tournament and many other items from his illustrious career. Additionally, the gallery shares the story of Player’s global adventures, the important role his family played in his career, and his life-long commitment to fitness.
Guests will also have an opportunity to utilize the Hall of Fame’s new state of the art golf simulator within the exhibit, playing many of the same courses where Player captured victories during his career. The exhibition is also supported through unique video and photography.
The exhibition will be on display through 2015. For more information, including photos, about the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum and “Gary Player: Grand Slam Success” exhibit,” visit WorldGolfHallofFame.org.
Article courtesy of the World Golf Hall of Fame
Q&A: GARY PLAYER ON HIS NEW HOF EXHIBIT, MICKELSON’S GRAND SLAM CHANCES
Mar 4, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
The great Gary Player — nine-time major champion on the PGA Tour and nine-time major champion on the Champions Tour, global jet setter with 165 career wins, one of the Big Three with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer — will turn 80 in November, but he is not slowing down.
On February 27, the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum had its grand opening for the “Gary Player: Grand Slam Success” exhibition. The showcase displays several of Player’s major championship trophies, his Green Jackets, other items from his career and also tells the story of his global traveling, his family’s influence and his regimented fitness.
On the day of the opening, our Kevin Casey caught up with Player for a brief chat on his new exhibit, thoughts on the career Grand Slam, his Masters pick, and exactly how long this fitness buff feels he can stick around.
KC: Did you ever think you would have your own exhibit in the World Golf Hall of Fame?
GP: I was here from the very beginning when I saw them building the place. I’ve always been a great admirer of the Hall of Fame, because I saw how other sports like football and baseball getting their hall of fames done before us. I always knew we would have a hall of fame. I don’t know if I thought I would have an exhibit, but with my record, I thought there was no way they could leave me out of the Hall of Fame.
As for an exhibit of my own, I couldn’t envision at that stage, nobody could, what that would entail in the Hall of Fame. I am honored, and gratitude is a terribly important word in one’s life. I am grateful for it, I appreciate it and I’m a staunch supporter of the Hall of Fame, I represent them without payment.
And now to move it to Scotland this year is a brilliant move because now they will get all of this publicity in Europe and around the world. To take place at St. Andrews, the home of golf, and during the Open Championship, it’s one of the best moves they’ve ever made.
KC: Who do you credit with allowing you to have the career that afforded this exhibit?
GP: My father played a great role because he made sacrifices. He was a very poor man. He bought me my first set of Ryder Wilson clubs. He would watch me practice in the rain or heat. He would walk around and lie in the rain. He was a man of 6-foot-2 and he would be careful when I won big tournaments.
And then there’s my wife, who has made all of these unbelievable sacrifices. I would’ve never stayed married to me if I was a women. I was always going away, always traveling overseas. She had to travel with six children in an airplane without a jet. It took 14 hours with four stops. No, I wouldn’t have stayed married to me. So whatever she does wrong, I forgive her.
KC: You’re one of the five players to ever win the career Grand Slam, and at the moment, Phil Mickelson is trying to go for that, too. You had the same thing as him, needing the U.S. Open to finish it off. What do you think his state of mind is right now?
Gary Player completed the career “Grand Slam” in 1965 at the U.S. Open. He won nine major championships.
GP: I don’t know what his state of mind is. I think he’s a very positive person and I think if you said to me, “Who is the ideal man for a company who wants somebody to endorse my product?” I would immediately go to Phil Mickelson. He’s the role model for the pros on how to treat the press, how to treat the public, how to treat young people. He’s been the No. 1 man there.
Do I think he will win the Grand Slam? No. He’s been very unlucky. He’s aging. He’s at the age where you’re going to start to go, where’s it’s 1 percent or 2 percent. You can’t afford that against the young players that are playing.
And he doesn’t drive the ball straight enough. He’s not a good driver of the ball. I love his confidence in the fact that he thinks he drives it well, but I don’t think he drives the ball well enough. What chance he had was at Pinehurst this year. I thought he would win at Pinehurst, because they didn’t have any rough. I went to play there the week [before the event] and it was wide open and I thought he would win. But I don’t think he will win the Grand Slam, but I sincerely hope he does.
I think the next Grand Slam winner is Rory McIlroy. He’s a much better player than Mickelson now. He’s young. He’s won 3 of the 4, and I think he’ll win it this year. If not this year, he’s playing at a golf course every year that suits him. If Mickelson had to win the Grand Slam at Augusta, I would give him a great chance because you don’t have to drive the ball well there, but it’s the U.S. Open. Whereas Rory, the course suits him, he has a long, high draw and through all the problems he’s had, he’s remained confident. He’s a wonderful young man and he behaves beautifully. I think everything is ready for him. He has tremendous talent, and a phenomenal golf swing, and I think he’s ready to win.
KC: I was going to ask you about your Masters pick this year. I assume then it’s McIlroy?
GP: Yes, McIlroy or Jason Day. Day has got a swing very similar to Ben Hogan. And I thought Hogan, Bobby Jones or Sam Snead had the best swing ever. I just love the way Day and Rory swing. This young guy Spieth, he’s a great competitor. I think he has a little something wrong in his backswing in my opinion, but he can get away with it at Augusta. I think he’ll be tough to beat there.
KC: Your son Marc at one point said that you thought you would live forever. Maybe a bit tongue in cheek, but you do take your healthy very seriously. What age do you expect to or aspire to live to?
Gary Player was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
GP: That’s in God’s hands, and I’m a big believer in God. I’m near 80, and I think I am fitter than the average 40-year-old in America and I would beat the average 40-year-old in America in a fitness contest. I have a blood pressure of 110/70. I have a heart rate resting at 50. I still put the treadmill on maximum. I still push 300 pounds with my legs, and I do 1,300 crunches four times per week minimum.
All things being equal, barring a plane crash or car crash. I’ll come to your funeral, my buddy!
Article courtesy of spacetimeandi.com
GARY PLAYER IS STILL PERFECT FIT FOR GOLF
Feb 25, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
It was well beyond just a good day at Riviera on Thursday, and not just because the weather for the first round of the Northern Trust Open was Southern California perfect.
Gary Player was in the house.
There is nobody quite like him. Lunch with him is a four-course offering of golf, philosophy, passion and common sense. When they create the next one like him, they will need DNA from Tiger Woods, Billy Graham and Socrates.
South Africa remains his home, but Player still travels the world like he did when he was winning nine major titles. Also like he did when he added four more majors on the senior tour, making him the only one to complete Grand Slams on both tours.
Player is a jet-setting conglomerate. He makes appearances, advises businessmen, represents major golf companies such as Callaway and designs golf courses all over the world.
And he still plays. A lot.
“Seventy-five is a bad score for me,” he says. “I shoot my age almost every time out.”
He has earned the right to brag. He will be 80 in November.
The opinions intersect and intermingle with the wonderful stories and memories. The recent U.S. failures in the Ryder Cup converge easily with his first swing at St. Andrews in 1956.
“You know how the U.S. can win the Ryder Cup?” Player says. “Play better. Don’t make excuses. Just play better.
“They were going to form a committee to study what was wrong and try to fix it. A committee? Are you kidding? Just figure it out. They’re better, so you have to get better.”
He also says he heard a TV analyst talking about how difficult it is for U.S. players to play in Europe, that home advantage was worth two shots a player. Player debunks that with a snort, and it’s not hard to remember that, in the early 1970s, as a star athlete from apartheid South Africa, he was hardly made to feel at home on the road because of his country’s horrible racial policies.
People assumed that because Player was white he was a supporter of apartheid. They kicked his ball into the rough, threw ice in his face and yelled in his backswing, once on a 14-inch putt in the 1969 PGA championship that he missed by four inches in a tournament he lost by a stroke to Raymond Floyd.
“I’ve played in tournaments, like the Masters against Arnie,” he says, “where the only people rooting for me were my wife and my dog.”
His wife and dog were certainly pulling for him when Player stepped to the first tee for the first time at the sacred grounds of St. Andrews in Scotland in 1957. He was a 21-year-old, 5-foot-6 newcomer in his third major. The night before, he hadn’t had enough money to pay the 40 pounds for a hotel room, so he slept on the famous beach at St. Andrews, where they filmed “Chariots of Fire.”
“The first fairway is so wide a blind man couldn’t miss it,” Player says. “The starter is 6 foot 4, he looks down at me and says, ‘Play away, laddie.’
“I was so nervous, I yanked my drive so far left that it actually had a chance of going out of bounds until it hit the marker and bounced back into the fairway. The starter calls me over and says, ‘What’s your handicap, lad?’ I told him I was a pro. He looked at me and said, ‘You must be a hell of a chipper and putter.’ “
Player won the British Open at Muirfield in 1959, then returned to St. Andrews for the event the next year.
“The same starter is on the first tee,” Player says. “He takes one look at me and says, ‘It’s a bloody miracle.’ “
He is legendary for his fitness and work ethic. He holds out his hands and says, “These hands have hit more golf balls than any human on Earth.” He acknowledges that Vijay Singh might catch him, but figures Singh has many years to live before he does so.
Singh was among Thursday’s first-round leaders at five under par.
Player rises from his Caesar salad to punch himself in the stomach. Still rock hard.
He says he is proud of the fitness of most current players and says it certainly wasn’t so in his day.
“They’d laugh at me,” he says. “The only exercise they’d do is lift an olive into their glass.”
His prevailing theory is that there is much more to come from the game of pro golf.
“We haven’t scratched the surface of what’s going to happen,” he says. With nutrition and the good life, he says, there will soon be a “LeBron James-like” player who will “reach all the par-fives at Augusta National, except No. 8, with a driver and a wedge.”
He says that, in balancing the long hitters, players such as Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, “who are not good drivers,” have helped the game by showing it is possible to win with “good shots out of the rough from 100 yards.”
He says he will be at all four majors this year and will, once again, participate in the ceremonial first tee-off at the Masters with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
Is that all ceremony, or does a pilot light of competitiveness still flicker?
“I’ve increased the weight on my barbells,” he says, “and yesterday, I did 1,300 setups, with a 100-pound weight on my chest for the last 100.”
He sees Rory McIlroy and Jason Day as the future biggest stars of golf — “With Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas close behind.”
He tiptoes carefully on the Tiger Woods subject, as so many do, because the fall has been so startling.
“Golf needs him,” Player says. “But if you have the yips, you die with them.”
Article courtesy of the LA Times
GARY PLAYER AND RENOWNED PHOTOGRAPHER DAVID YARROW PARTNER FOR CHARITY
Feb 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
One of Africa’s favorite sons, Gary Player, has come together with celebrated UK photographer, David Yarrow, to produce a stunning package of African Wildlife fine art photographs. The limited edition collection will be auctioned off at Gary Player Invitational events around the globe in 2015 as a way to make a difference in the lives of others, while also creating a truly unique African bespoke offering.
The Gary Player African Conservation Portfolio will feature six limited edition prints from David’s acclaimed repertoire of work, including five iconic African wildlife shots chosen personally by Gary Player. The five revered African animals making up the set will include the lion, elephant, giraffe, hippopotamus and rhinoceros.
“David Yarrow has proven to be a master at capturing the distinct beauty of Africa that I have always cherished,” said golf icon Gary Player. “I could not be happier to partner with David and bring this collection of breathtaking images of Africa to our Gary Player Invitational events around the world.”
In addition to the five iconic African wildlife photos, a sixth image will be included in the package. This portrait of the golfing legend was taken by David Yarrow in 2014 on the Gary Player thoroughbred stud farm in South Africa’s Great Karoo. The portrait will be signed personally by Gary and complement the iconic African images.
“I am so flattered by this partnership,” said David Yarrow. “Of course I recognize that Gary Player has achieved so much on the golf course, but he sets even higher standards in day-to-day life. He is a family man first and foremost, and beyond that he continues to put others before himself. He has great passion in all that he does and I - in a far more modest way - have the same passion for the task of taking transcending photographs. I take great inspiration from him and so this is a proud moment for me. I will do all I can to help this most wonderful and well-managed foundation.”
This exclusive package will be limited to only 25 signed editions, and the value of the package can easily be seen, with single pieces of work by Yarrow regularly selling for over $65,000. The five wildlife images included have recorded prices that in aggregate would value considerably more than $100,000.
Yarrow also is working to create a bespoke Gary Player portfolio with his teams based in London and Los Angeles to complement the quality and artistry of the wildlife works. The total package will prove to be a collector’s item of great magnitude.
Player will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam in 2015, as well as his 80th birthday. Even in a year as busy as this, Player continues to be motivated to grow The Player Foundation and raise $100 million for charity.
THE PLAYER FOUNDATION EYES $100 MILLION GOAL
Feb 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
For more than 30 years, The Player Foundation has worked to make a difference on a global scale. To date, they have raised nearly $60 million to help provide quality education for underprivileged children and strengthen communities plagued by disease and crime. The ultimate goal is to surpass $100 million in charitable donations.
In 1983, Marc Player established The Player Foundation in order to provide quality education, nutrition, medical care and extracurricular activities to less fortunate children living in rural areas of South Africa. Over the years, The Player Foundation has funded numerous ventures across the globe. They include constructing a self-sufficient community school in South Africa named the Blair Atholl School, purchasing land for a school to be built in Haiti and funding scholarships for underprivileged children in Mexico and Colombia. The support of an AIDS orphanage in the Yunnan Province of China, the charity Berenberg Kids and Depaul UK in London has made a difference. The Player Foundation is proud to say they have touched lives on six continents.
Each year, The Player Foundation, in conjunction with Black Knight International, manages and runs a series of Gary Player Invitational golf tournaments on four continents to raise funds for charity. The primary beneficiaries are underprivileged children’s educational programs and impoverished communities across the globe. Many professional golfers and celebrities participate in the events. This year’s global series will be played at the Wentworth Club near London, GlenArbor Golf Club outside New York, Shanghai Links Golf and Country Club in Shanghai, The Lost City Golf Course in Sun City and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu-Dhabi.
“We are excited to host this year’s Gary Player Invitational at such outstanding venues,” said Black Knight International CEO Marc Player. “It is a fantastic opportunity to raise money for The Player Foundation, and we believe the global series will continue to make a difference in the world.”
The GPI series goes far beyond the parameters of a typical golf tournament by offering companies a compelling and unique platform for entertainment and networking, while also raising money for children’s charities. Most importantly, it is about a serious commitment to raising much needed funds for underprivileged children around the world under the iconic name of Gary Player.
“I have found that the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others does not thrust itself upon us, but we do not need to look hard for it, either,” Gary Player said. “When you spot the chance to give back to the world, act on it. You will have made life better for others and for yourself.”
DUSI GEARS UP TO HONOUR PLAYER
Feb 20, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
Pietermaritzburg - The huge field of paddlers that will converge on Camps Drift on Thursday morning for the start of the 64th Dusi Canoe Marathon will unite in honouring its pioneer, founder and first winner, Dr. Ian Player.
Player, who passed away on November 30, 2014, came up with the idea, while sitting around a camp fire in Italy during World War Two, of a canoe race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban as a vehicle to unite and forge camaraderie amongst like-minded adventurers.
Player drove the project passionately and was one of eight men who started the first ever Dusi on December 22, 1951. One by one the pairs fell away until Player was the only man left in the race, after his partner Miles Brokensha was forced to quit at roughly halfway.
On December 28, a small group of journalist was on hand to witness “a small blue, battered canoe” paddled by a “bedraggled and exhausted figure” reach Blue Lagoon after six days, eight hours and 15 minutes.
Player went on to compete in two more races, winning both of them, to remain the only paddler with a perfect unbeaten record of wins in the Dusi.
He was respected worldwide for his tireless work as a conservationist, and in particular he was passionate about the serious threats facing the future of the rhino population. Player founded the Magqubu Ntombela Memorial Foundation in tribute to his lifelong friend and guide to encourage conservation awareness amongst the youth of South Africa.
That foundation has been adopted as one of the official race charities of the Dusi Canoe Marathon and the annual Dusi Charity Batch has been renamed the Dr. Ian Player Memorial Charity Batch to support the drive to raise funds for his foundation.
The paddling community will come together 10 minutes before the race start at 06:00 on Thursday to pay special tribute to Dr. Ian Player and, after a moments silence in his honour, the build-up to the race start will begin with a recording of his famous imitation of the Fish Eagle’s cry.
The Dusi race committee plans to make this a regular feature of the race start, in the same way that the recording of Max Trimborn’s cock crow is used to start the Comrades Marathon each year.
To add further impetus to the fundraiser for the Magqubu Ntombela Memorial Foundation, paddlers will be encouraged to buy a black ribbon to wear during the race as a gesture of respect for Dr. Ian Player.
Each Dusi paddler will be given a special white paddling cap to wear during the race that carries an embroidered inscription paying tribute to Dr. Ian Player.
“Just as important is to bear in mind the attitude that Dr. Ian Player brought to this race,” said Dusi Canoe Marathon General Manager Brett Austen Smith.
“He saw the race as a metaphor for life and an opportunity to continually examine oneself and strive to become a better human being. That is something that he would be really pleased to see continuing in the race that he started,” he added.
Player famously said of the Dusi Canoe Marathon: “No man who has ever done the 110 gruelling miles can ever be the same again.”
The 64th edition of the Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 February 2015. More information can be found at http://www.dusi.co.za
Article courtesy of Sport24
CHARLES SCHWAB AND PGA TOUR SIGN RECORD 20 YEAR MARKETING PARTNERSHIP
Feb 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
The PGA TOUR and Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. today announced a historic 20-year extension of their multifaceted marketing partnership. This represents the longest marketing agreement the PGA TOUR has ever entered.
In conjunction with the extension, the Champions Tour will be creating a playoff system beginning with the 2016 season, with details on the structure forthcoming. The announcements were made by Schwab Founder and Chairman Charles R. Schwab and PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.
Key elements of the marketing extension include the continuation of:
· Schwab’s Official Marketing Partner status as the Official Investment Firm of the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour;
· Schwab’s umbrella sponsorship of the season-long Charles Schwab Cup competition on the Champions Tour;
· Schwab’s sponsorship of the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the culmination of the Charles Schwab Cup.
“Charles Schwab has been an exceptional partner of the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour since 1997,” Finchem said. “In particular, Schwab has had a profound impact on the Champions Tour through its sponsorship of the Charles Schwab Cup and, more recently, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Today, we are thrilled to announce that this important relationship will continue another 20 years through this unprecedented agreement.
“Additionally, with this long-term commitment by Schwab, we are delighted to announce that the Champions Tour will be moving toward a playoff format, which we will outline at a later date. Schwab’s interest in continuing its sponsorship for this duration truly is a testament to the dedication, accessibility and hard work of the players and everyone involved with the Champions Tour.”
“So many of our clients and prospective clients are as passionate about golf as they are about investing, and so we’re very excited about having this expanded relationship with the PGA TOUR,” said Schwab. He added, “The parallels between investing and golf are numerous, especially the dedication and commitment they both require, and we look forward to continuing to serve the investment needs of TOUR players and golf fans everywhere.”
Charles Schwab first joined the PGA TOUR’s Official Marketing Partner program in 1997. In 2001, the Charles Schwab Cup was introduced as the Champions Tour’s first-ever, season-long points competition to identify the leading player on the Tour. Two years after the Charles Schwab Cup was introduced, the company became a sponsor of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
“The Charles Schwab Cup has had a major impact on the Champions Tour with the season-long competition highlighting our leading players and significantly improving the stature of the Tour while maintaining the interest of our fans throughout the season,” said Greg McLaughlin, President of the Champions Tour. “I know everyone involved with the Champions Tour is extremely excited that The Charles Schwab Corporation has agreed to continue its sponsorship over the next two decades.”
In addition to the sponsorship elements, Schwab’s marketing program includes consumer engagement and relationship-building assets across multiple PGA TOUR and Champions Tour events and TPCs, plus advertising on PGATOUR.COM and with the TOUR’s broadcast partners. Schwab also provides investment-related services to TOUR players and staff.
Article courtesy of the Champions Tour
GARY PLAYER DESIGN’S SUZHOU JINJI LAKE COURSE WINS GLOBAL BEST PRACTICE AWARD
Feb 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
Adding to its list of accolades, the Gary Player-designed Suzhou Jinji Lake International Golf Club has been named a winner by the inaugural Global Golf Advisors Institute for Best Practice Excellence Awards.
A delegation of 34 representatives will travel from China to San Antonio, Texas, to join golf industry dignitaries from North America and Europe in a celebration aimed at recognizing excellence in Chinese club management. The awards are the culmination of 12 months of research and analysis coordinated by Global Golf Advisors with 100 of the world’s top clubs from China, North America and Europe.
“We are very proud of our design at Jinji Lake,” said President of Gary Player Design Scott Ferrell. “But good design will not shine if our clients aren’t committed to the best management practices. We are very thankful that the team in Suzhou shares our standards for quality.”
The Gary Player Signature Course located in Suzhou, China, continues to shine nearly 10 years after its opening. The 27-hole course is a creative and unique combination of three different styles of nine-hole layouts. Gary Player’s personal commitment to environmentally sustainable courses is unmatched in the golf course design industry, and he directs and demands his design staff to incorporate eco-friendly practices in all of his courses.
When Gary Player saw the emerging golf market in China, he wanted to set the standard in how a golf course should be designed.
“We take great pride in designing a course in an eco-friendly fashion,” Player said. “Being recognized for our efforts will help us continue to build sustainable courses and uphold our strong commitment to the environment.”
The course is comprised of three very different types of play, which include links, wetlands and forest. The Links Course provides stern challenges with its unique pot bunkers and fairways lined by tall fescue grasses reminiscent of Scotland. The Wetlands Course pleasantly meanders around lakes, rivers and ponds. The Forest Course is set amidst tall and elegant trees, and its high-tech floodlights allow players to enjoy the course day and night.
Managed by IMG, Jinji Lake International Golf Club is located in the Suzhou Industrial Park between Jinji Lake and Dushu Lake. Rob Hill, a partner with Global Golf Advisors EMEA Office and Director of the Institute, said, “Sharing best practices is a key part attributing to the success of any golf business. While it’s important to learn from individual experiences, it can be more effective to learn from the experiences, mistakes and successes of others.”
THE ROYAL AND ANCIENT GOLF CLUB ANNOUNCES NEW HONORARY MEMBERS
Feb 10, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is delighted to announce that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Dame Laura Davies, Renée Powell, Belle Robertson MBE, Lally Segard, Annika Sorenstam and Louise Suggs have accepted invitations to become honorary members of the Club.
George Macgregor OBE, the Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, said, “It is an honour and a privilege for The Royal and Ancient Golf Club to welcome these remarkable women as honorary members. The Princess Royal enjoys a strong bond with Scotland and has shown great energy and commitment to developing sport through her work in the Olympic movement.
“This is an historic day for the Club and we could not be more proud also to welcome women who have distinguished themselves in golf over many years and have been great players and champions. They are extremely worthy additions to our roll of honorary members and will become ambassadors for the Club as they have been for the sport of golf throughout their careers.”
The Princess Royal follows Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of York and The Duke of Kent in becoming an honorary member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club.
Having herself competed in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, The Princess Royal is a member of the International Olympic Committee and was a member of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games. The Princess Royal is a Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle in Scotland and has been Patron of the Scottish Rugby Union since 1986.
In September, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club’s members voted by an 85% majority to admit women as members for the first time in its 260-year history. Today’s announcement follows that historic ballot and, in addition to the honorary members, a number of women have been admitted as members of the Club with more set to follow in the coming months.
GARY PLAYER REMEMBERS GOOD FRIENDS SIFFORD AND NAGLE
Feb 4, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
GARY PLAYER REMEMBERS CHARLIE SIFFORD
“I have such respect for Charlie and what he was able to accomplish in a world that fought against his success. I was extremely honoured to give the induction speech for Charlie when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Charlie and I always had a strong bond ever since we first met in 1958. I have such admiration for this man. I take my hat off to him. The hypocrisy that Charlie had to put up with, yet I never found Charlie bitter. He was so compassionate. I always had a great love and empathy for Charlie. I’ve seen an improvement in golf’s stance toward blacks, and Charlie has played a significant role in that improvement. I said during my WGHOF induction speech, but the same if true here. This honour is not only for just what Charlie accomplished on the golf course, but for the course that he chose in life.”
GARY PLAYER REMEMBERS KEL NAGLE
Australia’s former Open Championship winner Kel Nagle has died, aged 94.
The golf icon is being remembered as the “great gentleman” of the game after he died peacefully in the early hours Thursday morning at Sydney’s Mona Vale Hospital, his family said in a statement.
Nagle won the Open in 1960 at the age of 39, beating Arnold Palmer by one shot at the centenary event at St Andrews. It was his only major victory but one of 80 professional tournament wins worldwide, including at least one every year from 1949 to 1975.
His first significant title came in 1949 at the Australian PGA championship, which he went on to win another five times. “Its a sad day for golf,” said PGA of Australia chief executive Brian Thorburn. “We’ve lost a champion of our game.”
Gary Player, to whom Nagle finished runner-up in a playoff at the 1965 US Open, took to Twitter to pay tribute to his friend. “The great “Gentleman of Golf”, Australian Kel Nagle passed away today. My deepest condolences to his family & friends. RIP my friend,” he wrote.
Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt said Nagle’s impressive record had made him “a giant of the game”. “But much more than that, he was an ambassador for his sport and his country, universally liked and admired by his peers,” Pitt said.
“His victory in the 1960 Open Championship was one of the most memorable by any major champion – the way he did that will never be forgotten.”
Nagle is just one of five Australians inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Article courtesy of The Guardian
CALLAWAY’S INNOVATION CONTINUES TO IMPRESS IN LONGSTANDING RELATIONSHIP
Jan 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News
Through a relationship that has spanned over a decade, Gary Player, a proud global ambassador for Callaway, has seen the dramatic progression of technologies that the company founded by Ely Callaway perpetually produces. With its consistent ingenuity, Callaway continues to impress with their latest rollout of 2015 equipment that is highlighted by the XR family of woods, irons, and drivers, as well as the award-winning Big Bertha Alpha 815.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Callaway produces some of the best products in the industry,” said golf icon Gary Player. “I am thrilled to be affiliated with the company for well over 10 years now, and year after year, they blow me away with the precision, power, and innovation in their clubs.”
The Black Knight will make his annual stop in Carlsbad this month to get a firsthand look at the new products and future technologies, but will also lend his eye and skills by providing his input on the club development.
Player’s visit to the performance center is well timed as the Black Knight is gearing up for a big year. He will certainly be tuning up his driver as this spring, he will once again reunite “The Big Three” to kick off the Masters Tournament and is looking to outdrive Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
Callaway recently exclaimed, “Big Bertha is Back,” and carries on building upon the notable name with the latest driver in the Big Bertha series – the Big Bertha Alpha 815. The 815 has already made an impression as it has emerged as the best driver launch on tour with many of the impressive cast of Callaway staff pros making the switch.
“I always greatly respected Ely Callaway and his vision for golf and golf equipment and that continues to be seen in the current Callaway team led by Chip Brewer,” said Player. “I am thrilled to head to Carlsbad later this month to get a firsthand look at what is in store beyond the already remarkable 2015 equipment as I gear up for a number of tournaments.”
Player who will turn 80 this year stated that with Callaway equipment in his bag he regularly breaks his age by double-digits.
In addition to celebrating his 80th birthday, the Black Knight will have another cause for celebration as 2015 marks a significant milestone in his career and golfing history. It was 50 years ago that he captured the career Grand Slam at the U.S. Open Championship. Fellow Callaway pro Phil Mickelson will have a chance to match Player’s accomplishment as the U.S. Open travels to Chambers Bay this June.
The Callaway and Gary Player relationship extends beyond the golf course. In his role as ambassador, Player champions Callaway in corporate events and outings, but more importantly, the two come together to support underprivileged children.
“Callaway remains a dedicated partner and sponsor in our Gary Player Invitational global charity series,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “We are thrilled that Gary Player continues to represent Callaway around the world, but together we are really able to make a difference and provide relief and education to children in need through The Player Foundation in all four corners of the world.
WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM TO OPEN GARY PLAYER GRAND SLAM 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EXHIBITION
Jan 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments
The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum will officially open the “Gary Player Grand Slam 50th Anniversary Exhibition”, celebrating Player’s historic accomplishment achieved with his victory at the 1965 United States Open held at Bellerive Country Club. With that victory, Player joined Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen as the only golfers to have achieved the career Grand Slam. Since that time, only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have accomplished the feat.
The exhibition will celebrate not only Player’s career Grand Slam, but will also explore the impact the Black Knight has had on the game of golf globally. Player, who still remains the only international player to accomplish the Grand Slam, was victorious an astounding 165 times during his career with the wins occurring in 21 countries on six continents.
“Gary has played such an integral role in globalizing the game of golf and the values he represents are what makes the Hall of Fame so proud to be able to call him our Global Ambassador,” said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. “We are thrilled to be able to open this exhibition, which celebrates not only Gary’s tremendous successes on the course, but also shares with guests the impact he has had off the course too through his commitment to education, family, charity, and fitness.”
“What an honour it is to have the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum celebrate this significant milestone in my career,” said golf icon Gary Player. “I continue to admire all the work that the World Golf Hall of Fame does for this game, and it will be a great privilege to visit the exhibit later this month for the grand opening ceremony.”
The exhibition will feature many of Player’s major championship trophies, along with his Green Jacket from the Masters Tournament and many other items from his illustrious career. Additionally, the gallery will share the story of Player’s global adventures, the important role family played in his career, and his life-long commitment to fitness. Guests will also have an opportunity to utilize the Hall of Fame’s new state of the art golf simulator within the exhibit, playing many of the same courses where Player captured victories during his career. The exhibition will further be supported through unique video and photography.
The exhibition will be on display throughout 2015. For more information, including photos, about the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum and “Gary Player Grand Slam 50th Anniversary Exhibit,” visit WorldGolfHallofFame.org.
GARY PLAYER DESIGN SELECTED FOR MILESTONE PROJECT IN THE REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Jan 28, 2015 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
One of the world’s most respected sporting icons, Gary Player, will make history as he has been selected as the designer of Golf du Kintélé, the Republic of Congo’s first championship golf course in the capital city of Brazzaville.
Among the most active international golf course design firms with almost 400 projects in their global portfolio, Gary Player Design continues to look forward to setting a new standard for golf as they embark on this project in the heart of the Congo.
“Golf continues to grow by leaps and bounds within Africa and it is an honour to bring this first championship standard course to the Republic of the Congo,” said golf icon Gary Player. “With this project, we hope to lay the footprint for golf’s continued emergence in Central Africa.”
For the first championship caliber course in the country, the Gary Player Design team is committed to implementing a strategic and playable course for all levels, while creating a world-class layout to support the high hopes of the overall sporting aspirations of Brazzaville.
The Republic of Congo is set to host the 2015 All-Africa Games in Brazzaville. In preparation for the Games, the development currently under construction will feature a 60,000 seat multi-purpose stadium, a 10,000 seat indoor stadium, a 2,000 seat aquatics center, and various other outdoor venues.
The addition of a Gary Player-designed golf course to the area will certainly enhance and complement the multi-sports complex under construction. Set along the hillside overlooking the remarkable All-African Games stadium and the Congo River, the course will take advantage of the dramatic topography of the site, while producing a layout to supplement and build upon the growing sporting features of the Brazzaville complex and area.
Senior Designer Jeff Lawrence recently completed an initial visit to get an impression of the site.
“We are excited that our client is dedicated to developing a world-class golf experience, and we aim to implement design elements that will lead to the promotion and expansion of the game in this emerging market while captivating and enhancing the natural features of the site,” said Lawrence.
Complementing the Gary Player course will be a luxury clubhouse and hotel, as well as a small number of residential villas.
Gary Player Design continues to be an industry leader in environmental sensitivity and sustainability. The Golf du Kintélé project will built upon this approach, as the site will contains a number of ecological and maintenance-friendly practices to promote the natural features and indigenous flora along the Congo River.
“Environmental sensitivity continues to be of the utmost importance to Gary Player,” said Scott Ferrell, Gary Player Design President. “Not only do we look forward to creating a fantastic course that will raise playing standards in the Congo and continue to promote the game throughout Africa, but also set a sustainable example for golf in the country.”
THE SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN: A POTTED HISTORY
Jan 6, 2015 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments
The second oldest Open competition in golf, the South African Open Championship hosted by the City of Erkurhuleni, returns for its 104th edition this week at Glendower Golf Club.
Not only does South Africa’s National Open have a long history, it also boasts a rich past, with the likes of Gary Player, Bobby Locke, Ernie Els and Henrik Stenson having all made their mark on the event over the years. Let us take you through the highlights of this fascinating story.
The Early Years
In 1892, the first South African Open - then known as the South African Tournament - was contested as an exhibition match play event with Denholm Walker winning the inaugural edition, before D G Proudfoot went on to win the title eight years in a row from 1893 through to 1902 (no tournaments were held in the Boer War years between 1900 and 1901.)
Laurie Waters and George Fotheringham soon took advantage of it becoming a formal event in 1903 – with the former winning the first 36-hole stroke play edition, and the latter triumphing five times before the outbreak of the First World War.
The Brews Era & the emergence of Bobby Locke
The Brews family made their first mark on their National Open in 1921, with Jock Brews winning the event for the first time at Port Elizabeth Golf Club. This heralded the start of the ‘Brews Era’ with Jock and his younger brother Sid dominating the golf scene for many years to come (Jock winning four of his National Opens and Sid victorious in eight).
Another new venue, Parkview Golf Club, was chosen for the 1935 tournament, and with it emerged one of golf’s super stars, 17 year old A D ‘Bobby’ Locke. Scores of 70-76-75-75 brought Locke his first title and heralded the start of the ‘Locke era’, which was to last 20 years and see him win his home Open nine times & The Open Championship on four occasions.
The Player Years
The legendary Gary Player took over the mantle from Locke and continued to put South African golf on the map, eclipsing Locke’s list of achievements in the process. In the 26 years between 1956 and 1981, Player won the South African Open a remarkable 13 times.
That amazing period included a five-year winning streak for Player from 1965 to 1969, with the last triumph in that run seeing the South African card a sensational final round 64.
A Star Is Born
Player had left a vast void to fill and after his final victory at the South African Open Championship in 1981, the tournament had eight different winners in the next nine years, with five of those champions coming from outside of South Africa. 1992 was to prove another year to remember for South African golf fans, though, as a certain Theodore Ernest Els prevailed less than three years after joining the professional ranks.
Retief Goosen, another future South African Major winner, took the glory in 1995 before Els won the second of his five home titles a year later.
The Modern Era: 1997 -
Since the South African Open Championship has been co-sanctioned by both The European Tour and the Sunshine Tour from 1997, a strong tradition of home-grown success has continued with 12 native victories being registered during that period.
Masters Tournament winner Trevor Immelman won in successive years in 2003 and 2004, before 2010 saw the 100th staging of the prestigious competition as Scotland’s Richie Ramsay prevailed.
Els won the most recent of his crowns a year after thanks to a staggering 25 under par total. There was another big name on the trophy in 2012 as Henrik Stenson added to his list of victories at the Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate before Denmark’s Morten Ørum Madsen won his maiden European Tour title at last year’s event.
Article Courtesy of the European Tour
HONDURAS’ INDURA RESORT TO DEBUT ON PGA TOUR LATINOAMERICA
Dec 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course DesignEvents & Tournaments
The first Signature Course for Grand Slam champion and golf icon Gary Player in Central America will soon be featured on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica as Indura Beach & Golf Resort signed a three year deal to confirm the Black Knight’s course as the host of the PGA event. The first event of its kind in Honduras, the PGA Tour Latinoamérica will bring together 144 professional golfers to converge upon the Central American flagship project that is poised to set the standard for championship golf in the region from April 20-26, 2015.
“Indura Resort will be a fantastic addition to the PGA Tour Latinoamérica,” said golf icon Gary Player. “Gary Player Design has always prided ourselves on a global portfolio and what we have created at Indura is sure to be an excellent example of how golf continues to prosper in the region and drive tourism.”
“Today is a new page in the history of Honduras because we will have the opportunity to showcase the country to more than 30 million viewers by hosting the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica,” said José Gutiérrez, Director General of Indura Beach & Golf Resort. “I don’t know what other industry can do this. It is an honor and a privilege that we can be the host.”
The new luxury resort on the northern coastline of Honduras has already proven itself as a fantastic addition to the growing tourism industry in the area.
Stretching along 26 miles of the Tela Bay, Indura Resort was carefully designed by the Black Knight to naturally integrate the spectacular setting where a backdrop of mountains and tropical jungle meet the beauty of golden sandy beaches and the Caribbean Sea.
The world-class golfing experience will allow professionals the opportunity to play along the pristine beaches of the Caribbean Sea, into the tropical jungle, and adjacent to large lagoons, which will provide every player with a remarkable golf adventure. Each hole features varying design characteristics, strategic value, and aesthetic beauty, promising a real test.
While strategic elements of the course will provide a thrilling test come April, the golf course, like all Gary Player Design courses, emphasizes playability by all skill levels.
“When designing this course, we made sure to emphasize playability for all levels and the ecological sensitivity that is so important to our firm,” said Scott Ferrell. “We are thrilled for Indura to debut on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica as a new course and are certain that it will provide an excellent experience for fans and a great test for professionals.”
Since the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica was formed in 2012, the growing professional tour featured 17 tournaments across 13 countries in the 2014 season. Now with the addition of Honduras’ Indura Resort to the schedule, it seems that the Tour continues to gain momentum in the emerging golf region of Latin and South America.
Other countries with stops on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica include Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Brazil.
TITLE YEAR FOR GARY PLAYER AWAITS DURING GRAND SLAM 50TH ANNIVERSARY
Dec 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
If you ask golf icon Gary Player about his victory at the 1965 U.S. Open Championship at Bellerive Country Club, it would be a clear and vivid memory that makes it hardly seem like 50 years ago. While it might seem just like yesterday, 2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Black Knight’s U.S. Open feat that catapulted him to his monumental Grand Slam title.
Player, who went on to become the most decorated and successful international golfer, became just the third individual to clinch golf’s most coveted title. Since Player achieved the Grand Slam, the only other golfers to join him, Ben Hogan, and Gene Sarazen have been Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods proving the sheer difficulty of winning each of golf’s Major Championships.
“The Grand Slam is certainly one of my greatest achievements because it showed that all my hard work had paid off,” said Gary Player. “With that 1965 victory, I became the first non-American to win the U.S. Open in 45 years and became only the third – and youngest, at 29 – to win the Grand Slam. That was an enormous achievement.”
By 1965, South African Player already had achieved unparalleled success for an international golfer as he became the youngest Open Championship victor at age 23 and the first international winner of The Masters.
When Player arrived at the 1965 U.S. Open at Bellerive Country Club with three Major titles to his name, he was convinced that he could, in fact, win the tournament and thus the Grand Slam. That belief proved fruitful as it was Player who was lifted the U.S. Open trophy after a Monday playoff round against Australian Kel Nagle.
While the Black Knight celebrates his monumental feat in 2015, there will be a great deal of excitement as Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson vie for the chance to join the list of Grand Slam winners at The Masters and U.S. Open, respectively.
Nine-time major champion Player is the only international golfer to have his name etched on each of The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, and PGA Championship trophies still to this day. Should Irishman McIlroy prevail in Augusta, he will join Player as the only other international champion.
The South African golfing legend is the only individual in the sport to claim the Grand Slam on the Senior Tour as well.
Winning the Grand Slam is seen as the ultimate feat in golf, but with that, Gary Player has always felt that using his success to give back to those less fortunate has been integral. The Black Knight made history at the ’65 U.S. Open and broke tradition as the first international Grand Slam champion donated all his tournament earnings to charity.
Player had previously promised Joe Dey, Director of the USGA, that when he won the U.S. Open, he would donate his winnings to charity. After being handing the winner’s check following the 18-hole playoff with Kel Nagle, he upheld his promise and handed the winning check back to Dey specifying that the proceeds should go to two important causes: cancer research, in honor of Player’s mother who died of cancer, and the development of junior golf programs by the USGA.
“I was extremely thrilled to be able to give back at that moment especially since it was such an enormous milestone in my career,” said Player.
Player continues to carry out that vision by raising much needed funds for underprivileged children through The Player Foundation. Since its establishment in 1983 by Marc Player, The Player Foundation has raised nearly $60 million worldwide to create a brighter future for those in need.
2015 will hold many reasons for celebration. In addition the 50th anniversary of the Grand Slam, Player will celebrate his 80th birthday on November 1. For a man whose life soundtrack seems to be “Forever Young,” it is hard to believe the Black Knight still travels the world as enthusiastically as 50 years ago.
“Rest is rust,” said Player. “Age is a mentality. I am thrilled to celebrate my 80th birthday in November, but in my mind I am still in my 40s.”
While life does not seem to slow down for Player, that is a good thing as he will have a busy year in 2015 as he travels to each of the Major Championships to commemorate the Grand Slam, but is also busy with an ever-expanding golf course portfolio and flourishing corporate relationships.
A LOOK BACK AT GARY PLAYER IN THE MEDIA FOR 2014
Dec 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
As the “World’s Most Traveled Athlete,” no one in golf travels more promoting the game than Gary Player. He continues to relentlessly endeavor to grow the game at all levels and in all corners of the globe. From junior golf to professional events, the International Ambassador of Golf is like the Energizer Bunny. The same can be said for the Black Knight in the media. Player continues to be a mainstay in golf and global media.
Throughout the past year, Gary Player has sustained his position as one of golf’s most relevant and leading voices. He has continued his visibility in global media and left a footprint as he discusses hot topics in golf and fitness with various high level, influential media outlets including The New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, ESPN, The Golf Channel, and beyond.
A leading humanitarian and communicator in the game of golf, he touches the lives of millions of people each year through his great passion for life, the game of golf, health and wellness, as well as his genuine love for people. The authenticity and motivational, loving qualities that Player has brought the game for over the past 60 years remains unmatched.
Following Player’s high-profile 2013 where the then 77-year-old posed nude for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, Player continued to spread the importance of diet, health, and fitness in golf and life. After pioneering exercise in golf, Player proved his ongoing influence as “Mr. Fitness” took the title of the all-time fittest PGA Tour player by the TOUR.
A look back at some of Player’s top interviews and features on the year:
Gary Player: Cowboy On The Green – Fortune
Pro Files: Gary Player | Sports Illustrated
CNN Living Golf: Gary Player on The Masters
In Depth with Graham Bensigner
For more clips of Player’s interview with Graham Bensigner, visit here.
Top 10: All-Time Fittest PGA TOUR Players
Golfing World Features the Gary Player Invitational Series
BRANDEN GRACE CLAIMS ALFRED DUNHILL CHAMPIONSHIP AT LEOPARD CREEK
Dec 15, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments
South Africa’s Branden Grace kept his nerve while all around him lost theirs to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship at the Gary Player-designed Leopard Creek Country Club in South Africa.
Grace showed a steady hand to claim his first European Tour victory since 2012 as he carded a final round 68 for a tournament total of 20-under-par 268.
The 26-year-old, who completed the first ever wire-to-wire win in the tournament’s history, ended seven shots ahead of compatriot Louis Oosthuizen, who finished with a 69.
But for the rest of the chasing pack going into the final round it was a day of horrors, most notably Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, who trailed Grace by just a single shot going into Sunday, but feel victim to Leopard Creek as he carded a 17-over 89 as his game fell to pieces. He eventually tied for 49th.
“It’s been a long year and a hard year and now towards the end this is going to be a good Christmas, so it has been a fairytale ending,” Grace said at the trophy presentation.
Grace has never lost after leading at 54 holes, with all four of his previous titles coming in 2012.
Briton Danny Willett was in contention for a repeat of his Nedbank Challenge victory last weekend at Gary Player Country Club as he trailed by three shot. The Brit was faring well on the Gary Player Signature Courses that make up the South African swing on the European Tour, but a double-bogey on the 16th saw him drop six shots in the final three holes to finish with a 76.
He tied third on 10 under par with compatriot Andrew Johnson and home player Trevor Fisher junior.
Only eight of the 75 players who featured in Sunday’s final round carded under 70.
Article courtesy of SuperSport.
WILLETT TAKES NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE TITLE AT GARY PLAYER COUNTRY CLUB
Dec 7, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course DesignEvents & Tournaments
Danny Willett picked up the second European Tour title of his career after carding a final-round six-under-par 66 to convincingly win the Nedbank Golf Challenge staged at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa.
The Englishman holed six birdies on Sunday to finish 18 under for the tournament and seal a four-shot victory, beating fellow countrymen Ross Fisher and Luke Donald to the prize.
Willett took control at the Gary Player Country Club to deny Luke Donald the chance to toast a victory on his birthday. It was a frustrating final round for Donald, who came into the final day leading by a shot on 13 under, but could only close with a one-over 73.
He ended up finishing two shots behind Fisher, who registered seven birdies and three bogeys in a final-round 68. Marcel Siem finished three shots further back on nine under after shooting a 68, while Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat was fifth on seven under.
Willett’s only other victory came at the BMW International Open in 2012 and he put this win down to an aggressive approach.
“My caddie John and I spoke at the start of the week and came up with a good game plan, to be aggressive off the tee on this golf course,” he said.
The South African golf icon’s namesake course seemed to suit the Englishman, who put on quite the display.
‘It’s visually very intimidating, but I’ve been driving the ball really well and we wanted to give ourselves a lot more wedges and nine irons into holes, whereas some guys are just laying back.
‘We put a new Callaway driver in the bag a few weeks ago and it’s been tremendous.
‘It was just one of those weeks where the swing felt good and it came off. South Africa is a place that’s suited me in the past and I’ve played well golf down here.
“I love the place, love the people - everything about it is great. It’s been a truly fun test of golf.”
Article Courtesy of Daily Mail UK.
FOR DR IAN PLAYER – THE FATHER OF RHINO CONSERVATION
Dec 5, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
I care not in which God you believe
Nor which religion you follow
What matters most to the planet upon which we sit
Is that you leave this place better than you found it
Look at what we have been given – and all for free
Day and night, sun and moon, plant and tree
Animals, both pets and wild
People black, white, mostly meek and mild
And yet today, there are those who ruthlessly steal and plunder
And do their greedy best to tear this world asunder
Their targets are the elephants and the rhinos
Their motives make me cry, make me wonder
But there is one man who will always take a stand
Having served his country well in a foreign land
Returned to the soil that he loved, his beloved animals to protect
He started Operation Rhino to save the few that were left
Through thick and thin, they fought the odds
Less than a thousand rhinos left, they took on the sods
Moved the rhinos to safer places, no matter the cost
Without these actions, a species was lost
Magquba Ntombela and Ian Player – such men of honour are few
They did the business, the numbers grew
With courage, commitment and unfailing care
These two went to extremes where few men dare
Well pleased, but never satisfied that the job was done
Ian changed direction and formed the Foundation
A new challenge, the focus now on education
Another mountain to climb and perhaps a little more fun
Ian’s passion a beacon, a path to the sun
He hung up his boots and life followed its course
Then twenty years later all hell broke loose
Again his rhinos under threat
Hope turned to despair
Another tough challenge to be met
The fire burns within this lion-hearted man, but his hands are tied
His eyes became wistful as thousands more died
Man’s greed is insatiable, his cruelty relentless
These ancient creatures completely defenceless
One senses the rage, the despair and the anger
For here is a man who has survived great danger
He will not give up, he will never surrender
On behalf of his rangers and his rhinos and his great rainbow nation
The baton must be passed to a new generation
‘Age shall not weary them’, we all wish it were so
Ian Player is a living legend and a true hero
Attenborough, Durrell, Fossey, Goodall, great names all
But for me, Ian Player is the one – he stands tall
October 1, 2014
REMEMBERING DR. IAN PLAYER – A CONSERVATION PIONEER & BELOVED BROTHER
Nov 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
My beloved brother, Dr. Ian Player, today cast his canoe onto the river of life that will take him across to the other side. Ian has always played an enormous part in my life and was a tremendous influence as an older brother. I will miss him dearly.
A world-renowned conservationist, Ian was a man who contributed greatly to the world and dedicated his life to saving the precious nature that we have on this earth. It was easy to see his passion for South Africa, its conservation and its people. His efforts did not end in our country though, he traveled the world in the name of nature conservation and spearheaded campaigns to guarantee a future for many species.
We can be certain that Ian lived a full life of adventure and was a constant inspiration to myself and countless others. While he has left this world, we are comforted by knowing that death is not an end, but a beginning of one’s eternal life. He will be joining many who passed from this earthly life before him. Our parents, grandparents and his most cherished friend, Magqubu Ntombela, who was with Ian in the wilderness for over three decades.
Our family will miss him sorely, but now we hope to celebrate Ian’s life. Ian truly made a difference in this world with his heroic efforts for which he was bestowed countless awards and accolades, all of which he richly deserved.
The world has lost a great South African, a dedicated conservationist, a gentleman, a scholar, and to me, a loving brother.
I will take a walk in nature today remembering that one man can make a huge impact. His presence will always be felt for me in the wild and beautiful places of this world because that was where he was happiest. My thoughts are with his wife, Ann, and children Kenneth, Jessica and Amyas, as well as our sister Wilma at this time.
THE CLIFFS AT MOUNTAIN PARK RECEIVES HIGH PRAISE IN COURSE RANKINGS
Nov 27, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
Only a year after the latest Gary Player Signature Design in the United States opened, The Cliffs at Mountain Park has set itself apart as high praise and honors are aplenty. The links-style course uniquely set among the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina most recently debuted at the number two position on Golf Digest’s listing for Best New Courses.
In addition to the Golf Digest acclaim, the Gary Player-designed track also placed on Golfweek’s Best New Residential Courses and Best Modern Courses rankings for 2015.
“I could not be more thrilled for the success of our design at The Cliffs at Mountain Park,” said Gary Player. “We knew that this was going to be a special course when we created a championship links layout in the beautiful mountain setting, and now to see all the accolades it has been receiving is wonderful.”
With a spirit of Scottish Links, Mountain Park is truly an experience for golfers in America’s Southeast as it incorporates abundant native grasses and environmentally friendly practices. The course is set among more than a million acres of State Parks and National Forests.
The 7218-yard layout was designed to the highest environmental standards, but also with playability for all levels in mind.
“The Cliffs at Mountain Park offers a fantastic experience that is very unique for the area,” said Scott Ferrell, Gary Player Design President. “The course takes full advantage of the beautiful, natural characteristics of the land in order to emphasize sustainability, but it also is a course that is enjoyable for all skill levels with its emphasis on links-style shot making, fast and firm conditions, walkability, and playability. I think all of these aspects have contributed to the success of Mountain Park.”
“It is an exciting golf course to experience,” said Jeff Lawrence, Gary Player Design Senior Designer. “In the design, we concentrated on shot options, wanting to bring the bump-and-run back, bring the contouring of golf back. Mostly, golfers will see that we spent an exceptional amount of time around the greens thinking and being creative.”
A challenge different from any of the other Cliffs’ six courses, Mountain Park continues to distinguish itself on a local and nation level as a course that is on any golfer’s must-play list.
GARY PLAYER COUNTRY CLUB TO HOST WORLD’S BEST AT NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE
Nov 27, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course DesignEvents & Tournaments
The Nedbank Golf Challenge will once again be the highlight of the South African golf year, with the 2014 tournament to be played on Sun International’s flagship track and golf icon Gary Player’s namesake course, the Gary Player Country Club, at Sun City from 4-7 December.
Recognized as one of the top courses in South Africa, the Gary Player Country Club will welcome the field that includes half of the victorious European Ryder Cup team as well as three former World Number One players.
“With yet another stellar field, the Nedbank Golf Challenge is sure to be a thrill this year,” said golf icon and tournament host Gary Player. “In its 32nd year, the tournament continues to shine and showcase our beautiful country of South Africa on a global stage.”
Africa’s Major, which is co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and European Tour, will feature a world-class field of 30 players competing for a total purse of $6.5-million, as well as standings on the European Tour’s money list and points in the Official World Golf Rankings and The Race to Dubai.
Denmark’s Thomas Bjørn will return to defend his title on the Gary Player-designed golf course that is expected to again be at its best for the prominent African tournament.
In addition to Bjørn, notables returning to South Africa are Lee Westwood, who is making his 10th appearance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and Martin Kaymer who is seeking to add to his 2012 triumph at Sun City.
The illustrious history of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, formerly the Million Dollar Challenge, can be seen by the impressive list of past champions including Johnny Miller, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, and Lee Westwood.
“We compare ourselves a lot with a Major like the Masters at Augusta, because you are presenting the same golf course for the same event at the same time every year,” says Antonie Els, the Director of Golf at Sun City. “We have returning sponsors and clients, media and TV viewers year in, year out, and people expect bigger and better every year. So we challenge ourselves in every little detail to see how we can improve.”
Gary Player will serve as host of the “African Major” once again, but his involvement extends back to the original conceptualization of the Million Dollar Challenge.
The groundbreaking tournament originated from conversation between Player and Sun City developer Sol Kerzner as the Black Knight wanted to launch a tournament to bring the world’s top players to South Africa and wanted to offer something that no other tournament in the world did - a $1 million first place check.
The Million Dollar Challenge officially launched in 1981 and the rest remains history.
The par-72 Gary Player Country Club is once again sure to be a fierce challenge for the world’s finest players next week.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA AT SUN CITY
Nov 25, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
GARY PLAYER WINS AT GOLF AND GIVING
Nov 23, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
It’s a “Union of Golf and Giving”, and Gary Player perfected them both when the golf icon led his team to victory in the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) presented by Coca-Cola at The Lost City Golf Club on Sunday.
Following the rousing success of the GPI in raising funds for its charity beneficiaries, which were in excess of R4 million from the gala auction and donations from participants and businessmen, Player and his team of former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena and businessmen Michael Zamkow and David Blue triumphed in Africa’s premier charity tournament by six strokes on 29 under par.
Celebrating 15 years as African’s premier charity golf event, the charity event has helped in raising over R600 million worldwide in order to support the various charitable causes supported by The Player Foundation.
This year’s event, staged at the Gary Player-designed Lost City Golf Course, featured celebrities teamed up with professional golfers and leading business executives all pledging their support in aid of charity. The substantial funds collected at the event will aid charity beneficiaries - Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka.
In the action on the course, respective teams of professionals Padraig Harrington and Ian Woosnam shared second place, behind host Player, on 23 under par.
Team Harrington had led by four shots going into Sunday’s final round. But a remarkable effort by Player to break his age by 11 shots individually and marshal his team through a morning of rain before the sun appeared saw the tournament host on the winning team for the first time in the 15-year history of this event.
“I felt like a young man out there today. It was such a thrill for me to play that kind of golf,” said Player. “There is always a challenge in this game. I’ve just been invited to a big tournament in Hawaii in January so this couldn’t have come at a better time. But I’m just so thrilled at the response we’ve had this year, raising so much money. And I want to thank our sponsors for supporting us for so many years, and our participants who gave so generously of their time and money this year for charity.”
Player’s teammates were in awe of his performance on Sunday. “He’s an incredible person and it was an honour for me to be a part of this,” said Mokoena, who made his debut in the tournament. “I came from humble beginnings so I know exactly how powerful these kinds of events are for the underprivileged.”
And both Zamkow and Blue were full of praise for how Player led their team. “He’s an unbelievable competitor,” said Zamkow. “He pushed us all the way. We went through the rain and the sun, and he just never gave up. He putted superbly and he never stopped encouraging and helping us,” said Zamkow.
“He’s a true sportsman,” added Blue. “He was just so positive out there. No matter what we did, he just kept motivating us. I’ll be back to defend this title next year, that’s for sure.”
As he walked off the 18th green, Player’s wife Vivienne hugged her husband as she’s done so many times throughout one of the greatest careers in the history of golf. And Player responded by handing her the silver baobab trophy that goes to the winning team.
“She said it’s such an iconic trophy because it’s so typically African, and she has always wanted it in our trophy cabinet at home,” said Player.
For a Grand Slam champion who owns every Major trophy in the game, this one will indeed take up a special place in the Player household.
While Player was thrilled to secure his first Gary Player Invitational victory in the series history, the giving spirit was the overwhelming champion as participants came together to aid those in need across South Africa.
“The South African leg of our GPI series is always a fantastic event that produces incredible results in our charity drive,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO and GPI series founder. “We are most appreciative to all our superb sponsors and generous guests who aid in creating a brighter future in South Africa and around the globe.”
TEAM HARRINGTON STARTS STRONG IN GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA
Nov 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
Padraig Harrington’s role as a European Ryder Cup vice-captain this year was deemed invaluable, and he brought this same passion to the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola as his team claimed the lead in Saturday’s first round.
The triple Major champion reveled in his role as team leader of a fourball including Ladies European Tour rookie Amy Boulden and longtime Gary Player Invitational supporters and business leaders Jochi and Wilfried Sauerland.
“We had a great day in the team. We dovetailed well and made our scores when we needed to,” said Harrington after they had secured a four-stroke lead on 17 under par. The team of host Gary Player, former South African football star Aaron Mokoena and businessmen David Blue and Michael Zamkow are their nearest challengers on 13 under par.
But while Harrington was sublime with a personal round of nine-under-par 63 on the Gary Player-designed Lost City Golf Club course, the Irishman took even more delight in the pro-am nature of the event and the spirit of a “Union of Golf and Giving” in which it is being played. “I love pro-ams. I love marshaling the troops. I’ve won a few major tournament pro-ams, and I think it’s because I like the sideshow it brings. It’s a good distraction for me to watch the amateurs figure out why they play the game that they do, where they could improve. I’m fascinated by it.”
Even after leaving the 18th green, Harrington was still handing out tips to amateur partner Jochi Sauerland, taking his cue from his host Player, who is a master in pro-ams.
And Player also again proved his longevity on the golf course when he broke his age and inspired his team to an opening total of 13 under par. It was an effort helped by the strong finish of amateur partner Mokoena, who off his 22 handicap made a par on the stroke 1 17th hole and then parred the 18th as well. Zamkow, an 11 handicap, also finished strong with his par on 18 to give the team great momentum going into Sunday.
The team of Ian Woosnam, cricketer Herschelle Gibbs and businessmen Jaco Buitendag and Robbie Wray are in third place going into Sunday’s final round, and on a total of 12 under par. Buitendag was simply in awe of the experience in what is his debut in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola. “It’s been tremendous. I’ve been blown away by everything. After nine holes with Ian today I said, ‘This is something special and it’s an honour to be a part of it’.”
While the amateur tributes in the team focused mostly on the experience playing with Woosnam, the Welshman himself couldn’t stop speaking about how impressed he was with Gibbs’ game.
“Jeepers. When he connects the ball it just goes miles. He does everything pretty good.”
Gibbs was in the winning fourball last year, and is happy to be in the hunt again. “We’re sitting pretty at the moment. I think if Jaco and Robbie can hit a bit of form on the final day, then we’ll really stand a chance,” said Gibbs, who showed his prowess on the stroke 1 17th when he hit a monstrous drive, then a wedge to 10 feet and holed the putt for birdie.
But with the field still reveling in the R3.5 million raised for charity at Friday evening’s auction during the gala dinner and the euphoria of a job well done, Harrington has a message for his team before Sunday.
“We had our good day today, and somebody’s going to have that tomorrow. I go by the Hale Irwin theory that if you’re leading, you play like you’re one shot behind. We can’t protect anything on the final day. If we play well it will take a tremendous effort by the other teams to catch us.”
GRAND SLAM GIVING AT GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL GALA
Nov 21, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
Living up to its billing as the “Union of Golf and Giving”, the Gary Player Invitational, presented by Coca-Cola, raised approximately R3.5 million for charity at a star-studded gala dinner and auction held last night at Sun City.
The Gary Player Invitational, which celebrates 15 years as Africa’s premier charity golf event, has raised over R600 million worldwide in order to support the various charitable causes supported by The Player Foundation.
This year’s GPI tournament, staged at the Gary Player-designed Lost City Golf Course, features celebrities teamed up with professional golfers and leading business executives all pledging their support in aid of charity. All proceeds raised from the event will benefit charity beneficiaries - Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka.
Golfing icon and tournament host, Player, said he was thrilled with the support shown at this year’s auction.
“It is incredibly exciting and gratifying to see an event like this change the lives of people. The generosity on display last night was just amazing. My great dream is to reach a billion rand raised for charity through The Player Foundation before I retire. And I’m still young, I’m not ready to retire yet,” he said.
The black-tie gala dinner and auction event saw Major champions Ian Woosnam and Padraig Harrington; European Tour contenders Robert Rock, Thomas Levet, Ignacio Garrido and Jake Roos; as well as Ladies European Tour campaigners Carly Booth and Amy Boulden all in attendance.
The professional golfers and guests also rubbed shoulders with actress Vanessa Haywood, former Bafana Bafana soccer captain Aaron Mokoena, Spanish model and actress Inés Sastre, radio personality Thomas Msengana as well as former Proteas cricketers Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs.
The auction’s most sought-after item, an exclusive package to The Masters as a guest of Gary Player and Black Knight International, raised the highest bid for the evening, raking in R 700 000.
Other items on auction included unforgettable experiences at the Open Championship, Wimbledon, Rugby World Cup, and BMW Championship, as well as a sculpture by renowned South African artist Donald Greig, bespoke jewellery piece by Schwartz Jewellers, exclusive Au.Ra brandy, and a trip to Ireland’s Old Head Links.
“The South African leg of our GPI series is always a fantastic event that produces incredible results in our charity drive,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO and GPI series founder. “We are most appreciative to all our superb sponsors and generous guests who aid in creating a brighter future in South Africa and around the globe.”
STARS RALLY FOR UNION OF GOLF AND GIVING AT GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA
Nov 21, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Some of the biggest names in golf, sport, entertainment and business have rallied around the message of hope and the theme of a “Union of Golf and Giving” that underpins this year’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, Africa’s premier charity golf event.
The tournament, to be played at the Gary Player-designed Lost City Golf Club on the weekend, has brought together professional golfers such as triple Major champion Padraig Harrington and former European Ryder Cup captain and Masters champion Ian Woosnam; sports stars such as South African cricket greats Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Herschelle Gibbs, and former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena; celebrities Inés Sastre and Vanessa Haywood; and an array of business leaders all hoping to contribute to the close to R600 million the global Gary Player Invitational series has raised for charity.
And Gibbs set the tone for the weekend when he put into perspective the impact of such an event.
“I can understand giving hope to these young kids. That’s all they want in life. Hope goes a long way as far as an underprivileged child is concerned. What Gary Player has done over the years, and everybody that has made this tournament possible, has been absolutely fantastic,” said Gibbs, who was part of the winning fourball team last year.
Woosnam also recounted his reasons for being a longtime supporter of this series.
“Gary is a legend, and to be able to come down to South Africa for Gary is always a pleasure. I had a bit of a similar background to him. It was a bit hard in the beginning, so I’m privileged to be in the position I am now. To give people a chance at a better life is something I’m very proud of. I’m glad to be able to give my services, because there are not too many people who can be in such a position to do so.”
Both Kallis and Boucher were in awe of the money this series has already raised globally.
“It’s unbelievable. Any time anybody does something for charity, South Africans put up their hands and try and make a difference. That’s why we are here, to also try and make a difference and hopefully change a few underprivileged people’s lives,” said Jacques Kallis.
“Almost R600 million raised is a great effort. I’m involved in conservation charity and I understand how difficult it is to create the funds in order to put this back into the charity. So R600 million is something I could definitely aspire to. Gary and his team have done an unbelievable job in raising these funds,” added Boucher.
And tournament host and golf icon Player himself spoke of a desire to reach an even greater goal than this.
“It makes me very excited to see an event like this change the lives of people. My great dream is to reach a billion rand raised for charity before I retire. And I’m still young. I’m not ready to retire yet,” said the Grand Slam champion.
MOKOENA, ROOS COMPLETE FIELD FOR GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA
Nov 17, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
Former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena and Sunshine Tour professional Jake Roos will complete the field for this week’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at The Lost City Golf Club.
The two will join an impressive line-up of golfers, sports stars, celebrities and top business leaders at Africa’s premier charity tournament in aid of various charities supported by The Player Foundation.
Professional Roos will feature alongside 18-time Major winner and Grand Slam champion Gary Player; triple Major Champion Padraig Harrington; former Masters champion and European Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam; European Tour professionals Robert Rock, Thomas Levet and Ignacio Garrido; and Ladies European Tour campaigners Carly Booth and Amy Boulden.
And Mokoena joins a list of sports stars and celebrities including South African cricket legends Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Herschelle Gibbs; South African model and actress Vanessa Haywood; Spanish model and actress Inés Sastre; and radio personality Thomas Msengana.
“We have another wonderful field for the South African leg of our global Gary Player Invitational series, and we look forward to making another significant contribution to the already over R600 million the GPI series has already raised for various charities supported by The Player Foundation,” said Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International.
Roos heads to Sun City having this year claimed his 15th professional title. The former top-ranked South African amateur has won on the Sunshine Tour, European Challenge Tour, and various mini tours.
And Mokoena joins a long list of former football greats who have played in the Gary Player Invitational series over the years. The 33-year-old South African was the youngest player to ever represent Bafana Bafana and went on to captain the national team and earn 107 caps for his country. He also played for Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth in the Barclays Premier League.
The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola will take place from 20-23 November at The Lost City Golf Club and The Palace of the Lost City.
For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING
GARY PLAYER DESIGN’S MODRY LAS COLLECTS TOP HONOURS AT THE WORLD GOLF AWARDS
Nov 17, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
Modry Las Golf Club has reaffirmed its position as one of the top golfing venues in central Europe after being named Poland’s best golf course at the inaugural World Golf Awards. The West Pomerania Gary Player-designed course beat off competition from six other Polish venues to claim the title which was presented at a glittering awards ceremony in Portugal.
Following six months of voting by golf tourism professionals, the award announcement was a fitting way for the Polish club to bring to a close a spectacular golfing season. After collecting the coveted award, the resort’s International Marketing Director said she was thrilled to receive Poland’s national prize at the gala evening.
“After celebrating our fifth anniversary, launching a new website and doubling our on-site accommodation, what better way to round off a terrific year than being voted the best golf course in Poland at the World Golf Awards?” asked Pamela Gromadzki.
She continued: “What made this award special was the way it was voted for. These awards were launched to celebrate excellence in golf tourism around the globe. As such, we received votes from central Europe, Scandanvia and western Europe, but also from further afield such as the US. This award cements Modry Las as an international resort that offers a distinctive and exceptional golfing experience.”
This latest accolade will be added to a bulging trophy cabinet at the resort, which became the only Polish entry in Golf Journal, Germany’s leading golf magazine’s Top 100 list of European golf courses earlier this year. It was also selected in Golf World’s 2009 and 2011 Top 100s and named Poland’s best golf course by the country’s leading golf website http://www.Polishgolf.pl.
World Golf Awards Managing Director Chris Frost said: “It is with tremendous pride we present the title of Poland’s Best Golf Course to Modry Las. With its stunning backdrop, the West Pomeranian course utilises some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe to create a truly unique golfing experience.”
He continued: “Opening its doors just five years ago, Modry Las has become one of the most sought-after golfing experiences in Europe. And, with the recent introduction of a specially designed golf academy and the opening of three stylish Swiss-designed self-catering cottages, our voters have recognised the course as the best in class.”
Already boasting an 18-hole Gary Player-designed championship course and a Peter Bronson Golf Academy, Modry Las has seen continual improvements since its official opening in 2009. For instance, new Garden Suites have received great praise and the development of a stunning new nine-hole course indicates this pace of change is not letting up.
At the World Golf Awards, Modry Las received votes from leading tourism professionals and consumers from around the world, which Gromadzki said has given her team a timely boost. “In a busy, competitive marketplace, the amount of votes cast for Modry Las was extremely encouraging and only serves to reinvigorate our efforts to create one of the best golf resort experiences there is.”
CRICKETERS MARK BOUCHER AND JACQUES KALLIS TO COMPETE AT 2014 GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL
Nov 17, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
Former Proteas wicket keeper Mark Boucher and SA all-rounder Jacques Kallis are the latest celebrity additions to the 2014 Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, which will take place at the Lost City Golf Course and The Palace Hotel at Sun City later this week from 20-23 November.
Both Boucher and Kallis, who are avid golfers, join the likes of fellow celebrity challengers Spanish model and actress Inés Sastre, actress and athlete Vanessa Haywood and cricketer Herschelle Gibbs as well as professional golfers Ian Woosnam, Carly Booth, Lee Slattery and Amy Boulden, who will all be competing on the golf course at this year’s “Union of Golf and Giving” in aid of charity at Africa’s most prestigious charity golf event.
Celebrating 15 years of giving back this year, the GPI series has raised over R600 million for charity in order to support the various causes supported by The Player Foundation. Later this week, the participants will compete to raise funds for Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka - this year’s charity beneficiaries of the tournament.
Boucher says he is excited to return to the GPI playing field for a third time, alongside golf icon Gary Player.
“It’s always great to raise awareness for a good cause, that’s why I’ve decided to compete again this year at Sun City. Gary Player does a great job of giving back and being a golfer myself, I look forward to the event at the Lost City Golf Course and The Palace Hotel,” Boucher said.
Boucher, like Player, aims to make a difference in the world with his own support of a worthy cause. A proud advocate of rhino conservation, the former Proteas star heads up the Castle Lager Boucher Legacy initiative in South Africa – an initiative he took up after hanging up his cricket gloves for good, due to a career-ending eye injury.
Using a Rhino DNA Index System project, the Castle Lager Boucher Legacy aims to DNA profile each rhino individually in South Africa. In doing so, every rhino horn can be traced back to its source – helping to combat poachers as well as protect the South African rhino species.
Boucher’s charitable efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2013, the Castle Lager Boucher Legacy raised over R1.3 Million to purchase a revolutionary DNA analysis machine, which now processes 24 rhino DNA samples per day - up from only eight samples a day previously.
When he’s not raising funds for his own passionate interests, Boucher is an avid golfer who spends a great deal of his spare time on the golf course. As for fellow Proteas cricketer, Jacques Kallis, he’s “excited to show off his golf skills” at the Lost City Golf Course.
“I’m excited to compete against some of the world’s best golfers and celebrities at Sun City this year. I expect to a little nervous at first, seeing as it’s my first tournament, however I look forward to the challenge,” said Jacques Kallis.
While it’s Kallis’s first time competing at the GPI event presented by Coca-Cola, tournament host and golfing legend Player is thrilled to have both Proteas stars join the field at this year’s tournament.
“It’s a great honour to have two world-class sportsmen such as Boucher and Kallis showing their support to the tournament this year. I look forward to seeing how they fair on the golf course, all in the name of supporting The Player Foundation and our charity beneficiaries,” he said.
For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING / #GPISA2014
HARRINGTON ADDS MAJOR PRESENCE TO GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA
Nov 11, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
Triple Major champion Padraig Harrington has added his name to a professional field for this month’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola that now has a combined 13 Majors and 258 tournament victories worldwide.
The 20-23 November tournament, the final leg in the global Gary Player Invitational series to be played at The Lost City Golf Club at Sun City, will see Grand Slam champion Gary Player lead a field of top professionals alongside an array of celebrities and business leaders in Africa’s premier charity golf tournament.
South African cricketer Herschelle Gibbs has also confirmed his place amongst the former sports greats and celebrities taking part, and joins Spanish model and actress Inés Sastre, and actress Vanessa Haywood. As part of the spirit of this Union of Golf and Giving, they will all be seeking to help add to the over R600 million the GPI series has already raised for various charities supported by The Player Foundation.
Harrington, winner of the 2007 and 2008 Open Championship and 2008 PGA Championship, joins 1991 Masters champion and former Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam, European Tour campaigners Ignacio Garrido, Robert Rock and Thomas Levet, and Ladies European Tour professionals Carly Booth and Amy Boulden in the professional field.
“We have been privileged to have had such incredible support from professional golfers over the years, and this year is no exception. It is really going to be a treat for our celebrities and business leaders to play alongside Major champions and multiple tournament winners,” said golf icon Gary Player.
Harrington’s place in the tournament is certainly timely as the former European Tour Order of Merit winner, European Tour Golfer of the Year and PGA Tour Player of the Year seeks to draw from the inspirational Player as he attempts to work his way back up the world rankings.
“I’ve got to get inside the top 15 in the world to make the Olympics in 2016. That’s the big goal. I really feel good about my game, so I believe I can do it. I’m in a good frame of mind. What you’ve done in the past doesn’t make much difference to the future. You need to be working on things in the present. I’m quite excited about my mental game at the moment,” said Harrington, the vice-captain for the European team in the 2014 Ryder Cup.
For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING / #GPISA2014
GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL BUILDS UPON SUCCESS TO AID CHILDREN ACROSS CHINA
Nov 4, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
Golf icon Gary Player and The Player Foundation continue to provide aid and spread hope for a bright future for underprivileged children across China following another successful Gary Player Invitational (GPI) in Shanghai.
The event featuring a dazzling gala and pro-am tournament added significant funds to the 2014 fundraising campaign to benefit this year’s selected beneficiary, the Zhejiang Xinhua Compassion Education Foundation.
This year was the eighth year that the GPI global charity series, staged by Black Knight International, has ventured to Shanghai, China. Including funds raised at this year’s gala, the charity event, situated between the BMW Masters and WGC-HSBC Champions, has generated over RMB 60 million in China in order to aid in improving lives and providing educational support to underprivileged children.
“I have always felt exceptionally passionate about helping children in need and I could not be more pleased with the outcome of our event here in Shanghai,” said Gary Player. “Through this event, we have the power to create a brighter future for countless children here in China.”
The Grand Slam champion hosted hundreds of businessmen, philanthropists, golf enthusiasts, and celebrity artists including Jasmine Chen at the Jing An Shangri-La hotel for the GPI Gala. The star-studded event included numerous performances and a thrilling live auction before golfers teed it up at the Shanghai Links for the GPI Pro-Am tournament.
“China remains a very important and significant stop for our Gary Player Invitational series as we have been able to create a truly meaningful impact with The Player Foundation’s efforts across the country,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “The success of the event would certainly not be possible without the great sponsors including Rolex, SAP, Callaway, Coca-Cola, BMW, NetJets, Naked Retreats, and the Jing An Shangri-La Hotel.”
Funds raised from the event will go to expand the efforts of the Zhejiang Xinhua Compassion Education Foundation to assist with education and provide meals for children in the rural areas of the country. Since its establishment in 2007, the charity has assisted over 29000 students, as well as built over 120 libraries and over 340 Elementary Schools. The foundation also distributes over 7500 eggs each day in the One Child One Egg Program.
Player, who celebrated his birthday a few days earlier, exclaimed, “Being able to make this great impact for the youth there in China is very special to me and perhaps the best birthday present that I could wish for.”
Following the successful stop in Shanghai, the 2014 Gary Player Invitational series is set to conclude at South Africa’s Sun City Resort on November 20-23.
PLAYER’S BIRTHDAY WISH A MESSAGE OF HOPE
Oct 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
Golf icon Gary Player delivered a strong message of hope as he celebrates his 79th birthday tomorrow with enthusiasm and energy befitting someone decades to his junior.
Recognised as a global humanitarian for his charity work, the Grand Slam champion is celebrating his birthday in China as part of his global tour with the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) series.
The GPI series, staged by Black Knight International, travels to the USA, Europe, China, South Africa, and Abu Dhabi in order to raise funds for The Player Foundation and its many charity beneficiaries around the world. Since 1983, The Player Foundation has raised nearly $60 million to aid underprivileged children. The event in China will be played at the Shanghai Links Golf Club from 3-4 November to support the Zhejiang Xinhua Compassion Education Foundation in providing meals for children in the rural areas of the country.
As his birthday is spent in preparation of the Chinese leg of the widely successful charity series, South Africa’s most successful sportsman has often been called the most positive man in golf for his optimistic and cheerful views on life, which translated well to the golf course with Player accumulating 165 worldwide victories.
Following his many achievements on the golf course, Player has vowed to use his success in order to make an impact on the world.
“What we have done across the globe with The Player Foundation has truly been one of my greatest accomplishments,” said Player. “Over the past 31 years, it is incredibly rewarding to give hope and create a brighter future for children in need.”
The 2014 GPI series will conclude in South Africa later this month and Player especially sees this as a sensitive time for his home country amidst the economic challenges facing the country.
“It has been a difficult time for us as a country, but we’ve faced many challenges before and our success has always been the unity this creates amongst ordinary South Africans who remain determined to make this country the miracle it is,” an emotional Player said from China.
Player’s passion for his country once again shined through as he spoke of his greatest wish at this time.
“I’ve lived through so many changes in South Africa, from the breaking down of Apartheid to the new democracy led by our greatest leader, Nelson Mandela. And through it all, I’ve seen how resilient South Africans are,” said Player. “My own career was built around what South Africa made me as a person. I had no more exceptional talent than the next man, but growing up in South Africa taught me how to work hard and go after your dreams and believe in yourself. Now is the time to keep that miracle alive and keep working to make this country great.”
Player continues to be hopeful for the future and will have much to celebrate in the coming year. In addition to the continued work of the GPI series to fund the bountiful works of The Player Foundation, the Black Knight is set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of clinching the Grand Slam. The anniversary is a significant milestone as Player became the only international golfer to achieve golf’s greatest feat of winning each of golf’s four Major Championships.
After asking Player what he is most looking forward at the age of 79, his response was simply, “Life. It is a beautiful thing. I’m anticipating another fantastic year and have no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.”
MISSION HILLS WORLD CELEBRITY PRO-AM WOWS PLAYER AND STAR-STUDDED FIELD
Oct 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments
It was a glittering week at Mission Hills Haikou as China’s largest golf resort welcomed a celebrated field of professional golfers, sporting legends, and celebrities for the annual Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am.
Golf icon and Grand Slam champion Gary Player joined to field to compete in the event, which pairs 24 elite professional golfers with celebrities over two rounds on Mission Hills Haikou’s signature Blackstone Course.
The pro-am also featured an impressive array of Hollywood A-listers at Mission Hills Haikou, including Oscar Winners Morgan Freeman and Nicole Kidman, actors Jessica Alba and Chris Evans, as well as greats from the sporting world including Yao Ming, Evgeni Plushenko, and Clarence Seedorf.
Other golfers in Hainan included Ryder Cup heroes Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, and Paul McGinley, as well as Major winners Ian Woosnam, Darren Clarke, and Rich Beem. There was also a strong line-up of the world’s best female golfers led by world No 4 Suzann Pettersen.
“This was truly a spectacular event,” said Gary Player. “To have so many notable names bringing attention to golf here at Mission Hills and in China is absolutely wonderful. I had an incredible time and it was a pleasure to compete in Hainan this week.”
South African Player was paired with Hollywood actor Freeman over the week who expressed his longtime admiration of the golf icon and that he had always harbored a desire to come out to China to play the game he loves.
“I find it tremendous to be here,” Morgan Freeman said. “I’m very honored to have been asked to come and to have the opportunity to walk the links with the likes of Gary.”
Freeman later joined partner and nine-time Major Champion Player to help hand out awards to the winners of the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am.
2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose sealed the Professional Individual title with a final score of five-under-par and joined forces with China’s top film director, Feng Xiaogang, to win the Pro-Celebrity Team category. The Celebrity Individual title was won by Chinese actor Sun Nan.
In addition to the tournament titles, Mission Hills Haikou awarded Player, Freeman, and basketball great Yao Ming special “Spirit of Sport” awards for their all-round commitment both to the game and to the ethos of friendship the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am promotes.
Tournament winner Rose heaped praised on the tournament, which encouraged guests to mix and mingle not only with each other but with the tens of thousands of fans who gathered to line the fairways each day and cheer on the stars.
“I’ve seen people laughing, smiling, and joking, and there’s been camaraderie on and off the golf course,” said Rose. “I’ve been making new friends with some of these people that I’ve really looked up to, including Gary Player, Morgan Freeman, and Yao Ming.”
“I would like to thank all the world renowned celebrities and the world’s best golf professionals here with us this weekend for their help towards stimulating the popularity of golf in China, for helping to promote Hainan and Haikou tourism, and for all the hard work that you have done towards putting China on the world map of golf,” said Mission Hills Group CEO and Chairman Dr. Ken Chu.
Proceeds from the tournament will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund and Yao Ming Foundation.
RYDER CUP STARS CONFIRMED FOR NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE
Oct 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments
Half of the victorious European Ryder Cup team as well as two Major winners and three former world No 1s are among the first group of players to confirm their place in this December’s Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Tournament Director Alastair Roper, in announcing the first 12 players that will tee it up in the 4-7 December tournament co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Sunshine Tour and played at one of Sun International’s flagship golf courses in the Gary Player Country Club, said he was delighted with the response of Europe’s Ryder Cup stars.
“To secure half of the European Ryder Cup team, which is by far the biggest representation of that team to be playing in a single tournament anywhere in the world at this same time, is a major coup for us in a year when European golfers are in such demand following their Ryder Cup victory,” Roper said.
The European Ryder Cup stars in the Nedbank Golf Challenge field include Thomas Bjørn, Martin Kaymer, Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson, Stephen Gallacher and Lee Westwood. Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiminez, who was a vice-captain on the team, is also in the field.
Bjørn is back to defend the title he won in spectacular fashion last year, claiming a two-stroke victory at the age of 42.
Westwood is making his 10th appearance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge and returns as a back-to-back winner of “Africa’s Major” in 2010 and 2011.
Kaymer is back hoping to add to his 2012 triumph in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and the 2014 US Open champion and former world No 1 is joined by other former world No 1s in Westwood and Luke Donald.
Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, leads the South Africans in the group, which includes 2013 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner Dawie van der Walt.
Thai golf legend Thongchai Jaidee will be joined in the field by his younger counterpart Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who qualified by virtue of his first-place finish on the 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit.
NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE CONFIRMED PLAYERS:
Thomas Bjørn (Denmark)
Martin Kaymer (Germany)
Lee Westwood (England)
Charl Schwartzel (South Africa)
Victor Dubuisson (France)
Jamie Donaldson (Wales)
Stephen Gallacher (Scotland)
Dawie van der Walt (South Africa)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand)
Luke Donald (England)
Miguel Angel Jiminez (Spain)
Thongchai Jaidee (Thailand)
Article courtesy of SuperSport
NORTH WEST PARKS AND TOURISM BOARD SIGNS SPONSORSHIP DEAL WITH THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL
Oct 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
North West Parks and Tourism Board has signed an exclusive partnership deal as the Official Host Province with Africa’s most prestigious charity golf event, the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, which is set to take place at the Lost City Golf Course and The Palace Hotel at Sun City from 20-23 November.
Home to the fantastic Pilanesberg and Madikwe game reserves, the North West province features the Big Five game animals, fantastic bird-life and wide-open African skies and chance for the all the guests attending this year’s GPI to experience the magnificent sights this breath-taking province has to offer.
“We are very excited about our partnership with the Gary Player Invitational,” said Mr. Tebogo Mopeloa, CEO at North West Parks and Tourism Board. “By aligning our brand with this leading event and exposing international and local high-profile guests, it only continues to add to the richness our province has to offer.”
“There is pride in the history and culture of our province, and visitors can take home with them lasting memories of a special experience,” Mopeloa added.
With the valuable media exposure on a local and global level provided by the South African-leg of the Gary Player Invitational series, including a reach of 2,5million homes in South Africa and over 200 million homes internationally, the partnership falls in line with the Tourism Board’s strategy to promote and sell destination North West as a destination of choice for tourism purposes.
“Our Gary Player Invitational series continues to grow with the generosity of our sponsors, and we are looking forward to a wonderful relationship with the North West Parks and Tourism Board,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEOP. “We pride ourselves on the guest experience at our union of golf and giving and we look forward to showing our guests the beauty of the province.”
The 2014 event in South Africa boasts an all-star professional field, and has just recently announced a few of the confirmed participants, which include Andy Cole, Vanessa Haywood, Ian Woosnam, Carly Booth, Herschelle Gibbs, Lee Slattery and Amy Boulden.
The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised in excess of R600million for charities worldwide.
GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL LOOKS TO MAKE A SPLASH IN SHANGHAI
Oct 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
The China leg of the Gary Player Invitational global charity series, staged by Black Knight International to benefit The Player Foundation, will be held on November 3 - 4 at the Shanghai Links, Shanghai.
Building upon the momentum set during the European and American legs of the Gary Player Invitational series, Black Knight International looks to continue its success as the “Union of Golf and Giving” moves to the Far East.
The leading charity event features professional golfers and business leaders, as well as notable celebrities alongside one of the sporting world’s most iconic golf champions, Gary Player, who aims to make a difference in the lives of others as host of the event.
On November 3 and 4, the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) will take to Shanghai, China where the Jing An Shangri-La Hotel will stage a glittering evening gala before participants test their golf skills in the pro-am event at the Shanghai Links Golf Club.
As the event takes shape, acclaimed pop stars, multinational business leaders, and other celebrities have all pledged their support to benefit The Player Foundation and event beneficiaries seeking to aid underprivileged children.
The Chinese leg of the GPI series has always produced extraordinary results for the fundraising drive to benefit youth in need across the world’s most populous country, and this year stands to be no different.
The Player Foundation has selected Zhejiang Xinhua Compassion Education Foundation as this year’s beneficiary. The NGO’s main area of concern is that children in rural China often go to school with an empty stomach because they do not have the money for breakfast. This causes them to be malnourished and affects both their mental concentration and physical body growth.
“We are looking forward to another successful year in Shanghai to build upon the existing success of our ‘Union of Golf and Giving’ in order to continue bringing a brighter future to children in need across China,” said Marc Tudhope, Black Knight International Managing Director.
Since the establishment of The Player Foundation in 1983 by Marc Player, the foundation has raised nearly $60 million across the globe to aid underprivileged children through the GPI series.
“I have achieved all and more than I ever dreamt for on the golf course, but I count what The Player Foundation has been able to accomplish with the help of our Gary Player Invitational series as one of the most important and fulfilling achievements of my life,” said tournament host Gary Player.
For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter.
SOCCER LEGEND ANDY COLE TO COMPETE AT THE 2014 GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL EVENT PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA
Oct 27, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
Former Manchester United soccer legend Andy Cole is the latest celebrity to join this year’s field of celebrity participants at Africa’s premier golfing event, the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) event presented by Coca-Cola, taking place from 20-23 November at Sun City’s The Lost City Golf Course and The Palace Hotel.
The Manchester United soccer legend joins a strong field of professional golfers, celebrities, businessmen and sport enthusiasts competing on the golf course at this year’s charity tournament.
“This will be my fifth visit to SA. I love the scenery, people, climate and the food and I’m looking forward to taking part and meeting Gary Player for the first time,” said the former English soccer striker.
Speaking ahead of this year’s GPI event, Cole commended Mr Player on being “a true legend of the golfing world.”
“I think it is always good to give back and help others which are less fortunate, I get a great sense fulfilment from doing just that too,” admitted Cole.
District 9 actress Vanessa Haywood and SA cricketer Herschelle Gibbs have also pledged their support and will be amoung the celebrity competitors joining tournament host and golf icon Gary Player for the Union of Golf and Giving.
Professional golfers joining the “Union of Golf and Giving” include Ian Woosnam, Lee Slattery and Carly Booth, adding to an already exciting field of competitors who will go head-to-head on the golf course next month, all in the name of charity.
“I’ve had some great times in South Africa and I’m looking forward to it. As golfers we are in such a fortunate position to use our talent to relieve the plight of those less fortunate in the world. I’m delighted to return to South Africa and support the Gary Player Invitational and the charities it supports,” said Ian Woosnam.
The GPI series has raised over R600 million for charity in order to support the various causes supported by The Player Foundation.
The 2014 event marks Haywood’s first time as a participant at the charity tournament, which aims to give back to others, and she’s excited to compete amongst some of the world’s most celebrated sporting stars and celebrities.
“Gary Player is a phenomenal sportsman and what a philanthropist he is, doing good where ever he goes,” expressed Vanessa Haywood. “The GPI is a highly prestigious event and I am thrilled to be able to make it this year.”
As for fellow sporting personality, Gibbs, this marks his third time supporting the GPI and says he’s looking forward to another successful event.
PLAYER THRILLED TO WELCOME CELEBRITIES, GOLFERS, BUSINESS LEADERS TO HEART OF AFRICAN GOLF
Oct 21, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
It is an impossible task for golfing icon Gary Player to single out his favourite golf course amongst the over 370 he has designed in 35 countries across the globe. And it becomes an even harder one when he has to choose his favourite in his beloved South Africa.
When Golf Digest South Africa released its 2014 list of the country’s top 100 golf courses, five of the top six belonged to the Gary Player Design portfolio. But there is one golf course in South Africa that Player is always drawn to, and that is the Lost City Golf Course at Sun City.
This November, the Lost City Golf Course will, for the second year in succession, stage the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola. This charity event forms part of the global Gary Player Invitational series, which is played in the United States, Europe, China, Abu Dhabi, and South Africa.
The tournament is celebrating its 15th anniversary as South Africa’s premier charity golf tournament with professional golfers, celebrities, and business leaders teaming up to raise funds for the charities supported by The Player Foundation.
And playing it on a golf course that is so typical of Africa is entirely apt for Player.
“When Africa is in your blood as much as it’s in mine, how can you not feel a special sense of place when you step onto the tee at the Lost City Golf Course? This golf course is so special and unique in its character,” said tournament host Gary Player. “The bushveld atmosphere gives it such a great feel. You’ve got the crocodiles near the 13th green, the incredible bird life, the Pilanesberg mountains overlooking the course – it’s like being in a game reserve. I think, as a showcase of what it’s like to play golf in Africa, we could choose no better course than this and I know our international guests are going to love it.”
The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola adds to an impressive list of professional tournaments staged at the Lost City Golf Course over the years. The par-72 course has regularly featured on both the Sunshine Tour and European Tour calendars and, at close to 7 000 metres in length, has established itself as more than a challenge for the modern golfer.
WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM WELCOMES DAVIES, GRAHAM, O’MEARA & TILLINGHAST
Oct 15, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Laura Davies, David Graham, Mark O’Meara and A.W. Tillinghast will be enshrined into the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum as the Class of 2015. The Induction Ceremony will be held on Monday, July 13, 2015 at the University of St Andrews, just blocks from the Old Course, host site of that week’s 144th Open Championship.
This is the first Class to be elected by the Hall of Fame’s Selection Commission, which debated a group of 16 Finalists. The four members of the Class of 2015 each passed the required 75 percent voting threshold – approval by at least 12 of the 16 members.
The Selection Commission was co-chaired by Hall of Fame members Nancy Lopez, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Annika Sorenstam and included the members of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors and a mix of institutional and at-large seats.
“We are thrilled to welcome Laura, David, Mark and A.W. into the World Golf Hall of Fame,” said Tim Finchem, PGA TOUR Commissioner, Selection Commission member and chairman of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors. “The new selection process provided a thorough examination of the candidates by a diverse, international group and we’re delighted with the outcome. Congratulations the Class of 2015.”
The Commission elected the Class of 2015 from 16 Finalists, which were vetted by the Hall of Fame’s Selection Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee met earlier this summer and vetted every candidate that met the qualifications of the Hall of Fame’s four Induction categories. It presented the following group of Finalists to the Commission:
Candidate - Category
Laura Davies - Female Competitor
Johnny Farrell - Male Competitor
Max Faulkner - Veterans
David Graham - Male Competitor
Beverly Hanson - Female Competitor
Catherine Lacoste - Veterans
Henry Longhurst - Lifetime Achievement
Davis Love III - Male Competitor
Meg Mallon - Female Competitor
Graham Marsh - Male Competitor
Mark O’Meara - Male Competitor
Sandra Palmer - Female Competitor
Calvin Peete - Veterans
Samuel Ryder - Lifetime Achievement
Jan Stephenson - Female Competitor
A.W. Tillinghast - Lifetime Achievement
With more than 70 victories worldwide and four LPGA majors, Davies is considered by many to be the most successful female British player of all time. After an accomplished amateur career, Davies made it clear she would be a force when she won both the Rookie of the Year and the Order of Merit on the Ladies European Tour in 1985.
In 1987, while still only a 23-year-old member of the LET, Davies outdueled future Hall of Fame members Ayako Okamoto and Joanne Carner in an 18-hole playoff to win the U.S. Women’s Open at Plainfield (N.J.) Country Club. In the mid-1990s, Davies became one of the dominant players in the world, winning the 1994 and 1996 LPGA Championships at Dupont (Del.) Country Club. She added a fourth major with the 1996 du Maurier Classic.
Davies has represented Europe a record 12 times in the Solheim Cup, playing in every competition from 1990-2011. Among her numerous awards are the Golf Writers Association of America Female Player of the Year in 1994 and 1996, and the 1994 Golf Writers’ Trophy from the Association of Golf Writers. She was named a Member of the British Empire (M.B.E.) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988 and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.) in 2000.
“I’d like to thank the Selection Sub-Committee and the Selection Commission for bringing me into the Class of 2015; it is a wonderful honor,” Davies said. “I am especially looking forward to the Induction Ceremony at St Andrews in 2015. It really will be a special event.”
Among his more than 20 victories worldwide, Graham won the 1979 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club and the ‘81 U.S. Open at Merion. Graham’s final-round 67 at Merion is considered one of the best final rounds in major championship history; it even merited a post-round phone call from Ben Hogan.
While Graham’s two biggest wins were on U.S. soil, the Australian is truly an international competitor, joining Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer and Gary Player as the only players to win events on six different continents. He represented Australia in three Dunhill Cups and two World Cups, winning the 1970 World Cup with Bruce Devlin. He was also the International Team captain in the first Presidents Cup competition in 1994.
“Clearly, to be accepted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as player is the icing on the cake on what has been a nice career,” Graham said. “It is a great honor for me, my wife, my kids and all of my friends.”
Golf fans will remember 1998 as the year Mark O’Meara established himself as one of the game’s greats, when he captured both the Masters and Open Championship. That season, when he birdied the final two holes at Augusta National to defeat Fred Couples and David Duval by one shot, then outlasted Brian Watts in a four-hole playoff to win at Royal Birkdale, made him, at age 41, the oldest player ever to win two majors in one year. It was no surprise when he was named the 1998 PGA TOUR Player of the Year.
His myriad career highlights go beyond those two victories, starting in 1979 when he won the U.S. Amateur at Canterbury Golf Club in Cleveland. O’Meara has more than 20 victories worldwide, and has represented the United States in five Ryder Cups and two Presidents Cups.
“Thanks go out to my family and friends on this incredible day,” O’Meara said. “To have the great honor of being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame is a dream come true.”
Born in 1874, Albert Warren (A.W.) Tillinghast took golf lessons from Old Tom Morris, was an admirer of St Andrews, and used that knowledge to become a true pioneer of American golf. He was a prolific architect, with more than 100 U.S. courses to his credit. He was also an original member of the PGA of America and authored a slew of books about the game.
Several of Tillinghast’s designs are still considered among the world’s best and used frequently for golf’s major championships. Bethpage State Park, Winged Foot, Baltusrol Golf Club, San Francisco Golf Club, Quaker Ridge and Somerset Hills are all Tillinghast designs.
Davies, Graham, O’Meara and Tillinghast will be inducted at the University of St Andrews, in Younger Hall. It will be the first international venue for the Induction Ceremony.
“Laura, David, Mark and A.W. will be outstanding additions to the Hall of Fame family,” said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. “This announcement is the culmination of a year of exciting changes that we believe will continue to raise the long-term profile of the Induction Ceremony and the institution. We look forward to celebrating the Class of 2015 and extend our hearty congratulations.”
For more information on the Induction Ceremony, the Selection Commission, and the criteria for Induction, visit http://www.WorldGolfHallofFame.org.
GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL ANNOUNCES CHARITY BENEFICIARIES
Oct 8, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, Africa’s premier charity golf event, looks to continue its wildly successful charitable drive at the Lost City Golf Course and The Palace Hotel at Sun City from 20-23 November. The annual “Union of Golf and Giving” will once again pledge support to Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka as the selected beneficiaries in order to provide aid to underprivileged children and impoverished communities across South Africa.
The event staged at the Gary Player-designed Lost City Golf Course will feature professional golfers, business leaders as well as notable celebrities participating in the annual charity event, alongside one of the sporting world’s most iconic golf champions, Gary Player, who aims to make a difference in the lives of others as host of the event.
Celebrating its 15th year in giving back, the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) series has raised over R600 million for charity in order to support the various causes supported by The Player Foundation.
“We are thrilled to once again pledge our support to Wings and Wishes, as well as the Wildlands Conservation Trust,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO and Gary Player Invitational founder. “In our 15th edition of the GPI in South Africa, we hope to continue our success in aiding underprivileged youth with the generous help of our sponsors like Coca-Cola, SAP, BMW, Rolex, Callaway, UPS, and Sun International.”
The generous proceeds donated to Wings and Wishes, resulted in 507 flight tickets being purchased to assist 253 children with the necessary and much-need transport to hospitals, in order to receive lifesaving treatment.
2014 marks the third year that the GPI series partners with Wings and Wishes – a organisation established in 2006 by staff at the Coca-Cola Sabco bottling company in Port Elizabeth to collect air-miles for the transportation of critically ill children in order to receive lifesaving medical treatment at the appropriate medical facilities.
The GPI is also thrilled to continue its longstanding relationship with The Wildlands Conservation Trust, in partnership with Qhubeka. The charity organisation currently operates in almost 100 communities across the country and aims to empower local communities by establishing “green jobs” for the poor and unemployed, focusing on recycling plastic and encouraging the growing of indigenous trees through community-based Waste-preneurs and Tree-preneurs.
The partnership between the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) and Wildlands is aligned with Gary Player’s philosophy in his business operations to always respect the land and its natural beauty and biodiversity.
“With the support of over R4.2 million from the GPI since 2011, Wildlands have managed to change the lives of approximately 7400 individuals, with the majority of these individuals being women and children,” said Wildlands’ CEO Dr Andrew Venter. “82 375kg of waste has been collected, over 1, 7 million bottles collected, 216 000 trees grown and bartered and 2830 Coca-Cola bicycles distributed across the country. The GPI, Coca-Cola and Qhubeka are helping us build a sustainable future – one tree, one bicycle and one item of waste at a time, words cannot explain the impact this project will have on the planet in years to come.”
THE CLIFFS AT MOUNTAIN PARK WORTH THE WAIT
Oct 3, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Only 14 golf courses opened in the United States in 2013, so it was a major accomplishment when Gary Player’s Mountain Park layout was added to The Cliffs’ high-end private portfolio last Fall.
Heck . . . opening was the easy part of the process.
The club endured five years of delays. There was the economic turbulence of the Great Recession; a change in Cliffs’ ownership; and three different rerouted designs thanks to environmental stipulations surrounding the banks of the picturesque North Saluda River, a floodplain location, and the Greenville, S.C., water main line buried smack-dab in the middle of the golf course.
“We did have to go back to the drawing board a few times . . . and some of the holes happened by accident,” conceded Jeff Lawrence, Gary Player Design’s lead architect on the project in Travelers Rest, a secluded and wonderfully serene location in the eastern mountains of the Palmetto State.
“We’re very proud of it; the commitment of new ownership finishing it. It was a rollercoaster ride up and down through the economic times, the ups and downs with the challenges of the environmentalists of what we originally envisioned to what we could do.”
Lawrence gets major props for dropping a piece of Scotland into an area once known for moonshine runners. No one can appreciate this links layout better than head pro Mike Williams, who is from across the Pond in Newcastle.
“In America, this is about as close as I’ve gotten to links golf,” Williams said. “And it is links golf with mountains, which is a unique style in its own. But it is fun, definitely a different challenge. You don’t get anything like this, especially in this area. It has really been popular with the members.”
How popular? Well, the membership is small for now, but Mountain Park’s central location to the other six Cliffs clubs and its sassy layout will attract about 17,000 member and guest rounds in 2014.
“If you look at our tee sheet, every membership club has its own color, and our sheet at Mountain Park looks like a techno-color of everything. It’s great to see,” Williams said. “I have been with the Cliffs for close to six to seven years now and I am meeting members that I haven’t necessarily met before.”
The distinctive character of the property starts at the bag-drop area, where two friendly bloodhounds - Copper and Sugar - greet all players.
“They are two of the most popular things we have here at Mountain Park,” Williams said of the dogs. “They are just part of the family now. The members just love them; they bring them toys, they bring them treats. We even had a ‘yappy hour’ where all the members came with their dogs and we just hung out by the fire pit as the dogs roamed around and had a blast. We marketed it as being hosted by Copper and Sugar. Animals mean a lot to the members here and a majority of them are dog-lovers.”
Mountain Park also set out to capture the area’s rich history and culture. Old whisky barrels are used on the practice range as targets as a tip of the cap to the former moonshiners and an area once known as the Dark Corner, while bag stands are hand-crafted from rhododendron wood.
The clubhouse is a cozy cabin, and the at-the-turn house has been dubbed The Outpost, where the honor system for food and beverage is a nice touch. And before you’re ready to attack this links layout, a cart with leather bucket seats awaits.
“We’re trying to separate ourselves from the norm,” Williams said. “When somebody is coming up to the club for their round it’s an amazing first impression. They are like, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that before, these are the coolest seats ever.’ You haven’t even stepped on the golf course yet or the range and you already have a wow factor . . . and all you’ve done is shown them the golf cart.”
Most of the front nine cuts through a wooded area and along the river while the back is more open with a large lake guarding a few holes and Player’s design center, where Lawrence watched as his masterpiece was being constructed outside his office window.
“The contractor was like ‘Ah, he’s too close,’ ” Lawrence said with a chuckle. “During the construction part it was new to me because most of our projects were across the Pond somewhere, so it was six-, eight- 10-, 15-hour plane rides. But Mountain Park was in our backyard and every time I looked out my window I kept saying, ‘I’ve got to get out there, I’ve got to get out there.’ But there are times that you have to back off a little bit and let them get their work done.
“Even though I’m so close I don’t tinker at all,” Lawrence said when I asked him about any comparison to Donald Ross once living along the fairways of famed Pinehurst No. 2. “Sure, you always say, ‘I wish I would have done this or that,’ but nothing major. We are trying more to refine the conditioning now and does it play the way it should from a design perspective - fast and firm to a certain degree. We’re trying to get those conditions to marry and compliment the design features.”
The design features are many, most notably massive greens (averaging around 7,500 square feet), flash bunkering, native grasses galore, with swales and hollows around the greens that make for some interesting club selections.
“We concentrated on shot options, wanting to bring the bump-and-run back, bring the contouring of golf back,” Lawrence said. “That was a passion of mine and I kind of incorporated that here with the blessing of Mr. Player, saying ‘Let’s just not do the standard grab-my-wedge and hit a certain kind of shot, let’s be creative and get back to the original concept of golf in the U.K and Scotland.’ We weren’t really sure how the membership was going to embrace it. They were either going to love it or hate it. I think they’ve come to realize maybe a wedge isn’t the shot. We spent an exceptional amount of time around the greens thinking and being creative.”
Williams, for one, can’t get enough of the greens and their surrounding complexes.
“One of the first times I played the course I kind of wanted to miss the greens in some ways because it is just not common to see green shapes like this and the surrounding swales,” he said. “You just want to come out here and bring a bag of shag balls and start hitting chip shots, and bump-and-runs that you’re not normally able to do. We’ve had some PGA Tour players around and play it and you see everything from putter to hybrid to fairway wood to 7-iron to your lob wedge. The lob wedge definitely isn’t the automatic club of choice, not at all.”
Mountain Park is not overly long. In fact, three of its four par-3s are 150 yards or less, a refreshing design feature.
“We just were trying to create a good balance,” said Lawrence, who has also worked for Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio during his design career. “Mr. Player and I talked about remembering the clientele who will be playing the course; that we didn’t need a 7,500-yard golf course. We wanted golfers to think their way around the golf course, and not just grab a driver and get up and hit it. We wanted them to think how they could use the contours to their advantage. Some of the greatest holes in golf are 110-yard par-3s or 310-yard par-4s. They don’t all have to be monsters, which I think gets lost today in architecture. That was always in the back of our minds.”
Player has been nicknamed the Black Knight, so Mountain Park has dubbed its final four holes The Joust, which pits golfers against a series of interesting and intriguing options down the concluding stretch of your round. “We wanted to create our own section of the golf course that has its own identity,” Williams said.
The 15th hole, a par-5, features a blind tee shot and a fairway shot around a large tree, while the 16th is a 225-yard par-3, No. 17 is a drivable par-4 and the finale is another par-5.
“We wanted to create this finish to where you can be as aggressive as you want or you can be as safe as you want, so it is like you versus the golf course,” Williams said. “We are branding it and we’re going to have merchandise in the pro shop with its own joust logo. We’ll be putting a sign out there on the tee box saying, ‘Welcome to The Joust,’ creating a brand within a brand.”
Finishing strong, not necessarily on time, seems to be a theme at The Cliffs at Mountain Park. In the end, this is one course that stimulates the golf senses with visual intimidation off the tee, a variety of shots around the greens and a flowing, seamless layout.
I mark great courses by saying, “We’re done already?” My round at The Cliffs at Mountain Park ended with an appetite for more, the sign of a truly fun golf experience.
Article courtesy of Cybergolf and Dave Droschak
SIRIUSXM TO AIR TOWN HALL WITH LEGENDARY GOLFER GARY PLAYER
Oct 2, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Legendary golfer Gary Player will sit down for an exclusive Q&A session with an audience of SiriusXM listeners at the SiriusXM Studios in New York City on Monday, October 6, as part of SiriusXM’s “Town Hall” series.
“SiriusXM’s Town Hall with Gary Player” will air nationwide two days later - on Wednesday, October 8 at 1:00 pm ET - on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio (XM channel 93, Sirius channel 208) and will be moderated by veteran golf broadcaster and SiriusXM host Matt Adams. Player will answer questions from SiriusXM subscribers in the audience and talk about his remarkable career and his efforts to promote health and fitness.
“I am excited to sit down for an exclusive Town Hall to answer questions from the fantastic listeners of SiriusXM,” said Grand Slam champion Gary Player. “My career has spanned over 60 years now, so I am looking forward to some great questions about golf, as well as diet, exercise and fitness.”
“Gary is extraordinary not just for his career on the course, which is legendary, but also for his life-long commitment to healthy living and exercise,” said Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM’s President and Chief Content Officer. “He’s more fit than most people half his age and his life and career are an inspiration to millions around the world. We’re thrilled and honored to have him sit and talk with our subscribers for our Town Hall series.”
Gary Player is one of golf’s greatest players, having won 165 professional tournaments worldwide. In 2015, he will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his Grand Slam, which he won at age 29 at the 1965 US Open. Player became only the third golfer to win all four of golf’s major tournaments, following Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen. Since then, only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have added their names to this elite group. Player has also been a renowned proponent of healthy living through proper diet and exercise throughout his entire career and is recognized as a pioneer of fitness in sports. He maintains an incredible workout routine even today at age 78 that includes hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups daily. He also serves as a spokesman for the health care company, Humana Inc., and is active in their efforts to fight childhood obesity and promote a healthy lifestyle.
The event is part of SiriusXM’s “Town Hall” series, which features intimate gatherings with an iconic personality sitting down with a studio audience of SiriusXM listeners. After the debut broadcast, the program will be available on SiriusXM On Demand for subscribers via the SiriusXM Internet Radio App or online at SiriusXM.com.
TOP JUNIOR TALENT EMERGES AT GARY PLAYER CLASSIC
Sep 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments
Daniel Gale, Joshua Taylor and Charles Pilon claimed victory their respective
age divisions in last week’s Gary Player Classic
Following another exhilarating competition, the Gary Player Classic continues to prove itself as one of the most significant and successful events for Australian Junior golfers. Over the past 42 years, the annual event sponsored by the South African Grand Slam champion has brought many amateurs under the age of 21 closer to their professional dreams and launched the careers for many past champions including Jason Day, Adam Scott, Ian Baker-Finch and Greg Norman.
“It is such a pleasure to support Junior Golf in Australia and see so many talented young golfers prosper after competing in this long-standing event,” said golfing icon Gary Player. “Junior golf is extremely crucial to the future and growth of golf around the world. Golf Queensland has done a superb job with the Gary Player Classic, and I am thrilled to be involved with this top-notch tournament.”
The Gary Player Classic, held at the Pacific Club in Brisbane, continues to showcase Australia’s top talent in one of the longest running junior tournaments in the country.
This year’s field has attracted a number of emerging juniors to compete for the 18-20, 16-17, and Under 15 bracket titles with Daniel Gale, Joshua Taylor and Charles Pilon winning their respective age divisions as the tournament concluded last Friday.
Jason Day, pictured during the 2014 Berenberg
Gary Player Invitational, is one of the few players
to win three Gary Player Classic titles and is now
ranked Number Eight in the world.
The 15 years and under Division was dominated by Pilon from the Hills Golf Club. After an opening round of 81, he managed to rebound with rounds of 73,70 and 75 to finish at 11-over for a seven shot victory.
The 16-17 years division was a closer affair with only one shot separating champion Joshua Taylor, from Yarra Yarra, and runner-up Douglas Klein, from Redcliffe. Taylor held a one shot lead heading into Friday’s final round and was able to hang onto the lead despite a spirited challenge from Klein, finishing with rounds of 72-75-76-74 to card 9-over.
In the 18-20 years division, Daniel Gale, from Castle Hill, was able to extend away from the field with a four stroke winning margin after scores of 70-72-75-75 to finish at 4-over.
Gale, Taylor, and Pilon are just the latest to join the list of storied champions at the Gary Player Classic, which includes many of Australia’s top golfers who have risen to prominence over the event’s history.
Former World Number One golfers Greg Norman and Adam Scott are notable past victors.
Jason Day, current World Number Eight, is one of the few players to have won three Gary Player Classic titles as he won the Under 15 division in 2002, and 16-17 division in both 2004 and 2005.
The Gary Player Classic is a feature on the Australian Junior Order of Merit, now in its 43rd year.
GARY PLAYER AND STAR-STUDDED FIELD PREPARE FOR MISSION HILLS WORLD CELEBRITY PRO-AM
Sep 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Golfing icon Gary Player is looking forward to a busy month ahead as he travels to China for golf course design visits and the next stop on the Gary Player Invitational series schedule in Shanghai, but the Black Knight’s first stop will have him competing with Hollywood’s A-list in a week of golf, glamour, and gala events at the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am on October 24-26.
The event represents a significant gathering of sports and entertainment legends congregating at Mission Hills China, the world’s largest golf resort.
Held on the tropical island of Hainan, top golfers, in addition to Grand Slam champion Player, joining the event will include 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Greg Norman, Ian Woosnam, Darren Clarke, and fresh off Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup victory Paul McGinley.
“It is going to be a real thrill to tee it up alongside the world-class group of celebrities and professionals that is set to gather for the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am,” said Gary Player. “Golf continues to grow by leaps and bounds in China, but events like the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am are just fantastic to introduce more and more people to this great game as 24 professional golfers and 24 celebrities come together for this event that is sure to be a great combination of golf and entertainment.”
Among the stars competing for golf glory will be Morgan Freeman, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Nicole Kidman, and Kenny G. Basketball legend Yao Ming will be returning for the second year in a row bringing national and global attention to the event and further fueling the rapidly growing popularity of golf in China.
Celebrities will be partnering with golf pros for the tournament, which will take place over the weekend. While assisting their celebrity partners, the professional golfers will compete for an individual prize of a million dollars.
Celebrities participants in the field are, understandably, looking forward to the event.
“I’m incredibly excited to be taking part in the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am in China,” said Hollywood star Jessica Alba. “I’m really looking forward to enjoying the incredible facilities at Mission Hills.”
GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL CONTINUES MOMENTUM AS SERIES MOVES TO CHINA & SOUTH AFRICA
Sep 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
Building upon the momentum set during the European and American legs of the Gary Player Invitational series, Black Knight International looks to continue its success as the “Union of Golf and Giving” moves to the Far East and golfing icon Gary Player’s home country of South Africa.
The leading charity event features professional golfers and business leaders, as well as notable celebrities alongside one of the sporting world’s most iconic golf champions, Gary Player, who aims to make a difference in the lives of others as host of the event.
On November 3 and 4, the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) will take to Shanghai, China where the Jing An Shangri-La Hotel will stage a glittering evening gala before participants test their golf skills in the pro-am event at the Shanghai Links Golf Club.
As the event takes shape, acclaimed pop stars, multinational business leaders, and other celebrities have all pledged their support to benefit The Player Foundation and event beneficiaries seeking to aid underprivileged children.
Gary Player holds a clinic with teenage sensation Guan Tianlang during
last year’s GPI in Shanghai
The Chinese leg of the GPI series has always produced extraordinary results for the fundraising drive to benefit youth in need across the world’s most populous country, and this year stands to be no different.
“We are looking forward to another successful year in Shanghai to build upon the existing success of our ‘Union of Golf and Giving’ in order to continue bringing a brighter future to children in need across China,” said Marc Tudhope, Tournament Director and Black Knight International Managing Director.
The busy month of November will end in South Africa concluding the 2014 series as the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola will celebrate its 15th anniversary as South Africa’s premier charity golf tournament at Sun City from November 20-23.
Hollywood actors Anthony Anderson and Carmine Giovinazzo pose with 2001
& 2004 US Open Champion Retief Goosen during the GPI gala at Sun City
“Golf has shown itself to be the leader among all sports when it comes to raising funds for charity time and time again,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “The unwavering support of the world’s top golfers, celebrities, and leading businesspeople has been central to the success of the Gary Player Invitational in South Africa, and we are looking forward to bringing all these personalities together to keep this dream alive for our 15th consecutive year.”
Since the establishment of The Player Foundation in 1983 by Marc Player, the foundation has raised nearly $60 million across the globe to aid underprivileged children through the GPI series.
“I have achieved all and more than I ever dreamt for on the golf course, but I count what The Player Foundation has been able to accomplish with the help of our Gary Player Invitational series as one of the most important and fulfilling achievements of my life,” said tournament host and golf icon Gary Player.
BLACK KNIGHT TO DELIVER THOROUGHBRED OWNER CONFERENCE KEYNOTE IN BANNER YEAR FOR GARY PLAYER STUD
Sep 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
On the golf course, Gary Player has solidified his place in the game’s history, but the Black Knight continues to prove his skill away from the course as he has turned his passion for breeding thoroughbred race horses into a widely successful business that has placed the Gary Player Stud consistently among the top of the National Breeders List.
The golfing legend will soon travel to the Bluegrass State and its heralded horse country where he will deliver the keynote address for the inaugural Thoroughbred Owner Conference in Lexington, Kentucky set to take place October 13-16.
The Thoroughbred Owner Conference will gather at Keeneland and will be co-presented by Del Mar, Keeneland, the New York Racing Association, and The Stronach Group.
As Player continues to build his stud portfolio as a leading breeder in South Africa, delivering the keynote address at the inaugural conference is yet further evidence of his successful foray into the horse business. Player, a longtime Thoroughbred owner, breeder, and advocate, was also named a Breeders’ Cup Ambassador in 2013 for his dedication to the sport.
The Gary Player Stud Farm has bred over 2000 winning thoroughbred race horses since the golfing icon acquired the 2000 acre farm in 1974 and is consistently among the leading breeders in South Africa.
Continuing to grow and lift the profile of the stud farm, the Gary Player Stud has recently acquired five noteworthy mares, in foal to one of South Africa’s most successful stallions, Fort Wood.
Young colt recently delivered to the Gary Player Stud Farm during this
Earlier this year, the stud sold a remarkable racehorse in a yearling by popular stallion Var. The yearling made the top price of R1m at the KwaZulu-Natal Yearling Sale in Durban.
Additionally, Saratoga Dancer, a colt by Mambo in Seattle out of Super Elle that sold at the Two Year Old sale last year, was resold at the Ready to Run sale with success in his recent races. The colt has qualified for next tier races and will see action next month following this sale.
As the Gary Player Stud continues into foaling season, the operation has already welcomed the arrival of new foals from notable stallions including Dynasty, Ideal World, Mambo in Seattle, Judpot, Noordhoek Flyer, Sail from Seattle, Captain Al and Var.
Driven by the passion of Player and the dedicated stud farm team, the Gary Player Stud continues to produce top thoroughbreds in South Africa, which has been recognized within the sport and around the world.
GARY PLAYER CLASSIC UNDERWAY AT PACIFIC GOLF CLUB
Sep 24, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
The Gary Player Classic continues to showcase Australia’s top junior talent in one of the longest running junior tournaments in the country.
The annual event sponsored by the South African Grand Slam champion is staged at the Pacific Club in Brisbane, where in the event’s 42 year history previous victors include Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Jason Day, and Ian Baker-Finch.
This year’s field has attracted a number of emerging juniors including Daniel Kolar, Connor Reeves and Tim Hyland.
Top Australian junior golfers including Daniel Kolar compete this week in the Gary
Player Classic (Credit: Anthony Powter)
Competitors do battle for the Under 15, 16-17, and 18-20 bracket titles. The field will be reduced to the leading 25 players (plus ties) in each age division after 54 holes. These players will contest the final round this Friday at Pacific Golf Club.
The Gary Player Classic has certainly produced many a fine champion during the event’s history.
As a 16-year-old Jason Day secured a six shot victory to add to his Australian Junior, Queensland Amateur, New Zealand Under 19 and Junior World titles he won in 2004.
Day returned the following year to successfully defend his title and in the process join Greg Norman, Peter Senior, Stephen Taylor (twice), Matthew King, Richard Backwell, Shane Tait, Luke Parkin, Andrew Buckle and Tom Davis as the only players to have defended an age-group title in the Gary Player Classic.
Day also became one of only a few players to have won three Gary Player Classic titles, having also won the 15 Years and Under division in 2002.
Daniel Nisbet fired a closing 64 in 2006 for a nine stroke win and in 2008 Cameron Smith won the 15-years division.
Article Courtest of Golf Grinder and Anthony Powter.
PGA TOUR TOGETHER, ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE: GARY PLAYER & CHRISTOPHER DAVIS REUNITE
Sep 24, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
After giving The First Tee participant Christopher Davis life changing advice five years ago at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, Gary Player witnessed first hand how his motivational health advice turned into amazing results during the 2014 3M Championship.
WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM TO BRING 2015 INDUCTION CEREMONY TO ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND
Sep 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum will stage the 2015 Induction Ceremony at the home of golf in St Andrews, Scotland, in conjunction with The Open Championship. The Ceremony will be held on Monday, July 13 at the University of St Andrews, just blocks from the Old Course, host site of that week’s 144th Open.
The move is part of an expanded biennial schedule for the Induction Ceremony and highlights the Hall of Fame’s ongoing strategic efforts to elevate its awareness and prestige around the world. That schedule includes returning to World Golf Village for the 2017 event, which will be held the Monday of THE PLAYERS Championship week. In 2019, the Induction Ceremony will move to Pebble Beach, Calif., and be staged on Monday of U.S. Open Championship week.
“This expanded schedule is an important step for the World Golf Hall of Fame as it continues to grow and cultivate audiences in the U.S. and abroad,” said Tim Finchem, PGA TOUR Commissioner and chairman of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors. “The Board of Directors believes this is an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of the Induction Ceremony.”
The 2015 Ceremony will be held at the University of St Andrews, which has a history of recognizing golf’s greatest players. The University has conferred honorary Doctor of Law degrees to several Hall of Fame members – including Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer – in recognition of their outstanding achievements and contributions to the sport of golf.
“I am absolutely delighted that the first Induction Ceremony to be staged internationally is coming to St Andrews,” said Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A. “The Class of 2015 will have a truly special experience in being recognized in the place where golf began. There will be many thousands of visitors to St Andrews during the Open Championship and the Induction Ceremony will start the week with real fanfare.”
The Class of 2015 will be introduced later this year.
“This is an exciting opportunity to continue to increase the world-wide visibility of the Hall of Fame and Induction Ceremony,” said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. “St Andrews is an ideal location, considering its rich history with Hall of Fame members. I would like to thank our sponsors Shell Oil Company and Rolex, along with the Board of Directors, and The R&A and USGA in particular, for helping us bring the Class of 2015 and Class of 2019 Induction Ceremonies to two of golf’s most iconic locations.”
R&A VOTES TO WELCOME WOMEN MEMBERS
Sep 18, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
The result of the postal ballot among members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews was declared early yesterday evening. The decision to hold a ballot in which all of the Club’s global members had a chance to participate was more than vindicated by the participation of more than 75% of those eligible to vote.
Secretary of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club Peter Dawson said, “I am very pleased indeed to announce that the membership of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews has voted overwhelmingly in favour of welcoming women members. More than three quarters of the club’s global membership took part in the ballot, with a decisive 85% voting for women to become members.”
“This vote has immediate effect and I can confirm that The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is now a mixed membership club. The membership has also acted to fast-track a significant initial number of women to become members in the coming months. This is a very important and positive day in the history of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. The R&A has served the sport of golf well for 260 years and I am confident that the club will continue to do so in future with the support of all its members, both women and men.”
Commenting on the historic vote, golf icon Gary Player stated, “I could not be more delighted that R&A voted to include female members. This was absolutely the correct decision and I believe it will great for the game of golf.”
‘NICO ROSBERG HAS HAD AN AMAZING SEASON, HE COULD WIN A LAUREUS AWARD’ SAYS DAVID COULTHARD
Sep 8, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Nico Rosberg goes into today’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza, with Laureus Ambassador and former Formula One star David Coulthard predicting that the young German could win a Laureus World Sports Award.
Coulthard, who won 13 Grand Prix in a career lasting 15 years, was speaking at a star-studded gala charity night in Milan, to raise funds for the Italian Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary.
Asked if he could see his fellow Laureus Ambassador Nico Rosberg winning a Laureus Award, Coulthard said: “No question! He has had an amazing season in Formula One, he’s a multiple Grand Prix winner and leader of the World Championship. Nico is a great ambassador and appreciates the opportunities he has been given.”
Rosberg lines up alongside his MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS team-mate Lewis Hamilton, himself a winner of a Laureus Award in 2008, on the front row of the grid for today’s race at Monza. Rosberg currently leads Hamilton by 29 points in the World Championship.
Now an expert Formula One analyst, Coulthard applauded the competition between the two. He said: “They are two great drivers of the modern era in F1. They are on the same team and are battling head-to-head for the Formula One World Championship. What we are witnessing are the emotions that sport brings out in people.”
The Laureus gala charity night, staged at the Mercedes-Benz Centre in Milan, had a strong Formula One focus, ahead of today’s race. In addition to Rosberg, Hamilton and Coulthard, also present were former Formula One world champion and Laureus Academy Member Emerson Fittipaldi and French favourite Jean Alesi.
Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, also attended the event with fellow Academy Members Giacomo Agostini, Franz Klammer, Mike Horn and Alberto Tomba. Other guests included Davide Cassani, Marco Bortolami, Antonio Rossi, Alessandro Fabian, Alessia Trost, Aldo Montano and Garret McNamara.
The charity night raised more than €200,000 for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation to support Italian projects which have helped more than 2,000 disadvantaged young people in its ten years of life.
PLAYER CELEBRATES 15 YEARS OF “GIVING GOLF A HEART” THROUGH THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL
Sep 8, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola will celebrate its 15th anniversary as South Africa’s premier charity golf tournament when professional golfers, celebrities and business leaders gather for this year’s tournament at the Lost City Golf Course at Sun City from November 20-23.
As a “Union of Golf and Giving” that stretches around the globe, the South African charity event concludes the international Gary Player Invitational series which also stages events in the USA, Europe, China, and Abu Dhabi.
Professional golfers are paired with celebrities and business leaders in the event that aims to give golf a heart as it raises money for charities supported by The Player Foundation. The official beneficiaries of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola are the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka, as well as Wings and Wishes.
To date, the series has raised over R600 million for charity, a core component of what the golfing icon and Grand Slam champion hopes will be one of his greatest legacies.
“I have achieved all and more than I ever dreamt for on the golf course, but I count what The Player Foundation has been able to accomplish with the help of our Gary Player Invitational series as one of the most important and fulfilling achievements of my life,” said tournament host and golf icon Gary Player. “I want my epitaph to say, ‘Here is a man who was interested in his fellow man, education and health. And he bettered the lives of those less fortunate. Surely that is the greatest legacy a man can leave? I count my blessings that my career has allowed me to do this and that we have had the support of all our generous sponsors to help make this possible.”
Coca-Cola remains one of the longest standing supporters of the Gary Player Invitational’s drive to improve the lives of the poor and provide a sustainable future for them through a focus on Women, Wellness and Water.
“We are always proud to be associated with the GPI. Coca-Cola has been creating jobs and economic opportunity while bringing people together for good causes and good times – from recycling programs to fitness programs and women’s empowerment initiatives. It’s in our DNA to make a lasting difference in communities around the world. To ensure we continue to make a positive impact on people, communities and the environment over time, we are embedding sustainability into our business and making it a part of everything we do and the GPI is one platform that allows us to do this,” said Therese Gearhart, President of Coca-Cola Southern Africa,” said Therese Gearhart, President of Coca-Cola Southern Africa.
RIP, JOAN RIVERS. YOU WERE NEVER AFRAID TO TELL IT LIKE IT IS. – GARY PLAYER
Sep 4, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
JACK VICKERS RECEIVES PGA TOUR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Sep 4, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Jack Vickers, whose vision of bringing PGA TOUR golf to Castle Pines Golf Club outside Denver resulted in one of the most memorable stops on TOUR for more than 20 years, was named the 11th recipient of the PGA TOUR Lifetime Achievement Award. The ceremony will take place today, on September 4, at Denver Country Club during the week of the 2014 BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club.
Created in 1996, the Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals “who have made outstanding contributions to the PGA TOUR over an extended period of time through their performances on the golf course as well as (through) their actions off the course in serving as ambassadors of the game.”
Vickers will join past recipients Gene Sarazen (1996), Byron Nelson (1997), Arnold Palmer (1998), Sam Snead (1998), Jack Burke, Jr. (2003), Pete Dye (2005), Deane Beman (2007), Jack Nicklaus (2008), President George H.W. Bush (2009), and most recently, Gary Player (2012).
“Jack Vickers was a gracious host of THE INTERNATIONAL for 21 years and remains a great ambassador for golf with a strong commitment to charity,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “Castle Pines’ spectacular mountain setting and the Modified Stableford scoring system made THE INTERNATIONAL one of the most unique tournaments on the PGA TOUR schedule and a favorite among our players for its unmatched hospitality. Jack’s selection will be celebrated by everyone he touched, including the many hundreds of TOUR players he befriended at his tournament.”
Jack Vickers (Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file)
A lifelong passionate golfer, Vickers acquired the land and founded Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock, with the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course completed in 1981. The inaugural INTERNATIONAL was played in 1986 with the largest purse in PGA TOUR history at the time, $1 million. Champions at THE INTERNATIONAL included Greg Norman (1989), Davis Love III (1990 and 2003), Phil Mickelson (1993 and 1997), Vijay Singh (1998) and Ernie Els (2000). Vickers granted Els his second-ever PGA TOUR start as a sponsor exemption in 1991 at a time when golf was not nearly as global as it is today. Els subsequently went on to play the event 15 times, missing only 2005 due to a knee injury.
Vickers and Castle Pines Golf Club have made a significant charitable impact in the Metro Denver area over the years, with the primary charity of THE INTERNATIONAL having been the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. Additionally, the annual Jack Vickers Invitational hosted by John Elway at Castle Pines has raised several million dollars for the Boys & Girls Clubs since the tournament’s inception in 2008.
Born in Colorado Springs on August 8, 1925, Vickers is a well-respected businessman, whose companies include business interests in oil, gas and mineral properties, real estate, land development and farm and stock investments.
Vickers has an extensive history with Colorado sports in addition to the PGA TOUR. He is the former chairman and majority owner of the Colorado Rockies NHL team in Denver; was the organizer and president of the University of Colorado’s Flatirons Club, a major fundraiser for the university; sponsor of the Vickers Wichita team in the old National Industrial Basketball league that later formed the ABA; and sponsor for the start of the pro career of three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin.
The recipient of numerous awards, Vickers was named the 2003 Ambassador of Golf by Northeast Ohio Charities as part of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. He is also a member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, Colorado Golf Hall of Fame, Colorado Business Hall of Fame and Denver and Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame.
YOUTH OLYMPIC GOLF A SUCCESS AT NANJING ZHONGSHAN INTERNATIONAL GOLF CLUB
Aug 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
As the second edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China came to a close on August 28, the first ever Youth Olympic golf competition can go down in history as a resounding success after an exciting week of competition at the Gary Player-designed Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club.
The Gary Player Signature Course saw 64 youth Olympians from 32 countries tee-off to compete for their country in a 54-hole stroke play tournament.
Of the world’s top junior golfers aged 15 to 18, Italy’s Renato Paratore overturned a three shot deficit to win Gold in the Boy’s Individual Stroke Play Competition and Lee Soyoung of Korea played a near perfect final round to claim the Gold Medal in the Girl’s Individual Stroke Play Competition.
Soyoung Lee of Korea on her way to a Gold Medal in the Girl’s Individual
Stroke Play at Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club. (Getty)
The Swedish team of Marcus Kinhult and Linnea Storm went on to claim the Mixed Team Gold Medal after a dramatic play-off victory over Korea.
Excitement was at a high as another Olympic first was made when Canada’s Tony Gil made the first hole-in-one in Olympic history during the Boy’s Individual Stroke-Play Competition. Gil aced the 164-yard third hole with a 7-iron during the first round.
The successful addition of golf to the Youth Olympics, as well as its inclusion in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after a 110 year absence, mark exciting steps in global golf development.
“The success of golf in the Youth Olympics is just another reason that I, like so many others, am looking forward to the return of golf in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games,” said golf icon Gary Player. “To see top junior golfers from across the globe compete in the Nanjing Games is a real treat and I am thrilled that our Signature Course at Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club could stage the competition.”
As golf grows across China, hopes are that the sport will continue to gain momentum following these 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics and the Rio 2016 Games. While the long-awaited return of golf in Rio draws closer, success in the Nanjing Summer Youth Olympics is sure to pave the way for the sustained inclusion of golf in future games.
The 27-hole Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club, which opened for play in 2005, previously hosted to China’s 10th National Games and several China Tour events including the IGC Open and Sofitel Golf Championship. Other Gary Player Design courses in China hosting professional or high profile amateur events include Suzhou Jinji Lake International Golf Club and Kau Sai Chau in Hong Kong.
GOLF-FOCUSED FITNESS - THE SECRET TO INJURY PREVENTION AND LONGEVITY
Aug 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
As an uncompromising proponent of diet, health, and fitness, Gary Player has been a longtime advocate of fitness in the game of golf. The Grand Slam champion unquestionably counts being fit as one of the most important factors in his success, and his passion left him dubbed “Mr. Fitness”. Today, fitness has become an integral part of the sport, yet the number of injuries that seems to be popping up on the major professional tours of the world is concerning.
What might be the root cause of today’s pros becoming more prone to injury? Player states that player’s workouts themselves might actually be the source as more and more individuals seem to be tailoring their fitness routines incorrectly for golf.
The benefits of functional golf fitness are abundant, but include a stronger, more agile, and safer body movement for the game. Player has seen this throughout his career that has spanned over 60 years as he broke against the mold early in his career and was often considered mad for his attitude on diet, health, and fitness. The benefits have been numerous for the golf legend as he now nears his 80th birthday.
While it might seem counterintuitive that more players are exercising yet becoming injured, the root lies in targeting the incorrect areas. Not tailoring routines for golf will surely lead to injuries due to the repetitive nature of the golf swing. Players must understand that they cannot exercise to look like a football or rugby player.
“I always tell young guys that they should train to look like Popeye with strong forearms, core, legs, and buttocks,” said Player. “Those areas are key in the golf game. If they try to build a big chest and large biceps, it will interfere with the swing motion. This is just another example that proves the necessity of a golf muscle-focused workout.”
Another issue that he points out is that many of the exercise machines and equipment in gyms are not designed for professional golfers, but instead for those trying bulk up or for the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the world. These machines can be harmful to golfers and even cause damage the rotator cuff or lower back.
This is where finding the right trainer and someone who understands what is physically demanded from a professional golfer comes into play. In his over 60 year career, Player has never had to withdraw from a tournament due to injury. The golfing icon simply believes that this is due to his golf-focused approach to exercise that emphasize the entire body.
“I have been exercising for well over 65 years, which has taught me the importance of focusing on the correct muscles,” said Player. “I exercise my whole body to prepare for and prevent the common issues triggered by the golf swing.”
One of the best exercises that Player has found to benefit his golf game is a heavy weighted club. Exercising both sides of his body has been a key component to how he has avoided injury; making sure to properly work the left side of the body in his fitness routines helps to prevent one arm and shoulder from being much stronger. When performing any repetitive motion like the golf swing, it is incredibly important to strengthen the corresponding muscle groups. This is where Player’s heavy weighted club comes into play: “every time I practice, I will swing the heavy weighted club five times on my left side for each regular swing. Not only does this help keep my body balanced, but promotes a strong core.”
Being in the best shape possible allowed Player to be a better golfer, but also lead to him being a more mentally focused player. He will admit that perhaps he was not the most naturally gifted player of his generation, but he aimed to be the fittest and best prepared - that was his edge. He says, “When you prepare your body and mind to become a champion, you will become a champion.”
Over the past 25 years, there has been a permanent and positive change towards beliefs on golf fitness and health, and not just for professionals, but for amateurs and juniors as well. These changes continue to be positive for the game, but necessitate proper training and fitness routines to ensure that players eliminate the likelihood of injury that continues to mar many careers of those on professional tours today.
“I hope to serve as a testament for the benefits of exercising properly because, at this stage of my life, I still feel as strong and fit as ever,” said Player. “Longevity reflects who I am, and my dedication to health. Golf-focused fitness has been the key to not only my success on the course, but to my success in life.”
“Golf is a sport you can enjoy for a lifetime if you keep yourself fit. I’ve always said ‘rest is rust’, so I intend to enjoy this wonderful game for many more years to come.”
DR. IAN PLAYER ON THE FIGHT FOR RHINO CONSERVATION
Aug 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
The number of rhinos that are poached in South Africa continues to be staggering. Over 620 rhinos have been killed in 2014 alone, with more than 3,200 falling victim to poachers since 2007. It is apparent that South Africa, which boasts the world’s largest rhino population, is facing a rhino protection crisis.
As a leading figure in conservation since the 1950s, Dr. Ian Player continues lend his voice and efforts to combat the illicit poaching surge in South African game reserves and private game ranches due to the demand for rhino horn on the black market in Asian nations, notably China and Vietnam, as they maintain a false belief that the horn possesses medical properties and can cure diseases including cancer.
Dr. Player, brother to golf icon Gary Player, admits that when the Rhino poaching began in 2007, after 65 years of involvement, he thought it was time to retire. But he then had dreams of a young white rhino climbing onto his bed and putting its head on his shoulder. “The unconscious had spoken,” he stated. He then knew that he had to be involved.
Various conservation efforts continue in South Africa, including attempts to relocate many rhinos to nearby Botswana in order to repopulate the species in their national parks and sanctuaries. Discussions are even in progress with an Australian group to move a viable population. Yet, the perilous situation continues to unfold, and after numerous conservation efforts have failed to relieve the poaching epidemic, Dr. Player now states that, for a sustained system of conservation, a regulated legal trade in horn is a necessary option to promote a sustainable anti-poaching alternative. This idea has also been backed by Ezemvelo, the KwaZulu authority responsible for game reserves.
As it currently stands, legal trade is prohibited by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1977.
Player argues that economics play a major role in contemporary wildlife conservation in South Africa, and that with a trade ban lifted, as was done in the early 1970s, farmers could being investing in and breeding rhinos for economic purposes. In the 1970s, this practice led to an explosion in the number of game ranches, who in turn took more and more rhinos from the over populated game reserves.
Some 2 percent, equaling nearly 400, of South Africa’s rhino population die every year from natural causes and utilizing these horns to satisfy the demand of traditional Chinese medicine would provide a smart and legal trade option for the horn that fetches prices of $65 000 a kilogram for each horn set. This money could help in protection, as well as supporting local communities.
South Africa currently is home to 85% of the world’s rhino population, leaving the home country of Player at the forefront of conservation for the African ‘Big 5’ animal. Last year, rhinos were killed at a rate of three per day – an astonishing rate considering that the total number of rhino poached in year 2000 were in the single digits.
All five rhino species are now listed on the “Red List of Endangered Species” and this proves to be a cause for alarm for Player and other conservationists around the globe, but also leaves the legal trade of horn as a viable and smart solution to the current epidemic.
Player’s interest in conservation started after his return from WWII when he pioneered the Duzi Canoe Marathon in 1950 from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, which covers 110 river miles. He expected to see an abundance of wildlife along the river bank over the course of the marathon that he won three times, but to his dismay, there was almost none. And so began his ambitious journey to fight for nature conservation, which notably included spearheading the Operation Rhino campaign to bring the white rhino back from the brink of extinction in the 1950s.
For his significant contributions to the conservation community, Dr. Ian Player will serve as a Rhino Elder at the upcoming World Youth Rhino Summit at the iMfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa from September 21 to 23.
The World Youth Rhino Summit will be a focused gathering of 100 young conservation leaders aged 15-17 years from South Africa, other African countries affected by rhino poaching, consumer countries in Asia, and other representative countries. Delegates, educators, and conservation leaders will be brought together at the symbolic iMfolozi Game Reserve, where in 1953 there were only 437 white rhino and was the first proclaimed Game reserve in Africa. The Summit will directly address the current rhino poaching crisis and develop resolutions needed to stop rhino poaching.
In addition to his role as an elder at the conference, Dr. Player’s presence and legacy within the conservation community will be witnessed as Asian delegates from the Summit will travel to the Wilderness Leadership School, founded by Player, immediately following the event. As the impact of Asia continues to be seen on rhino poaching and trade, hopes are that the experience will have a profound impact on delegates by witnessing the beauty of Africa’s unspoilt wilderness and the realization that Africa is the home of mankind.
For additional information on Dr. Player and rhino conversation, The White Rhino Saga by Dr. Ian Player tells more of the story.
FORTUNE PRO-FILES: HOW GOLFER GARY PLAYER BECAME A GLOBAL BUSINESS LEADER
Aug 21, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
NANJING ZHONGSHAN INTERNATIONAL GOLF CLUB HOSTS GOLF FOR FIRST APPEARANCE IN YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES
Aug 19, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
As top junior athletes from around the globe converge upon Nanjing, China for the second edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games, the Gary Player-designed Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club will provide the stage for the first ever golf event to be played in the Games.
The Gary Player Signature Course will see 64 youth Olympians from 32 countries tee-off to compete for their country in a 54-hole stroke play tournament. The world’s top junior golfers aged 15 to 18 will then take part in the mixed gender team event set to take place from August 24 to 26.
The addition of golf to the Youth Olympics, as well as its inclusion in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after a 110 year absence, mark exciting steps in global golf development.
“I, like so many others, am looking forward to the return of golf in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but I could not be more thrilled that the future superstars of the game are able to compete for their home countries in golf’s first appearance in the Youth Olympic Games,” said golf icon Gary Player. “I visited our Signature Course at Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club last year, and I have no doubt that it will be a terrific venue. I wish all those competing the best of luck.”
As golf grows across China, hopes are that the sport will continue to gain momentum following these 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics and the Rio 2016 Games. While the long-awaited return of golf draws closer, success in the Nanjing Summer Youth Olympics is sure to pave the way for the sustained inclusion of golf in future games.
The 27-hole Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club, which opened for play in 2005, previously hosted to China’s 10th National Games and several China Tour events including the IGC Open and Sofitel Golf Championship. Other Gary Player Design courses in China hosting professional or high profile amateur events include Suzhou Jinji Lake International Golf Club and Kau Sai Chau.
GARY PLAYER INSPIRES FIRST TEE PARTICIPANT CHRISTOPHER DAVIS ON LIFELONG WELLNESSS
Aug 18, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
In 2009, Gary Player met First Tee participant Chris Davis while on the Pebble Beach putting green when Davis was invited to the First Tee Open. That brief encounter led to a complete life change for Davis when a putting lesson turned to the topic of diet, health, and fitness.
Davis was “shell-shocked” after the Grand Slam champion challenged him five years ago to make a lifestyle change, but Player offered advice and told Davis how a person’s physical shape “carries over to different parts of your life and how it could make me a better athlete and a better person.”
After the first encounter, Davis went home and gained 10 more pounds.
“I was a big sweets dude and had dessert after every meal,” said Chris Davis. “But as I started gaining more weight, I realized I have to listen to him. Things were getting out of control. It was tough. All my friends in high school were eating pizza and fries and were 150 pounds, but I realized I wasn’t them.”
Davis then cut his intake to 2,000 calories a day, including three servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit every day. In addition to diet changes, he also exercised and ran for 90 minutes five days a week. The teenager ended up dropping from 225 pounds to 165 in seven months. But even then everything was not perfect.
“I struggled with my golf game, trying to play with a completely new body,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if everything I was doing was worth it.”
Davis eventually improved on the golf course and reached the state championship for the first time as a high school senior.
When members of the 2009 First Tee class were asked to write an essay on their most memorable First Tee experience, Davis wrote about his encounter with Player and how that inspired him to lose 65 pounds in seven months and become a better student. He was immediately called by the PGA Tour’s entertainment department and invited to Minneapolis.
The pair were was reunited after five years as the golfing icon met with the now college student during the 3M Championship where Player competed in the Greats of Golf exhibition.
“I simply could not believe the way this young man changed his life,” said Gary Player. “He is truly an inspiration for countless young people out there to do the same.”
With his newfound healthy lifestyle, Davis plays Division III golf for Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin where he was one of the top five golfers on the team as a junior last year. Davis is also on the Dean’s List at Carroll with a 3.5 GPA in elementary education. Far improved from the 2.75 mark he carried before Player gave him a tough talking to.
The reunion was all slaps on the back.
“It was completely unreal,” Davis said. “We went to breakfast with him, me and my parents. Then we were ushered into a private room. The entire time we talked about fitness, golf, and the obesity crisis. We loved every minute of it.
“Then Gary and Jack and Arnie had a press conference and he brought me over to meet them. When I was talking to Jack and Arnie, they said, ‘We know about you.’ All three of them shook my hand and told me to be an ambassador for health and fitness and turning my life around.”
THRACIAN CLIFFS BESTOWED MEMBERSHIP OF ‘LEADING GOLF COURSES EUROPE’
Aug 4, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
The world-class, Gary Player-designed Thracian Cliffs Resort in Bulgaria has been bestowed membership of the prestigious ‘Leading Golf Courses Europe’ collection following a recent inspection visit by its senior team.
The luxury Black Sea venue has gained many admirers since opening in 2011, with images of its sensational cliff-top Gary Player golf course being transmitted around the world. It also 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).
Following a personal visit headed by Wolfgang Kunneth, president of the Leading Golf Courses Europe, Thracian Cliffs was installed as the latest member, joining other elite courses in Europe including Costa Navarino, Son Gual, Monte Rei and Open Championship venue Turnberry.
Receiving the membership award, Thracian Cliffs’ general manager, Claudio Marini, said: “We are delighted that Mr. Kunneth and his team have chosen to inaugurate our fantastic golf course into its prestigious collection of venues.
“It will help us in showcasing our wonderful product across Europe and we look forward to welcoming members of these iconic venues to experience Thracian Cliffs Resort.”
Offering a choice of two high-spec residential villages, gourmet restaurants, a bijou spa and its own beach club, Thracian Cliffs offers plenty for both golfers and lifestyle seekers – all within the unique environment of the Cape Kaliakra coast, which boasts an average of 10 hours’ daily sunshine between the months of April and October.
GARY PLAYER TO DESIGN BIG CEDAR LODGE’S NEW FAMILY-FRIENDLY GOLF COURSE IN THE OZARKS
Jul 31, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Gary Player and Johnny Morris are pleased to announce a partnership to create a world-class, family-friendly golf course at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri.
Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops founder and noted conservationist, and golf icon Gary Player share a similar passion for nature and golf. Through a joined pioneering spirit to create a new family-friendly golf course, Morris and Player seek to deliver a special offering for the guests of Big Cedar Lodge, which is ranked as one of the top resorts for families in America.
“We are incredibly excited to partner with Johnny Morris and Big Cedar Lodge to create something truly spectacular and innovative with our family golf center,” said Player. “Growing the game continues to be of the utmost importance and we are thrilled to be able to work alongside Johnny to implement a number of new ideas to help grow golf in a location of such natural beauty.”
Gary Player tours the Big Cedar Lodge property with Johnny Morris
The resort’s family appeal inspired Morris to create a golf center that caters to beginners and juniors, and helps introduce them to the sport in a welcoming environment. The new Gary Player-designed family-friendly golf course will add to the already impressive variety of golf offerings at Big Cedar Lodge. This year, Big Cedar Lodge opened Buffalo Ridge, an 18-hole championship golf course, and Top of the Rock, a striking homage to pure golf that includes the remarkable Jack Nicklaus Signature Design par-3 golf course, recently ranked among the Top 10 most searched golf destinations on Yahoo Search, Arnold Palmer Practice Facility and “Himalayas” Putting Complex designed by Tom Watson.
At the heart of the Morris and Player project, which is set to open in 2015, is creating enjoyment in the game of golf for all ages and skill levels. The course will be designed in a very welcoming, fun and creative way, so as not to intimidate novice players.
“Gary Player Design will use creative, unique, and untraditional concepts to help all members of the family enjoy the game,” said Scott Ferrell, Gary Player Design President. “Our aim is to create an enjoyable course that will pique the interest of those just beginning to play the game, while also creating a unique design that allows the whole family to enjoy.”
Known as the Black Knight, Player is one of the original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame and is the International Ambassador of Golf. He has been a longtime promoter of growing golf around the world, and, as such, his Gary Player Design projects have consistently emphasized playability for all levels to enjoy the game.
“All of us at Big Cedar Lodge are honored to have Gary Player help us create a special family golf experience in the Ozarks. My son and I had the opportunity to visit Gary at his ranch in South Africa, where his brother Ian is a renowned conservationist. Gary and I share many things in common and it did not take long for me to realize that we are both nuts about rocks and nature. It quickly became apparent to me that I had just met one of the nicest and most enthusiastic men on earth. That is what is going to make this project so fun—our shared passion to get young people outside spending more time in outdoor sports,” Morris said.
In addition to the family golf center, the innovative nature of Big Cedar Lodge was evidenced earlier this year at the Champions Tour’s Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf presented by Bass Pro Shops. In a groundbreaking move, the longest running event on the Champions Tour schedule was moved to Big Cedar Lodge where the first par-3 course, Top of the Rock, was used in an official PGA TOUR-sanctioned event. Grand Slam Champion Gary Player partnered with longtime friend and legend Jack Nicklaus to play in the event, which took place June 4-8.
THE BLACK KNIGHT SHOWS STYLE ON AND OFF THE COURSE WITH THE GARY PLAYER COLLECTION
Jul 31, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
There is no doubt that Gary Player has rightfully earned his nickname of the Black Knight after displaying his penchant for wearing all black clothing for over six decades now. While Player is known for his stylish choices on the course, the golf icon continues to prove his timeless style both on and off the course through the Gary Player Collection.
The Black Knight brand’s apparel and merchandise collection is fashioned after the man himself with performance and style in mind. From Italian-made, double mercerized cotton offerings to sporty and sophisticated performance apparel, the Gary Player Collection represents a refined lifestyle ready for the golf course or next business meeting.
Gary Player has long been sporting his black knight logo that has become synonymous with the South African golfer whose achievements include the career Grand Slam, 9 Major Championships on the PGA Tour, 9 Major Championships on the Senior Tour, and 165 worldwide victories.
Grand Slam style can be achieved with the same items that Player wears on tour from everyday golf apparel to Player’s trademark Black Knight hat or sterling silver Black Knight belt buckle.
In addition to apparel and as an ode to Player’s South African roots, a partnership with Zimbabwean artist and sculptor Patrick Marvos offers a beautiful selection of African themed, custom designed, and hand-sculpted sterling silver pieces that range from cuff links, bangles, belt buckles, and home décor items.
In addition to the partnership with the Black Knight Shop, Mavros’ work with golfing legend extends to the Gary Player Invitational series as he custom designed the series’ baobab trophy. The baobab tree is an African icon that symbolizes enduring strength, very much to the image of the Black Knight.
In the spirit of giving back and creating a brighter future, a percentage of each sale from the Black Knight Shop is donated to The Player Foundation in order to help underprivileged children across the globe. Since its establishment in 1983, The Player Foundation has raised over $50 million to give disadvantaged youth a brighter future in all corners of the world.
View all Black Knight offerings at www.garyplayershop.com.
THE BIG THREE COMPETE AT 3M CHAMPIONSHIP
Jul 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments
Gary Player will reunite The Big Three on August 2 as he, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer gear up for the 3M Championship’s Greats of Golf competition at TPC-Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota from July 28 – August 3.
The Greats of Golf, which began in 2004 at the 3M Championship, will include The Big Three, along with Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Dave Stockton, Tony Jacklin, Fuzzy Zoeller, Annika Sorenstam, and Nancy Lopez, among others during the three-man team 18-hole scramble on Saturday, August 2.
“To have The Big Three, Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, and all of the legends together in one event is history in the making,” said Robin Torgerson, vice president of U.S. Sales for 3M.
Earlier this year, a similar event at Houston’s Insperity Invitational resulted in a tie between the team of Player, Nicklaus, and Trevino and Miller, Stockton, and Tony Jacklin. Both teams shot 10-under 62.
“I am looking forward to going out to compete here at the 3M Championship to see if Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, and I can best our performance earlier this year at the Insperity Championship Greats of Golf,” said Grand Slam champion Gary Player. “It is always a thrill be able to play with some of my great friends like Jack and Lee. I am looking forward to a wonderful tournament.”
The 3M Championship will also have a stout field that features top names from the Champions Tour including Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, Tom Lehman, Rocco Mediate, and Champions Tour rookie Miguel Angel Jimenez as Tom Pernice, Jr. looks to defend his title in Minnesota.
General admission will be free for all spectators. For more information, visit www.3MChampionship.com.
CHARITY TRIUMPHS AT THE BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL
Jul 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
The 2014 Berenberg Gary Player Invitational concluded yet another successful event which saw some of the biggest names in golf, entertainment and business join together with golf icon and Grand Slam champion Gary Player to help raise over $100,000 for underprivileged children at London’s historic Wentworth Club on Monday, 21 July.
The charitable funds, exceeding $100,000, were quickly raised by auctioneer Jonny Gould on only four bespoke items as professional golfers and participants alike joined in the fun and giving during the gala auction.
Following the evening’s gala, Player together with The Player Foundation and presenting sponsor Berenberg, were able to donate the sizable contribution to this year’s event beneficiary, Depaul UK, in order to aid young people who are homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged.
“I continue to be astounded and humbled by the funds we are able to raise for children’s charities,” said tournament host Gary Player. “Our global series of events is fast approaching $60 million raised for charity worldwide, but together with Berenberg we have certainly raised the bar in what we are able to accomplish.”
The second leg of the global series, was won by the team of Australian professional Marc Leishman and Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald, along with businessmen Nicklas Backstrom and Stephen Irvine.
The star-studded field gathered for charity saw the likes of professional golfers Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Jason Day, Fred Couples, Jason Dufner, David Howell, Bernd Wiesberger, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Woosnam. Participating ladies professionals included Suzann Pettersen, Charley Hull, Carly Booth, Melissa Reid, Henni Zuel, Amy Boulden, Whitney Hillier, Diana Luna and Maria Balikoeva. Additionally, celebrities involved were Ronan Keating, Dougray Scott, Heikki Kovalainen, Jonathan Joseph, Zoe Hardman and Mike Tindall.
“We are proud to call Gary Player our Brand Ambassador, as he is truly a great Ambassador for the game of golf,” said Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, Managing Partner of Berenberg. “This must be measured not just in terms of his career achievements as a Grand Slam Champion, but also in driving such outstanding philanthropic initiatives as the Gary Player Invitational series. The event’s great virtues and its ability to give so much back to charity is one of the many reasons we have chosen this sponsorship as an important business platform for years to come.”
“This was yet another banner event in our Gary Player Invitational series and we are extremely grateful to those who have supported our events over the years,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “The all-star cast of golf professionals and celebrities as well as the prominent businessmen contributed significantly to the success of the event over the past two days to truly celebrate a union of golf and giving.”
The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised in excess of $50 million for charities worldwide. The next stop for the Gary Player Invitational will take the Grand Slam champion to Shanghai on November 3-4 before the series concludes in South Africa on November 20-23.
BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL LANDS NETJETS OFFICIAL SPONSORSHIP
Jul 20, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
NetJets has signed an exclusive partnership with world-leading charity golf event, the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational, to become the Official Private Jet Sponsor.
NetJets is supporting the European-leg of the Gary Player Invitational series in a variety of ways, including flying the world-class professional field yesterday from The Open Championship at Hoylake to the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at Wentworth. NetJets is also benefitting from a suite of exclusive sponsorship benefits throughout the event held over two days, Sunday 20th and Monday 21st July.
“Golf takes me all over the world, just as it does our superb cast of participating professionals,” said tournament host and Grand Slam champion Gary Player. “I know for each one of them that time is of the essence and they want to arrive ready to compete. The excellent service provided by NetJets is a great support for our participants off the back of their high-profile Open Championship week.”
“Our Gary Player Invitational series continues to grow with the generosity of our sponsors, and we pride ourselves on the guest experience at our union of golf and giving,” said Black Knight International CEO Marc Player. “The partnership with NetJets has enabled our field of professional golfers to travel quickly and seamlessly to London and is a perfect partner for our event.”
Todd Goldstein, NetJets Senior Vice President and Director – Golf, added: “The Gary Player Invitational sets the benchmark for charity golf tournaments worldwide and we’re delighted we can support this great cause through our partnership with the event. NetJets has a long-standing and unparalleled reputation in supporting golf’s elite players. We are delighted to be working with Gary Player and his team to further enhance this reputation and help the event raise monies for the designated charities.”
The 2014 event in London boasts an all-star professional field, including: Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Jason Day, Fred Couples, Jason Dufner, David Howell, Bernd Wiesberger, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Woosnam and Marc Leishman. Participating ladies professionals include Suzann Pettersen, Charley Hull, Carly Booth, Melissa Reid, Henni Zuel, Amy Boulden, Whitney Hillier, Diana Luna, Maria Balikoeva and Kelsey MacDonald. Sporting and entertainment celebrities also joining the event include Ronan Keating, Dougray Scott, Heikki Kovalainen, Jonathan Joseph, Zoe Hardman and Mike Tindall to complete the field.
The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised in excess of $50 million for charities worldwide.
LEADING PROFESSIONALS RALLY FOR CHARITY AT THE 2014 BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL
Jul 14, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
London’s historic Wentworth Club will soon see an impressive rally for charity as the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational welcomes twenty-seven of the world’s top golfing professionals. The golfing stars will join tournament host and Grand Slam champion Gary Player, along with prominent celebrity and business guests to compete in the “Union of Golf and Giving” on July 20-21.
“It is wonderful to see this fantastic group of professionals that will join our cause at Wentworth seeking to provide a brighter future for underprivileged children,” said golf icon Gary Player. “This year is sure to be yet another unique and memorable event. With the support of our wonderful sponsors, like Berenberg, we are able to deliver some of the world’s finest golf experiences and, in doing so, create powerful fundraising platforms for those less fortunate than ourselves.”
One of the many distinguishing factors of this leading charity golf event is the unique format that pairs invited business guests with a PGA or European Tour Professional, LPGA or LET Professional, and prominent celebrities.
Current US Open Champion Martin Kaymer said, “I have had the privilege of receiving valuable information and knowledge from Mr. Player for many years now. For almost as many years, we have talked about coming together for one of his events and finally here we are. Mr. Player has done a lot of good for many people and causes around the world. The world keeps changing and, more than ever, I feel that words from more experienced people than yourself should be listened to. A day with Mr. Player is like nothing else, and I am very much looking forward to be in his presence once again.”
Ahead of his first-ever GPI event, world number 6 ranked player Jason Day, added, “I’ve heard so much about Mr. Player’s worldwide charity event series. We play a lot of tournament golf throughout the year and attend many Pro-Am events, but this is one that I’ve really wanted to attend for some time now. Off the back of such a high-pressure week as The Open, it will be great to join so many of my peers and leading ladies Tour Professionals for the event to raise funds for charity.”
On behalf of the female Professionals, world number 4 golfer Suzann Pettersen had this to add, “Everyone knows about Gary Player’s achievements on the course, as well as the many successful initiatives to benefit the game and the people that love it. Golf has provided us the opportunity to give back to such great causes as The Player Foundation and this is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of our careers. I’m thrilled to help Gary at this year’s event at Wentworth – a venue I’ve never before competed at, which makes it doubly exciting.”
The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised in excess of $50million for charities worldwide.
GARY PLAYER CLOSER TO BIG WINNER AMBITION
Jul 11, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
As he approaches his 79th birthday, there is unfinished business for the legendary golfer Gary Player. He would love to breed a horse capable of winning a big race like the Durban July.
Gary Player’s stud has produced a quality racehorse in a yearling by popular stallion Var. The youngster made top price of R1m at last weekend’s KwaZulu-Natal Yearling Sale at the Suncoast Casino resort in Durban.
There was spirited bidding before the hammer came down in favour of Johannesburg businessman Adriaan van Vuuren. It was one of four purchases for his Misty Meadows operation and he spent R1.54m over the two-day sale. Van Vuuren has made a big impression at thoroughbred sales countrywide. His horses are trained in Gauteng by Michael Azzie.
Champion sire Silvano was represented by only three lots so it was no surprise that one of his sons — consigned by Maine Chance Farms — got the second-highest price, knocked down to Brian Burnard for R750,000.
Michael Leaf — quoted as saying he would “have to live with the result” following the demotion of Wylie Hall to second place in last Saturday’s Durban July — must hope he has another top horse in a son of Ideal World, which he bought from Mauritzfontein Stud for R340,000.
Mauritzfontein topped the vendors’ list with their 10 yearlings, sold for a total of R2.1m.
Maine Chance Farms sold nine yearlings for R1.7m, The Alchemy also sold nine, for R1.5m, and Boland Stud sold 14 for R1.3m.
The average of R100,268 was a record for this sale, up from last year’s of R88,798.
Bloodstock South Africa sales manager Caroline Simpson said: “We are thrilled with the results.
“There’s no doubt breeders brought some highly attractive yearlings to the sale.”
Racing returns to the Vaal on Thursday and punters will be delighted that champion jockey-elect S’manga Khumalo is back in the saddle. Khumalo missed the July meeting due to concussion, but he might have had no winners at the meeting as Whiteline Fever ran unplaced in the big race, as did the useful juvenile filly, Carry On Alice, in the Golden Slipper.
Khumalo partners four-year-old Tayba in the fifth race and trainer Mike de Kock’s filly will be tough to beat as she has already proven she acts well on the Vaal sand surface.
If Tayba fluffs her lines, the runner most likely to take advantage is the lightly raced Lady Casey, who receives 6kg from De Kock’s runner. Steve Moffatt’s filly is drawn in pole position and could be difficult to overhaul if she establishes a big lead.
Another good mount for Khumalo should be War Trail, who should go close in the third race provided he handles the sand surface, which he is trying for the first time. Punters wanting to include another runner in the place accumulator should consider St John Gray’s Sirocco Bay.
Article courtesy of The Sunday Times, Business Day.
GARY PLAYER DESIGN TO UPDATE SARASOTA’S LAUREL OAK COUNTRY CLUB
Jul 1, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
Gary Player Design will soon embark on a strategic redesign of Laurel Oak Country Club’s East Course. Laurel Oak, located in Sarasota, Florida, has commissioned Player’s design firm to update the club’s original Gary Player Signature Course to preserve the original design, while modernizing strategic course elements in the renovation that is due to start construction in early 2015.
As a world-leading golf course design firm, Gary Player Design features over 325 courses in their global portfolio. The work at Laurel Oaks offers an excellent opportunity to continue to build upon the longstanding prominence of the Black Knight’s design firm.
“We always welcome the opportunity to enhance existing courses that have been in the Gary Player Design portfolio for many years,” said Scott Ferrell, Gary Player Design President. “This allows us to ensure the course maintains the original design intent while keeping up with today’s technology.”
The East Course at Laurel Oak Country Club redesign is expected to focus on work to the green complexes in order to restore the original size, contours, and shape to the greens. While work is planned on each of the greens, a number of holes will likely have completely renovated green complexes. The final scope of the design work will be determined following the conceptual analysis currently underway.
The thriving club, which opened in 1995, features a prospering membership and continues to look to improve its golf experience through the renovation.
“Golf courses are living, breathing creatures and tend to evolve and change over time,” said Jeff Lawrence, Gary Player Design Senior Designer. “We are looking forward to implementing a number of modifications in this redesign that allow us to bring back the primary design intent while also improving the experience as a whole.”
THE BLACK KNIGHT RETURNS TO HOYLAKE FOR 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF ‘74 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP WIN
Jun 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments
As golf’s oldest major championship heads to Royal Liverpool in a few weeks’ time, nine-time Major Championship winner and golf icon Gary Player will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his 1974 Open Championship victory at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club.
“To know that it has been 40 years since I won my final Open Championship is incredible,” said Gary Player. “That was one of the best victories of my career, and one that I am particularly proud of as I became only the man in the modern era to win the Open Championship in three separate decades.”
Many remember the tournament for the Black Knight’s iconic shot on the final hole of the Championship. Player was forced to chip left-handed with his trusted blade putter following a second shot that flew over the green to land alongside the stone clubhouse wall. The shot defined Player’s tournament after the ball unbelievably landed 10 feet from the hole, setting up his third Open victory.
In what was his twentieth consecutive Open start, Player finished the tournament scoring rounds of 69, 68, 75, 70 for a 2-under-par 282 to hold off a strong contingent of competitors, including Englishman Peter Oosterhuis and Jack Nicklaus to add to the previous titles at Muirfield in 1959 and Carnoustie in 1968.
Perhaps Player’s best year in the Majors, he won the 1974 Masters Tournament before heading to the Open Championship, but also achieved top ten finishes in the U.S. Open Championship and PGA Championship as well.
“It was a great year for me in the Majors and even now it is wonderful to look back,” said Player. “I had all the confidence in the world heading into that tournament, so I felt great after four solid rounds to win at Royal Lytham & St Annes.”
Player continues to return to the Open Championship each year to watch history unfold and entertain corporate clients.
“The Open has always been a favourite tournament of mine with its great history, and it holds so many special memories after playing in some 44 Opens,” remarked the golf legend. “It is wonderful to return each July.”
This year, the Open Championship moves to England and to the exact venue where Player started his journey at the famed tournament. Player traveled to Royal Liverpool in 1956 at just 20 years of age to take on the Hoylake course. He impressively finished in fourth behind Peter Thomson, whose win that year brought him the only hat-trick of wins in the 20th century.
Hoylake has seen a number of great champions with the likes of Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, and Tiger Woods joining Thomson in winning there. Only time will tell the 2014 champion, but certainly Player is looking forward to yet another thriller.
“I have always liked a championship course that puts accuracy at a premium, and this is just one reason that Hoylake is a great Open venue,” said Player. “I’m looking forward to seeing how today’s top pros deal with the course, but I am certain that it will be yet another classic Open.”
BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL GATHERS CHAMPIONS FOR CHARITY AT WENTWORTH
Jun 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
Charity will once again take center stage as a spectacular field of professional golfers, celebrities, and businessmen gather for the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational to take place at the historic Wentworth Club on July 20-21. As part of the world’s leading charity series, the European leg of Gary Player Invitational (GPI) series promises to be another thrilling union of golf and giving to aid underprivileged children.
“Youth are the trustees of posterity, so I am so grateful that through our Berenberg Gary Player Invitational event, we can provide a brighter future to children in need across the UK,” said Grand Slam champion and tournament host Gary Player. “Giving back has always been incredibly important throughout my career, but we are truly doing something special with our event at Wentworth.”
The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational is the second tournament of the GPI series, which also includes events in the United States, China, and South Africa. Through monies raised in the global series, The Player Foundation has raised over $50 million to support youth across the world over the past 30 years.
Funds from the event immediately following the Open Championship will benefit DePaul UK and their work to help homeless and disadvantaged young people. Depaul, which has locations throughout the United Kingdom, works with youth to tackle homelessness at every level and, since their establishment in 1989, has helped over 50,000 young people. Depaul’s Nightstop service also offers emergency, short term accommodations in the homes of local volunteers on a night by night basis providing over 120,000 bed nights to those who are vulnerable and in need each year.
“It is a great honor to stage this tournament together with our brand ambassador, Gary Player, and to be a part of his world leading charity golf series. Support for young people is important to both Berenberg and Gary Player. Together, we work with our foundations to benefit children in need,” said Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, Managing Partner of Berenberg.
The GPI field is comprised of an incredible list of champions, including reigning U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer and PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner. In addition to the golfing professionals that together hold 18 Major Championships and countless worldwide tournament victories, celebrities joining the union of golf and giving include longtime supporter Ronan Keating, fellow Irish star Brian McFadden, and Johnathan “DJ Spoony” Joseph.
“The game of golf continues to be the greatest catalyst of all sports for charitable giving,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “The GPI series is another fine example of what can be achieved when sponsors like Berenberg, SAP, Callaway, Coca-Cola and Rolex all come together with the purpose of making a difference. We are grateful for everyone’s support.”
SA GOLFERS NEED A SELF-BELIEF SHOT
Jun 23, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Any of the following sound familiar? South African golfers have won more Majors than any other nations besides the US. For a small country, we operate well above our fighting weight on the fairways of the world. Gary Player is the greatest sportsman South Africa has ever produced. Ernie Els is this country’s favourite sporting son.
We’ve had these statements drummed into us in glowing terms, lauding how exceptional our male golfers perform internationally. And while it’s difficult to argue against Player being our all-time No 1, as far as the other assertions go, things aren’t looking so rosy this year.
Els has been missing cuts, and so have fellow Major winners Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman. Branden Grace, who won four times in a sensational 2012 European Tour season, is off the boil. George Coetzee did win the Joburg Open in February to break his duck on the European Tour, but has been quiet ever since.
So what’s the problem? Well, for starters it has to be admitted that golf can be infuriatingly unpredictable. One day you can’t go wrong, the next day you’re chunking it and there’s no logical explanation why you’re making bogeys instead of birdies.
Yet for most, if not all, our players on the European and PGA Tours to be going through relatively dry spells at the same time is a little disconcerting for a proud golfing nation like South Africa.
The way the boys swing the club shouldn’t be an issue. From Ernie to Louis to Charl – their fellow professionals would give anything to have their rhythm and textbook technique.
But right now they all lack the season-upon-season consistency that the great Gary Player has displayed for half a century and more (although to be fair to Els, in his younger days he set records for the number of consecutive cuts made).
Perhaps the answer is that the current crop need to learn not just a little about self-belief from Mr Player, who – need we be reminded – won 165 tournaments worldwide over five decades, including nine Majors and nine Senior Majors.
Ever since he was a boy, Player was determined to be a world champion. Reading Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking helped him strengthen his self-belief. “I learnt very early on that pure talent will get you only so far, because the mind takes over and leads a person into the realm of perfection,” he wrote in Don’t Choke.
Perhaps the supreme example of this self-belief – almost self-hypnosis – came when he was about to take part in the 1965 US Open at Bellerive CC in Missouri. He said: “By the first tee was a big scoreboard which included all the names of previous US Open. The last one said ‘1964, Ken Venturi’. In the space below was ‘1965’, followed by a blank.
“The first time I walked past that scoreboard I saw in my mind the letters ‘1965, Gary Player’, as clearly as they had been painted on in beautiful, gold capital letters. Every time I passed that board I forced myself to look at it, and there was my name. The message was imprinted on me that it was going to happen, that it would be my year.”
Well, history tells us it was indeed Player’s year. He did win the 1965 US Open to become only the third player after Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen to complete the coveted Grand Slam. He was just 29 years old. It took the kind of self-belief that perhaps Charl and Louis and George and Branden need.
Article courtesy of IOL Sport and Grant Winter
GARY PLAYER DESIGN’S DONNAFUGATA MORE POPULAR THAN EVER BEFORE WITH UK GOLFERS
Jun 17, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa’s reputation amongst travelling UK golfers continues to grow at a record rate with the deluxe Sicilian venue having taken more bookings than ever before in a calendar year – with more than six months to go in 2014.
Latest figures announced by Donnafugata reveal that its popularity in the UK golf market is at a new high, with bookings up by an astounding 52 per cent on the corresponding period last year.
Featuring two 18-hole championship courses – Gary Player-designed Parkland course and the Links – and extensive practice facilities, Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa has won widespread acclaim across the golf industry since opening in 2010. Gary Player Design’s Parkland course was also the venue for the 2011 Sicilian Open, won by Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin, on the European Tour.
The resort is already 17 per cent ahead of the total number of room nights booked by golfers for the whole of 2013 and, with numbers projected to grow at a similar rate for the next six months, end-of-year bookings are expected to have increased by more than six-fold in the last two years at Donnafugata.
The new numbers mean that the UK has now overtaken Switzerland to rank alongside Germany and Italy as one of Donnafugata’s three biggest markets.
And with a number of new services available at the resort, including the opening of new flight routes into Comiso and Catania, new rental club pacakages and the opening of a new Darren Clarke Centre of Excellence – the first facility of its kind in continental Europe – UK golfers are set to continue flocking to discover Donnafugata in their droves.
Donnafugata is continuing to reap the rewards of working closely with a range of specialist golf tour operators, both large and small, across the UK and its decision to invest in a concentrated PR campaign in the media, including advertising on Sky Sports for the first time.
Guy Roberts, director of golf at Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa, said: “The UK market was one of our biggest growth areas in 2013 and and the booking numbers we’ve already taken for this year are tremendously encouraging.
“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this spectacular increase in the volume of business generated from the UK market is thanks largely to the tremendous visibility that we have managed to secure over the past 12 to 18 months in the British press, and also as a result of a number of important PR campaigns.”
Located just 20 minutes from Comiso airport and set in the beautiful area of Donnafugata, a natural reserve and famous tourist destination known for the imposing castle which bears the same name, the resort also boasts a number of fantastic historical cities nearby. These include Val di Noto, the heart of Sicilian baroque; Ragusa Ibla, Modica, Noto and Scicli. All are deemed fitting of UNESCO World Heritage status.
As well as its outstanding golf facilities, Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa has 202 rooms, an award-winning spa and health club, swimming pools and three restaurants offering a broad selection of gastronomic delights, well accompanied by perfect Sicilian wines to enhance flavour.
SUPERSTARS HEADING TO CHINA FOR THE MISSION HILLS WORLD CELEBRITY PRO-AM
Jun 10, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments
Hollywood superstars, sporting legends and golfing greats will converge on China in October for the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am.
The guest list for the eagerly-awaited week of golf, glamour and gala events reads like a Who’s Who of global show business and elite sporting endeavour.
Top golfers confirmed for the tournament include reigning US Open champion Justin Rose, the flamboyant Ian Poulter, Grand Slam champion Gary Player, multiple Major winners Greg Norman and John Daly, and Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley.
Other professional golfers confirmed to join the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am are Major winner Rich Beem and top female players Danielle Montgomery, Carly Booth, Joanna Klatten, Linda Wessberg, Caroline Martens, Sharmila Nicollet, Maria Balikoeva, Diana Luna and Lee-Anne Pace.
Oscar winners Morgan Freeman, Chris Evans and Nicole Kidman are being lined up to appear, and dazzling actress Jessica Alba is also confirmed to take part, as is music maestro Kenny G.
Sporting icons heading to the globally-televised World Celebrity Pro-Am include two Olympic legends, Russian ice skater Evgeni Plushenko, Chinese gymnast Li Ning, and former Portuguese international footballer Luís Figo.
China’s basketball legend and former NBA star Yao Ming will also take part in the tournament for the second time. The retired athlete remains one of the most influential sporting figures in China.
In total, participants in this year’s star-spangled event have collected more than 160 acting awards, over 100 music awards, 35 Olympic and World Championship medals and a staggering 335 professional golf victories, including 15 Majors.
China’s entertainment industry will be well represented by film director, Feng Xiaogang, acclaimed actors Chen Daoming and Wang Zhiwen, and singer Sun Nan.
Hong Kong celebrities taking part include film director Sammo Hung, actors Donnie Yen, Eric Tsang, Simon Yam, Natalis Chan, Michael Wong and Ruco Chan, and actress Miriam Yeung.
The third edition of the World Celebrity Pro-Am will be held from 24-26 October at the fully-integrated Mission Hills Haikou Resort on the tropical island of Hainan.
The tournament will see 24 professional golfers and 24 celebrities come together for a bonanza of action and entertainment – including the first-ever staging in China of the new combination sport that is taking Europe by storm, football-golf.
For the first time, the World Celebrity Pro-Am will feature a Ryder Cup-style format, with the 24 celebrities divided into two teams for an Entertainment v Sport showdown. Each celebrity will be paired with a professional golfer and the teams will face off over two rounds of fourball betterball.
While assisting their celebrity playing partners, the professional golfers will also be competing for an individual prize fund of US$1 million.
“The World Celebrity Pro-Am will, once again, bring together some of the biggest stars in show business and sport for a golf-and-entertainment spectacular that will make headlines around the world,” Mission Hills Chairman and CEO Dr. Ken Chu and Vice Chairman Mr. Tenniel Chu said in a joint statement.
The World Celebrity Pro-Am will be played on Mission Hills Haikou’s signature Blackstone Course which hosted the World Cup of Golf in 2011, “The Match at Mission Hills” between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy last October and the recent World Ladies Championship, won by world No.1 Inbee Park.
The fun will start early, on Thursday 23 October, with celebrities taking part in a football-golf challenge on a specially constructed course. Players will be kicking a football towards the pin and aiming to outscore each other on a series of par-three, par-four and par-five holes.
The traditional pro-celebrity-amateur practice round will take place on Friday 24 October followed by Red Carpet, Cocktail Reception, Opening Ceremony and Gala Dinner, all taking place at Mission Hills Haikou • Lan Kwai Fong, the resort’s new entertainment district.
The World Celebrity Pro-Am itself will be played over two rounds at the weekend, while Saturday evening will also feature a Celebrities and Players Appreciation Party at Mission Hills Haikou • H. Brothers • Feng Xiaogang Movie Town, the recently-opened tourist attraction that features vintage street settings from Feng’s classic movies, state-of-the-art film studios, an array of shopping and dining options and countless other entertainment and leisure features.
The previous edition of the World Celebrity Pro-Am, in 2012, was won by top American professional Matt Kuchar and actor Andy Garcia, while Kuchar also captured the individual trophy.
HAAS, PRICE NAMED PRESIDENTS CUP CAPTAINS FOR 2015
Jun 5, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Jay Haas and Nick Price will serve as captains of the U.S. and International teams, respectively, for The Presidents Cup 2015 in Songdo IBD, Incheon City, South Korea. PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem made the announcement Wednesday at the inaugural Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf presented by Bass Pro Shops.
Price, captain of the International Team in 2013 and a World Golf Hall of Famer, joined Finchem for the announcement, as did Haas, a three-time U.S. Team captain’s assistant; both players are past Presidents Cup participants and both are competing in this week’s Champions Tour event at Top of the Rock.
Also attending the press conference to lend perspective on The Presidents Cup and support of this next chapter in the event’s history were Jack Nicklaus, a four-time U.S. Team captain, and fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player, an International Team captain three times. Nicklaus and Player are also in the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf field.
The Presidents Cup 2015 will be held Oct. 6-11 when the biennial competition makes its first trip to Asia. Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea will be the fourth international venue to host The Presidents Cup, joining The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (1998, 2011); The Links at Fancourt, George, South Africa (2003); and The Royal Montreal Golf Club in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (2007).
“Nick Price and Jay Haas bring tremendous experience, enthusiasm and knowledge to The Presidents Cup and were obvious choices to captain the International and U.S. Teams as we take the event to Asia in less than 16 months,” Finchem said.
Immediately upon being unveiled as The Presidents Cup 2015 captains, Price and Haas each named one of their captain’s assistants.
Price invited South Korea’s K.J. Choi to join his team’s leadership, and, in a nod to the significance of The Presidents Cup being played in Asia for the first time, Choi was given an elevated title of vice-captain.
Haas essentially “traded places” with World Golf Hall of Famer Fred Couples, asking his good friend and three-time U.S. Team captain to assist him in 2015. Choi attended Wednesday’s announcement; Couples was scheduled to attend but withdrew from the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf due to a back injury.
Price and Haas will announce their additional captain’s assistants (up to three, total) later this year.
GARY PLAYER DESIGN EUROPEAN PROJECTS GAIN MOMENTUM
May 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
Gary Player overlooks the quarry crater that has been filled to make way for
the golf course at Limni Golf Resort
While Asia has recently taken center stage in golf course development, Gary Player Design continues to build upon its impressive global portfolio as European projects push forward in Cyprus and Italy.
The Mediterranean island of Cyprus will soon feature the first ever Gary Player Signature Course as the Limni Golf Resort, located in the mountainous town of Polis on the northwest coast, has formally moved into the detailed design phase.
The Shacolas Group, the largest private commercial group in Cyprus, recently hosted a design workshop together with Gary Player Design and representatives of acclaimed architect Sir Norman Foster, who has been engaged to design residential and resort amenities.
The Limni Golf Resort will prove to be one of the most intriguing courses in the ever-expanding Gary Player Design portfolio. Built upon what was once an operating copper mine, the 800 meter-wide quarry crater has been filled with over eight million cubic meters of earth to make way for the championship course.
Player and Senior Designer Steven McFarlane on a site to finalize designs for the
Limni Gary Player Signature Course
“We have nine holes of the course that will be woven through the area that was formerly the copper mine where there will still be about 30 meters of quarry walls exposed,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. “The course landscape is sure to offer a unique and dramatic experience.”
Situated in the coastal hills, the site offers dramatic elevation changes that will not only add to the character of the championship course, but offer countless views of the Chrysochou Bay.
“This is one of the most unique and challenging sites that we have ever worked with, but I am confident that this is going to be one of the most special courses in our portfolio,” said Grand Slam champion Gary Player. “I am most excited to see the former ecological eyesore turned into a beautiful, green space for visitors and local golfers to enjoy.”
Construction on the Gary Player-designed Manzano Golf Resort has commenced
In addition to the Gary Player Signature Course, the resort will feature an 18-hole course designed by Jack Nicklaus, high-end residential villas, a luxury boutique hotel, sports facilities, and wellness center. As the first and only Player-Nicklaus development in the whole of Europe, Limni Golf Resort will undoubtedly be in a class of its own.
From one stunning location to another, construction has now commenced on Gary Player Design’s newest Italian project, Manzano Golf Resort in Tuscany.
The Gary Player Design project will be the first golf resort in the Tuscan village of Cortona, Italy and will offer a true Tuscan experience with the course routing surrounded by vineyards among the rolling colorful landscape.
The Manzano Golf Resort will also feature a luxury, full-service boutique hotel for the discerning traveler.
The Manzano project will complement the existing Gary Player-designed courses in Italy, including at Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa, which hosted the 2011 Sicilian Open and was also recently named one of the top courses in the country. The firm also has future plans to design a new course at Is Molas, the popular resort in Sardinia, Italy.
THE BLACK KNIGHT TO TEE IT UP IN THE BIG CEDAR LODGE LEGENDS OF GOLF
May 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments
Grand Slam champion Gary Player during the 2013 Legends of Golf
When the Legends of Golf tournament heads to Missouri next week, Grand Slam champion Gary Player will once again partner with longtime friend Jack Nicklaus in the tournament played June 2-8.
As the longest running Champions Tour event, which has been played since 1978, the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf now moves to an exciting new venue outside Branson, Missouri to take place over three days on the Top of the Rock par-three golf course and Buffalo Ridge, an 18-hole championship golf course.
In the move, the tournament is sure to offer new thrills as it is the first PGA Tour-sanctioned event to use a par-3 course as part of the official tournament under new sponsorship by Bass Pro Shops.
The Top of the Rock golf course will make history June 2-8 as it becomes
the first par-3 course to stage a official PGA Tour-sanctioned event
“The Legends of Golf is one of my favorite events to play in each year,” exclaimed Gary Player. “As a two-time winner, I am thrilled to once again tee up with my friend, Jack Nicklaus, at Big Cedar Lodge’s Top of the Rock in what should be a fantastic tournament.”
Player and Nicklaus, who partnered for the tournament last year in its final installation in Savannah, will join a spectacular cast of fellow golfers teeing it up in the two-man team competition conducted over 54 holes including World Golf Hall of Fame members Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, Ben Crenshaw, Sandy Lyle, Nick Price, John Jacobs, Tony Jacklin, and Hubert Green.
The move to the par-3 course for a PGA Tour- sanctioned event shows the ongoing shift in golf to make the game more exciting, accessible, and fun for all levels of players.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem called the tournament played over a par-3 course “groundbreaking,” but golfing icon Gary Player also added, “The move to a par-3 course for the Legends of Golf is just fantastic,” said Player. “It will be wonderful for spectators and provide plenty of excitement on the golf course. We are seeing the game shift more and more to accessible and less timely ways to play, so I think this is a step in a great direction to build golf. I would not be surprised in the least bit if this is just one of many tour-sanctioned tournaments to be played over par-3 courses in the near future.”
GARY PLAYER VISITS ROYAL LIVERPOOL AHEAD OF OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP WITH ROLEX
May 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Gary Player hits an approach shot into Royal Liverpool’s 18th green
Three-time Open Champion Gary Player recently had the chance to preview Royal Liverpool ahead of this year’s The Open Championship as the Black Knight traveled to the UK with longtime partner Rolex.
In addition to a relationship with Player that dates back to 1965 when he captured the Grand Slam at age 29, Rolex has been a proud sponsor of golf and has added to the rich history of the sport through their ongoing sponsorship and involvement, especially in terms of The Open Championship and Ryder Cup.
Following a round on the Royal Liverpool course, Player remarked, “I have incredibly fond memories at Royal Liverpool as it was the site of my first Open Championship appearance. I am looking forward to coming back this summer to see the world’s best golfers take on this great course in what I am sure will be another thrilling Open.”
European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley was also in attendance. Following their stop at Royal Liverpool, Rolex, Player, and McGinley made their way up to Scotland’s Gleneagles Hotel, a longtime favored destination of the Black Knight, before the Ryder Cup travels to the celebrated Scottish golf destination this September when Rolex will be an official partner of the event.
The Ryder Cup returning to Scotland will be quite celebrated as 2014 will be the first time in more than 40 years that the Ryder Cup has been contested on Scottish soil. Additionally, the origins of the sporting contest can be traced back to Gleneagles where the first match between professionals from Great Britain and the United States was played in 1921, six years before the establishment of the official event.
“I have always loved my visits to Gleneagles over the years,” said Player. “I can’t think of a nicer place to host the Ryder Cup. The PGA Centenary Course should certainly prove to be a tough test for both the American and European teams, especially if the weather gets nasty.”
Aside from The Open Championship, The Senior Open Championship, and the Ryder Cup, Rolex has also been a longtime sponsor of the global Gary Player Invitational series, which will make a summer stop in the UK at Wentworth Golf Club immediately following The Open on July 20-21.
TOP PROFESSIONALS JOIN THE UNION OF GOLF AND GIVING AT BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL 2014
May 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
Berenberg Managing Partner Dr. Hans-Walter Peters and Golf icon Gary Player
Black Knight International and Berenberg announced today that the 2014 Berenberg Gary Player Invitational, to be played at Wentworth on Monday 21st July, will feature a remarkable field of world-renowned golf professionals.
This year’s event, the first of a new 3-year-cooperation between title sponsor Berenberg and Black Knight International, will feature an all-star cast alongside tournament host and golfing icon Gary Player. The participating professionals are: Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Jason Day, Fred Couples, David Howell, Bernd Wiesberger, Suzann Pettersen, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Dufner, Thomas Bjorn, Ian Woosnam, George Coetzee and Marc Leishman.
Speaking ahead of the event, Grand Slam champion and tournament host Gary Player said: “I’m thrilled to be joined by so many of my peers from the world of golf, including so many stars across different generations and nationalities. So far the field accounts for 17 Major Championships and many hundreds of tournament victories worldwide. This is a gathering of Pros that any event worldwide would clearly love to have, and I am very grateful to each of them for their support as we strive to continue to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children.”
Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, Managing Partner of Berenberg said: “Our partnership with Gary Player goes back to 2008 and since then we’ve achieved many great things together. Gary is a golfing icon and truly one of the game’s Global Ambassadors. The union of three such historic brands as Berenberg, Gary Player and Wentworth provides us with a totally unique opportunity to build relationships, as well as doing so much good in the process and raising many millions for charity.”
One of the many participating world-class Professionals, Rickie Fowler, said: “When I received the invite from Mr. Player, I immediately wanted to attend. Gary Player is a legend of the game and I have heard so many good things about the event and the GPI series, so I’m delighted to be part of it in 2014. I am so looking forward to getting together with so many Professional colleagues, other sports stars and celebrities for a fun union of golf and giving for those less fortunate.”
The event is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised in excess of $50 million for charities worldwide. This year’s chosen UK beneficiary is Depaul, working for the prevention of youth homelessness.
GARY PLAYER-DESIGNED MODRY LAS PREMIERS AT NORDEA MASTERS
May 27, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
Modry Las has confirmed it will make its debut at this year’s Nordea Masters; Scandinavia’s flagship tournament. Exhibiting under the banner of Golf in West Pomerania, Poland’s top golf course will make its premiere as it prepares to celebrate its fifth anniversary.
One of the top courses in continental Europe, the Gary Player design is Poland’s only signature golf course and is widely praised for its striking and engaging layout. The 18-hole championship course is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a flurry of developments that include the launch of six new one-bedroom guest suites that join three stylish on-site self-catering cottages that opened last year.
The new guest suites have been designed for couples or individuals eager to sample the challenge and beauty of Poland’s top golf course. In addition, eco shelters have been constructed on the course and a new sleek road running through the property is being built alongside upgraded golf cart paths.
“The first five years at Modry Las have been incredible,” said Pamela Gromadzki, the resort’s international marketing director, “but we know we cannot sit on our laurels. That is why we are continuing with our investment programme in order to make Modry Las a luxurious, thriving and sustainable community.”
Located in West Pomerania which is a convenient ferry trip from the Swedish port of Ystad, Modry Las is proving particularly popular with Scandinavian golfers. “Swedish golfers especially enjoy our course because of the challenge it presents,” says Gromadzki. “Gary Player’s design is certainly striking to look at, but it also tests their skills and course management. We are adding to this experience with our second, nine-hole course that will also test their short-game technique. With 27 holes to choose from and new on-site accommodation, Modry Las is entering an exciting phase.”
Perhaps the most significant development at Modry Las will be the completion of the nine-hole Orli Las course, which is due to open in spring 2015. This championship course in miniature has been routed through a stunning peninsula with a lakeside forest providing incredible vistas to infinity greens.
“As we grow and improve our offering at Modry Las, so do our clients expectations,” noted Gromadzki. “Our objective is to create an international resort and community that provides a unique place to enjoy the challenge of the fairways and the beauty of the countryside. Our new guest suites and golf course are important steps on the road towards this goal.”
PLAYER PREVIEWS THE U.S. OPEN AT PINEHURST
May 27, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
One of the most demanding tests in golf, the U.S. Open, consistently offers some special moments in golf’s history. It was the U.S. Open in 1965 where I captured the Grand Slam with a victory at Bellerive Country Club. The U.S. Open is certainly an exceptional tournament, and the tournament this year at Pinehurst will be especially exciting as the well-known Carolina resort will make history by hosting back-to-back U.S. Opens with the U. S. Women’s Open immediately following the conclusion of the men’s Major.
Pinehurst’s No. 2 course is a classic in every way and holds very special memories for me as it was the site of the inaugural World Golf Hall of Fame inductions in 1974 when Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, myself, and a number of others were part of the Hall of Fame’s first class. It was a very special time for me, but Pinehurst holds so many wonderful moments.
Those special moments are sure to grow as the wonderful Carolina resort will crown another U.S. Open champion this June.
Pinehurst will host back-to-back U.S. Opens with the U. S. Women’s Open
immediately following the conclusion of the men’s Major this June
I must say that there have been few courses that are as mentally challenging as Pinehurst No. 2. The course has always tested every aspect of my game, so I am sure that this will hold true in a few weeks’ time. While demanding, the course has a natural beauty all its own set among the stately Carolina pines.
I recently had a chance to play Pinehurst and experience the recent renovations firsthand while hosting the iGate CEO Cup this March. All the renovations, which affected every hole, are fantastic, and I think that Pinehurst No. 2 will offer a different challenge than many other courses that these players have faced with no traditional rough and a great deal of sand.
The course has been restored to Donald Ross’ original vision of a course where strategy is key with natural and historic character. As a designer of over 300 courses worldwide, I have been a huge advocate of designing environmentally-friendly, sustainable courses. Water usage is a huge concern in most parts of the world, so these renovations to Pinehurst are ideal to me.
Building upon the course’s natural character is always a large part of our Gary Player Design courses, so we always want to leave the land better than we found it and add to the natural beauty of the land. I have always enjoyed golf courses that allow you to experience nature as much as possible.
I would love to see more and more courses adopt similar renovations back to more natural conditions, eliminate unnecessary water usage, and establish native grasses.
Spectators won’t see any rough while during the tournament this year, but natural areas of sand, wire and native grasses, and pine straw. It will be a challenge different from many other U.S. Open courses, which will be entertaining to watch.
One thing that will add to the difficulty is that Pinehurst has eliminated overseeding during the winter months, so we can be certain that the greens will play quick and fast. Short games will be of the utmost importance. Pinehurst’s greens with their convex, bowl-like shapes demand precise iron approach shots or the ball will roll down and off the greens.
Also, the course will also play some 300 yards longer with new championship tees added to lengthen the course to 7,565 yards.
Strategy will play a huge factor for players as the fairways have been widened to offer more options for playing from tee to green. Strategic play is one reason that I think one of the older players will likely have a great chance at the title. We saw this already this year at The Masters, where there were seven players over 50 who made the cut at Augusta with Miguel Angel Jiménez and Bernhard Langer finishing in the top ten. Jiménez also just became the oldest winner on the European Tour with his Open de España victory.
What players will need to realize is that patience will be a very important quality to have the week of the U.S. Open.
One player who I think has a good a chance as any is Jordan Spieth, and he learned the value of patience during The Masters final round when he had a two stroke lead over Bubba Watson, then made a mistake on famed par-3 12th hole. I am sure he learned from that blunder, but I have been so impressed by this young guy. After being named 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Jordan has already made a run at The Masters and then also turned around and played extremely well at The Players. After top four finishes in the two biggest tournaments of the year so far, he is hungry for a victory. It is just a matter of time until this young man captures his first Major, and I am betting that it will be sooner rather than later.
Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, and Francesco Molinari could also fare well.
But it would certainly be something if Phil was able to win at the U.S. Open and become just the sixth person to achieve golf’s Grand Slam. Pinehurst is a course that suits his game with no rough and emphasis on the short game and putting. Phil has already shown that he has what it takes to win at Pinehurst with his runner-up victory in 1999 when Payne Stewart won his emotional final Major. It would be a quite the story to see him win at Pinehurst.
HSBC GOLF BUSINESS FORUM DRIVES GLOBAL CONNECTIONS
Apr 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
The global growth of golf and the rise of Asia as a region with major golf potential set the agenda at the HSBC Golf Business Forum in Abu Dhabi.
More than 260 golf business leaders from 30 countries attended the event at the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, April 28-30, connecting leading companies, organisations and individuals.
Speaking about the international opportunities for the golf business, Giles Morgan, HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship and Events, called for a customer-centric approach to drive increased participation in established and emerging markets.
“Golf needs to take a broader approach, it is not just about the game,” he said. “Golf must be flexible, it must reflect the zeitgeist for inclusion, it must ensure it is sustainable, and it must uphold the traditions of the game but instigate innovation.”
The opportunity for golf to capitalise on its inclusion in the Olympics at Rio 2016 was discussed in a leaders’ question time featuring Antony Scanlon of the International Golf Federation, sports executive Donna Orender, Guy Kinnings of IMG and Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of the R&A.
Antony Scanlon said, “Golf at the Olympics has a potential TV audience of 3.4 billion. I don’t think everything will change immediately, but we have an opportunity around the halo effect – three weeks after the Olympics 75% of viewers will have seen a sport they hadn’t seen before.”
“I think it is a great opportunity to showcase men and women being equal in golf,” he added.
Focusing on the rise of golf in Asia, the conference heard that China is the fastest growing market for golf development in the world. With more than 600 courses already open, it is estimated up to 1,500 courses are required to satisfy current demand.
Guy Kinnings of IMG predicted the next global superstar would come from either China or Korea, while Peter Dawson responded to a call for a major championship in Asia.
“Clearly, it is illogical that as golf in Asia grows there would be three majors in America and one in the UK. It is not possible for a golfing body to determine an event in Asia should become a major, but I have no doubt it will happen in due time.”
Mr Dawson, who recently announced he would retire from the R&A in 2015, was presented with the HSBC Golf Business Forum Lifetime Achievement Award by Italian golf sensation Matteo Mannasero, an ambassador for Golf in Abu Dhabi.
Peter Dawson said: “I’d like to thank everyone here at the HSBC Golf Business Forum. It’s a thrill to receive this in front of so many people who are involved in the business of golf and love the game. It’s a particular thrill to receive this from Matteo – I have known him for many years and at such a young age he is a fantastic ambassador for golf.”
Wrapping up the conference, with a strong hint that the 2015 HSBC Golf Business Forum could be in Shanghai, China, Guy Kinnings, IMG Global Head of Golf, said, “It has been a fantastic inaugural event for IMG, and our thanks go to our sponsors, especially HSBC and the TCA, and to our hosts at the Westin. We wanted this forum to be a forward looking conference whilst learning from the past; we have looked into the world of innovation and how this may help shape the future of this sport we love. Rest assured as we move forward with this event, our commitment to this will grow and evolve and I hope we have done it proud in our inaugural year.”
For more information about the HSBC Golf Business Forum, visit http://www.golfbusinessforum.com.
Article courtesy of Golf South.
GOLF’S ELUSIVE GRAND SLAM & ITS CHAMPIONS
Apr 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Golf has seen its fair share of legends and superstars in the game, but when it comes to the game’s storied Major Championships, only five individuals - Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods - have broken through to have their names etched on each of The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, and PGA Championship trophies.
The idea of players winning each Major Championship is quite a coup. Seventeen players have managed to win four or more Majors since the establishment of the Masters Tournament in 1934, marking the modern era of the Grand Slam. But each major has its own unique tests that have perhaps kept even great players from triumph over all four.
Much like each Major, each Grand Slam champion has their own distinct story.
In just the second year of The Masters, Gene Sarazen became the first individual to complete the Grand Slam as he captured his seventh and final Major. Sarazen unquestionably did so with a bang. It was the “shot heard ‘round the world” that catapulted Sarazen to his 1935 Masters Tournament victory on the 15th Hole, a par 5, where a 235-yard 4-wood found the hole, giving him a very rare double eagle 2.
Perhaps the greatest ball striker in the game, Ben Hogan attained golf’s highest achievement 18 years following Sarazen. It was during his only Open Championship appearance, due to the nearly simultaneous schedule of the PGA Championship and The Open Championship at the time, where Hogan captured the Grand Slam and his ninth and final Major when he prevailed at Carnoustie in 1953.
Hogan’s road to the Grand Slam was not without difficulty and obstacles to overcome. Following serving in World War II, Hogan returned to his career to win three Majors before suffering a near-fatal car accident that left him, at age 36, in the hospital for nearly 60 days. Doctors had said he may never walk again, let alone play golf competitively. Despite limitations caused by his accident, Hogan returned to professional golf in 1950 and went on to win an additional six Majors in a span of three years.
Gary Player often praises Ben Hogan as the best golfer he has ever seen and the only golfer who fully understood the golf swing, saying, “I have seen many players who understand the golf swing from A to Y, but only one that understood from A to Z and that is Ben Hogan.”
By 1965, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer had solidified The Big Three™ as tournament contenders week in and week out. Each needed just one Major to join Sarazen and Hogan in the elite level of golfers who completed golf’s career Grand Slam.
South African Player already had achieved unparalleled success for an international golfer as he became the youngest Open Championship victor at age 23 and the first international winner of The Masters. When Player arrived to the 1965 U.S. Open at Bellrieve Country Club with three Major titles to his name, he was convinced that he could, in fact, win the tournament and beat Nicklaus to the Grand Slam. That belief proved fruitful as it was Player who was lifting the U.S. Open after a Monday playoff round against Australian Kel Nagle.
Nine-time major champion Player is the only international golfer to win the Grand Slam still to this day.
Shortly following Player, Jack Nicklaus joined the exclusive club of Grand Slam champions at the 1966 Open Championship. The Golden Bear, perhaps the most accomplished golfer of all time with 18 Major Championship titles to his name, showed his utter authority in the game as he not only won each Major, but each at least three times.
Whether he surpasses Jack Nicklaus’ record number of Major titles is still to be determined, but Tiger Woods has certainly carved out his place in golf history. There is no mistaking Tiger Woods’ (still ongoing) legacy in the sport.
With his victory at the 129th British Open in July 2000 at 24 years old, Woods became the youngest golfer to complete the Grand Slam. From 2000 to 2001, Tiger Woods went on the win the U.S. Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship, and The Masters in succession in the so-called “Tiger Slam.”
“To win four majors in succession, it’s hard to believe, really, because there’s so many things that go into winning a Major Championship,” said Woods following his 2001 Masters victory. “For that matter, any tournament, but more so Majors because you’ve got to have your game peak at the right time, and on top of that, you’ve got to have some luck.”
Perhaps that is where Player’s adage, “The harder you practice, the luckier you get” comes into play.
While no one is certain if the Grand Slam will be achieved again anytime soon, Phil Mickelson could join the distinguished group with a U.S. Open victory at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club this June. Mickelson has finished second at the U.S. Open a record six times.
Others poised to take a shot at the career Grand Slam? Many could not count out 24 year-old Rory McIlroy with a U.S. Open and PGA Championship title already under his belt and many more years of golf to be played. Perhaps as Player and Woods said, just a bit of luck will be needed.
THE GREATS OF GOLF RETURNS TO INSPERITY INVITATIONAL
Apr 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments
Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino Headline Special Saturday Competition
In what is quickly becoming a Saturday tradition at the Insperity Invitational presented by UnitedHealthcare, the Greats of Golf returns on May 3 for the third consecutive year.
Fans will have the rare opportunity to see Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Lee Trevino in a special competition Saturday afternoon of tournament week at The Woodlands Country Club Tournament Course.
For the past two years, thousands of fans have lined the fairways to watch one of the year’s best events in golf as a collection of the game’s greatest legends share laughter and competition during one of the best Champions Tour events on the calendar. Once again the “Big Four” along with Johnny Miller, Raymond Floyd, Don January, David Graham, Tony Jacklin, and Dave Stockton will compete in the “Greats of Golf” competition.
Palmer will not compete this year. However, he will be in attendance and serve as an honorary chairman for the event.
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.
Last year, Stockton, Miller, and Jacklin teamed to shoot 11-under for the win. The 2012 champions, Palmer, Nicklaus, and Player finished second, four strokes back.
“We are pleased these gentlemen have enjoyed this friendly competition and will continue this tradition again this year,” said Insperity Invitational Executive Director, Bryan Naugle. “During the past two years, fans have told us how much fun it is to see these greats on the golf course. We are excited the fans can enjoy the experience again this year.”
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 150 Champions Tour wins.
The 2014 edition of Houston’s Champions Tour event will be the beginning of a new era for the tournament. The event will have new criteria to determine the players in the field, and in turn the name of the event has changed to Insperity Invitational. This format change makes the tournament a unique event on the Champions Tour schedule.
The Insperity Invitational offers free grounds only admission tickets courtesy of Insperity, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Woodforest National Bank, and HP. The grounds ticket also includes free parking and shuttle service. For updated information on all aspects of the Insperity Invitational, fans are encouraged to visit http://www.InsperityInvitational.com.
GARY PLAYER DESIGN LEADS GOLF DIGEST’S 2014 GOLF COURSE RANKINGS
Apr 25, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
The Links at Fancourt
Golf Digest has just released its biennial “Top 100 South Africa Courses” list, and Gary Player Design achieved an unprecedented result as five of the top six courses belong to the firm’s portfolio. The Links at Fancourt in George maintained the No. 1 spot and was followed by Leopard Creek in Malelane and Gary Player Country Club in the 2nd and 3rd positions. Blair Atholl (No. 4) and Montague at Fancourt (No.6) rounded out the list’s Top 10.
“Having The Links at Fancourt recognized as the best in South Africa is a great honor, and having five courses be ranked in Golf Digest’s Top 10 is absolutely fantastic,” said Gary Player.
“I have been given many opportunities to create designs that reflect the true nature of my beloved country and I am very proud of the courses we have designed here. South Africa offers such diverse natural landscapes; it makes the golf course come alive and has enabled us to create some truly incredible designs. We have 325 truly unique courses and each present their own design challenges, but there is always something special about working at home,” said Player.
A coveted list, the publication’s rankings are based on course evaluations by 120 volunteer panel members throughout South Africa and are qualified based on seven criteria: shot values, playability, resistance to scoring, aesthetics, design variety, memorability and conditioning.
Gary Player Country Club
“Gary Player Design is widely considered the finest design firm globally, which as founder makes me very proud indeed, and these rankings from Golf Digest are most rewarding,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO.
Golf Digest South Africa also recognized several other ranking categories, including: “Top 25 Most Difficult Courses,” “Top 25 Most Scenic Courses,” “Top 10 Best 18th Holes,” “Top 10 Best Opening Shots,” “Top 10 Bunkers,” “Best Conditioned Courses,” and more. Considering the vast number of high caliber courses in South Africa, Gary Player Design is also proud to have several of its courses included within all of these competitive categories.
“The recognition we are receiving for our work is really gratifying,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. “We pride ourselves in designing courses that embrace the natural characteristics of the area, and to be considered in such high regard by an independent ranking group exemplifies the continued progress of our designs in South Africa and around the world.”
GOLF ICON GARY PLAYER DAZZLES AND DELIVERS AT THE JUNIOR INVITATIONAL AT SAGE VALLEY
Apr 24, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments
Fresh off his recent trip to Augusta, Georgia for The Masters and the first of four Gary Player Invitational events of 2014, golf icon Gary Player ventured back to the area as 54 of the top junior golfers from around the world compete at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley this week. Player was the guest speaker for the tournament’s Opening Ceremony and left all in attendance amazed.
Winner of 165 worldwide tournaments and the Grand Slam on the regular and Champions Tour, Player had plenty of advice for the participants and guests from his career that has spanned over six decades.
True to Player’s personality, the crowd was entertained throughout. To the tune of Paul Simon’s “I Know What I Know,” Player swept up ladies from the crowd to dance as he moved to the stage. His reasoning? “Happiness is contagious,” laughed Player.
There was plenty for all involved to be happy about as the Junior Invitational, which has been consistently voted the number one tournament in junior golf by Golfweek, welcomed the best 54 amateur boys in the world to compete, including 13 players from nine countries outside of the United States. Competitor Keegan De Lange hails from the Black Knight’s home country of South Africa.
Reflecting on his career, Player told stories of his early career, including his first trip abroad as a professional to the Open Championship at St. Andrews when he had to sleep in a dune because he could not afford a hotel room. He kept everyone in attendance in hysterics, but also made sure to pass along the message of gratitude.
“Mr. Fitness” displayed his legendary fitness as he challenged the young men to join him on stage for a friendly competition to see if anyone could match his feat of holding two drivers parallel to the ground by just using his pointer and middle finger. No volunteers could, but Player made sure that they realized the importance of fitness in golf and in life.
Aside from golf and fitness advice, the Black Knight made sure that everyone was grateful for they have in their lives, stating many in the world are without a shower, a TV, and three meals a day. On the progression of golf, Player stated how fortunate the young golfers are today as they hopefully have the opportunity to compete on the professional tours of today, which have grown to offer weekly first place prizes over $1 million.
“We are so lucky that we have wonderful governing bodies and sponsors that have made it possible for professional golfers to compete for millions at each tournament,” said Player. “But to make it, you’ve got to work harder than everyone else. And you have to want it.”
“All I hear about is ‘some of these junior boys are hitting the ball 320 yards’,” exclaimed Player. “That’s not what wins the tournaments. If somebody would just say to me, ‘you should see this junior at my club. He’s got a mind like Tiger Woods. He’s got such a focus, like Tiger Woods. He’s got a short game like Tiger Woods.’ But I never hear that, never. That’s what wins golf tournaments. It’s all the putting, the chipping, the bunker shot, and the wedges. Seventy percent of shots in golf are played from 100 yards in.”
To end on, Player made sure to pass along the educational message he’s learned in his career to the juniors before they head out of compete in the 4th annual Junior Invitational, presented by Electrolux, on Thursday.
“Golf’s a game that teaches you manners. It teaches you to win, and it teaches you to lose. You’re going to lose a lot more than you’re going to win,” he said. “All in all, it’s an education. Golf is a miraculous sport, and I wish you all luck this week.”
The Junior Invitational will be held April 24th-26th at the renowned Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, SC.
GARY PLAYER TO SPEAK AT THOROUGHBRED OWNERS AND BREEDERS ASSOCIATION OWNERS CONFERENCE
Apr 24, 2014 | Filed Under: General News
Gary Player, a legend in the golfing world and a longtime Thoroughbred owner, breeder, and advocate of Thoroughbred aftercare, will deliver the keynote address when OwnerView, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and The Jockey Club host the inaugural Thoroughbred Owner Conference in Lexington Oct. 13-16.
Player has owned the 20,000-acre Gary Player Stud in South Africa since 1974 and is consistently among the leading breeders in South Africa. He has frequently implored those involved in horse racing to come up with innovative ideas that would generate interest in the sport.
The Thoroughbred Owner Conference will take place at Keeneland and will be co-presented by Del Mar, Keeneland, the New York Racing Association, and The Stronach Group.
“Our goal in hosting this conference is to showcase a unique lifestyle, whether you are an experienced owner or a potential investor in the Thoroughbred industry,” said Bill Thomason, the president and chief executive officer of the Keeneland Association, in a release. “Del Mar, NYRA, The Stronach Group, and Keeneland all realize and appreciate that Thoroughbred owners play a critical role in our industry, and we all want to make the ownership experience immensely enjoyable at every juncture.”
Attendees at the conference will have a welcome reception at Adena Springs Farm near Paris, Ky., an evening dinner, a day of racing, and numerous opportunities to network with panelists and industry personnel alike.
“The OwnerView initiative has really grown tremendously in a short period of time, and this conference is just a natural extension of our efforts to retain and attract owners,” said Gary Falter, vice president of operations for OwnerView, in a statement. “We are grateful to Keeneland for making its facility available and to all four racing organizations for their sponsorship support.”
2014 GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL SERIES KICKS OFF WITH SUCCESSFUL STAR-STUDDED CHARITY EVENT IN AUGUSTA
Apr 16, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments
Following an exciting Masters Week with Bubba Watson winning his second Green Jacket, Black Knight International kicked off the 2014 Gary Player Invitational (GPI) Series on April 13-14 in Augusta, GA, raising more than $328,000 to fund underprivileged children’s education.
Participants were welcomed to the charity event, which pairs celebrities, businessmen, international sports figures and professional golfers in a Pro-Am team competition, at the Black Knight International house for a welcome reception and Masters viewing party with three-time Masters winner and GPI host Gary Player.
The tournament started off with a thrilling clinic by Long Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski who entertained guests with his incredible drives surpassing 400 yards. Plenty of action followed on the course as the four-ball scramble tournament was won by the team of James Wilson, Grant Horsfield, Scott Ferrell, Greg Lubbe, and Justin Downes, who together shot an impressive 24 under par.
Celebrities attending the charity event included: Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Sandra Gal, Jamie Sadlowski, Chris Doleman, Beverly Johnson, Kevin Sorbo, Victor Green, George Gervin, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Kristy Swanson, Lloyd Eisler, Tony Womack, Jeremy Dale, Justin Wheelon, Dan Jansen, Karen Palacios-Jansen, Nigel Smith, and John Patrick.
“This year was yet another fantastic event at Champions Retreat,” commented Grand Slam champion Gary Player. “It has been a wonderful start to the annual GPI series, and I continue to be inspired and amazed by the tremendous work that can be accomplished when business people, athletes and celebrities come together in support of a common cause.”
The Gary Player Invitational Series consists of charity golf tournaments held throughout the year in the USA, Europe, China, and South Africa to benefit The Player Foundation and its beneficiaries. Since its establishment in 1983, The Player Foundation has raised more than $50 million in support of children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities, and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.
“We are truly grateful for the continued support of our corporate partners. Year after year, Rolex, Callaway, SAP, Coca-Cola, Humana, and Land Rover support our GPI events and have played a significant role in the fundraising successes we have achieved thus far,” added Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO.
The next invitational series event is the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational, which is set to take place at the historic Wentworth Golf Club outside of London July 20-21, 2014.
GARY PLAYER DESIGN SELECTED FOR TIANZHU GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB PROJECT IN BEIJING
Mar 31, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
Beijing will soon be home to its second Gary Player Signature Design, as Tianzhu Golf & Country Club announced the Black Knight’s firm has been selected to undertake the redesign of their 27-hole course. The announcement was shared at a kick-off meeting during Player’s recent trip to China for several design site visits and the China Golf Show.
“We continue to see the great possibility and future of golf in China,” said Gary Player. “Our design firm has been very busy across Asia lately, and we are truly looking forward to our design at Tianzhu Golf & Country Club. Our client is looking to build a championship course, and I am confident that the end result will be a fantastic addition to further grow the game in Beijing.”
Sanpower Group, the investor behind the project, entrusted the Black Knight with the redesign as they aim for the 27-hole course to stage international level tournaments in the future.
Gary Player Design has previously seen professional events contested on its Chinese courses, such as the European Tour sanctioned 2010 Volvo China Open at the acclaimed Suzhou Jinji Lake International Golf Club.
“Our conceptual design at Tianzhu has allowed for us to achieve three 9-hole loops that are all championship length and quality,” said Scott Ferrell, Gary Player Design President. “Members and guests will be very pleasantly surprised with all of the improvements to be implemented.”
Player has already visited the Beijing site twice to begin the planning stages of the project. The golf course will reopen in phases with nine holes completed this year and the remaining 18 to reopen in late 2015.
In addition to the championship quality and as with all Gary Player Design projects, Tianzhu will follow the long established sustainable and environmentally friendly practices for which Gary Player Design has come to be recognized. Under the renovation, the design team has sought to protect existing groups of trees during the complete overhaul of the existing course routing.
Player with Sanpower Chairman Yafei Yuan & Tianzhu Golf Club
Partner Jishan Li during a site visit earlier this month
With the amateurs being the heart of the game, the Tianzhu project seeks to build upon the active membership at the club, which has been open for a decade.
“Tianzhu has an established membership, and it is our hope that the renovations to the course will continue to build upon the existing success with championship-level courses that stress playability for all members and guests,” said Ferrell.
In addition to the Gary Player Signature Course, the site will include a renovated clubhouse and conference center, as well as a luxury residential component.
WILDSTONE GOLF CLUB SET TO OPEN APRIL 18TH FOR THIRD SEASON IN SPARKLING CONDITION
Mar 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design
CRANBROOK, BC – Whether you’re a local teeing it up in one of its signature events or passing through the Kootney Rockies and looking for a great place to play golf, Wildstone GC offers one of the most exceptional golf experiences in the land.
It has only been three years since the one-and-only Black Knight design in Canada first wowed British Columbia golfers, but in that time Wildstone has established itself as a premier golf property where regular guests and travellers have been warmly welcomed and embraced in a remarkable world-class setting.
Wildstone, a resort golf facility that offers a variety of green fee specials, has developed a niche market. Its 10-game passports to golf that currently sell for just $590 continue to be incredibly popular with a growing number of loyal Wildstone enthusiasts. “As an added bonus, the frequent player passbooks can be used for two-for-one golf for twilight golf starting at 3 pm, so people could get 20 rounds, which is a huge savings,” says General Manager Chris Andrews.
Wildstone continues to develop engaging and unique programming from its fun, player-friendly Easter Scramble that gets the golf season going to the year-ending Ironman Championship, a two-person team event played from the back with six holes best ball, six holes shamble and six holes scramble to Sunday pins!
“Whether they are a regular or visiting us for the first time we want people who come to Wildstone to enjoy a golf experience that encourages them to come and visit us again,” Andrews says. “Programs like the Wildstone Golf League, Sunday Night Skins and our incredible course conditions have helped make Wildstone the flagship golf club in the area.”
With an abundance of sunshine year-round and plenty of snow in winter, the area is an all-season, second-to-none destination for vacationers from all over the world. They come for the clear, sparkling lakes, some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery in the world, hiking trails, ski resorts, championship golf courses, hot springs, unique shops and cultural festivals.
Wildstone continues to see a growing number of travellers and out of province guests from Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Saskatchewan, while there is also a strong contingent from across the BC Interior.
“We’re a strong destination for golf with several excellent options in the Cranbrook area and many other excellent facilities throughout the Kimberley and Columbia Valley,” Andrews says, noting Wildstone was the Regional Winner of the BC PGA 2012 Golf Facility of the Year Award.
Wildstone is set to open for its third full season on Friday, April 18th so Easter weekend is a golf holiday this year, and not a ski vacation like most.
“I’m really looking forward to the start of golf season,” says Terry Dupley who lives in Cranbrook and played about 40 rounds at Wildstone in 2013. “Over the last three years the course has continued to mature so beautifully. It’s always in amazing shape and just keeps getting better. I guess what makes it truly memorable are the elevation changes, a terrific variety of golf holes and the final five holes are a true test if you’re going to post a good score.”
Canada’s one and only Black Knight Design by Gary Player Design features a very walkable and player friendly layout with spectacular Rocky Mountain views, and superior conditioning. The gently rolling par-72 routing plays from five sets of tees measuring 7,127 yards from the tips, 6,669 yards for Blue, 6,233 for White, 5,629 for Red and 4,947 from the forward gold tees.