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Nov 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of The Star

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Nov 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nov 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have found that the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others does not thrust itself upon us. But we do not need to look hard for it either. When you spot the chance to give back to the world, act on it. You will have made life better, for others, and for yourself.

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

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

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

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

We are not far off.

This article first appeared in Golf E Turismo

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Nov 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information courtesy of Saadiyat Beach

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Nov 16, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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Nov 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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Nov 14, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

Presenting sponsor,  The Coca-Cola Company are extremely proud of the partnership with Black Knight International and the results the tournament achieved over the years. “We are always excited to be involved in this premier charity golf event that celebrates the partnership of influential business and sports leaders to raise funds for beneficiaries supported by The Player Foundation. We recognise that healthy and thriving communities are critical to the sustainable future of our world. Uplifting vulnerable communities with focus on women and children is a shared goal for both The Player Foundation and Coca-Cola.”

The most sought-after auction item of the evening was The Masters fetching R 425 000 with other items on auction such has The Open, Wimbledon, Swarovski crusted Rhino sculpture, The Gary Player Wildlife Collection by David Yarrow, UEFA Euro in Paris 2016 and many more.

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

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING.

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Nov 13, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The evergreen Gary Player issued a warning to his fellow competitors in this week’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola when he came through Friday’s official tournament pro-am at the Lost City Golf Club declaring his game to be in excellent shape.

“I played really well today. I’m fortunate in that I score an average of 70 when I play. Even on a bad day I beat my age by six shots,” said Player, who in November turned 80. “I feel grateful to have reached the age of 80 and still feel like 50.”

Friday’s official pro-am set the tone for a thrilling 36-hole tournament to come on the weekend and featuring a stellar list of sports stars, celebrities and business leaders. And all eyes will be on Player to see if he can defend the title he won in spectacular fashion here last year.

On that occasion, the Grand Slam champion broke his age by 11 shots in the final round as he led his team to a six-stroke victory on 29 under par, and his individual score on the final day beat three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington.

It was a moment witnessed by Aaron Mokoena, his playing partner and a participant again in this year’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola.

“It’s great to see him still so healthy, and I hope he does win it again because he has so much energy and it rubs off on us,” said the former Bafana Bafana captain.

“For me, winning is great. But the more important thing is just to be here again supporting this great cause and helping Gary in giving back. I have so much respect for the work he does for charity. To me he is like Nelson Mandela in a white skin.”

Olympic swimming champion Roland Schoeman can certainly appreciate Player’s longevity in his sport. Schoeman will seek to become the first South African to have competed at five Olympic Games as he hopes to qualify for Rio in 2016, and says Player’s dedication to fitness has inspired him.

“Gary is a living legend. You have to admire how he broke with the tradition of the time in his sport and started training with weights and took his fitness seriously. That’s why he can still be out here at the age of 80. He eats well and takes care of himself, and for me as an athlete that’s an inspiration.”

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Nov 12, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Olympic swimming gold medalist, Roland Schoeman, has joined a strong line-up of sports stars, professional golfers, celebrities and business leaders in this week’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at The Lost City Golf Club.

Schoeman will make his third appearance in global golf’s most prestigious charity series after also playing in 2006 and 2008, and said he was delighted to be supporting Player in his ongoing drive to raise funds for underprivileged children in South Africa.

“Gary is an absolute ambassador for this country and we need more role models like him,” said Schoeman.

“There are too many people who bicker and moan about the state of affairs but who aren’t willing to make an active change in this country. We need people that are investing time, money and energy here. We need an event like this golf tournament that is helping out charities. We need to help the youth of this country, otherwise we’re looking at a dismal state of affairs.”

The 10-time world record holder and three-time Olympic medalist forms part of a fantastic list of sports stars supporting the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, which will be played from 13-15 November.
Graeme Smith, South Africa’s most successful cricket captain, fellow cricketer Mark Boucher and former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena are also in the field for the tournament.

They join professionals Player, his son Wayne Player, French stars Jean van de Velde and Thomas Levet, South Africa’s Richard Sterne, and Ladies European Tour players Emma Cabrera-Bello, Carly Booth and Danielle Montgomery.

The celebrities in the field include singers Ronan Keating and Brian McFadden, and radio and television personalities Thomas Msengana and Johnathan Joseph.

This year’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola is set to be one of the most memorable in the history of the series, beginning with South Africa’s greatest sportsman celebrating his 80th birthday at an emotional gathering of family and friends in the Sun City Superbowl on Wednesday evening.

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Nov 10, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Modry Las Golf Club has been named Poland’s best golf course at a prestigious global awards ceremony in Portugal. For the second consecutive year, the West Pomerania Gary Player designed-course picked up Poland’s national prize at the World Golf Awards which aims to benchmark excellence in golf tourism.

The accolade came in a category that has seen the number of nominees nearly double since the awards were launched a year ago. More importantly, it affirms Modry Las as one of central Europe’s leading golfing venues at a time when Poland is emerging as a bone fide golfing destination.

“It was a great honour to pick up the award at the World Golf Awards, especially as we retained the title from last year,” said Arthur Gromadzki, Chairman at Modry Las. “Golf in Poland has seen huge strides forward in the past few years and we are extremely proud to be at the forefront of this expansion.”

He continued: “Modry Las opened six years ago and since then we have added a fabulous nine-hole course and doubled our on-site accommodation. As a result, much has changed since Gary Player first came to Poland to inspect our beautiful countryside and tranquil lakes. We have achieved a lot, but despite the progress, our objective remains unchanged and that is to deliver a distinctive and exceptional golfing experience.”

Since opening in 2009, Modry Las has added new Garden Suites and a stunning new nine-hole course, Orli Las, which many view as a championship course in miniature, to its acclaimed 18-hole championship. The improvements have attracted universal praise as well as a host of accolades. For instance, Modry Las became the only Polish entry in Germany’s leading golf magazine’s Top 100 list of European golf courses and was named Poland’s best golf course by the country’s leading golf website

This latest award is the culmination of over six months of voting by professionals working within the golf travel and tourism industry, as well as votes cast by the public. World Golf Awards managing director Christopher Frost said: “It is an honour to recognise Modry Las as Poland’s Best Golf Course for a second consecutive year. Our voters, from across the golf hospitality world, have recognised the stunning location, exceptional facilities and pristine environment available at the course as the best on offer and it is with pleasure we present them with the title this evening.”

Modry Las received votes from leading tourism professionals and consumers from across the globe, which Gromadzki said reflects another busy year at the Polish resort. “This award cements Modry Las as a truly international resort,” he said. “This has been an extremely busy year for us with the highest number of international visitors ever. The votes cast for Modry Las only bolsters our determination to create the best possible golf resort experiences.”

Article courtesy of Modry Las golf Club

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Nov 9, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

South Africa’s most successful cricket captain, Graeme Smith, has confirmed his place in a stellar field of pros and celebrities who will tee it up for charity in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at The Lost City Golf Course at Sun City from 12-15 November 2015.

The former Proteas cricket captain will join the global field of professionals, celebrities and business leaders in a Union of Golf and Giving.

Smith is the most successful cricket Test captain of all time, winning 53 of the 109 Tests in which he led Proteas. After becoming South Africa’s youngest captain at the age of 22, he went on to claim the world record for captaining in the most Tests.

Smith will make his debut in the tournament and as part of a South African sports captain’s trio including fellow cricketer Mark Boucher and footballer Aaron Mokoena.

Boucher captained the Proteas in four Tests and returns to the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola seeking his second victory after being on the winning team in 2003.

Mokoena captained Bafana Bafana and made 107 international appearances for his country. He also played for Blackburn Rovers, Portsmouth and Bidvest Wits. Mokoena returns hoping to successfully defend the title he won with tournament host Gary Player in 2014.

They will be joined by world-renowned musicians Ronan Keating and Brian McFadden, and radio and television personalities Thomas Msengana and DJ Spoony, Johnathan Joseph.

The professionals in the star-studded field include a first-time appearance by Wayne Player, the son of tournament host Gary Player, as well as French stars Jean van de Velde and Thomas Levet, South Africa’s Richard Sterne, and Ladies European Tour players Emma Cabrera-Bello, Danielle Montgomery and Carly Booth.

Montgomery, Cabrera-Bello, and Booth, a two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, are regular supporters of the Gary Player Invitational.

“This is such a super mix of participants and we are truly humbled by the response we have received from everyone. This has been such a busy year on a number of fronts and it really means a lot that our friends have taken time out of their schedules to be with us and help us raise money for The Player Foundation. I am sure this is going to be one of our most memorable tournaments in history.” said GPI series founder Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International.


1. Gary Player
2. Wayne Player
3. Richard Sterne
4. Jean van de Velde
5. Thomas Levet
6. Carly Booth
7. Ronan Keating
8. Mark Boucher
9. Aaron Mokoena
10. Brian McFadden
11. Danielle Montgomery
12. Johnathan Joseph
13. Graeme Smith
14. Thomas Msengana
15. Emma Cabrera-Bello
16.  Roland Schoeman

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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Nov 4, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player might very well be entitled to the last laugh, but that is not his style. The golf Hall of Famer takes more pleasure in knowing that what he long ago believed was the way to live life and approach his career is accepted theory, if not practiced by all.

But when Player, who celebrates his 80th birthday Sunday, turned professional more than 50 years ago, the idea of exercising and lifting weights in golf was largely confined to the 12-ounce curls that were a part of the post-round experience.

Dumbbells were for dummies, he often heard.

“My favorite example is not from a fellow golfer, but from a famous golf architect,” said Player, when contacted via email. “I will not mention the name, but one day he saw me squatting with 325 pounds the night before the U.S. Open. And there was quite an article that Gary Player will never last.

“When I went on tour in 1963, I mentioned his name and I said, ‘I hope you’re noticing this, I’ll be joining you in heaven one of these days, make sure there’s a good golf course and a good gym with lots of weights.’ “
Player made it clear he was chuckling at the memory.

“Looking back on the attitudes of golfers toward exercise, I am very proud to be the first to have helped changed their mindset,” Player said. “Golfers were not really thought of as athletes even just a few decades ago.

Now, they train like athletes do in other sports like rugby. Tiger Woods and now Rory McIlroy are great ambassadors for promoting fitness in golf. The PGA Tour even has a traveling gym. We have come a long way from when I had to go to the local YMCA.”

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Player and various estimates put his worldwide travel at 15 million air miles. He compiled nine major championships, winning his first at The Open in 1959 and capturing his last at the 1978 Masters. Along the way, he compiled 24 PGA Tour victories but worldwide amassed more than 160 titles, including 73 on the Sunshine Tour in his native South Africa. He played in the Masters 52 times.

A prolific golf course designer with more than 350 on his resume, Player also won nine major titles on the Champions Tour.

Along with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Player—nicknamed the Black Knight because of his preference for black attire—was part of the Big Three and fought to make his way among such popular and successful players.

In 1961, Player became the first international golfer to win the Masters—aided by a Palmer double-bogey on the last hole. And in 1965, he became only the third player—and so far, only non-American—to win the career Grand Slam when he captured the U.S. Open, giving him victories in all four major championships.

But Player does not trace his fitness prowess directly to wanting to win golf trophies. While it helped him as a golfer, fitness became a part of life that he continues today. Player had yet to start playing golf regularly when his brother, Ian—8 years older than Gary—persuaded him being fit would be important.

“It started when my brother left for war at age 17 to fight alongside the Americans and British in WWII,” Player said. “I told him I was going to be a professional athlete. Knowing I was going to be small, he gave me a set of weights and made me promise to look after my body, treat it like a holy temple, and exercise for the rest of my life.

“This led me to becoming a fitness advocate. My school also played a vital role in encouraging sports.”

Player, who was just 5 feet 6, 150 pounds, began playing golf at age 14 and had turned pro by 17. He won his first pro tournament in 1955 at 20, his first PGA Tour title coming in 1958 at the Kentucky Derby Open.

Throughout that period, Player was ahead of his time as he traveled the world.

“In the early part of my career, people thought I was an absolute nut for training with weights,” Player said. “But I stuck to my workout routine even during tournaments, and it paid off big time. Training the way I did gave me an edge no one could top because I knew I was in the best shape of anyone on tour. That was a big part of my mental game. The critics said that Gary Player will not last as a professional golfer past age 35. I think I proved them wrong.

“My fitness and proper diet are the reasons I have been so successful. If I didn’t take care of my body with a strict regimen that I still practice today, as well as eating proper food, I might be dead. I am turning 80, but feel 40.”

According to his media manager, Bo Wood, Player works out four or five times a week, with various types of leg, lower-back and neck stretching, sets of one-legged squats, 1,000 mixed crunches—the last done with
extra weights—several core exercises, weighted wrist roles, sprints on the treadmill and sets of heavy leg presses. Wood said Players’ emphasis is on exercises that are good for golf, not necessarily other sports.

“I usually go to the gym with him when I am with him,” said Wood, who works at the Gary Player Group in Greenville, S.C. “This year at the Masters he leg-pressed 400 pounds. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen in the gym.”

And if that’s not enough? Player said he has broken his age in every round of golf he has played this year.

Although there have been some who believe heavy weight training can be detrimental to golfers, Player believes it is OK “as long as you are working the correct muscles. Your body needs rest, so you don’t push yourself toward an injury. Exercising your legs, hips, core, back and arms the right way for golf are the most important. Endurance is vital to longevity.”

Player seemingly has plenty of both. In addition to his golf course design business, his company is involved in many other aspects of golf. He continues to travel extensively between his homes in the United States and South Africa, where he spends hours each working on his farm. And he’s even active on Twitter, sending out his good wishes to all of the winners on the various tours each week.

As for his best tip, Player keeps it simple when it comes to weight loss and continued health. “That’s easy,” he said. “Eat less, drink water and exercise more!”

Article courtesy of ESPN

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Nov 4, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golfing legend Gary Player, who marked his 80th birthday on Sunday, was in Shanghai yesterday to support the HSBC Golf Business Forum and attend a special dinner to mark HSBC’s 150thAnniversary.

Player has won nine Majors and is an inspiration to all as he enters his ninth decade showing no sign of slowing down, beginning each day with 1,000 sit-ups and pushing 300lb on a leg machine. Player has won 167 professional golf tournaments worldwide and is one of only five men to capture golf’s coveted career Grand Slam. He also won nine Major championships on the Senior Tour and is the only player in history to complete the career Grand Slam on both Tours.

Gary Player said, “This is a big week for golf in Asia. I have no doubt China will win Olympic golf medals over the next several decades, such is the rate at which our sport continues to develop in this country. With the HSBC Golf Business Forum and the flagship World Golf Championships - HSBC Champions taking place here in Shangahi, it feels good to be here and support our game. ”

Giles Morgan “We are delighted to welcome Gary Player to Shanghai. We are very honoured to have him here to share in this special week of activities for the HSBC Golf Business Forum as he too celebrates such an important milestone.”

The HSBC Golf Business Forum is taking place at the Pudong Shangri La Hotel in downtown Shanghai gathering the game’s most influential voices and global innovators at the world’s premier golf business event.

The 11th World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions is the final World Golf Championships of the year and takes place at the Sheshan International Golf Club, 5 – 8th November with a stellar field confirmed including, reigning Champion and World No.4 Bubba Watson, World No. 2 Jordan Spieth, World No. 3 Rory McIlroy, World No.5 Rickie Fowler, World No.7 Henrik Stenson, 2013 Champion Dustin Johnson, 2011 Champion Martin Kaymer, 2008 Champion Sergio Garcia and the inaugural 2005 winner David Howell.

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Nov 3, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golfing legend Gary Player turns 80 on Sunday. In between designing golf courses, raising money for education and working on his ranch, Player spoke with USA TODAY Sports about his life, achievements, and what he thinks of golf today.

Q: Even at 80, you have so much on your plate. What keeps you the busiest?

A: I achieved everything I wanted to in golf. I work on my ranch five months a year, which is my paradise. I have a great desire to help the young people of the world because even in a country like America, you can have 100 million people with diabetes in 40 years’ time. What is the best cure for diabetes? Diet and exercise! That’s my great dream now. To get this message out to young people around the world. Also, I’ve set myself a goal to raise $100 million for underprivileged people, mainly on the them of education.

We have it set up in China, we have it set up in Abu Dhabi, in the Middle East, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela and I started this and we raised a lot of money for young black children. We have set up in London for homeless people. We play the tournament in five parts of the world, and wherever we raise the money, we give the money to that country. Now, my great dream is before I die to raise $100 million around the world for underprivileged children and education.

Q: How close are you?

A: We’ve raised $60 million. The thing of it is I’m designing golf courses. I’m doing after-dinner speaking. I want to be the best orator of all athletes, so I’m still learning to keep my mind sharp. I keep working hard, because as I say, retirement is a death warrant. People should forget about that word, retirement. Keep working! Keep moving! It’s so important.

But it’s easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than to get people to diet and exercise.  Nobody wants to do it. All we’ve got to do is a simple, simple thing. People have got to get a treadmill, put it in the bathroom, and when they wake up, before they have their shower, walk on it for a lousy 10 minutes. That’s easy to do.

The other thing is, the less you eat, the longer you live. Don’t eat a lot at night before you go to bed. Have tiny, little dinners. Two nights a week, I try to have no dinners. Today, I feel like a lion! You don’t put gas in your car before you park it in your garage at night. You need a good breakfast and a good lunch, when you’re moving and you need the energy. You don’t need the energy at night! Your body needs a rest. My advice to people: Exercise for a lousy 10 minutes a day. Eat less, and eat sensibly.

Q: Golfers today care more about their fitness, and they’re working with trainers. You’ve been doing that from day one. What effect has that had on the game?

A. You know how good I feel when I see young guys working out now? When I started it, nobody lifted weights. They saw me squatting with 325 lbs., and they came out and said, ‘Gary Player will never last. He’ll be finished when he’s 35.’ I won a tournament on the U.S. tour at 63! I used to go down to a YMCA and wait my turn! It was very difficult. I was flying around the world, and you had to find out where there was a YMCA.
Now, they have a traveling gymnasium on every tour in the world. They do everything to help these guys. It’s another world.

Remember, these guys are great role models, these young golfers. They show the world how they are working out, and it definitely has an influence which makes me feel so, so good, because I was ridiculed. They thought I was a nut. They said you cannot lift weights and play golf. You cannot do those kind of exercises. You can imagine, I went through a barrier of being ridiculed and criticized. I was always told I was doing the wrong thing and influencing people incorrectly. You can imagine how I feel today — very relieved.

Q: What do you think of the younger golfers?

A: Jason Day and Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, and there are others. There are a lot of guys like mushrooms in the field. All of a sudden they will shoot up, and they’ll do well. I’m a big fan. They are behaving well. They dress nicely, they’re speaking well, they have good manners. It’s terrific.

All other sports are play and away. Golf is play, and stay. No sport has the longevity that golf does. And no sport get the coverage that golf does. There is a golf tournament almost every single week of the year around the globe.

So these young people are playing golf, and it’s the passport to the world. It’s teaching them so much. They’ve got to be on time. You know, I was only late once in my life. It was in Tampa. Two seconds late on the tee, and I was penalized two shots. I said to the guy, how can you tell me I’m two seconds late? He said, ‘Look at the digital clock. It doesn’t lie.’ It’s still a debatable issue, though! There’s no Mulligans in life. That’s the discipline of golf.

You can play forever, and I played with a man who had no legs, and he was a zero handicap. I played with a man who was blind, and he occasionally broke 80. I challenged him to a match, and he said, ‘I don’t want any strokes!’ I said, ‘If you don’t take any strokes, I’ll murder you!’ He said, ‘No, we’ll play at midnight at my home course.’

Q: What do you think of golf being a part of the 2016 Olympics?

A: I’m excited as can be because I’ve just been named the captain of the South African team. I’m very excited about that. I had the privilege of being in the Olympic games in 1956, and I had the honor of meeting Jesse Owens at that time. We had many political discussions and here I’m captaining the South African team in Brazil. ...  It will promote golf to the hilt, because you’ll have the smaller nations of the world seeing golf for the first time of any significance. It could make a very big difference.

Q: How do you expect South Africa to perform?

A: We’ve got as good of a chance as anybody! We’ll probably have Branden Graceand Louis Oosthuizen, who are both rated in the top 10 players of probably the world, so they’ll do as well as anybody.

Q: Tiger Woods has been dealing with many health issues. Will he be able to come back and win another tournament?

A: It’s a very debatable issue. First of all, the man was the most talented man to ever play golf. I’m very careful about making predictions about a man who is so talented. He has an enormous mountain to climb. Three knee operations. Two back operations, and a few other things that have happened in his career. He had the yips in a couple tournaments.

He’s got a monumental task, but if anyone can overcome that, it’s Tiger Woods. I hope that he does come back and win tournaments, and win majors. Because when he plays, the barometer goes up. More people. More media, and the sponsors and the public are all there to see him play the way he used to. Only God knows, and it’s up to Tiger as well. But he’s got as big a challenge as anybody has ever had in the game.

Q: Finally, what do you want your legacy to be?

A: My legacy that I’d like to leave is that I helped change lives. If we all do something, it doesn’t matter what position you’re in. I’m fortunate enough to be in a commanding position where I can raise a fortune of money to underprivileged people, and children who are suffering and who are poor. But you don’t have to do that. If you can do some little thing — and this is where America is so great, Americans are great at contributing to society…

The big thing is, the great thing I would like to be remembered for, not for my golfing prowess, but a man who tried to help the world, who tried to help people who are suffering. When I was a young man, I suffered. My mother died. My brother went to war at 17 to fight with the Americans and the British.  My sister was in boarding school. I struggled like a dog as a kid, and I said when — I never said if —I become a champion, I’m going to help people who struggle. That is my legacy.

Article courtesy of USA TODAY

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Nov 3, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

For the first time in the history of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, host Gary Player will be joined by his son Wayne as part of the glittering array of sports stars, celebrities, professional golfers and business leaders set to take part in South Africa’s leading charity golf tournament.

Wayne Player joins a list of professional golfers including multiple European Tour winners Richard Sterne and Jean van de Velde who will tee it up at The Lost City Golf Course from 12-15 November.

They will be joined by a host of celebrities including world-renowned musicians Ronan Keating and Brian McFadden, radio and television personality Johnathan Joseph, former Proteas cricketer Mark Boucher and former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena.

Wayne Player’s inclusion in this year’s tournament will make for an even more memorable event for his father, Gary, who will be honoured with an 80th birthday celebration prior to the tournament. And it will bring back memories of a time when they shared the fairways as fellow competitors in 1982.

When Wayne qualified for the U.S. Open that year, they became the first father-son duo to play in a U.S. Open and Open Championship the same year.

“I have always loved to watch my dad play golf and interact with other players, friends, fans, and business associates. His ability to strike a perfect one iron may have made him famous, but it is his ability to engage others in meaningful conversation and inspire them with his stories that endears him to millions,” said Wayne.

Sterne has been a long-time supporter of this union of golf and giving, while Van De Velde will be making their debut in the charity series.

The celebrities will all present a strong challenge for this year’s title.

Mokoena returns to defend a title he won with Player in 2014, and is looking forward to making another contribution to a series that has already raised more than R800 million for charities worldwide since its inception in 1983.

“Gary is an incredible person and it was an honour for me to be a part of the 2014 tournament. I came from humble beginnings so I know exactly how powerful these kinds of events are for the underprivileged.”

Boucher was on the winning team in 2003, while the trio of McFadden, Keating and Joseph have all finished second in this tournament before.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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Oct 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player is 80 on Sunday but still does 1,300 sit-ups a day and never shoots more than his age… No wonder he still gets a kick out of life

Player has won nine majors and shows no sign of slowing down as he approaches his ninth decade

When at home in South Africa he rises at 5am each day and spends 12 hours working on his farm.

A 30-minute conversation with Player might be better than any pep talk with a guru specialising in positive thinking.

His name will always be linked with Arnold Palmer’s and Jack Nicklaus’s, immortalised in the moniker and deeds of the Big Three

Gary Player is 80 on Sunday and his days still begin with 1,300 sit-ups and pushing 300lb on a leg machine. He hasn’t had a day this year when he’s played 18 holes and not shot lower than his age.

He will spend his birthday flying from Florida to China and then on to Bangkok. In the world of business he’s still representing companies around the globe and designing golf courses from here to Timbuktu. When at home in South Africa he rises at 5am each day and spends 12 hours working on his farm.

So when you ask the inevitable question — ‘er, have you ever given thought to slowing down a touch?’ — it’s as well to hold the phone a good distance from your ear.

‘Let me tell you, Derek,’ he begins. ‘Retirement is a death warrant. I remember in Britain a few years ago when you had that outcry when people were asked to work a year longer. Well, I’m 80 and I’m still the same as when I was 22. I’m still curious to learn, and I don’t believe in retirement. I want to die working.’

A 30-minute conversation with Player might be better than any pep talk with a guru specialising in positive thinking. Sure, a lot of the material is recycled. But the answers are delivered with such zest and passion you’d have to be a total cynic not to take anything from the experience.

When I ask him what was the greatest disappointment during his fabulous career, the answer is delivered with such emotion you’d have thought it happened yesterday rather than in 1962.
‘I was leading Arnold Palmer by two shots with three holes to go at the Masters and he hit his tee shot to the 16th up on the right, where you can’t go,’ he said. ‘I was 20 feet away and I said to my caddie: “We’ve won this”.

‘Well, he hits his shot, it’s travelling about 100mph because it’s impossible to stop the ball from up there, and doesn’t it hit the hole and go in. At the 17th he hooks his tee shot into Eisenhower’s Tree, and then hits a five iron to 35 feet and holes that one as well. So we have a play-off and I’m leading him by three shots with nine holes to go…and he shoots 31 for the back nine. I tell you, that was one tournament Arnold won with miracles.’

With that, he starts laughing uproariously.

His name will always be linked with Palmer’s and Jack Nicklaus’s, of course, immortalised in the moniker and deeds of the Big Three. Now, apparently, we have a modern version with Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth. Interestingly, when asked which of the original Big Three they most identified with, all three went for the man in black.

For McIlroy, it was a stature thing and the fact that Player competed as an international golfer in a game in which three of the four majors are held in America. For Day, it was overcoming ludicrous odds to make it on the world stage; and for Spieth, competing against men who can thrash the ball 30 or 40 yards further.

‘That was a great compliment and one I really appreciated,’ said Player, who lost his mother when he was eight and was introduced to the game by his father, a miner, who took out a loan to buy his son a set of clubs. ‘It meant a lot because I also admire them. They have so much responsibility on their shoulders but they behave accordingly and are terrific role models.

‘Who’s going to win the most? Well, that’s impossible to answer. Who has the most ambition and desire as the years pass? I think Rory and Jason have the best technique but Jordan is so mature and clearly the best putter. What a short game, and that’s so important. When are all these experts who rave about length going to learn that 70 percent of shots are taken from 100 yards in? So we’ll see, but it’s going to be great to watch.’

Was Player’s own story the greatest golf has ever told? Unless or until Rory fulfils his destiny, he remains unquestionably the finest non-American golfer of all time.

‘I’ve definitely got the best world record of anyone, and that was my dream,’ said Player. ‘I won seven Australian Opens, and that’s still a record. I won the World Match Play five times in Britain, I won in South America and Africa and lots of times in America, of course. Are there any regrets? Not as such. But I was offered a million dollars a year by someone in 1961 with the proviso I live in America for five years rather than go back and forth. I refused, because I love Africa and the quality of life I enjoyed there with my family.

‘But I’d have won a lot more majors if I’d taken up the offer and stayed in America, and so there will always be that question in my mind of whether I should have said yes, rather than a regret.’

And so to this landmark birthday, which he will celebrate a week late, in his beloved South Africa. ‘We’re all gathering at Sun City, where they’ve kindly supplied 300 free rooms and free golf for everyone, so it’s going to be an incredible party,’ he said.

‘I’ve got all my family together, including all 22 grandchildren from every corner of the world. I’ve got friends coming from China, America, the Middle East, Britain, everywhere, so it’s going to be wonderful. I feel very blessed to reach such an age in such condition but it’s also my reward for listening to the man upstairs and looking after myself all these years. It frustrates me when I look around and see so many young people eating too much and getting fat. Why is more not being done to teach them you can’t do anything without your health?

‘As for me, I’ll never stop. When I’m 90 I’ll still play golf and I’ll still break 80.’

Player by name and, clearly, a player to the end. Happy birthday, Gary.


Best golfer: Ben Hogan. He served in the war for five years and lost three more years because of a terrible car crash. So he didn’t play in 32 majors during his prime and yet still won nine.

Best tournament: The Open. I loved the fact you could hit a seven-iron 200 yards one day and the next it wouldn’t go half that distance.

Best victory: The 1965 US Open, when I completed the career Grand Slam.

Best achievement: I’m very proud of the fact I’m the only golfer to win the career Grand Slam on both the regular and senior tours. I did that because I was in exactly the same shape at 50 as I was when aged 25.

Best quote: ‘And the harder I practise the luckier I get.’ (Delivered on the practice ground in Texas in the 1960s after a spectator remarked how lucky Player was to keep holing bunker shots).


Winston Churchill
I wanted to become a great orator, because sportsmen were supposed to be poor ones. No-one had a greater command of English than Churchill.

Nelson Mandela
It was a great thrill to share the last few years of his life with him. Every time we met it used to make me cry.

Lee Kuan Yew
Singapore leader presided over a nation with no guns, no drugs, no litter, no graffiti and a high standard of education.

Mother Teresa
Someone who dedicated her life to the betterment of others.

Mahatma Gandhi
Like Nelson, a man of great peace who had such a huge influence on the lives of a billion people.

Article courtesy of The Daily Mail

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Oct 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player will celebrate his 80th birthday this Sunday amidst what has been a remarkable year and which promises to become even more memorable for the ageless icon of world golf.

Player turns 80 in a year in which he has celebrated the 50th anniversary of his Grand Slam victory and still graced magazine covers as the evergreen “Mr. Fitness” of world golf.

“I’ve always said that everything we have is just on loan to us. I consider it a blessing to have had 80 years of such a wonderful and privileged life, and to have shared this with so many people,” said Player, adding that he felt more like 40 years old.

“I don’t feel 80 at all. I feel as strong and healthy as ever, and more inspired than ever to keep making a difference in this world.”

It has indeed been a special year for the Black Knight. Player was honored with a birthday celebration at Soweto Golf Club in August where he enjoyed a heartfelt tribute by some of the pioneering golfers of South Africa.

And South Africa’s most successful golfer ever was also named as the captain of the inaugural South African Olympic golf team for the Rio Olympics next year.

Player has remained as active and relevant as ever with his charitable efforts through his global Gary Player Invitational series, which raises funds for disadvantaged children worldwide.

The 2015 series teed off in London in July, with the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational tournament at Wentworth raising $225,000 for DePaul, a charity helping to combat youth homelessness.

This was followed by the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational in New York in October, where a further $212,000 was raised for The Player Foundation.

The series will reach a thrilling climax at the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola in South Africa at the Lost City Golf Course from 12-15 November, which is expected to raise another record amount for charity.

The tournament will coincide with a special gala dinner to celebrate Player’s 80th birthday party at The Palace of the Lost City that week.

The Gary Player Invitational Series remains the world’s leading charity golf series and has raised more than R800 million for charities worldwide. The South African tournament will join the other global events in helping to meet The Player Foundation’s target of donating R1 billion by 2020 in support of children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.

The field for the South African tournament, including top professional golfers, business leaders and celebrities, will be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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Oct 28, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player has won 167 professional golf tournaments worldwide and is one of only five men to capture golf’s coveted career Grand Slam. He won nine Major championships on the PGA Tour and nine Major championships on the Senior Tour and is the only player in history to complete the career Grand Slam on both Tours

Off the course, Player has raised more than $60 million for underprivileged children’s education globally through the efforts of The Player Foundation; he has designed nearly 400 golf courses worldwide; he has bred more than 2000 winning racehorses on the Gary Player Stud Farm in South Africa; and in recognition of his achievements in golf as well as his dedication to charity, Player has received many awards including the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award and the PGA Tour’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He currently serves as the Global Ambassador to the World Golf Hall of Fame and has been dubbed the Black Knight, Mr. Fitness, and The World’s Most Traveled Athlete™ having travelled more than 25 million kilometers.

In celebration of the Black Knight’s 80th birthday, we have compiled a list of 80 milestones throughout his life. From the golf course to his racehorse stud farm, Mr. Player continues to live his life to the fullest.

1935 Born to Harry and Muriel Player in Johannesburg, SA - one of three children

1943 Mother, Muriel Player died when Gary Player was 8-years-old, brother Ian went to war at age 17 and gave Gary his first seat of dumbells asking him to promise to exercise and take care of himself if he wanted to be a professional athlete, something he has done all of his life

1949 Received first set of clubs from father, Harry Player and plays first round at Virginia Park Golf Club

1953 Went to King Edward School, won Victor Ladorama best all-around sportsman, turned professional at age 17

1955 Won Egyptian Match Play, the first of 167 professional tournament victories

1956 Won the first of 13 South African Opens - 1956, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981

1957 Married his wife, Vivienne, after she received a telegram proposal announcing a tournament win and they now had enough money to get married.  58 years later, they have six children and 22 grandchildren. 

1957 Won the first of 6 Western Province Opens - 1957, 1959, 1960, 1968, 1971, 1972

1958 Won first PGA TOUR event, the Kentucky Derby Open, 24 total PGA Tour victories

1958 Won the first of seven Australian Opens, which is still a record - 1958, 1962,1963,1965,1969,1970, 1974

1958 Won the first of six Natal Opens - 1958, 1959,1960,1962,1966,1968

1959 Won the Open Championship at Muirfield (1)  - 4 years after sleeping on the beach in 1955 the night before his first Open Championship

1959 Won the first of 12 South African Masters - 1959, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1972 (2), 1974, 1976 (2)

1959 Won the first of five South Africa PGA Championships - 1959, 1960, 1969, 1979, 1982

1959 Won the first of five Transvaal Open Tournaments - 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966

1960 In a silent protest against the apartheid system in South Africa, Gary Player wore black and white pants for the 1960 Open Championship, and later arranged for golfer Lee Elder to play in the South African
PGA Championship for the first integrated sports event in SA since apartheird became official government policy

1961 Won The Masters Tournament, becoming the first international player to do so (2)

1962 Won the PGA Championship at Aronimink GC (3)

1965 Won the U.S. Open at Bellerive CC (4), became third person to achieve the career Grand Slam and is still the only International player to do so

1965 Won the first of three World Cup Tournaments - 1965 (Individual & Team), 1977

1965 Won the first of five World Match Play Tournaments - 1965, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1973

1965 Won the first of three World Series of Golf - 1965, 1968, 1972

1966 Received the Bob Jones Award from the USGA

1968 Won the Open Championship at Carnoustie (5)

1968 Won back-to-back Australian Masters - 1968, 1969

1969 Won the first of two Tournament of Champions - 1969, 1978

1971 Won the first of five General Motors Tournaments - General Motors Open 1971, 1973, 1976, General Motors International 1974, General Motors Classic 1975

1972 Won the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills (6)

1973 Received first of several awards from Metropolitan Golf Writers Association - Gold Tee Award 1973, Family of Year Award 1981, Winnie Palmer Award 2015

1974 Becomes first person ever to shoot 59 in a professional tournament at the 1974 Brazilian Open

1974 Won The Masters Tournament (7)

1974 Won the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes (8)

1974 One of the original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame, now their Global Ambassador

1978 Won The Masters Tournament (9) and would continue to play in as a professional until 2009, setting a record for the most number of Masters played in…..52

1982 Won the Inaugural Skins Game - 1982 and two additional Senior Skins Games - 2000, 2001

1983 Established The Player Foundation to aid underprivileged children and impoverished communities, they have raised more than $60 million

1983 Opened the Blair Atholl school to educate underprivileged children around his Lanseria estate

1985 Won Quadel Senior Classic the first of 19 Champions Tour titles

1986 Won the first of three Nissan Skins Games - 1986, 1988, 1991

1986 Won the first of three Senior PGA Championships - 1986, 1988, 1990

1987 Won the first of two U.S. Senior Open titles when he won by six strokes at Brooklawn CC

1987 Won Tournament Players Championship

1988 Won the Senior Open Championship at Turnberry to complete career Grand Slam on the Senior Tour

1988 Defended his U.S. Senior Open titles when he defeats good friend Bob Charles in an 18-hole playoff at Medinah

1990 Won the Senior Open Championship at Turnberry

1990 Met Nelson Mandela following his release from the Robben Island prison

1993 Won the first of two Bank One Senior Classics - 1993, 1995

1994 Named an Honorary Member of the R & A

1994 Horse from the Player Thoroughbred Stud Farm—Broadway Flyer—competed in the English Derby

1995 Received honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of St. Andrews

1995 Designed Kau Sai Chau, the only public golf course facility in Hong Kong

1997 Inducted into the Captains Club at the Memorial Tournament

1997 Won the Senior Open Championship at Royal Portrush

1997 Won the Shell Wentworth Masters

1998 Became second oldest winner in Champions Tour history at the Northville Long Island Classic at age 62 years, 9 months, 22 days

1998 Became the oldest player to make the cut at The Masters at age 62

1999 Received Honorary Doctorate in Law, University of Dundee, Scotland

1999 Established the Nelson Mandela Invitational to raise funds for underprivileged children

2000 Named South African Sportsman of the Century

2000 Named the winner of the PGA TOUR’s Ambassador of Golf Award

2003 First of three Captaincy of Presidents Cup International Team - 2003, 2005, 2006. An unprecidented tie announced with Jack Nicklaus at the 2003 Presidents Cup at Fancourt

2003 Received Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award for dedication to charity

2003 Awarded the Order of Ikhamanga (in gold for exceptional achievement) by President Mbeki of South Africa for excellence in golf and contribution to non-racial sport in South Africa

2003 Celebrated his 50th year as a professional

2004 Performs induction speech for Charlie Sifford at the World Golf Hall of Fame

2005 Received Golf Course Builders Association of America “Don A. Rossi” Award

2006 Received the Payne Stewart Award from the PGA Tour in recognition of philanthropic achievements and the exemplary manner in which he has conducted himself on and off the golf course

2006 Received KPMG Golf Business Forum Lifetime Achievement Award

2007 Won the ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award from the Golf Writers Associaton of America for his cooperation, quotability and accommodation to the media

2009 Bettered his age (73) three times in an event when he did so at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai

2010 Won pro tournament in seventh consecutive decade, the second of back-to-back Legends of Golf Tournaments - 2009, 2010

2010 Received Asia Pacific Golf Summit Lifetime Achievement Award

2011 Inducted into the Asia Pacific Golf Hall of Fame

2012 Became the 10th recipient and first international winner of the PGA Tour’s Lifetime Achievement Award when he was honored at THE PLAYERS Championship

2012 Joined Arnold Palmer & Jack Nicklaus as official starters at Augusta National, reuniting the “Big Three” which was coined by Marc McCormick in the mid 1960s

2013 The oldest athlete chosen to appear nude in the ESPN’s The Body Issue

2015 Named Captain for the 2016 Summer Olympic South Africa Men’s Golf Team

2015 Continues to travel even as he approaches 80 years of age.  The World’s Most Traveleled Athlete with more than 26 Million KM and counting

2015 Designer of 400 golf courses on 5 continents, including his self-sustaining, environmentally friends golf course on his farm.  He is recognized as a leader in designing sustainable and environmentally friendly golf courses as a tribute to his brother Dr. Ian Player, one of the world’s leading conservationists who passed away in 2014 and is recognized for his efforts in saving the white rhino

2015 Resides on his thoroughbred racehorse stud farm in the Great Karoo of South Africa where he has bred more than 2000 winners.  Gave the keynote address at the Thoroughbred Owners Conference in Kentucky in 2014 where he was recognized for his dedication to the industry

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Oct 28, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

For over 60 years, Gary Player has been an icon of South African golf. It’s hard to imagine the sport in this country without him and the foundations he has laid for our current players to follow. Yet there is enough evidence to suggest that the nine-time Major champion does not quite get the credit he deserves in his home country.

Nine Majors. Only two golfers in the modern era – Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods – have won more and Player has earned the same number as Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Trevor Immelman combined.

His detractors argue that Player is a bit too quick to talk about himself, but when you’ve won 165 tournaments, designed 400 courses and raised over $60 million for charity, I’d like to think that you’ve earned the right to do a bit of self-promotion. As Lee Trevino once said of Jack Nicklaus, this man is a legend in his spare time.

At an age when most people are happily slowing down, Player remains as energetic as ever, keeping up his busy schedule and adding extra miles to his record as the world’s most travelled athlete. It makes him hard to pin down – one day he could be in the US, the next in China and, very occasionally, he can be found ‘relaxing’ on his stud farm in Colesberg in the Northern Cape, the place he calls home.

Brendan Barratt sat down to reminisce with the serial winner to find out more about what makes him tick.

Brendan Barratt: Congratulations on your 80th birthday, Mr Player. You really have had a remarkable life, haven’t you?

Gary Player: It’s been a blessed life. My success is far beyond what I could ever have imagined – and I was always extremely positive about doing well. I remember one night Vivienne’s mother and father said, “You want to marry our daughter, how are you going to support her?” 

I said, “Well, I’m going to be the best golfer in the world.” They said, “You’re a young boy of 16, playing golf. Yes, you’re a zero handicap but you’re talking about being a world champion. We don’t know…” And I got quite upset, maybe because of my positive vibes and my passion and my work ethic; I think I’ve worked harder than any sportsman that’s ever lived. But they were right. I would say the same to somebody with one of my children.

BB: You’ve always been able to draw strength from the tough times, haven’t you?

GP: All the no’s in life are very important for you. The adversity that you have in your life is the greatest gift you can have. When I first went over to England, the pro there said I had a very flat position at the top, which is not good, and he said the best thing this young guy could do is go back to South Africa and get a pro job.

I shot 70-64-64-68, won the tournament and beat Bobby Jones’ record.

BB: And of course you went on to become one of the game’s greatest…

GP: People often ask me, “What is it that makes a superstar?” For me, ‘superstar’ means you have won at least six Majors, and not many people have done that. There’ve been about 12 or 13 and they are classified as superstars. I knew how hard I had to work to become a superstar and what I’d have to do. It didn’t matter whether I was born a hundred years ago with my makeup or if I was born when I was, or I was born now. I would’ve still been a superstar because I have a passion and a work ethic that exceeds everybody else’s.

BB: So you think you would have been able to keep up with the big hitters of today?

GP: Golf has evolved into a power game. Of course they’re hitting it a long way, because they’re using a club and a ball that goes 50 yards further than when we played. They’re not longer than we were. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and these guys are no longer than Jack Nicklaus was. Jack Nicklaus often hit a drive of 320 yards with a lousy wooden head and a terrible damn ball, and Nicklaus was just as strong as any of these guys. He would’ve hit the ball 350, 360 yards.

For people to ask, “How would you fare today?” because they’re moving the ball such a long way, I say we would fare better. We would fare better than we fared in our time, because we never played greens where there weren’t a hundred spike marks on them, now there’s not one. We never played bunkers where you had a machine raking it even – it was all done with your feet or a rake, first by feet and then later came the rake.

The clubs that you use now, in our time, were illegal. Metal shafts, metal heads. You fade the ball, put a little lever on your club, and you start drawing it. People who live today can’t comprehend the conditions that we played in.

BB: Today’s golfers are earning substantially more money and travelling has become a lot easier too.

GP: I watched Ernie Els leave the Irish Open after a poor performance and the commentators said, “There goes Ernie Els’ G5!” I was thinking, isn’t this amazing? The guy’s leaving in a G5 jet, which is hard for me to comprehend. It’s fantastic. I think it’s wonderful, but this was just not in our vocabulary.

Then you see them play every week for a first prize of a million dollars. Rickie Fowler won $1.8 million this year in the Players, which is more than I won officially on the regular tour in America during my whole career – and I won nine Majors! I’ve got no objections to that, but how would we fare? We’d do better. 

BB: You do see, for the most part, that the modern tour pros have very solid, mechanical golf swings though – whereas in your prime a lot of players went by feel.

GP: You talk about great golf swings. Look, I don’t think there’s anybody playing today who can compare to Nicklaus; who can compare to Sam Snead; who can compare to Ben Hogan or Bobby Jones. Bobby Jones lived a hundred years ago and he still had as good a swing as anybody playing today, with a hickory shaft and ball, a club and a ball that hit one hundred yards less, and if you look at the scores he shot, it’s remarkable. So people have very little idea what they’re talking about when they want to make comparisons.

I think one of the greatest tragedies to have happened in golf is [the fall of] Tiger Woods, who was on his way to breaking every record ever known.

He was the most well-known man on the planet, a golfer, for a while. He wins the US Open by 15 shots. He’s reached the epitome of perfection. He’s going to break every record and be the greatest athlete the world has ever known. So what does he do? He goes for a lesson the next week and this guy teaches him stuff that was detrimental to his swing. From that day onwards, he never really played like he should’ve. It was the start. He still won Majors after he had the lesson, but it was the start of the ruin. He was so talented that he could have a thing wrong with his swing and still win. Then he went on to the next coach. He goes to guys who, if they had to tee up at Augusta in the Masters, couldn’t break 85. Surely, if you’re going to go for a lesson, why not go to somebody who’s been in the arena and can play and knows about the game who’s hit millions of balls.

BB: Health and fitness have obviously played a huge role in your longevity. Even now, as you approach 80, you’re looking stronger than most 60-year-olds.

GP: My body is something that I’ve looked after longer than possibly any athlete who’s ever lived, and more vigorously. To me, now, I’m 80, I’m a young man. It’s all in the mind. The other day in Atlanta, I pushed 410 pounds (186kg) with my legs. I did 1 300 crunches with a 100-pound (45kg) weight on my last 200. I still run on the treadmill, do my push-ups, watch my diet well. When I was younger I was asked, “What’s the next big thing in technology?” I was always known as a bit of a nut for my opinions and I said, “Weight training, they’ll all be doing it.” They said, “You’re mad, the only exercise pros do today is the olive they put into a Martini.”

So nobody did weights when I did weights. We never had a travelling gymnasium. I had to go down to the damn YMCA and wait my turn with 20 people who want to use the same equipment. Eventually in the stinking gymnasium, you had a towel – there’s an old towel – and a guy had to put the weights on your shoulders and you did your squats.

In 1953 they said, “This man is mad, you can’t do weight training and play golf.  He’ll never last.”  One of the famous golf architects said “Gary Player will never last past 35,” so when I won a tournament at 63 on the tour, I sent a message up and I said, “I’ll be there one of these days, make sure there’s a good gym at the golf course where you and I’ll be playing.”

BB: Okay, so let me ask you now, what is the next big thing in technology?

GP: Eating. In time to come we will not be eating anything we eat now. There’ll be a complete vegan-type diet, away from the meats, where all the meats are being injected with steroids. There’ll be no more fish because five billion people’s sewage goes in the ocean every day. People are dying like flies because of the food we’re eating, so there’s got to be a change away from all this high-fat, high-sugar, high-dairy product foods. 

BB: You’re still playing decent golf, aren’t you? Breaking your age just about every time you tee it up.

GP: I’m now in my 80th year and I’m averaging 70 now. I swing the club today way better than in my prime. Way better because I’ve found certain things out that I almost did in my career. I was on it and got off it. If I’d stuck to that I wouldn’t have been second in seven Majors. I would’ve definitely won more. If I swung the club in my prime like I swing it now, of the seven runner-ups I would’ve won at least four of those seven. But be that as it may, ifs do not count. 

BB: Can you even imagine a life without golf in it?

GP: Oh, very much so. When I was young, no. When I was young, because I was so poor starting out, I was obsessed about being a world champion. My wife has been my great inspiration in my life. No man could ever have had a wife better than I’ve had to make the sacrifices that she did over all these years. But, had she said to me when we first met, “Look I’m not going to marry you because you’re going to be travelling all the time,” I would’ve said, “Well, I’m sorry.”

As much as I adore her, and no man could adore a wife more than I do, I would’ve said, “I’m sorry. You must find somebody else because I’m going to be a world champion.”

At my latter stage, yes. I live without golf basically, compared to what I used to. My life is still full with golf, but a different way now. Raising money, playing some golf tournaments, all my outings for different companies, enjoying my golf, not under the pressure that I was, swinging better, travelling as much almost as I ever was. 

I’ve had a feast. Do I miss playing? A little bit, but not much. I have my farming, which I love as much as golf, maybe more, because at least I see more of my family.

BB: You must be immensely proud to be inducted into the Southern Africa Golf Hall of Fame?

GP: Being inducted into the Hall of Fame in the same year as my 80th birthday is something I appreciate. But I don’t want to have on the walls of the Hall of Fame a list of Gary Player’s tournament wins and achievements, because that is not as important as what I’ve tried to do outside of golf, which is different to most athletes.

BB: What are some of the things, outside of golf, that you are most proud of?

GP: Studying the English language, trying to learn other languages, trying to serve our people, travelling around the world, dining with all the presidents of America,  the Emirs of the Middle East, the royal families, the villages of Africa and India where I learnt as much from the poor people as I learnt from the higher echelon.

Having appeared as a South African, through golf, in front of more people live than any South African ever and to be on television more than any South African ever, representing my country with great pride, what an honour. By the time the end comes, we’ll raise over R1 billion for underprivileged people and change people’s lives in China, in America, in Europe and here in South Africa. 

I’ve travelled more miles than any human being ever – 63 years of travel. To have broken apartheid in sport.

BB: What was your role in helping to bring an end to apartheid in sport?

GP: This is the first time this will be written officially: in 1969 I went to see John Vorster. A man’s political principles don’t dictate whether or not I play golf with him. If the leading Chinese president asked me to play golf with him, and I do not believe in communism, I would play with him because I have respect for his position. And that’s what happened with John Vorster, I played with him.

I went into his office and said, “I want to put a spoke in the wheel of apartheid and sport because sport is my business.” He said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “I want to bring Lee Elder, a black golfer, to play on our tour.”

He thought about it for what seemed like an hour. Then he looked at me and said, “Go ahead.” And Lee Elder came here under great duress. The black people there put big pressure on him, and he came. I was called a traitor, right in this airport here, Cape Town. They used to have a little restaurant downstairs where you get on the plane, to the right-hand corner. They called me a “groot veraaier”, that’s a traitor, because I was doing this. I was president of our PGA. I stood there at the meeting at Wanderers and I said, “Gentlemen, change is the price of survival. We’ve got young black pros here. We have an all-white committee. We’ve got to put a black, or two blacks on the committee and vote them on today.

“You’re gonna be voting within half an hour and I appeal to you to vote for a black man to get on the committee. If you don’t, I have no choice but to resign in protest.”

They never did, and I resigned as president.

I wore black and white pants at St Andrews on the 1st tee as a quiet demonstration against apartheid, and I did it later in 1961 and ’66.

I sponsored many black players, such as Vincent Tshabalala, Papwa Sewgolum and Reggie Mamasela to play overseas. At the time I was so frustrated they weren’t allowed to play in our tournaments that I went to my business friends and we collected R300 000 for tournaments for only the black pros, which was something at least. 

BB: What about the pressures that you felt playing under a South African flag abroad during the sanctions years?

GP: I was barred from playing in Japan, Denmark, Sweden, India, from all these countries, which cost me at least $10 million. I had to endure demonstrations and I lost the PGA Championship because of it. 
I’ll go to my grave knowing I won 10 Majors. I lost the 1969 PGA by one shot to Raymond Floyd and they were throwing telephone books at my back, ice in my eyes, balls between my legs while I was playing. They were running out of the galleries, charging me and skidding on the green and tearing the green up.

I had 50 policemen walking around with guns, and they said to me, “You can withdraw,” and I said, “I’m not withdrawing”. I said, “I don’t believe in apartheid. I live in a country that has an apartheid system.” I said, “If you wanna kill me, go ahead and kill me. I’m not going home.”

BB: Who were some of your golfing heroes when you were growing up, when you were starting out?

GP: Ben Hogan was my golfing hero because he was basically my size and he was the best golfer I ever saw in my life, as far as striking a ball. There’s not a player living today who can compare to him. That’s with the clubs he used. Not a player could compare. Sam Snead; no you can’t compare anybody today to Sam Snead. Can you imagine if you gave those people the conditions we have today?

I played a lot of golf with Bobby Locke. One of the 10 best putters who ever lived. He set the bar for me in South Africa. One of the great moments of my career was when I won the Ampol Tournament in Australia, with a £5 000 first prize. This was in 1956 and it enabled me to marry Vivienne.

After that, Bobby Locke challenged me to 108 holes. We played at Benoni and he beat me 2&1 over 36 holes. We then went to Germiston, which played in my favour because I used to outdrive him by 50 yards. He was 1 up with two to play, but I birdied 17 and 18 and we tied.

Next we went to Royal Durban. In those days, if you saw the crowds we had at our tournaments, when Bobby Locke and I played and when Jack Nicklaus came here, and Arnold Palmer. We had crowds like you never saw in your life because we didn’t have TV. At Royal Durban we were all square with one hole to play, the 108th hole. I missed the green pin high to the right. I had to chip over the bunker and I holed a 10-footer to beat Bobby Locke. He was an amazing chipper and putter, amazing, and had a marvelous temperament. He was a great gentleman on the golf course, but a barman’s nightmare after the round.

BB: You were 17 when you turned pro. What was that like, going out into the big, wide world as a South African, breaking new ground?

GP: Can you imagine? There was no money in pro golf. My mother was dead and my father said, “Are you mad? You want to be a pro? You’ve got to go to university. You go to a great school, you’ve had a wonderful education, but you’ve gotta go on to university and get a degree.”

I said, “Dad, my degree is going to be more important than any university degree in the world. I’m going to travel round, I’m going to be the best, dad. And I’m going to practise harder than anybody else. I’m going to be the best.”

BB: How tough was it starting out?

GP: I saved my money and I left for Britain in 1955 with £200 in my pocket. That was my total wealth and Killarney Country Club sponsored me an air ticket. I slept on the beach at St Andrews because I couldn’t find a hotel that I could afford. The next day I found a hotel room for 10 shillings. It had no curtains. I went to the manager the next morning and said, “I’m itchy, there are a lot of bugs in my bed.” 

He said, “What do you expect for 10 shillings, butterflies?”

I said, “You told me it’s facing the sea.”

He replied, “I said the WC, not the sea, son.”

BB: You’ve had America as your base for so many years. Why has it been so important for you to keep coming back to South Africa?

GP: Because I am obsessed about being a great ambassador for a country that I adore and its people. It’s my birthplace. I was grateful for the opportunity to play the local tour so I always played a minimum of four tournaments a year. One year I played in the Australian Open and won it, flew from Australia back to Johannesburg, which took 40 hours, had lunch in my house in Honeydew and got on a plane that evening to Brazil and won the tournament in Brazil. I then got on a plane that Sunday night, flew back to Johannesburg and played in our PGA, finishing second.

BB: Would you like to see more of our top players playing more regularly in South Africa? Do you think they owe it to us?

GP: Yes, I think there’s no question they do. Look, loyalty is a gift. I tell my children and grandchildren not to ever expect loyalty. Loyalty, if you get it, you’re lucky. I believe that every South African should be back
here to be playing some tournaments because this is where they started. If it weren’t for here, they wouldn’t have what they have. 

BB: You’re still playing tournaments now; isn’t that a great tribute to the longevity of the game?

GP: We played the other day in the Legends of Golf. Nicklaus and I played together. We finished second. He played like a dog, I carried him. If he played well we would’ve won. And they said, “For second here it’s $34 000.” I said, “What?” That’s more money than I had when I won my first Masters, or my second Masters and almost as much as I got for my third Masters, because I got $40 000 for my last Masters. R400 000 at the age of 80 for finishing second in the tournament? Then we went down to Houston to play the Insperity Tournament, and Trevino, Nicklaus and I played. It’s an 18-hole event for over-70s. We shot 13 under par and won.

This is why I continuously tell young people, “Play golf. It’s basically injury-free.” We’re just watching American football, where players are getting brain diseases. You look at rugby, all those guys are finished at 30, and then they can hardly walk. Here I am at 80, still playing in tournaments, still winning prizemoney, more than I did when I was a young man. You’ve got to be nuts if you don’t play golf.

BB: I’d like to go back to prize money. Do you think the modern golfer is just too comfortable with finishing tie-25th? He gets $75 000 for coming 20th, you know?

GP: I hear a lot of players saying, “Well I won $100 000, it’s very nice.” With me, if I didn’t win I didn’t care what the hell it was. When I finished second in the Masters three times, it ate me up, and it still does today. Prizemoney was not the criteria. I wanted to be the best, and so when I hear players talking about, “Well I didn’t win but I made this amount of money,” it irks me.

BB: We have a lot of South Africans playing in the States. They’re following, pretty much, in your footsteps, you knocked those doors down.

GP: It’s very encouraging to know that I was the first foreigner to go there and win the Masters and win the US Open, and win the Grand Slam. These guys started saying, “Well if a little guy like Gary can do it, you know, I can do it.”

BB: What about the distance debate, are we losing the game through this quest to desperately get more and more distance? Nowadays, the guys don’t shape the ball as much. They just hit it and find it and play.

GP: Well, you look at the two worst drivers I’ve seen in the history of golf, for top players – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson – they’ve been No 1 and No 2. I get so sick and tired of people talking about length. Golf is won from 100 yards in. Seventy percent of shots are played from 100 yards in. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have proved that you don’t have to drive the ball straight. Vijay Singh once said to me, “I don’t worry about hitting the fairway, I just hit it as far as I can.” There’s not very much rough in our tournaments any more, which is a shame. They should have big rough in all the tournaments. He said, “Our grooves can stop the ball out of the rough anyway, and they don’t get fliers like they used to.” 

BB: So it’s a matter of finding the right coach and sticking with him?

GP: I never saw the greatest players of all time have coaches. Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus. They had occasional lessons, but to have this continuous coaching is detrimental to your game. No question. You’ve got to tune it. You’ve got to have somebody just tune you slightly. Ernie Els has never, ever played the way he should have. Ernie’s record is nowhere near as good as it should’ve been. With the talent that Ernie had, he should’ve done way better. He started listening to every Tom, Dick and Harry. He should never have listened to anybody. With the beautiful swing he had and with the putting stroke he had, and to see him playing and missing cuts, finishing second last in tournaments now, it’s just so upsetting to me.

BB: What’s the answer for the distance problem? You have a 7 000m golf course that I can’t play, but the pros can. There’s such a discrepancy.

GP: The ball has ruined the game. The ball has done immeasurable harm to the game and I blame the R&A and the USGA and the PGA, our leaders, who I have great admiration for, but they haven’t forced the discipline into the game that was really needed. If you look what’s happened now, you go to St Andrews, the home of golf, and they take the 14th hole, a hole of 600 yards, they move the tee back 60 yards, and then still hit a driver and a 6-iron on a calm day. Around the world they’ve spent hundreds of millions, billions of rands changing golf courses. Even in Colesberg where I live in this Iittle tin shanty clubhouse with 40 members saying, “Should we make it longer?”

I said, “What the hell for? It’s more water, more fertiliser, more machinery, more manpower. Make it shorter, they can enjoy it more.” And so all these golf courses that they changed are all going bankrupt because they are too long.

BB: Is it too late? Can we get it back?

GP: It’s too late. It’s too late because now the answer is to cut the ball back further. It’s not a matter of will-they-do-it; it’s a matter of when. The hundreds of millions of dollars that have been invested into the changing of golf courses across the planet, unnecessarily so, all they had to do was change the mould and make the ball go 50 yards less – for the pros only. Nothing else would’ve had to be changed. It would’ve cost $40 000 for a mould, whatever it costs, instead of hundreds of millions. And let the technology exist with all your amateurs. Let them have a ball that goes 50 yards further, that’s what enticed them to play.

Now they come out with a rule – no long putter. Marvellous for the pros, I couldn’t agree with more, it’s the most wonderful thing. But you’re going to tell this lady, who plays golf and has the yips, that she can’t use this putter? Are you mad? It’s chasing more people away. They’re professionals and chasing people out of the game instead of bringing them in.

BB: Mr Player, you could retire tomorrow… put your feet up on the farm and just see out your days. What keeps you going?

GP: I’d be dead in a year. I get up on my farm at five o’clock in the morning and I work all day until six o’clock. I work like a Trojan on my farm, and I go to the gym, and when I go back to America, I play and I practise and I travel. I work as hard today at 80 as I worked when I was 25. Rest is rust. Me, retire? I’ll keep working. I should live to be 100 unless some accident happens. 

BB: When you were playing and making great friendships, was it difficult to separate the friendship on the golf course?

GP: I was more focused then. I played my best when I was irritable and uptight. Contrary to what all these guys will say, “Enjoy it… Have fun out there!” I’m in the ring, man. I’m boxing. I take my eye off my opponent, I’m gonna get knocked right out. I had to be like Tiger – focused. That’s how I played my best.

A tournament took a lot out of me, and some Mondays I’d just spend the whole day in bed, resting, then Tuesday I was ready to go again. If I could’ve played every week for $1 million, I would’ve played 40 tournaments a year. That’s the difference. Tiger plays 18.

BB: If I were to give you one shot back in your career, one that you would like to have over, which would it be?

GP: In 1971, I stood on the 18th hole at Augusta and had a 6-iron in my hand. Billy Casper and Gene Littler were playing the 18th hole together, and I was watching them because I was 150 yards away on the fairway. They made pars, so I needed a par to tie, or a birdie to win. The flag was front left. You only have seconds to make the decision.

Now if I was there today, I’d hit the ball right in the middle of the green, because if you push it a bit, it kicks it left. If you go past the pin it runs back. You’ve got a putt for a birdie. So what did I do? I was playing so well, I took the 6-iron and I aimed at the flag and it went like a bullet. It was so straight I had to lean over sideways to see the flag.  And it goes thump into the bunker, five inches from perfection. It was buried in the lip and I was lucky to get it out.

The night before I die, like Jean van de Velde, he’ll say “Car-c-c-c-c-c-Carnoustie” and I’ll say “Ma-m-m-m-Masters”.

Article courtesy of the Compleat Golfer

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Oct 27, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Long before Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, golf’s “Big Three” were Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Player, a nine-time major champion on each of the Regular and Senior tours and one of five players to win the career Grand Slam, was the featured speaker at the Western Golf Association’s Green Coat Gala fundraiser at the Peninsula Chicago on Oct. 16. The event raised approximately $800,000 for the Evans Scholars Foundation, which provides full college tuition and housing scholarships to caddies.

Player, about to turn 80, turned professional in 1953, winning 24 times on the PGA Tour and 167 tournaments on six continents. He took time to speak with reporters prior to the Green Coat Gala. This is an edited transcript of that interview.

Reporter: Just talk a little bit about the role of the caddie and the game, how important it is, and especially how important a caddie is when you were playing out on the PGA Tour.

Gary Player: “Well everybody has a different version of how important a caddie is. If you spoke to the greatest player that ever lived, Ben Hogan, he didn’t put any emphasis on the caddie whatsoever. He merely carried the bag, was on time, kept the clubs clean. He never asked him where to putt or what club to use. I’ve had a wonderful caddie in a man called Alfred Dyer, an African American who traveled with me for 17 years. I never relied on him what club to use, but he had a great sense of humor and I got out of him what I needed to play well. And that was to be happy, to relax as much as possible. He was always on time, he was a great representative of what I stood for, and that was the important thing.”

Reporter: Gary, one of the things that you’ve been known for, and it seems like you maybe were the first major player to do so, we hear the guys doing it today…

GP: “Not maybe, definitely.”

Reporter: Fitness! Today players are in the fitness trailer and it seems like you embraced fitness in golf long before everybody else did.

GP: “Well, there was another man called Frank Stranahan, and he and I used to do the weight training, and one famous golf architect, who, I will not mention his name, one day saw me squatting with 325 pounds the night before the U.S. Open, and there was quite an article that Gary Player will never last. So I offered when I went on Tour in ‘63, I mentioned his name and I said I hope you’re noticing this, I’ll be joining you one of these days, make sure there’s a good golf course and a good gym with lots of weights. Because you see, weights stand you in good stead. Weights develop muscle, as aerobic exercises so develops the mind. And one, as an athlete, must not be intent on just developing the body, but the mind as well. Because the mind is probably the essential ingredient when it comes down to winning and losing and being a star versus a superstar.”

Reporter: How would you rate the golf organizations that are in charge of the game today?

GP: “No, they are working diligently and doing the best to their ability, but they’re scared to cut the ball back. You know America is very much of a litigious society, and instead of leading with strength and saying, look, we’re going to cut the ball back, they’re going to have to. Because as sure as I’m sitting here, and this will be on tape, it’s just a matter of time they do it. They’re going to have to do it. Because you haven’t had a LeBron James, a Michael Jordan, ever play golf. And they’re coming. Because golf, all these super strong athletes, which we have never seen in golf as of yet are saying: listen, these guys are making more, I make more money at 80 then when I was world champion. Now, what other sport can you do that? So these guys are saying: What am I playing all these contact sports for when I can have a sport that I can go on.”

Reporter: How do you think Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day at this age compare to you, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus at that age?

GP: Favorably. Now, will they continue? That’s the thing. Arnold, Jack and I must have won, I don’t know, 40 major championships, they’ve got a long way to go, but they certainly have the ability. Will they have the desire? Will they have the passion? This is something that nobody can answer. You can never make predictions in golf.”

Article courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

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Oct 26, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player’s new signature course at DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon, India, near New Delhi was the site of this year’s Hero Women’s Indian Open, which is part of the Ladies European Tour.

Players from around the world gathered for the LET event at the challenging Gary Player designed course, and it was rookie Emily Kristine Pedersen who was victorious, edging out Cheyenne Woods, Becky Morgan, and Malene Jorgensen by one stroke. Many players reveled at the distinct test they faced.

“Without doubt, it is a challenging course and one where no one can take any chances – not that a golfer can take it easy on any golf course,” said Sharmila Nicollet. “I did have a couple of days of practice at the course, but a competitive round, the first ever on this course, was something else. An educational experience, if I may call it.”

Nicollet continued, “The closing stretch is quite challenging and in particular the last four holes – I dropped a shot on both 17th and 18th, but I am glad I was able to grab that birdie on Par-5 15th. Actually when I left the 17th with a bogey, I was almost relieved as it could have been worse.”

The course designed by Gary Player, opened earlier in 2015 for all to enjoy and is sure to leave an unforgettable impression on its members and guests from around the world, but especially on professional golfers. At the conclusion of the tournament, the winner finished even-par.

“It’s amazing and I’m so happy. The course has been a big challenge for us. My game has been very good, very steady. I didn’t make any huge mistakes. I kept focused all day,” said 2015 champion Emily Kristine Pedersen.

The design concept showcases varying features that will add to the character of the golf course. Dramatic land forms, rock quarries, a large lake, and extensive landscaping have made the course into a remarkable golfing experience. Gary Player Design’s longstanding policy of a sustainable environmental approach is found throughout the course. Geo-textile bunkers were utilized to reduce maintenance cost, thousands of indigenous trees were planted to reduce the overall carbon footprint, and irrigation needs are provided from a lake fed with recycled and treated water.

“It’s very different. I don’t really recognize the place from when we were here last time,” said Gwladys Nocera, 14-time LET winner who played in the Hero Women’s Indian Open on the previous Arnold Palmer designed course at DLF G&CC in 2011 and 2012. “I’m glad I have my caddie with me and I’m hoping he’ll give me some good numbers.”

Although a stern test, the overall reaction to the new venue from the players was positive.

“I still think it’s a special course,” said Bree Arthur. “Gary Player has done a great job. Just to look at! I played here three years ago and I can’t believe what they’ve done. The lake on 18 was the fairway!”

“I am proud of the course we created with DLF,” said Gary Player. “I visited the property many times throughout construction, and I grew more and more excited each time. There is so much drama, and the bunkering is as good as I’ve seen and something entirely new for India. I wish the winner, Emily Kristine Pedersen, all the best and hope everyone enjoyed the test.”

Information courtesy of the Ladies European Tour
Picture courtesy of

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Oct 22, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

A couple of weeks ago, three friends attended the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational, a two-day charity event, at GlenArbor Golf Club, in Bedford Hills, New York. The course was designed by Player, and it’s awesome:

The field for the event was awesome, too.

It included Player, Chi-Chi Rodriguez, Annika Sorenstam, Tom Lehman, Retief Goosen, Natalie Gulbis, Ian Woosnam, Jason Dufner, Mark O’Meara, many others.

Bob G.—an honorary member of the Sunday Morning Group, who also happens to be a member of GlenArbor—sent me these notes:

“Way better than any golf tournament. No ropes, could walk anywhere. Players were relaxed and easy to engage. Although there was some press around, they weren’t in the way. It wasn’t like a big media event, so there was no pressure on the pros to be ‘on.’ Just us and these great golfers hanging out. A bit like having Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera over to play a little baseball in your backyard.

“Chi-Chi, who is 79, looks 65. On the fairway of No. 16, he comes up and says, ‘Hi, I’m Chi-Chi. Thins are so bad in Puerto Rico that the Mafia had to lay off three judges.’

“Annika Sorenstam hits a nice draw with about a 250-yard carry. Ian Woosnam looked grumpy. Mark O’Meara told Grant Gregory, who founded the club, that the greens were faster and better than the ones at Augusta during the Masters.

“Lehman drinks beer; Goosen drinks wine. I had a drink with Rich Beem. Nice guy, but called me ‘Sir.’

Hacker (real name) was there, too. He followed Player and Sorenstam for several holes, and walked right along with them in the fairway. There were only about 40 people in the entire tournament gallery, so he was able to get plenty close:

Peter A. was also there. “It was better than the last U.S. Open I attended, at Torrey Pines,” he told me. “And all the LPGA players are smokin’ hot.”

I couldn’t join them, because my daughter and her family were visiting, and I was busy teaching my granddaughter, who is about to turn two, how to eat goldfish crackers the way the guys in the Sunday Morning Group eat potato chips:

Article courtesy of David Owen, Golf Digest

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Oct 21, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The legendary Gary Player, one of only five golfers to win the career Grand Slam, was the featured speaker at the Western Golf Association’s fifth annual Green Coat Gala on Friday, Oct. 16, at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago. The event benefitted the Evans Scholars Foundation, a nonprofit organization administered by the WGA that provides full college tuition and housing scholarships to caddies.

Player, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa, is a member of the “Big Three” of the early 1960s & 70’s, which also included legends Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Together, Player, Nicklaus and Palmer ignited golf’s popularity at the dawn of the sports television age. Player came to be identified as the “Black Knight,” as he wore all black pants, shirts and shoes during competition.

Veteran NBC/Golf Channel commentator Mark Rolfing conducted an interview with Player following dinner at the event, where they touched on topics including his career, the emergence of young stars like Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth and the work of the WGA.

“I’ve always been a tremendous admirer of the Western Golf Association for what they’ve achieved ... and what they’ve done for young people,” Player said. “As my hero Winston Churchill once said, ‘The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity.’ The Evans Scholars Foundation is a wonderful cause, and to see more than 10,000 young people benefit from this cause is remarkable.”

After turning pro in 1953, Player won more than 165 tournaments on six continents, including 24 on the PGA Tour and nine major championships as well as mine on the Senior Tour. He is a three-time winner of both The Masters (1961, 1974 and 1978) and the British Open (1959, 1968, 1974); a two-time winner of the PGA Championship (1962 and 1972), and was the winner of the 1965 U.S. Open.

He is still the only non-American to win the career Grand Slam and celebrates the 50 anniversary of that milestone this year.

Evans Scholars Joanna Hernandez and Shalonda Jones, both freshmen at Marquette University and participants of the WGA Caddie Academy, also spoke on how the Evans Scholarship has changed their lives. Hernandez says that through caddying, she has transformed from a shy teenage girl into a mature, confident leader. “I have proven to myself that there is nothing stopping me from achieving anything. It is one of the best feelings in the world knowing all your hard work has paid off. The Evans Scholarship is the opportunity of a lifetime. It is my American dream. With your help, I have finally reached what was the biggest goal of my life – going to college. Now, I can only imagine what else is to come.”

The 2015 Green Coat Gala raised $800,000 for the Evans Scholars Foundation. The Gala co-chairs were Tim and Stacey Cavanagh, Mick and Karen O’Rourke, and Mike and Sharyl Mackey

Article and pictures courtesy of

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Oct 20, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

When nine-time major winner Gary Player met Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald during cocktail hour Thursday night, somebody came to mind.

“It’s a funny thing ... I met Fitzgerald yesterday and he reminded me so much of Mandela,” Player told on Friday morning after the groundbreaking for a new Oakhurst golf course at The Greenbrier. “He had such love in his heart and warmth.

“I know he’s a real superstar, but he really made an imprint on me. I thought about him a lot last night before I went to bed that an important man like this can play such a vital role in society and I believe he’s doing that.”

Player was here in White Sulphur Springs along with Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino to break ground on an 18-hole mountain course that will overlook historic Oakhurst Links.

Aside from Fitzgerald, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, cornerback Patrick Peterson and offensive tackle Bradley Sowell also met the quartet of legendary golfers, who, combined, have won 40 majors, on Thursday night. Arians had dinner with the golfers, as well as Greenbrier owner Jim Justice and architects and others involved in the new Oakhurst project.

“It was a bucket list for me to have a cocktail with Arnold Palmer and then meet Jack and Lee and Gary Player and watch them discuss building this new golf course, which is a passion of mine, and talk to Jim Justice about it,” Arians said. “It was a very entertaining night.”

Nicklaus felt the same way about talking to the Cardinals as they did meeting him.

“I enjoyed talking with Bruce,” Nicklaus said.

“Larry is a very interesting guy. What a sort of an energetic personality that he has. Bruce was saying he’s not only a great football player but a better person. I like that a lot.”

Player, who said he spent “a lot” of time with Mandela as the two helped raise money for South Africa, said how Mandela decided not to hold a grudge against the apartheid supporters and government, while having an open-mindedness toward an integrated country was what related Fitzgerald to Mandela in his mind.

“He was so charming,” Player said. “He just came across with great warmth and great love. We know he’s a superstar and there’s nothing worse than when you see people that are militant in life.”

After meeting Fitzgerald, Peterson and Sowell, and sharing a meal with Arians, Nicklaus became a Cardinals fan.

“Got another team to follow,” Nicklaus said. “Always followed most of the NFL but you always follow something a little closer when you know somebody.”

Article and picture courtesy of Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Staff Writer
Picture courtesy of Bradley Sowell

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Oct 19, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

It has thrilled some of the best golfers in the world, from Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros to Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. And South Africa’s professional sportsmen are just as in awe of the Gary Player Country Club.

When they teed it up in Monday’s first round of the Sanlam Cancer Challenge here, both Herschelle Gibbs and Breyton Paulse agreed that as an iconic sporting arena the Gary Player Country Club is right up there alongside Lord’s, the MCG and the cricket and rugby grounds at Newlands.

Gibbs and Paulse are part of the VIPs and sporting celebrities who annually support South Africa’s biggest charity golf tournament.

At the nearby Lost City Golf Course on Monday, the over 100 amateurs who have qualified from around Southern Africa in their various handicap divisions played in their first round of the 36-hole National Finals.

“I am very pleased that the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City continues to be considered one of the top golfing destinations in the world,” said Gary Player. “As importantly, the leadership at the club does a wonderful job with their philanthropic efforts, as evidenced by the hosting of this event for cancer research and treatment.”

This is the 23rd year of an event that annually raises much-needed funds for the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) for research and treatment of cancer. And this year, the 35 863 golfers who played in 780 club competitions since March have helped to raise a record R3.5 million.

“It’s such a worthy cause and it’s just great to be here and support that,” said Gibbs, who is making his debut in this event and says the opportunity to play the Gary Player Country Club course made his decision to accept the invitation a very easy one.

“It’s just great to play this golf course. It’s in incredible condition again and it never disappoints. Newlands was always special for me because it is so picturesque and the setting is just phenomenal. But when it comes to being in awe of a place, I’d say you have the same feeling here as you get at a Lord’s or the MCG. It’s very inspirational, and for me the Gary Player Country Club is no different.”

Paulse likened the experience of the Gary Player Country Club to that of playing rugby at Newlands.

“The Gary Player Country Club is really a special place. For me, a rugby stadium that brings up the same fondness for a place is Newlands. This course has got great character and a great atmosphere during big tournaments. It’s got something unique about it, and it just stays a fantastic golf course.”

Paulse took time out of his busy Rugby World Cup schedule to support this event.

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world. This creates so much awareness for cancer and provides the financial support needed. It’s always satisfying to see so many people put so much into this event and make it a success every year. But after the Rugby World Cup I’ll put some serious work into my game again and hopefully get back to taking money off Herschelle.”

For more information on the Sanlam Cancer Challenge, go to

Article courtesy of Sport24

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Oct 16, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier, one of the foremost destination golf resorts in the country and the home to the annual PGA Tour FedEx Cup event, The Greenbrier Classic, has brought together four Hall of Fame golf icons, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino to collaborate on a first-of-its-kind championship golf course, which breaks ground today at The Greenbrier Sporting Club.

The new mountain course, with dramatic elevation changes and spectacular vistas overlooking the historic Oakhurst Links course, is the first-ever collaboration between these four golf legends and will be the centerpiece of Oakhurst, the newest neighborhood planned for The Greenbrier Sporting Club Subdivision. The course, which is set to open in spring 2017, is part of Jim Justice’s vision to one day host a major championship, including a possible U.S. Open, at The Greenbrier. In addition to the new 8,042-yard, 18-hole mountaintop championship golf course, other planned amenities for the Oakhurst neighborhood and for future use by members of The Greenbrier Sporting Club include: a private ski facility; a clubhouse; dining facilities; a pro shop; an outdoor pool; and fishing, hiking and biking areas.

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

“We are so thrilled and honored to welcome four of the greatest golfers who have ever played the game into The Greenbrier family to collaborate on this unprecedented golf course design, the very first of its kind anywhere in the world,” said Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier. “As a proud born-and-bred West Virginian, I could not be personally more excited to bring this incredible treasure to our state, which will bring golf lovers and travelers from around the world to The Greenbrier.”

“The groundbreaking for every project is a special moment and memory in the life of a golf course,” Jack Nicklaus said. “This time, you might say you have four old friends coming together for a new beginning at The Greenbrier.”

“This is such a unique piece of property and the golf course that we are building here will be unlike anything I have ever seen in all my years as an architect or player,” Arnold Palmer said. “The dramatic elevation changes will reveal spectacular views of the Alleghenies and it will surely be a memorable experience for anyone who plays here. I’m so pleased we are breaking ground and making this project a reality.”

“This collaboration is going well, and I am very pleased with the direction of the golf course,” Gary Player said. “It’s just a spectacular mountain setting. And the fact that we are moving dirt makes the project so tangible for those interested in a residence at Oakhurst. Now is a great time to consider a Founding Partnership.”

“This day is one for the history books,” said Lee Trevino, The Greenbrier’s Golf Pro Emeritus. “To be here with Jack, Gary and Arnold for the groundbreaking of such a special course for The Greenbrier Sporting Club—right next door to the oldest golf club in America—it’s just something really special for all of us involved. We’re all excited to have the routing plan completed and to move into the next design phase of strategy. It’s going to be a fun course!”

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

To learn more about The Greenbrier Sporting Club, please visit: or call 888-741-8989.

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Oct 16, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player was sitting at a coffee shop in Baton Rouge, La., early in his career when fellow PGA Tour pro Doug Sanders proposed a scenario: If he gave Player $250,000, a small fortune in those days, would he retire to a ranch in his native South Africa?

Without hesitation, Player responded: “I couldn’t do it, laddie.”

“Why the hell not?” Sanders shot back.

“Because I’m going to win all four Majors.”

Player’s belief in his destiny poured out in such passion and intensity. In 1965, at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, the 29-year-old Player outlasted Kel Nagle in an 18-hole playoff to win the U.S. Open and join a select band of golfers to complete the career Grand Slam.

Fast forward 50 years to the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, where a reporter asked Player whether it felt as though it had happened a lifetime ago.

“It doesn’t, because I’m so young at heart and I’m so fit and I have so much enthusiasm and energy and I’m so busy in my life,” Player said. “I still want to learn. So many people seem to lose their desire to improve and grow as they get older, but I can’t say that has happened to me.”

As one of golf’s “Big Three,” Player set the standard for worldwide tournament play, have won more than 100 titles, including nine Major championships. Born Nov. 1, 1935 in Johannesburg, Player was the youngest of three children to Harry and Muriel Player, who died from pancreatic cancer when he was 8. As a youth, he left the house daily at 6 a.m., boarded a streetcar, then hopped onto the No. 68 bus to attend the finest school around. Looking back on his adolescence from the perspective of adulthood, Player said, “If it’s possible, school took the place of my mother. It made me tough, and it made me hungry.”

He turned professional at 17, and traveling the world became his university. It’s funny that longevity and traveling some 15 million miles became Player’s calling cards. He chuckles at the memory of a long-ago conversation with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer in which he and Nicklaus insisted they would be hanging up the spikes at the ripe age of 35. A few years later, Player walking into the Champions Dinner at The Masters and Palmer kidded, “What are you doing here in this field? I thought you’d be retired by now.”

Player has made idle threats to retire ever since, but he continues to circle the globe with the drive of the Energizer bunny.

“In the days when I was working very closely with him, he’s complain, ‘I can’t do all this. I’m going to die young,’” said IMG’s Alastair Johnston, who represented Player for more than 20 years beginning in the early 1970s. “He’s fly from Tokyo to Lima, Peru to Madrid, Spain and then home to South Africa. When I’d tell him what he was going to make, he’s say, ‘$50,000! Are you kidding me? I’ll swim there.’”

In February, Player addressed an audience at the World Golf Hall of Fame during the unveiling of an exhibit highlighting his career. He still packs a room. As a prelude to launching into the heart of his speech, he said that during breakfast that morning, Debbie Longenecker, his faithful director of administration, lectured him about his tendency, well, to be a lecture. “And my wife says, ‘Don’t be a minister at a church,’” Player said.

Player’s preamble is his way of asking for forgiveness before he launches into his sermon. The man is happiest on his soapbox.

“That’s my mission,” he said. “I don’t want to be remembered as a golfer who just hit a 7-iron close to the hole. SO when I talk about health and wellness, man, that my topic, because my body is a holy temple.”

Then, as if someone accused him of not completing all 1,300 of his sit-ups that morning – the last 200-300 with a 100-pound weight on his chest – he slapped his midsection three times. “Pow! Pow! Pow! Like a 20-year-old,” he said.

For more dramatic effect, Player climbed into a chair and declared obesity and diabetes to be epidemics in America. He recited his hero, the late British statesman Winston Churchill, saying, “The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity.” These are not mere words he has committed to memory. Through his Player Foundation, he has funded a school from kindergarten through seventh grade supporting 1,000 students at Blair Atholl Estate, his South African ranch. At Christmastime, he attends a concert performed there by the youngest students. They sing, “Gary Player had a far,, E-I-E-I-O.”

All these years later, Player seems no close to retiring to that farm than the day he informed Sanders that he would win the Grand Slam. Which raises the question: Could he ever retire?

I’m convince he couldn’t,” Johnston said. “He’s had plenty of opportunities to stay at this farm, but he doesn’t. There’s a reason.”

Said Player. “Rest is rust.”

Talk of turning 80 – an octogenarian, for goodness sakes! – reminded him of the wisdom of Willie Beta, an uneducated black man who worked at Player’s stud farm for years.

“I once asked him, ‘Willie, how old are you?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ I said, “When’s your birthday?’ He said, ‘Everyday.’ What a philosophy. That’s why I believe that age is just a number,” Player said. “Years wrinkle your skin, but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles your soul.”

He paused, then added: “But I’ll be disappointed if I don’t live to be 100.

Article courtesy of Adam Schupak, Golfweek

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Oct 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

In a year which Gary Player has celebrated some emotional moments on a host of memorable golf courses, The Lost City Golf Club at Sun City may just be the most special of them all.

Player will arrive at Sun City in November for his Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at the end of what has been a year of celebration, from the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam to being named South Africa’s captain of its first Olympic golf team, and to his 80th birthday in the week of this tournament.

And for a man who has always hoped his legacy would be that he cared for his fellow human beings, Player will no doubt view The Lost City Golf Club where his tournament will take place from 12-15 November as one of the more special courses he has been privileged to visit this year.

“It’s been a remarkable year for me. I’ve celebrated at some of the world’s greatest golf courses, such as Augusta National Golf Club, the Old Course in St Andrews and many more. The 50th anniversary of my career Grand Slam also brings back wonderful memories of Bellerive Golf Club, where I won the 1965 U.S. Open to complete my career Grand Slam,” says Player.

“And I had a wonderful day with the people of Soweto at Soweto Golf Club, playing with some of the real characters of Soweto golf and celebrating my birthday with such a special community there. All of these golf courses have a different meaning for me. But I’ve always loved The Lost City Golf Course, and with it being the venue for our charity tournament that has done so much good over the years, I cannot wait to get back there and end the year off on a high note.”

Player designed The Lost City Golf Course several years after the more iconic course at Sun City, the Gary Player Country Club. But he has always felt that The Lost City Golf Course shouldn’t be viewed as inferior to its neighbour, and in some senses offers an even greater challenge.

“It’s a course that is unique in character. The bushveld atmosphere gives it that African feel, and in that sense I always feel like I’m truly at home when I play there. I think it’s a fabulous advertisement for what golf in Africa is truly like.”

And as the home of a celebrity charity tournament that is the ultimate “Union of Golf and Giving” which has helped The Player Foundation to raise more than R800 million for children’s charities around the world since 1983, and where Player and his amateur team won for the first time last year, this is indeed a golf course that holds special memories for South Africa’s greatest golfer.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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Oct 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

For some reason, the most relevant people in sports are millennials.

LeBron James can reach 24.4 million followers with a single tweet. He’s got the power to influence an entire generation in the palm of his oversized hand.

Can you name a role model in play right now over the age of 40?

With the exception of Peyton Manning, each birthday celebration exponentially reduces a marquee athlete’s face time on “SportsCenter.” The sound bites eventually fall on deaf ears.

It’s sad, really.

Gary Player was in the neighborhood on Monday, sharing all kinds of wit and wisdom before he worked over an impressive guest list gathered at GlenArbor to support his namesake charitable foundation.

The world traveler will be 80 in a couple of weeks.

“My life is full, absolutely full,” Player said with a measure of humility. “I think retirement is a death warrant.”

Nothing is off the record with this gentleman.

A lot of the material is recycled, but the inspirational messages are fresh to anyone reading this on a smartphone. There has to be room on the locker-room bulletin boards for old-school observations.

“We can’t take credit for the success we have,” Player said passionately. “It’s a gift that’s loaned to you from God. It’s been taken away from many people. Look at Tiger Woods on the way to becoming the greatest player that ever lived. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to him. He’s not a cinch to do it anymore. He was always a cinch to break all kinds of records. It’s debatable now. We’ve seen it happen to David Duval. Tom Watson, a superstar, never won for 10 years. Nothing is guaranteed.”

There is value in reflections from a man who’s spent a lifetime competing and contributing around the globe.

“You can go to Harvard, Stanford, Princeton or Yale and get degree after degree,” Player said. “To actually experience something is by far the greater advantage.”

Work ethic is another favorite topic of the 5-foot-6 underdog who often went toe to toe with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

And in many instances, he won.

“You see, being small was the greatest advantage in the world because adversity makes you work harder and appreciate things more,” Player said. “I had to work harder. Without boasting, I can say these hands here have hit more golf balls than any human being who has ever lived because I had to in order to survive against these big guys.”

Player has a role model, too.

“Nelson Mandela, our great father in South Africa, is one of the five greatest men, probably, that lived in the last century,” Player said. “He’s a man who went to jail for 20 years for doing the right thing, not the wrong thing, and I spent a lot of time with him. Every time I was around him, I couldn’t help but cry. Every single time. He was so full of love and so full of forgiveness.”

Athletes who really have a desire to give back do more than sign game-used equipment or checks.

Player has raised more than $60 million for charity. He’s built schools at home in South Africa, provided hope for the homeless in London and for underprivileged children in the U.S.

The ambitious goal is to raise another $40 million in the years ahead.

“As our great president Mandela said so aptly, sport can change the world,” Player said.

Fitness is another favorite topic.

Player is clearly grateful for the opportunity to compete over the years on a grand stage.Watching generation after generation here succumb to unhealthy lifestyles inspires a little fire and brimstone.

“I see what’s happening in the greatest country in the world, the United States,” he said. “I see how the youth are deteriorating, 25 percent already obese. All the diseases – heart, cancer, diabetes. People are dying like flies and we’re taking exercise out of schools instead of increasing activity.

“Quit the drugs. Quit the damn alcohol. Quit the smoking. Exercise. Get off your butt.”


Article courtesy of Mike Dougherty, The Journal News

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Oct 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player plans to be in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics next year as the South Africa golf team captain, and although his sport returns to the Games after a 112-year absence, it won’t be a foreign experience.
Player, who turns 80 on Nov. 1, attended the Melbourne 1956 Olympics when he was 21 years old.

There, he met Jesse Owens, the four-time Berlin 1936 Olympic champion who was at the 1956 Games as a representative of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, according to Owens biographies.

“I was aware that Hitler would not shake his hand, which is hard to believe,” Player recalled Monday while hosting the Gary Player Invitational at GlenArbor Club, an hour outside of New York City. “But with a man like Hitler, anything was beyond one’s comprehension. I remember that, and I remember [Owens] winning, and I saw videos of him winning, and I spoke to him about these things. I was very proud to meet him and to see what he did as a start for change for the black man around the world.”

What did Owens say to Player?

“He said he tried to behave well and to show Hitler the opposite of the thoughts that he had of him, that he just tried to show him that he was well-behaved, he was a good competitor and that he had appreciation for people, which, obviously, Hitler did not have,” Player said.

In 1956, Player was embarking on one of the most impressive golf careers. He won his first professional tournament one year earlier. He played in his first Masters four months after attending the Melbourne Olympics.
“I’ve always held the Olympics in high esteem,” Player said. “It brings people of the world together. My great president, Nelson Mandela, said sport can help change the world, and that’s absolutely true. You’re getting nations that are having wars against each other suddenly competing against each other and realizing, why are we fighting each other? We should all be enjoying each other’s different systems of government and beliefs. So the Olympics are significant in my life.”

Player’s role as South Africa Olympic golf team captain won’t be as burdensome as, say, when he was Presidents Cup captain. The South African golf team in Rio will likely consist of no more than four golfers — two men and two women.

“I suppose watching them practice and helping them tune-up a little bit with tiny little things,” Player said. “I’m not a believer in what takes place today, making significant changes in golf swings. We’ve seen how that’s hurt Tiger Woods.”

Woods dropped to No. 321 in the Official World Golf Ranking this week and is extremely unlikely to qualify for the Olympics. He would likely need to be ranked in the world top 15 on the ranking cutoff date July 11 for a shot at Rio.

Woods’ niece, Cheyenne Woods, is No. 311 in the women’s rankings this week, marking the first time she’s ranked higher than her uncle in equivalent.

“If Tiger Woods had never had a lesson after he won the U.S. Open by 15 shots [in 2000], Tiger Woods would have broken every conceivable record that ever lived,” Player said. “We need Tiger Woods to come back. Will he come back? It’s debatable. He got so mixed up with all the different coaches, and so that’s the last thing I would ever do is try and make any changes in my team. We just have discussions of being positive and having patience and enjoying the moment and being honored and grateful to be at the Olympic Games. It’s the mental, psychological help, mainly.”

Player, at 80, could become one of the oldest people to march in an Opening Ceremony, should he be allowed.

“I don’t know, what your role, if you’re entitled to do that,” Player said. “I would imagine you are. So, it’s something to look forward to.”

The rules for who may participate in the Parade of Nations have not been finalized yet, but they will likely follow the models from previous Olympics, according to the International Olympic Committee.

In London, one coach per discipline was allowed to march. In previous Olympics, six officials were allowed to march per delegation.

In either of those cases, South Africa’s Olympic Committee would decide if Player will be given the opportunity to march in the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 5.

Article courtesy of Nick Zaccardi,

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Oct 13, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational concluded yet another successful event with some of the biggest names in golf, business and entertainment, which celebrated the Union of Golf and Giving with golf icon and Grand Slam champion Gary Player. The 2015 global invitational series has been extra special with the Black Knight celebrating the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam and his 80th Birthday, while title sponsor Berenberg celebrated their 425th anniversary.

Participants joined in the fun and giving during a gala auction after an exciting day of golf, and later Gary Player, The Player Foundation and presenting sponsor Berenberg donated a significant contribution during the Gala Dinner. The day’s festivities raised $212,000 for The Player Foundation, which aids impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities around the world.

The team lead by Chi Chi Rodriguez had a winning score of 16 under par and was crowned champion of the 2015 Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at GlenArbor Golf Club.

The all-star field featured the only golfer in history to have been awarded Player of the Year on all three PGA Tours, Tom Lehman; 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner; and ninety-time international tournament winner and LPGA legend with the most wins to her name, Annika Sorenstam. Recent World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Mark O’Meara; 1987 Masters Champion Larry Mize; six-time PGA Tour winner and PGA Champion, Jeff Sluman; and Hunter Mahan, two-time World Golf Championships event winner also joined the event.

In addition, Miss America Kira Kazantsev and former NFL standout Victor Green participated alongside other top players from the PGA, LPGA, LET and Champions tours which included: Tony Finau, Alison Walshe, Retief Goosen, Natalie Gulbis, Rich Beem, Dottie Pepper, Ian Woosnam, Emma Cabrera-Bello, Brooke Henderson, Danielle Montgomery, Paige MacKenzie, Kristy McPherson, Brittany Henderson and Amanda Blumenherst.

“I am very pleased by the success of the event and the funds we were able to raise for The Player Foundation,” said Gary Player. “Our continued support towards impoverished communities around the world would not be possible without the generous contributions made by our sponsors and field of participants.”

Hendrik Riehmer, Managing Partner at Berenberg commented, ”The strong turnout was a great way to celebrate our 425th anniversary this year and Gary Player’s Grand Slam anniversary and 80th birthday. It is important to help make a difference for underprivileged children around the world.”

Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International and GPI series founder, added, “I applaud Berenberg for their continued support in being our title sponsor.  We would not be able to achieve the fundraising success we have without them, and their involvement has been a big factor in shaping our success.”

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational forms part of the world-leading charity golf event series, which has raised more than $60 million for charities worldwide. The benefiting charity for the U.S. event was The Player Foundation, whose goal is to donate $100 million by 2020 to the support of children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.
The 2015 series will continue later this year in South Africa, Abu Dhabi and India.

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Oct 5, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Black Knight International and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council announced today that the UAE will host a Gary Player Invitational event at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi on Monday, February 8, 2016.

The first of a new five-year cooperation between the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Black Knight International, next year’s event will feature an all-star professional lineup alongside tournament host and global golfing icon, Gary Player. The participants will be announced in due course and provide sponsors and partners’ guests with a once-in-a-lifetime golf experience. The world-leading charity golf series, a true union of golf and giving, has raised more than $60 million for charities worldwide, with the ambition to surpass $100 million in donations by 2020. A specific UAE beneficiary charity will be selected by The Player Foundation, working closely with Emirates Red Crescent.

“Abu Dhabi now holds a prominent position in world golf, and the course design at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is some of our finest design work in the world,” said Gary Player. “The combination of these two factors, as well as His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council’s support, will propel this event to the highest-level. I am very grateful for their commitment as we strive to make a real difference and improve millions of lives worldwide.”

Today also heralded the prestigious announcement of Royal Patronage for the event from His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, symbolizing the intent to establish a position as the UAE’s leading cause-related golf event. Moving forward a number of unique health and wellness initiatives will be implemented in support of the golf event and its charity fundraising.

“We are thrilled to announce our new partnership with Black Knight International and look forward to achieving many great things together,” said His Excellency Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. “I would like to thank His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan for his patronage and with Gary Player’s status as a global golfing icon, the union of three such powerful forces provides us with a unique opportunity to deliver on Abu Dhabi Sports Council’s guiding mission of integrating sports and Abu Dhabi society to form healthier communities.”

The inaugural event will feature a Welcome Reception at the stylish Saadiyat Beach Club on the evening of February 7, followed by an 18-hole Pro-Am tournament and Charity Gala Dinner on February 8 at the event’s official hotel, the Park Hyatt, Abu Dhabi.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational series, visit and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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Oct 2, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player is in an elite group of only five golfers to ever win the illustrious Grand Slam - and the only one from outside of the United States. There is no doubting that this charismatic South African is one of the best players in history of golf. He also holds close ties with The Presidents Cup and recently shared his thoughts about next week’s competition to be held in Korea.

What is your best memory from previous Presidents Cups?

When I was captain in South Africa of the International Team in 2003, Jack Nicklaus, the American captain, and I decided after the third playoff hole that the match should end in a tie. There couldn’t have been a better ending to the tournament. It was one of the greatest moments in the history of golf and very special to be a part of.

If you were captaining the International Team this year, what advice would you offer up to them?

Simply to play better. They have the talent to win. Just play better.

What are your thoughts on the International Team’s prospects and South African trio gunning for glory?

It should be time for the International Team to win. The players have talent and the team will get strong leadership from Nick Price. The Presidents Cup is one of the best sporting events in the world.

And a strong contingent of South Africans on the team must please you too?

Absolutely. Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel all have had a good year. It is impressive that a small country like South Africa continues to produce some of the best players in the world. I look forward to seeing all of them compete on this year’s team.

Are you happy to see the recent changes in the competitions format?

Yes. I don’t know if the changes will make a difference, but that is what was decided. As long as nothing is taken away from the fans, it should be fine.

The U.S. Team will put a lot of expectation on the shoulders of Jordan Spieth. It’s still very early in his career, but you must be highly impressed by him?

He is having a remarkable year. Amazing to think that he is just 22. No doubt he is wise beyond his years. You can tell this young man was raised well by his parents. He says and does all the right things. He is has all the makings of a superstar. I expect him to step up and play very well.

Do you think he is as good now as you, Nicklaus and Palmer were in your heyday?

His 2015 season has been superb. Jordan is a remarkable talent and in my opinion is the best putter in the world today. The key for him, just like any golfer, is longevity. Can he continue to win next year, 10 years from now, 20 years from now? He looks like he has the head and game for it.

The possibility of a McIlroy, Spieth and Day rivalry looks to be a real possibility. How excited are you about this?

There is a great amount of young talent on the PGA TOUR right now. You could probably throw a few more names into that list like Rickie Fowler, amongst others. Fans and the media sort of create golf’s rivalries. The best thing that can happen to golf is these guys keep winning majors and competing head to head.

Do you think Grace or any other South African can reach their level on a consistent basis?

I believe all of them have the talent. They are among the top players in the world. We should expect to see more majors to come from South Africans in future.

What’s your opinion on the state of the game at the moment?

The professional game is extremely healthy. I saw the FedExCup champion will make more money than I did in my entire playing career. That is an amazing stat.

But the amateur game needs the most attention and help. We need to find new ways to draw more rounds from the public, and it starts by making golf courses more playable.

You have had an amazing career both on and off the course, but what memory stands out for you as the one you cherish the most?

The day I married my wife, Vivienne, is the most important and best memory I have ever made. And winning the Grand Slam at the age of 29 was the best moment in my golf career.

Your advice is second to none when it comes to golf, so can you please share some with the next generation of golfers?

The harder you practice, the luckier you get.

Any big plans for the milestone birthday in November?

I plan to celebrate with family and close friends in South Africa.

It’s great to see you so active on Twitter, congratulating the weekly winners on the various tours. Why do you feel that it is important to do this?

I like to stay involved in the golfing world. It’s fun to congratulate all the winners that are working so hard to reach their goals. Something I will always remember is when I first spoke to Ben Hogan. He said few words, but they meant so much and encouraged me.

You are very dedicated to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so can you provide an insight into your daily exercise routine?

When I am not traveling, I work out four or five times per week. I make sure to stretch my legs, back, arms and neck. I do 1,000 crunches (the last set with extra weight), squats, several core exercises, weighted wrist roles, leg presses and sprints on the treadmill. I also make sure to fuel my body with proper food and hydration.

Finally, it’s a question that is asked to most golfers and your name pops up on many occasions; what would be your dream four ball?

Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Mother Theresa and the late Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew.

This article originally appeared on the Official Presidents Cup website

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Oct 1, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Starting Thursday, all golfers in Hong Kong must have a driver’s license to use a golf cart—and that rule includes the city’s only public course.

While not unusual in the United States, the rule is especially maddening in Hong Kong—a city of more than 7 million people—where only about one-third of the population old enough for a driver’s license owns one, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

A course called Kau Sai Chau on an island of the same name off the coast of Hong Kong is one of those affected. Of the island’s three courses, the East course already requires golfers to use carts because of its severe elevation changes, steep inclines and general danger on foot, but did not previously require driver’s licenses.

The mandate is part of a larger regulation by the Hong Kong Transport Department to require all golfers at Hong Kong courses to show proof of a driver’s license before operating a cart, and it will go into effect at private courses as well. According to the Wall Street Journal, this followed a 2013 incident in which a maintenance worker at Kau Sai Chau died when a utility vehicle overturned.

The rule requires golfers to have a local driver’s license in order to operate a cart, meaning foreign visitors of any kind will have to walk—or get a local driver’s license just to play golf with a cart.

Gary Player, who designed two of the courses on the island, suggested a cart-operation test in an email to the Wall Street Journal, writing, “There are many accidents worldwide on golf carts and many players have no experience at all.” He called the current mandate “unusual.”

East course designer Brett Mogg referred to the measure as “extreme” because of the low number of Hong Kong residents with driver’s licenses.

Recently, a 19-year-old college student Ben Suen was playing golf at Kau Sai Chau’s East course and found out first-hand why carts are required. During a recent round his cart suddenly rolled away, without him in it, and crashed into the brush. It was later retrieved by a tow cart. “It wasn’t because I don’t have a license,” Mr. Suen told the WSJ. “People with licenses can have accidents. It’s about being careful.”

Article courtesy of Branden Mohler of

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Sep 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player Design announced today that their growing golf course portfolio will expand for the first time into Vietnam, with the Cau Duong development near Hanoi.

The focus of the new course construction in the Far East has shifted to Vietnam, as its government has established an environment conducive to golf centered real estate development and tourism. It is an ideal scenario for the Black Knight to design championship courses in a golf hungry nation. Golf is now more than ever a global sport, and the Asian community has embraced this as many players from the surrounding areas are having great professional success. The 12-person International Presidents Cup team boasts five Asian players in this year’s competition.

The Cau Duong development will feature a Player Design golf course, which will be one of three courses to be built on 275 hectares. Nick Faldo and IMG Design will each design 18 holes to complete the 54 hole complex. The Player Design will be isolated near the Red River, with a dedicated clubhouse and exclusive setting.

“We are just starting the design process, but I envision a links-style course that exceeds 7500 yards and uses the river as a key feature,” said Gary Player Senior Designer Steven McFarlane.  “We also look forward to an environmentally friendly approach, taking advantage of natural vegetation and other existing opportunities on site.”

“It is always exciting to design a course in a new and unique setting,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. “We take Gary Player’s lead in our motivation to help make golf a global game. Through designing courses in parts of the world like Vietnam, we will build on Asia’s success thus far.”

The private real estate firm, Vingroup, will lead the development of Cau Duong. Vingroup has become a leader in Vietnam’s tourism industry featuring golf courses, international luxury hotels, resorts, beach villas and amusement parks.

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Sep 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

In any sport, leading a team of the best players in the world is an unbelievable experience. I was fortunate enough and honored to be selected as Captain of the Presidents Cup for the International Team in 2003, 2005 and 2007. One of my fondest memories comes from the 2003 tournament at The Links Course at Fancourt when the two teams ended play in a tie. It was one of the most significant moments in the history of professional golf.

I chose Ernie Els to battle against Tiger Woods in a sudden-death playoff. I believe they were ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the world at the time. They tied the first hole. On the second hole, Ernie had a fantastic approach shot and we had a surefire chance to win. But Tiger sank one of the most difficult 20-foot putts I have ever seen in competition.

After the third playoff hole it was too dark to play, and we were still tied. So, Jack Nicklaus (the American Captain) and I decided that because it was such a close and exciting Presidents Cup and both teams and the galleries had been so fair to everyone - unlike during the Ryder Cup - we had to call it a tie. It was the best thing we ever did for an international competition. I remember Jack even said it was the greatest golfing week of his life. That amazed me. It was high up there for me, too. That week was so special. President Nelson Mandela was there, President Bush Sr. was there, President Mbeki was there, and many dignitaries from around the world witnessed this wonderful display of golf and sportsmanship. Being part of that moment was incredible.

I was so thrilled that Nick Price was chosen as this year’s International Captain. I cannot think of a nicer man and fierce competitor to lead the International Team.

The system of matching your players is far superior in the Presidents Cup compared to other competitions (one captain matching the one player against another). For example, in the 2003 singles match Ernie Els was against Tiger Woods, which the public wanted to see. Whereas in other competitions they hand in the teams anonymously, and Tiger could be playing the weakest player on the other team. That is not as exciting as if he were playing against the best. The galleries want to see the best against the best. That makes the captain’s role vital in the Presidents Cup. It takes some skill in regards to matching players against the other team. That’s half the excitement.

My fellow South Africans Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel have been playing excellent golf lately. Having three South Africans on the team speaks to the quality of player we produce from such a small country.

On paper, the International Teams have been as good as the Americans. The long and short of it is they just have not played well enough to win. My advice to the team is to PLAY BETTER. The potential is there. Like in the Ryder Cup, which the Americans have not won in years, it is not about a lack of talent. The other teams have just played better. It’s quite simple.

I will say that it is about time the International Team wins the Presidents Cup. From Jason Day to Hideki Matsuyama to Anirban Lahiri they have so many talented players. It will be very entertaining to watch Jason go head-to-head against Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler. The galleries and television audience are in for a real treat.

This article originally appeared in Golf E Turismo
Pictures from Getty Images

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Sep 25, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Winning a record seven Australian Open titles, global golf icon Gary Player’s name is entrenched in the land down under. One such example is the Gary Player Classic, which was held this week for its 44th year at Pacific Golf Club in Queensland and is one of the longest running junior tournaments in the country.

The annual event sponsored by the South African Grand Slam champion has brought many amateurs closer to their professional dreams and launched the careers for many past champions including current world No. 1 Jason Day, and Major champions Adam Scott, Ian Baker-Finch and Greg Norman.

Day claimed three Gary Player Classic titles as he won the Under 15 division in 2002, and 16-17 division in both 2004 and 2005.

“It is very special that this tournament has had continued success in its more than 40-year history,” said Gary Player. “This country has so much golf talent, you never know where or when we might fight the next Jason Day. My very best to everyone that competed this week.”

Blake Proverbs, Charles Pilon and Jediah Morgan won their respective age divisions of the Gary Player Classic.

The Under 15 division was dominated by Jediah Morgan (Hattonvale Golf Club) over three rounds. After a promising 4-under-par 68, he followed with rounds of 76, 74, and 78 which was enough for a comfortable six shot victory over state team member Louis Dobbelaar (Royal Queensland). The 72-hole Nett winner was Hyin Ho Cho with 309 (Sanctuary Cove).

The 16-17 years division was won by Charles Pilon (Hills) with Steven Cox (Wantima) firing back in the last round but unable to bridge the gap. Pilon held a strong lead throughout the tournament with rounds of 69, 70, and 72 despite finishing with a shaky 76 (287). Cox fought back on the final day with 69 to be the eventual runner-up, finishing the tournament with 290. The 72-hole Nett winner was Riley Todd (Burleigh) with 285.

The final hole proved to be the decider in the 18-20 years division with a close battle between local hope Blake Proverbs (Pacific) and last year’s winner Daniel Gale (Castle Hill).  After a fierce battle, Proverbs was able to secure the win with par on the 18th, while Gale finished with a bogey. Proverbs returned scores of 71, 72, 71 and 72 to finish 287, nine shots clear of third. The 72-hole Nett winner was Jordan McDonald (Pelican Waters) with 298.

Each divisional winner and runner-up took home a high-class Adina timepiece, proudly donated by long-term sponsor Bob Menzies from Adina Watches.

The Gary Player Classic was open to all male amateur golfers who are less than 21 and have an Australian handicap. They must also be members of a golf club affiliated through their District Golf Association.

Information and picture courtesy of

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Sep 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Black Knight International and title sponsor Berenberg have announced the spectacular line-up celebrating the Union of Golf and Giving at the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational on October 11 and 12, 2015, at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford, New York.

The all-star field includes the only golfer in history to have been awarded Player of the Year on all three PGA Tours, Tom Lehman; 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner; and ninety-time international tournament winner and LPGA legend with the most wins to her name, Annika Sorenstam.

Recent World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Mark O’Meara; 1987 Masters Champion Larry Mize, six-time PGA Tour winner and PGA Champion, Jeff Sluman; and Hunter Mahan, two-time World Golf Championships event winner will also join the event.

In addition, Kira Kazantsev, the newly crowned Miss America 2015 will be participating alongside other top players from the PGA, LPGA and Champions tours include: Tony Finau, Alison Walshe, Retief Goosen, Natalie Gulbis, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Rich Beem, Dottie Pepper, Ian Woosnam, Emma Cabrera-Bello, Brooke Henderson, Danielle Montgomery, Paige MacKenzie, Kristy McPherson, Brittany Henderson and Amanda Blumenherst.

“We are thrilled to see such a tremendous support for our upcoming event at GlenArbor and look forward to a fun couple of days with our friends from the golf, sport and entertainment worlds,” said Gary Player. “I’m delighted that each of these individuals are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to raise money for The Player Foundation.”

The Gary Player Invitational, sponsored by Berenberg, the German private and investment bank that was founded in 1590, forms part of the world-leading charity golf event series, which has raised more than $60 million for charities worldwide. The benefiting charity for the U.S. event will be The Player Foundation, whose goal is to donate $100 million by 2020 to the support of children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities.

BGPI 2015 Participants

1. Gary Player
2. Tom Lehman
3. Mark O’Meara
4. Larry Mize
5. Jeff Sluman
6. Brittany Henderson
7. Hunter Mahan
8. Jason Dufner
9. Chi Chi Rodriguez
10. Rich Beem
11. Ian Woosnam
12. Annika Sorenstam
13. Dottie Pepper
14. Natalie Gulbis
15. Amanda Blumenherst
16. Emma Cabrera-Bello
17. Brooke Henderson
18. Kira Kazantsev
19. Paige MacKenzie
20. Danielle Montgomery
21. Retief Goosen
22. Tony Finau
23. Alison Walshe
24. Kristy McPherson

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Sep 21, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola will celebrate its 12th consecutive year when the two iconic global brands join together this November in Sun City, South Africa.

The Pro-Am golf series is recognised as the premier charity tournament in the country, having helped The Player Foundation raise more than R800 million for underprivileged children.

This year takes on even greater significance with the golf world celebrating the 50th anniversary of Player’s career Grand Slam achievement. When he won the 1965 U.S. Open at the age of 29, Player became only the third winner of golf’s Grand Slam. He remains the only non-American, and one of five golfers in history, to have accomplished this feat.

It was also in 1965 when Player and Coca-Cola first joined forces in a relationship that remains strong to this day.

“Coca-Cola have been wonderful partners and have always been committed to the work of The Player Foundation and the Gary Player Invitational series,” says Player. “It’s only when you have a partner who is so closely aligned to your own vision that you can truly make a difference, and Coca-Cola has always shared this vision of creating a sustainable future for our communities.”

The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola directly supports this goal by naming Wildlands, which promotes environmental sustainability in rural communities through an incentivized tree-growing programme, in partnership with Qhubeka and Wings and Wishes, an organization that helps transport critically ill children for treatment, as the official charities of the South African tournament. And it relies heavily on the international brand of Player, who is recognised as much for his outstanding golf career as for the humanitarian efforts that have earned him the title of “Golf’s Global Ambassador.”

Coca-Cola’s ‘Me, We, World’ sustainability framework follows a similar formula for success, taking the strength of a global brand to build stronger communities and promote environmental sustainability. The company supports initiatives such as the Gary Player Invitational series, which promotes active and healthy living in the communities where it operates. At least 1 percent of Coca-Cola’s annual global operating income is invested back into local communities. And goals of reducing 25 percent of its carbon footprint as well as improving water efficiency by 25 percent by 2020 remain at the core of this framework.

“As a company we are humbled by the expectations upon us to play an important role in the development of communities through innovative sustainability projects” says Therese Gearhart, President of the Southern Africa Business Unit and a strong supporter of the Gary Player Invitational series.

“We do not take this responsibility lightly. We are very proud of the fact that these projects make a real contribution to the lives of the people within the communities we serve.”
South Africa is a success story in itself.

“We are very focused on improving access to health care, water and sanitation to needy schools and communities, and empowering women to take better care of their families. We believe that having healthy, thriving communities is the foundation of any sustainable business,”

“We are always proud to be associated with this ‘Union of Golf and Giving,’ and projects where we can help communities in remote villages and townships thrive by enabling them to earn a living collecting recyclable waste and by growing trees. Recycling is a vital part of a sustainable future for all of us.”

Player’s own vision began with a school on his farm and led to a global fundraising drive. For this reason, it’s easy to see why Player and Coca-Cola have excelled in a shared commitment to “Golf and Giving.” This partnership began in 1965 when Player made history, and it continues to this day as Player hopes to shape his legacy.

“I want my epitaph to say, ‘Here is a man who was interested in his fellow man. And in education and health. And he bettered the lives of poor people.’ Surely that is the greatest legacy a man can leave? We are loaned only so much time in our lives and it is up to us to use this time as best we can. I can think of no better way to do this than in service to my fellow man. And I’ve been blessed to have the support of companies such as Coca-Cola to help make this possible.”

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational series, visit and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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Sep 14, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

In anticipation of golf’s long-awaited return to the Olympics, leaders from the golf world came together to create “SWING!”, an educational golf exhibit set to be displayed in the fan zone at the golf venue during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, August 6-21.

Before its transport to Rio, the exhibit will first be displayed in the Olympic Museum from December 9, 2015 to January 31, 2016 in Lausanne (Switzerland).

Under the guidance of the International Golf Federation, the World Golf Hall of Fame led a collaborative effort with its partner organizations, the British Golf Museum, USGA Museum and Golf Canada to conceive an easy-to-understand exhibition for fans at the Olympics.

SWING! is segmented into six “holes,” each offering a theme around the game: “Golf Today,” “Equipment,” “The Game,” “Emblematic Courses Worldwide,” “Golf and its Champions,” “Golf & the Olympics.”

Spanning nearly 1,000 square feet, the exhibition shares its stories of the game through video, graphics and text panels as well as with golf clubs, balls and unique artifacts.

“The creation and subsequent promotion of this exhibition is a boost for golf,” said World Golf Hall of Fame President Jack Peter. “Golf’s return to the Olympics is historic and we believe it is our responsibility to help educate those who are new to the game, its rules, the equipment and the game’s icons. With the help of our partners, we are confident that our exhibit will enable fans to interact and better understand the game in advance of next summer’s Games in Rio de Janeiro.”

Upon commencement of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, it will mark the first time golf has been included in the program since 1904.

For more photos about the exhibition, click here:

Article courtesy of WGHOF
Pictures courtesy of The Olympic Museum

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Sep 11, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player will crown a remarkable year of major milestones when he returns home to host the South African leg of his global charity series, the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, at The Lost City Golf Club at Sun City from 12-15 November.

This promises to be the most emotional of his Gary Player Invitational tournaments, which are also played in the United States, China, Europe, India and the United Arab Emirates, as the ultimate expression of the “Union of Golf and Giving” that has helped The Player Foundation raise more than R800 million for children’s charities around the world since 1983.

This year will embrace a historic time for Player, as he celebrates his 80th birthday as well as the 50th anniversary of his career Grand Slam. Player is still the only non-American to have achieved this feat in a select group of only five golfers throughout history. The Black Knight was also recently named the captain of South Africa’s inaugural Olympic golf team for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Player’s Grand Slam achievement has been celebrated throughout the world of golf this year, including a special Sunshine Tour tribute at Soweto Country Club with a community of golfers with whom he has always shared a close bond.

“Gary Player is an icon of world sport, not only golf. He has been one of South Africa’s greatest sporting ambassadors for decades, earning the commendation of Nelson Mandela for his efforts in using his status in golf to try and help bring about unity in South African sport,” said Selwyn Nathan, Executive Director of the Sunshine Tour.

With another world-class field of professional golfers, celebrities and business executives set to gather for this year’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, Player said he is looking forward to continuing the success of the other global tournaments in the series with an equally memorable South African event.

“This has been such a special year and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than in South Africa and with our friends and sponsors who continue to help us make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children,” said Gary Player.

“Every year we are blown away by the generosity of the people involved in our tournament, from the professional golfers, celebrities and business executives who compete, to those who give so graciously to help our fundraising efforts. Last year was another record year in our fundraising, and I’m looking forward to another memorable tournament this year,” said Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International and the founder of the GPI series.

The 2014 Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola raised more than R3.5 million for the two official charities, the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka and Wings and Wishes. And it was made even more memorable by the fact that Player led his own team to victory for the first time in the 15-year history of this tournament.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING

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Sep 8, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Anirban Lahiri and Thongchai Jaidee hope their milestones as the first golfers from India and Thailand to be picked for the Presidents Cup inspire kids in their countries.

They qualified on their world rankings, making the top 10 automatically on the International team.

Lahiri, who tied for fifth at the U.S. PGA Championship, was ranked 40th, and Thongchai 44th.

Thongchai, the playing captain for Team Asia in a 10-10 draw with Team Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup last year, was looking forward to their participation in the tournament in Incheon, South Korea, next month boosting golf’s popularity in Asia.

“It can help the other young Asian players,” he said. “When they see that I can get into the team, then they, too, will aim for it.”

Golf news is generally buried in the Indian media, unless it’s a home event or an Indian does well. Only in recent years have the majors received prominent attention.

Lahiri said he grew up watching team events such as the Ryder Cup, and was thankful he had something like the Presidents Cup to aim for.

“It’ll be a massive boost for golf in the region,” Lahiri said. “You get so many eyeballs, and everybody in America will be watching.

“To be a part of something historic like that is extremely special. All I want to do is make sure that I get a point for the International team.”

Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han said he was delighted with Lahiri and Thongchai.

“We expect them to contribute immensely toward the International team’s attempt to regain the Presidents Cup, but ultimately, their presence will boost the development of the game across Asia,” he said. “Young golfers will have another reason to aspire for the top, and with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama also in the team, it proves that Asian golf has grown in stature and strength.”

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
Pictures courtesy of AFP & Callaway

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Sep 4, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Foot Golf, Slam Golf, Power Play Golf, Disc Golf, Speed Golf – we’ve had the bloody lot in recent years. People trying to ‘make golf more interesting’. All very commendable, and some shrewdsters may even be making money out of it, but it’s a total waste of time. It’s not golf is it? The answer has been staring us all in the face all this time.

So, GolfPunk’s campaign to ‘Save Our Golf’, starts with the humblest, yet most important ‘proper’ golfing experience we have: The glorious, timeless, wonderful game of Pitch & Putt…

11.37am, July 23rd, 1972, Shanklin Pitch & Putt Course.

Hole three, 87 yards.

An eight year old GolfPunk stands on the tee on the third hole during his first ever taste of the great game. He was already convinced that golf was the most difficult thing he had ever tried to do. Furthermore, it wasn’t nearly as much fun as people made it look.Pitch & Putt NOT Ditch & Shut!

Then the young GolfPunk swung his sawn-off 9-iron he’d been given at the kiosk, and something magical happened. The ball flew out of the screws, high into the air and sailed majestically towards the green. “Good shot!” said his Dad. It was a good shot. It landed on the green and rolled to within five feet of the pin.

The look on the young GolfPunk’s face was a picture – somewhere between shock, awe and ecstasy. The result was the triggering of a thought process we’ve all experienced. First: Golf really isn’t that difficult after all. Second: I should do everyone a favour and turn pro at the earliest opportunity.

Crucially, this first experience of golf didn’t happen at some blazered country club. It happened at a pitch & putt course. When his Dad and he picked up their clubs from the kiosk and paid the green fee, they weren’t presented with a comprehensive list of all the things they couldn’t do. They were simply thanked for the custom and advised to have a great time. Have fun.Pitch & Putt NOT Ditch & Shut!

So they went off and had fun. No one ever forgets their first properly good golf shot.It stays with you forever. And – no matter what heights you reach in the game, no matter how many birdies or eagles you make, no matter how many chip ins you get – from that point onwards you’re chasing ‘that feeling’. I recently had my first hole in one. It was at Princes and I was with five pals, all of whom saw it and shared the same berserk celebrations. It was mad. It was fantastic. But it wasn’t as good as the first time I hit a proper good golf shot at Shanklin Pitch & Putt golf course.Pitch & Putt NOT Ditch & Shut!

Golf clubs, for a mildly nervous eight year old, were daunting places back in 1972. They probably still are for a mildly nervous eight year old. They’re pretty off-putting to a seasoned 42 year old. Drive into most golf clubs and you’ll be confronted with: ‘Don’t do this and don’t do that’. And then give us all your money. What a bunch of arse.

So pitch & putt courses remain the very life blood of the game. Every governing body from the R&A to the USGA claim their brief is to ‘grow the game’ (whatever that means). But I’ve never heard a peep out of any of these guys about pitch & putt. Most pitch & putt courses are council run. My local pitch & putt course at Beechurst in Haywards Heath, was closed down two years ago on account of the fact that the council deemed it ‘not cost effective’ to employ a student on minimum wage sit in a wooden hut and dispense and collect golf clubs through the summer months.

They had different plans for our nine hole pitch & putt course. They were on a mission to replace it with a much more cost effective ‘natural meadow’. Because, in Haywards Heath (a country town surrounded by countryside), we were bang in trouble for a natural meadow.

In an age where we’re told that childhood obesity is a curse it seems crazy that an entry level sport like pitch and putts be denied to those who may not be natural athletes playing for the school first teams. Pitch & Putt allows kids and adults to ‘have a go at golf’. Unlike the plethora of reactant golf related alternatives (foot golf etc), there is no gimmick with pitch and putt. You don’t need to kick things or throw things, or do it as fast as you can. You just play golf. On a pitch and putt course. No pressure. Just step up and have a go, you’ll most likely want to come back and have another go.

How much lottery money has gone into pitch & putt courses? We don’t know. We ARE going to find out but we’re guessing zero. The Olympic legacy’s aim was to get Britain exercising/playing sport. Well, pitch and putt ticks all the boxes. Next year golf is in the Olympics for the first time in decades. It’s a great chance for the world to check out the great game and have a go.

There is a fantastic short course at Trevose in Cornwall. It’s role is to give beginners the perfect intro to golf. The holes range from between 80-200 yards long but most are par fours, meaning that a young shaver who advances his or her ball 70-100 yards with a good hit, is playing the equivalent of a grown up par four. Let’s get a ton of these courses made. Let’s make golf properly accessible.

Jack Nicklaus has hailed pitch & putt as ‘the most wonderful way to introduce people to playing golf’. He should know what he’s talking about.


Do you have a similar story from where you live? Get involved. Join our campaign - make a comment below and let’s start making a difference.

Keep yourselves nice.

Article and pictures courtesy of Golf Punk and Tim Southwell

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Aug 31, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of The Sunday Independent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aug 26, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

And we do mean “sticks.”

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

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

Watch the documentary here:

Article courtesy of Golf Digest

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Aug 24, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aug 21, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of

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Aug 20, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Sports Illustrated (1966)

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Aug 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Daily Mail UK

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Aug 17, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of

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Aug 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aug 12, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aug 10, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aug 6, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aug 5, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Adam Schupak

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Aug 3, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Ryan Ballengee

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Jul 27, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Golphinforkids

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Jul 27, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the hardest Major to win and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your motto in life?

The harder you practice, the luckier you get.

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Jul 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of

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Jul 22, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jul 16, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jul 6, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jul 3, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article and picture courtesy of SuperSport

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Jul 2, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jul 1, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jun 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jun 25, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

Marc Player

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

Gary Player

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

Marc Player

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

Gary Player

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

Marc Player

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

Gary Player

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

Marc Player

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

Gary Player

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

Marc Player

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

Gary Player

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

Marc Player

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

Gary Player

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

Marc Player

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

Gary Player

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

Marc Player

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

Gary Player

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

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

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Jun 23, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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


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

What do you learn from winning?

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

What was your most difficult defeat?

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

What is the best advice you ever received?

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

Do you have any vices?

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

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

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

How should a man handle growing older?

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

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

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

What do you make of Tiger Woods today?

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Men’s Journal

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Jun 16, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article from Saadiyat Beach Golf Club

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Jun 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Player replied, “So do I.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of

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Jun 15, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Eric Ringering

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Jun 11, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jun 10, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Nancy Haggerty
Pictures courtesy of The Journal News

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Jun 8, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Sport24

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Jun 8, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Daniel Nhakaniso

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Jun 5, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

Allow me to show you the money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Palm Beach Post

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Jun 5, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article and picture courtesy of the WGHOF

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May 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture courtesy of AP

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May 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 21, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Hotel and Restaurant

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May 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article from World Wide Golf

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May 18, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 14, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Golf Channel

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May 12, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article from Golf & Turismo

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May 8, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article featured in World Wide Golf

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May 6, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images courtesy of Burilson Photography

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Apr 30, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pictures courtesy of

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Apr 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 29, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was simply remarkable.

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 27, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of

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Apr 22, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was her worst finish in 13 majors.

Leadbetter blamed fatigue, saying she was flat throughout.

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

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

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

Article courtesy of
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Apr 20, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Springfield News-Leader

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Apr 16, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is the best cricketer ever?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 10, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

That the sprightly South African is reaping the benefits of a life devoted to full fitness and good health was clear on the first tee at Augusta National yesterday as he joined Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer to strike the opening shots of the Masters.

Each year, legendary former Masters champions are invited back to Augusta to act as honorary starters, leading in recent years to the establishment of another tradition, in which Player invariably hits the ball further down the first fairway than his two venerable friends.

Quite apart from his 85 years, Palmer is recovering from a dislocated shoulder, so he did well to make a swing, never mind propel his ball forward.

Yet Nicklaus, at 75, is four years younger than Player, and a good 10 yards shorter off the tee.

Still committed to a rigorous daily fitness regime, South Africa’s Black Knight was the pioneer and remains the champion of golfers who also take pride in being athletes.

So it came as no surprise when he sprang angrily to the defence of Rory McIlroy following recent criticism of the 25-year-old’s intensive gym workouts from a coterie of Major champions and other talking heads.

“It’s the height of ignorance,” said Player, making no effort to pull his punches. Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger figure large among those who warned McIlroy to beware the perils of bulking up too much in the gym, even though the Ulsterman’s regime is scrupulously planned by leading sports physiologist Dr Steve McGregor.

“Throwing 200lb and 300lb weights around is not going to be good for your golf swing,” said six-times Major winner Faldo.

“The heaviest weight I would ever lift was my body weight. You can play some pretty good golf when you have just got some decent shoulders on you and a strong neck and a strong pair of hands.”

Azinger went even further, alluding to Tiger Woods, whose multiple injuries have been, at least in part, Azinger believes, down to his renowned tough sessions in the gym.

“I am concerned about one thing,” Azinger said in his role as ESPN analyst. “It is not a requirement to get in the Hall of Fame or to win all four Majors to be as fit as (McIlroy) seems to be striving to be.

“His body has changed since I saw him at the Open (last year). His arms have gotten a lot bigger and I have recently seen pictures where he is pressing all these giant weights.

“I am wondering what’s the motivation behind that. I just hope that he’s not changing his body to his own detriment, because his body has changed since July last year.”

Their words infuriated Player, who endured similar if not more widespread criticism as he took the revolutionary path (for a golfer) to the gym in the 1950s and ‘60s.

“It is only because of ignorance,” he fumed. “They used to condemn me and said I would never last. Well, here I am, outlasting them all.”

As he was being swept away to a media conference, Player regretted not having more time to discuss the issue, saying: “We’ve got to sit down and do this properly because that’s important, what you’re talking about.”

Minutes later, sitting alongside Nicklaus and Palmer in the press centre, Player still felt obliged to go into bat for McIlroy in his opening remarks.

Saying he’d heartily welcome “such a wonderful golfer and wonderful young man” into the company of golf’s career Grand Slam-winners, Player complimented McIlroy for “working out extremely hard” and being “very fit”.

He nominated “fitness and patience” as McIlroy’s greatest assets at the Masters (the latter would all to soon be severely tested on the course).

Last year, when defending Woods from similar barbs, Player said: “The night before I won the (career) Grand Slam (in 1965), I was exercising profusely, struggling with 325lb.

“Everybody said, ‘You can’t do that and then play golf. You’re finished, you’ll never have a long career.’

“Well, I won a tournament at 63, so anybody who says that Tiger’s working out too hard talks absolute nonsense.”

The proof was plain to see on Augusta’s first tee shortly after dawn yesterday.

Article courtesy of

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Apr 9, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

To put it mildly, it was a decent first Masters Tournament experience for 7-year-old Tabb Hinson.

After getting his picture taken at Founders Circle, Hinson had just passed But­ler Cabin when his dad, Michael Hinson, spotted a three-time Masters champion about to exit the clubhouse.

“I said, ‘There’s Gary Player,’ ” Hinson said. “And Tabb decided to wave.”

Player waved back, then motioned the Evans boy to come under the rope. From there, Player took off Tabb’s visor and signed it.

After the awestruck child said, ‘Thank you,’ Player leaned over and the two shared a hug.

“It’s 8:15 a.m., but I don’t see this day getting much better,” Michael Hinson said. “That’s as good as it gets.”

“I’m 46 and still haven’t been under that rope,” Hinson said. “Moments like this are what makes the Masters so special. When I woke up this morning, I never dreamed my son would get a hug from Gary Player at the clubhouse.”

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Apr 7, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Of the five golfers to win the career Grand Slam, Gary Player is the only non-American among the group. But the 79-year-old South African hopes that will change this weekend as Rory McIlroy attempts to make it a sixsome.

“It would be just the most wonderful thing,” Player said Tuesday outside the Augusta National clubhouse. “Not only for the Grand Slam, but for golf in general.”

When Player finished off the career Grand Slam by winning the 1965 U.S. Open he was only 29. At the time, he thought no one else would accomplish the feat so quickly. “And then Jack did it at 26 and then Tiger at 24,” Player said. “And now I really think Rory can do it at 25.”

Player’s reasoning for why he’s rooting on Rory is the message it would send. “Rory takes such good care of himself,” Player said. “He was raised well by his parents. He’s the type of person that you want representing this sport.”

There’s also the theater of the moment. Recalling that Augusta National was the site of McIlroy’s most ignominious in golf—his collapse while holding the least in the final round of the 2011 Masters—Player noted with a wry smile how fitting it would be for McIlroy to vindicate himself here.

“He made a mess that day, but think about it. It’s probably the best think that happened to him,” Player said. “He had to learn from adversity. He had to get knocked down to really be able to rise the way he has. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that.

Article courtesy of Golf Digest

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Apr 6, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player will attend his 58th Masters this week fully expecting to welcome a new member to the game’s most exclusive club and salute what he considers would be one of the sport’s finest accomplishments.

The great man considers Tiger Woods completing the career Grand Slam at the age of just 24 as the best golfing feat he has seen. So you can imagine how excited he is at the prospect of Rory McIlroy becoming just the sixth player to win all four majors at only 25.

‘I’m not sure people fully realise what a magnificent effort it would be,’ said the South African legend. ‘When I completed my Slam at 29 I said to my wife that you will never see that done again. Then Jack Nicklaus came along and did it at 26 and then Tiger at 24.

‘Now we have Rory, and I tell you this: I honestly believe he is going to do it. I just believe everything is going to fall into place for him, that he will learn from the mistakes he made when he messed up in 2011 and put everything right.’

It is not hard to see why Player would have such a special affinity for McIlroy. Two men of similar stature who came from a foreign land to take on the Americans in the majors in their own backyard; two men with a commitment to fitness with minds strong enough to ward off all the criticism.

Forget Tiger. It was Player, of course, who wrote the book when it came to golfers and fitness. Heavens, he is still doing 1,300 sit-ups and squatting 300lb every morning even now, at the age of 79. He is withering in his contempt of those who say McIlroy is ‘bulking up’ too much in the gym.

‘I’m going to guess most of the critics are fat and don’t watch what they eat,’ he says. ‘Just because they’re lazy, they can’t grasp that fitness is so vital.

‘I was told that because I was so keen on fitness my career in golf would be over early and I wouldn’t win any tournaments after the age of 34. I was told I had no chance of winning the US Open if I was squatting 325lb the previous evening. What rubbish.

‘I’m just so pleased to see travelling gymnasiums on the circuit and that most players see the value of putting themselves through the pain barrier. I used to go down to the local YMCA wherever we were playing and sometimes wait 20 minutes to use the equipment. But it you want to be a superstar, and by a superstar I mean a player who has won at least six majors, there are no short cuts.

‘Rory will be an absolute superstar when he wins the Masters. And yes, I can see a lot of similarities with myself. I love the fact he is a people person, for example, and engages with the fans. That’s what I used to love, and still do. So many pros can’t be bothered to talk to the fans and it’s so wrong.’ Player also gives short shrift to the idea that completing the career Grand Slam is a modern media invention.

‘I tell you it was electrifying when I completed it in 1965,’ he said. ‘I so wanted to follow Gene Sarazen and particularly Ben Hogan and become the third player to achieve it, because Hogan was the best player I’d seen. Jack and I were both in competition to complete it and it was a piece of advice Jack gave me that helped me over the line.

‘I was due to play a tournament at Greensboro in 1965 when Jack said if I wanted to win the US Open and complete the set I should go with him to the US Open site and practise. I said I needed the money, that I had loads of children to look after, but I went with him. So he played a key role.

‘It was amazing afterwards. Everyone wanted to know how a man from a small country who lost his mother at the age of eight and his dad worked in a mine could achieve such a thing. How on earth could it happen?’

Player and Nicklaus have remained lifelong friends. They will be partners in a team competition in the autumn before Player heads to Greece for his 80th birthday celebrations. ‘There will be 35 people there and Jack and I will need to win that event for me to be able to pay for it,’ said Player, laughing.

As for Augusta, he is looking forward as ever to hitting the ceremonial first shot on Thursday alongside Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. And then, 50 years on from his own date with history, he will join every other fascinated observer to see if another non-American can complete the set of majors and join him on what former US Open champion Curtis Strange evocatively refers to as golf’s Mount Rushmore.

Article courtesy of Daily Mail UK

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Apr 5, 2015 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Lee Elder remembers it clearly, with an obvious sense of pride and satisfaction.

He was playing a tournament round of golf and the skies opened up. It began to rain. Outside the ropes, he saw fans who had umbrellas open them. Others weren’t so fortunate, but those with protection offered to share.

And there in South Africa, in 1971, in a country deeply locked in apartheid’s segregation, blacks stood with whites under umbrellas watching golf.

“An unbelievable sight,” Elder recalled recently.

Four years later, Elder would have America’s attention when he became the first black to play in the Masters. What few in the United States even knew is that Elder already had blown through a barrier of infinitely thicker proportions.

“That’s Mickey Mouse, playing at Augusta, to what he did in South Africa,” Gary Player said during a recent visit to San Diego, now Elder’s home.

It was Player, the Hall of Famer from South Africa, who made it happen by convincing then-Prime Minister John Vorster – who the New York Times called “a granite symbol of apartheid” – to allow Elder to play in the South African Open and South African PGA Championship.

Convinced that it was the right thing to do at the right time, Player went to the prime minister’s office – “I was shaking in my shoes,” he recalled – and asked if Elder could play. Player said Vorster paused a long time, stared at him under bushy eyebrows, and finally agreed.

“Man, I get goosebumps thinking about it!” Player said.

The trip wasn’t a gimme putt, though. Elder said he received counsel from the U.S. State Department that he simply couldn’t go to play in South Africa without the other countries of Africa being vehemently, and possibly violently, opposed.

So arrangements were made for Elder to make golf ambassador visits, and before stepping foot in South Africa, Elder went to Liberia, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya. At each stop he met with heads of state and performed exhibitions, sometimes playing with golfers who were no better than 20-handicappers.

“Uganda was the only country with grass on the greens,” Elder said. “The rest of them were sand.”

Once in South Africa, Elder said, “It was really fantastic.”

Elder had stipulated before the trip that he would only play if blacks were allowed to be spectators on the course with whites, which was unprecedented. His one request that wasn’t granted was to visit Nelson Mandela in prison.

Still, Elder flew home feeling as if he’d accomplished something Mandela-like, moving a country, even fractionally, in a more positive direction.

“I felt,” Elder said, “like I really left something permanent there in South Africa.”

Player, of course, was delighted. He had always felt a kinship to black golfers in America because as a South African he said he faced racism in numerous other countries. He recalled seeing signs at the entrances to restaurants: “No dogs or South Africans allowed.”

Said Elder, “I love Gary very much. There’s not a segregated bone in that man’s body.”

Player, 79, led the movement this year to have a party in Augusta to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Elder, 80, breaking the Masters color barrier.

“One of the frustrating things in my golf career is to see these (U.S.) presidents honor athletes for their athletic prowess,” Player said. “And here’s a man (Elder) who has accomplished something far greater, and he’s never been given the recognition.

“If anybody deserves a medal for contributing to society, Lee Elder does.”

Article courtesy of UT San Diego

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