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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE BLACK KNIGHT

Oct 31, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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PLAYER’S BIRTHDAY WISH A MESSAGE OF HOPE

Oct 31, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Golf icon Gary Player delivered a strong message of hope as he celebrates his 79th birthday tomorrow with enthusiasm and energy befitting someone decades to his junior.

Recognised as a global humanitarian for his charity work, the Grand Slam champion is celebrating his birthday in China as part of his global tour with the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) series.

The GPI series, staged by Black Knight International, travels to the USA, Europe, China, South Africa, and Abu Dhabi in order to raise funds for The Player Foundation and its many charity beneficiaries around the world. Since 1983, The Player Foundation has raised nearly $60 million to aid underprivileged children. The event in China will be played at the Shanghai Links Golf Club from 3-4 November to support the Zhejiang Xinhua Compassion Education Foundation in providing meals for children in the rural areas of the country.

As his birthday is spent in preparation of the Chinese leg of the widely successful charity series, South Africa’s most successful sportsman has often been called the most positive man in golf for his optimistic and cheerful views on life, which translated well to the golf course with Player accumulating 165 worldwide victories.

Following his many achievements on the golf course, Player has vowed to use his success in order to make an impact on the world.

“What we have done across the globe with The Player Foundation has truly been one of my greatest accomplishments,” said Player. “Over the past 31 years, it is incredibly rewarding to give hope and create a brighter future for children in need.”

The 2014 GPI series will conclude in South Africa later this month and Player especially sees this as a sensitive time for his home country amidst the economic challenges facing the country.

“It has been a difficult time for us as a country, but we’ve faced many challenges before and our success has always been the unity this creates amongst ordinary South Africans who remain determined to make this country the miracle it is,” an emotional Player said from China.

Player’s passion for his country once again shined through as he spoke of his greatest wish at this time.

“I’ve lived through so many changes in South Africa, from the breaking down of Apartheid to the new democracy led by our greatest leader, Nelson Mandela. And through it all, I’ve seen how resilient South Africans are,” said Player. “My own career was built around what South Africa made me as a person. I had no more exceptional talent than the next man, but growing up in South Africa taught me how to work hard and go after your dreams and believe in yourself. Now is the time to keep that miracle alive and keep working to make this country great.”

Player continues to be hopeful for the future and will have much to celebrate in the coming year. In addition to the continued work of the GPI series to fund the bountiful works of The Player Foundation, the Black Knight is set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of clinching the Grand Slam. The anniversary is a significant milestone as Player became the only international golfer to achieve golf’s greatest feat of winning each of golf’s four Major Championships.

After asking Player what he is most looking forward at the age of 79, his response was simply, “Life. It is a beautiful thing. I’m anticipating another fantastic year and have no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.”

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MISSION HILLS WORLD CELEBRITY PRO-AM WOWS PLAYER AND STAR-STUDDED FIELD

Oct 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

It was a glittering week at Mission Hills Haikou as China’s largest golf resort welcomed a celebrated field of professional golfers, sporting legends, and celebrities for the annual Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am.

Golf icon and Grand Slam champion Gary Player joined to field to compete in the event, which pairs 24 elite professional golfers with celebrities over two rounds on Mission Hills Haikou’s signature Blackstone Course. 

The pro-am also featured an impressive array of Hollywood A-listers at Mission Hills Haikou, including Oscar Winners Morgan Freeman and Nicole Kidman, actors Jessica Alba and Chris Evans, as well as greats from the sporting world including Yao Ming, Evgeni Plushenko, and Clarence Seedorf.

Other golfers in Hainan included Ryder Cup heroes Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, and Paul McGinley, as well as Major winners Ian Woosnam, Darren Clarke, and Rich Beem. There was also a strong line-up of the world’s best female golfers led by world No 4 Suzann Pettersen.

“This was truly a spectacular event,” said Gary Player. “To have so many notable names bringing attention to golf here at Mission Hills and in China is absolutely wonderful. I had an incredible time and it was a pleasure to compete in Hainan this week.”

South African Player was paired with Hollywood actor Freeman over the week who expressed his longtime admiration of the golf icon and that he had always harbored a desire to come out to China to play the game he loves.

“I find it tremendous to be here,” Morgan Freeman said. “I’m very honored to have been asked to come and to have the opportunity to walk the links with the likes of Gary.”

Freeman later joined partner and nine-time Major Champion Player to help hand out awards to the winners of the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am.

2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose sealed the Professional Individual title with a final score of five-under-par and joined forces with China’s top film director, Feng Xiaogang, to win the Pro-Celebrity Team category. The Celebrity Individual title was won by Chinese actor Sun Nan.

In addition to the tournament titles, Mission Hills Haikou awarded Player, Freeman, and basketball great Yao Ming special “Spirit of Sport” awards for their all-round commitment both to the game and to the ethos of friendship the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am promotes.

Tournament winner Rose heaped praised on the tournament, which encouraged guests to mix and mingle not only with each other but with the tens of thousands of fans who gathered to line the fairways each day and cheer on the stars.

“I’ve seen people laughing, smiling, and joking, and there’s been camaraderie on and off the golf course,” said Rose. “I’ve been making new friends with some of these people that I’ve really looked up to, including Gary Player, Morgan Freeman, and Yao Ming.”

“I would like to thank all the world renowned celebrities and the world’s best golf professionals here with us this weekend for their help towards stimulating the popularity of golf in China, for helping to promote Hainan and Haikou tourism, and for all the hard work that you have done towards putting China on the world map of golf,” said Mission Hills Group CEO and Chairman Dr. Ken Chu.

Proceeds from the tournament will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund and Yao Ming Foundation.

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RYDER CUP STARS CONFIRMED FOR NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE

Oct 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

Half of the victorious European Ryder Cup team as well as two Major winners and three former world No 1s are among the first group of players to confirm their place in this December’s Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Tournament Director Alastair Roper, in announcing the first 12 players that will tee it up in the 4-7 December tournament co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Sunshine Tour and played at one of Sun International’s flagship golf courses in the Gary Player Country Club, said he was delighted with the response of Europe’s Ryder Cup stars.

“To secure half of the European Ryder Cup team, which is by far the biggest representation of that team to be playing in a single tournament anywhere in the world at this same time, is a major coup for us in a year when European golfers are in such demand following their Ryder Cup victory,” Roper said.

The European Ryder Cup stars in the Nedbank Golf Challenge field include Thomas Bjørn, Martin Kaymer, Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson, Stephen Gallacher and Lee Westwood. Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiminez, who was a vice-captain on the team, is also in the field.

Bjørn is back to defend the title he won in spectacular fashion last year, claiming a two-stroke victory at the age of 42.

Westwood is making his 10th appearance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge and returns as a back-to-back winner of “Africa’s Major” in 2010 and 2011.

Kaymer is back hoping to add to his 2012 triumph in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and the 2014 US Open champion and former world No 1 is joined by other former world No 1s in Westwood and Luke Donald.

Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, leads the South Africans in the group, which includes 2013 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner Dawie van der Walt.

Thai golf legend Thongchai Jaidee will be joined in the field by his younger counterpart Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who qualified by virtue of his first-place finish on the 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit.

NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE CONFIRMED PLAYERS:
Thomas Bjørn (Denmark)
Martin Kaymer (Germany)
Lee Westwood (England)
Charl Schwartzel (South Africa)
Victor Dubuisson (France)
Jamie Donaldson (Wales)
Stephen Gallacher (Scotland)
Dawie van der Walt (South Africa)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand)
Luke Donald (England)
Miguel Angel Jiminez (Spain)
Thongchai Jaidee (Thailand)

Article courtesy of SuperSport

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NORTH WEST PARKS AND TOURISM BOARD SIGNS SPONSORSHIP DEAL WITH THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Oct 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

North West Parks and Tourism Board has signed an exclusive partnership deal as the Official Host Province with Africa’s most prestigious charity golf event, the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, which is set to take place at the Lost City Golf Course and The Palace Hotel at Sun City from 20-23 November.

Home to the fantastic Pilanesberg and Madikwe game reserves, the North West province features the Big Five game animals, fantastic bird-life and wide-open African skies and chance for the all the guests attending this year’s GPI to experience the magnificent sights this breath-taking province has to offer.

“We are very excited about our partnership with the Gary Player Invitational,” said Mr. Tebogo Mopeloa, CEO at North West Parks and Tourism Board. “By aligning our brand with this leading event and exposing international and local high-profile guests, it only continues to add to the richness our province has to offer.”

“There is pride in the history and culture of our province, and visitors can take home with them lasting memories of a special experience,” Mopeloa added.

With the valuable media exposure on a local and global level provided by the South African-leg of the Gary Player Invitational series, including a reach of 2,5million homes in South Africa and over 200 million homes internationally, the partnership falls in line with the Tourism Board’s strategy to promote and sell destination North West as a destination of choice for tourism purposes.

“Our Gary Player Invitational series continues to grow with the generosity of our sponsors, and we are looking forward to a wonderful relationship with the North West Parks and Tourism Board,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEOP. “We pride ourselves on the guest experience at our union of golf and giving and we look forward to showing our guests the beauty of the province.”

The 2014 event in South Africa boasts an all-star professional field, and has just recently announced a few of the confirmed participants, which include Andy Cole, Vanessa Haywood, Ian Woosnam, Carly Booth, Herschelle Gibbs, Lee Slattery and Amy Boulden.

The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised in excess of R600million for charities worldwide.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING / #GPISA2014

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GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL LOOKS TO MAKE A SPLASH IN SHANGHAI

Oct 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

The China leg of the Gary Player Invitational global charity series, staged by Black Knight International to benefit The Player Foundation, will be held on November 3 - 4 at the Shanghai Links, Shanghai.

Building upon the momentum set during the European and American legs of the Gary Player Invitational series, Black Knight International looks to continue its success as the “Union of Golf and Giving” moves to the Far East.

The leading charity event features professional golfers and business leaders, as well as notable celebrities alongside one of the sporting world’s most iconic golf champions, Gary Player, who aims to make a difference in the lives of others as host of the event.

On November 3 and 4, the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) will take to Shanghai, China where the Jing An Shangri-La Hotel will stage a glittering evening gala before participants test their golf skills in the pro-am event at the Shanghai Links Golf Club.

As the event takes shape, acclaimed pop stars, multinational business leaders, and other celebrities have all pledged their support to benefit The Player Foundation and event beneficiaries seeking to aid underprivileged children.

The Chinese leg of the GPI series has always produced extraordinary results for the fundraising drive to benefit youth in need across the world’s most populous country, and this year stands to be no different.

The Player Foundation has selected Zhejiang Xinhua Compassion Education Foundation as this year’s beneficiary. The NGO’s main area of concern is that children in rural China often go to school with an empty stomach because they do not have the money for breakfast. This causes them to be malnourished and affects both their mental concentration and physical body growth.

“We are looking forward to another successful year in Shanghai to build upon the existing success of our ‘Union of Golf and Giving’ in order to continue bringing a brighter future to children in need across China,” said Marc Tudhope, Black Knight International Managing Director.

Since the establishment of The Player Foundation in 1983 by Marc Player, the foundation has raised nearly $60 million across the globe to aid underprivileged children through the GPI series.

“I have achieved all and more than I ever dreamt for on the golf course, but I count what The Player Foundation has been able to accomplish with the help of our Gary Player Invitational series as one of the most important and fulfilling achievements of my life,” said tournament host Gary Player.

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

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SOCCER LEGEND ANDY COLE TO COMPETE AT THE 2014 GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL EVENT PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

Oct 27, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Former Manchester United soccer legend Andy Cole is the latest celebrity to join this year’s field of celebrity participants at Africa’s premier golfing event, the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) event presented by Coca-Cola, taking place from 20-23 November at Sun City’s The Lost City Golf Course and The Palace Hotel.

The Manchester United soccer legend joins a strong field of professional golfers, celebrities, businessmen and sport enthusiasts competing on the golf course at this year’s charity tournament.

“This will be my fifth visit to SA. I love the scenery, people, climate and the food and I’m looking forward to taking part and meeting Gary Player for the first time,” said the former English soccer striker.

Speaking ahead of this year’s GPI event, Cole commended Mr Player on being “a true legend of the golfing world.”

“I think it is always good to give back and help others which are less fortunate, I get a great sense fulfilment from doing just that too,” admitted Cole.

District 9 actress Vanessa Haywood and SA cricketer Herschelle Gibbs have also pledged their support and will be amoung the celebrity competitors joining tournament host and golf icon Gary Player for the Union of Golf and Giving.

Professional golfers joining the “Union of Golf and Giving” include Ian Woosnam, Lee Slattery and Carly Booth, adding to an already exciting field of competitors who will go head-to-head on the golf course next month, all in the name of charity.

“I’ve had some great times in South Africa and I’m looking forward to it. As golfers we are in such a fortunate position to use our talent to relieve the plight of those less fortunate in the world. I’m delighted to return to South Africa and support the Gary Player Invitational and the charities it supports,” said Ian Woosnam.

The GPI series has raised over R600 million for charity in order to support the various causes supported by The Player Foundation.

The 2014 event marks Haywood’s first time as a participant at the charity tournament, which aims to give back to others, and she’s excited to compete amongst some of the world’s most celebrated sporting stars and celebrities.

“Gary Player is a phenomenal sportsman and what a philanthropist he is, doing good where ever he goes,” expressed Vanessa Haywood. “The GPI is a highly prestigious event and I am thrilled to be able to make it this year.”

As for fellow sporting personality, Gibbs, this marks his third time supporting the GPI and says he’s looking forward to another successful event.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING / #GPISA2014

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PLAYER THRILLED TO WELCOME CELEBRITIES, GOLFERS, BUSINESS LEADERS TO HEART OF AFRICAN GOLF

Oct 21, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

It is an impossible task for golfing icon Gary Player to single out his favourite golf course amongst the over 370 he has designed in 35 countries across the globe. And it becomes an even harder one when he has to choose his favourite in his beloved South Africa.

When Golf Digest South Africa released its 2014 list of the country’s top 100 golf courses, five of the top six belonged to the Gary Player Design portfolio. But there is one golf course in South Africa that Player is always drawn to, and that is the Lost City Golf Course at Sun City.

This November, the Lost City Golf Course will, for the second year in succession, stage the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola. This charity event forms part of the global Gary Player Invitational series, which is played in the United States, Europe, China, Abu Dhabi, and South Africa.

The tournament is celebrating its 15th anniversary as South Africa’s premier charity golf tournament with professional golfers, celebrities, and business leaders teaming up to raise funds for the charities supported by The Player Foundation.

And playing it on a golf course that is so typical of Africa is entirely apt for Player.

“When Africa is in your blood as much as it’s in mine, how can you not feel a special sense of place when you step onto the tee at the Lost City Golf Course? This golf course is so special and unique in its character,” said tournament host Gary Player.  “The bushveld atmosphere gives it such a great feel. You’ve got the crocodiles near the 13th green, the incredible bird life, the Pilanesberg mountains overlooking the course – it’s like being in a game reserve. I think, as a showcase of what it’s like to play golf in Africa, we could choose no better course than this and I know our international guests are going to love it.”

The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola adds to an impressive list of professional tournaments staged at the Lost City Golf Course over the years. The par-72 course has regularly featured on both the Sunshine Tour and European Tour calendars and, at close to 7 000 metres in length, has established itself as more than a challenge for the modern golfer.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter - #GOLFandGIVING / #GPISA2014

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WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM WELCOMES DAVIES, GRAHAM, O’MEARA & TILLINGHAST

Oct 15, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Class will be celebrated at Induction Ceremony on July 13, 2015 at St Andrews


Laura Davies, David Graham, Mark O’Meara and A.W. Tillinghast will be enshrined into the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum as the Class of 2015.  The Induction Ceremony will be held on Monday, July 13, 2015 at the University of St Andrews, just blocks from the Old Course, host site of that week’s 144th Open Championship.

This is the first Class to be elected by the Hall of Fame’s Selection Commission, which debated a group of 16 Finalists.  The four members of the Class of 2015 each passed the required 75 percent voting threshold – approval by at least 12 of the 16 members.

The Selection Commission was co-chaired by Hall of Fame members Nancy Lopez, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Annika Sorenstam and included the members of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors and a mix of institutional and at-large seats.

“We are thrilled to welcome Laura, David, Mark and A.W. into the World Golf Hall of Fame,” said Tim Finchem, PGA TOUR Commissioner, Selection Commission member and chairman of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors.  “The new selection process provided a thorough examination of the candidates by a diverse, international group and we’re delighted with the outcome.  Congratulations the Class of 2015.”

The Commission elected the Class of 2015 from 16 Finalists, which were vetted by the Hall of Fame’s Selection Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee met earlier this summer and vetted every candidate that met the qualifications of the Hall of Fame’s four Induction categories. It presented the following group of Finalists to the Commission:

Candidate - Category
Laura Davies - Female Competitor
Johnny Farrell - Male Competitor
Max Faulkner - Veterans
David Graham - Male Competitor
Beverly Hanson - Female Competitor
Catherine Lacoste - Veterans
Henry Longhurst - Lifetime Achievement
Davis Love III - Male Competitor
Meg Mallon - Female Competitor
Graham Marsh - Male Competitor
Mark O’Meara - Male Competitor
Sandra Palmer - Female Competitor
Calvin Peete - Veterans
Samuel Ryder - Lifetime Achievement
Jan Stephenson - Female Competitor
A.W. Tillinghast - Lifetime Achievement

Laura Davies
With more than 70 victories worldwide and four LPGA majors, Davies is considered by many to be the most successful female British player of all time.  After an accomplished amateur career, Davies made it clear she would be a force when she won both the Rookie of the Year and the Order of Merit on the Ladies European Tour in 1985.

In 1987, while still only a 23-year-old member of the LET, Davies outdueled future Hall of Fame members Ayako Okamoto and Joanne Carner in an 18-hole playoff to win the U.S. Women’s Open at Plainfield (N.J.) Country Club.  In the mid-1990s, Davies became one of the dominant players in the world, winning the 1994 and 1996 LPGA Championships at Dupont (Del.) Country Club. She added a fourth major with the 1996 du Maurier Classic.

Davies has represented Europe a record 12 times in the Solheim Cup, playing in every competition from 1990-2011. Among her numerous awards are the Golf Writers Association of America Female Player of the Year in 1994 and 1996, and the 1994 Golf Writers’ Trophy from the Association of Golf Writers.  She was named a Member of the British Empire (M.B.E.) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988 and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.) in 2000.

“I’d like to thank the Selection Sub-Committee and the Selection Commission for bringing me into the Class of 2015; it is a wonderful honor,” Davies said.  “I am especially looking forward to the Induction Ceremony at St Andrews in 2015.  It really will be a special event.”

David Graham
Among his more than 20 victories worldwide, Graham won the 1979 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club and the ‘81 U.S. Open at Merion.  Graham’s final-round 67 at Merion is considered one of the best final rounds in major championship history; it even merited a post-round phone call from Ben Hogan.

While Graham’s two biggest wins were on U.S. soil, the Australian is truly an international competitor, joining Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer and Gary Player as the only players to win events on six different continents.  He represented Australia in three Dunhill Cups and two World Cups, winning the 1970 World Cup with Bruce Devlin.  He was also the International Team captain in the first Presidents Cup competition in 1994.

“Clearly, to be accepted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as player is the icing on the cake on what has been a nice career,” Graham said.  “It is a great honor for me, my wife, my kids and all of my friends.”

Mark O’Meara
Golf fans will remember 1998 as the year Mark O’Meara established himself as one of the game’s greats, when he captured both the Masters and Open Championship.  That season, when he birdied the final two holes at Augusta National to defeat Fred Couples and David Duval by one shot, then outlasted Brian Watts in a four-hole playoff to win at Royal Birkdale, made him, at age 41, the oldest player ever to win two majors in one year.  It was no surprise when he was named the 1998 PGA TOUR Player of the Year.

His myriad career highlights go beyond those two victories, starting in 1979 when he won the U.S. Amateur at Canterbury Golf Club in Cleveland.  O’Meara has more than 20 victories worldwide, and has represented the United States in five Ryder Cups and two Presidents Cups.

“Thanks go out to my family and friends on this incredible day,” O’Meara said.  “To have the great honor of being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame is a dream come true.”

A.W. Tillinghast
Born in 1874, Albert Warren (A.W.) Tillinghast took golf lessons from Old Tom Morris, was an admirer of St Andrews, and used that knowledge to become a true pioneer of American golf.  He was a prolific architect, with more than 100 U.S. courses to his credit.  He was also an original member of the PGA of America and authored a slew of books about the game.

Several of Tillinghast’s designs are still considered among the world’s best and used frequently for golf’s major championships. Bethpage State Park, Winged Foot, Baltusrol Golf Club, San Francisco Golf Club, Quaker Ridge and Somerset Hills are all Tillinghast designs.

Davies, Graham, O’Meara and Tillinghast will be inducted at the University of St Andrews, in Younger Hall.  It will be the first international venue for the Induction Ceremony.

“Laura, David, Mark and A.W. will be outstanding additions to the Hall of Fame family,” said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame.  “This announcement is the culmination of a year of exciting changes that we believe will continue to raise the long-term profile of the Induction Ceremony and the institution.  We look forward to celebrating the Class of 2015 and extend our hearty congratulations.”

For more information on the Induction Ceremony, the Selection Commission, and the criteria for Induction, visit http://www.WorldGolfHallofFame.org.

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GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL ANNOUNCES CHARITY BENEFICIARIES

Oct 8, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka and Wings and Wishes to benefit from the 2014 Gary Player Invitational event at Sun City.


The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, Africa’s premier charity golf event, looks to continue its wildly successful charitable drive at the Lost City Golf Course and The Palace Hotel at Sun City from 20-23 November. The annual “Union of Golf and Giving” will once again pledge support to Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka as the selected beneficiaries in order to provide aid to underprivileged children and impoverished communities across South Africa.

The event staged at the Gary Player-designed Lost City Golf Course will feature professional golfers, business leaders as well as notable celebrities participating in the annual charity event, alongside one of the sporting world’s most iconic golf champions, Gary Player, who aims to make a difference in the lives of others as host of the event.

Celebrating its 15th year in giving back, the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) series has raised over R600 million for charity in order to support the various causes supported by The Player Foundation.

“We are thrilled to once again pledge our support to Wings and Wishes, as well as the Wildlands Conservation Trust,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO and Gary Player Invitational founder. “In our 15th edition of the GPI in South Africa, we hope to continue our success in aiding underprivileged youth with the generous help of our sponsors like Coca-Cola, SAP, BMW, Rolex, Callaway, UPS, and Sun International.”

The generous proceeds donated to Wings and Wishes, resulted in 507 flight tickets being purchased to assist 253 children with the necessary and much-need transport to hospitals, in order to receive lifesaving treatment.

2014 marks the third year that the GPI series partners with Wings and Wishes – a organisation established in 2006 by staff at the Coca-Cola Sabco bottling company in Port Elizabeth to collect air-miles for the transportation of critically ill children in order to receive lifesaving medical treatment at the appropriate medical facilities.

The GPI is also thrilled to continue its longstanding relationship with The Wildlands Conservation Trust, in partnership with Qhubeka. The charity organisation currently operates in almost 100 communities across the country and aims to empower local communities by establishing “green jobs” for the poor and unemployed, focusing on recycling plastic and encouraging the growing of indigenous trees through community-based Waste-preneurs and Tree-preneurs.
The partnership between the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) and Wildlands is aligned with Gary Player’s philosophy in his business operations to always respect the land and its natural beauty and biodiversity. 

“With the support of over R4.2 million from the GPI since 2011, Wildlands have managed to change the lives of approximately 7400 individuals, with the majority of these individuals being women and children,” said Wildlands’ CEO Dr Andrew Venter. “82 375kg of waste has been collected, over 1, 7 million bottles collected, 216 000 trees grown and bartered and 2830 Coca-Cola bicycles distributed across the country. The GPI, Coca-Cola and Qhubeka are helping us build a sustainable future – one tree, one bicycle and one item of waste at a time, words cannot explain the impact this project will have on the planet in years to come.”

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter.

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THE CLIFFS AT MOUNTAIN PARK WORTH THE WAIT

Oct 3, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Only 14 golf courses opened in the United States in 2013, so it was a major accomplishment when Gary Player’s Mountain Park layout was added to The Cliffs’ high-end private portfolio last Fall.

Heck . . . opening was the easy part of the process.

The club endured five years of delays. There was the economic turbulence of the Great Recession; a change in Cliffs’ ownership; and three different rerouted designs thanks to environmental stipulations surrounding the banks of the picturesque North Saluda River, a floodplain location, and the Greenville, S.C., water main line buried smack-dab in the middle of the golf course.

“We did have to go back to the drawing board a few times . . . and some of the holes happened by accident,” conceded Jeff Lawrence, Gary Player Design’s lead architect on the project in Travelers Rest, a secluded and wonderfully serene location in the eastern mountains of the Palmetto State.

“We’re very proud of it; the commitment of new ownership finishing it. It was a rollercoaster ride up and down through the economic times, the ups and downs with the challenges of the environmentalists of what we originally envisioned to what we could do.”
Lawrence gets major props for dropping a piece of Scotland into an area once known for moonshine runners. No one can appreciate this links layout better than head pro Mike Williams, who is from across the Pond in Newcastle.

“In America, this is about as close as I’ve gotten to links golf,” Williams said. “And it is links golf with mountains, which is a unique style in its own. But it is fun, definitely a different challenge. You don’t get anything like this, especially in this area. It has really been popular with the members.”

How popular? Well, the membership is small for now, but Mountain Park’s central location to the other six Cliffs clubs and its sassy layout will attract about 17,000 member and guest rounds in 2014.

“If you look at our tee sheet, every membership club has its own color, and our sheet at Mountain Park looks like a techno-color of everything. It’s great to see,” Williams said. “I have been with the Cliffs for close to six to seven years now and I am meeting members that I haven’t necessarily met before.”

The distinctive character of the property starts at the bag-drop area, where two friendly bloodhounds - Copper and Sugar - greet all players.

“They are two of the most popular things we have here at Mountain Park,” Williams said of the dogs. “They are just part of the family now. The members just love them; they bring them toys, they bring them treats. We even had a ‘yappy hour’ where all the members came with their dogs and we just hung out by the fire pit as the dogs roamed around and had a blast. We marketed it as being hosted by Copper and Sugar. Animals mean a lot to the members here and a majority of them are dog-lovers.”

Mountain Park also set out to capture the area’s rich history and culture. Old whisky barrels are used on the practice range as targets as a tip of the cap to the former moonshiners and an area once known as the Dark Corner, while bag stands are hand-crafted from rhododendron wood.

The clubhouse is a cozy cabin, and the at-the-turn house has been dubbed The Outpost, where the honor system for food and beverage is a nice touch. And before you’re ready to attack this links layout, a cart with leather bucket seats awaits.

“We’re trying to separate ourselves from the norm,” Williams said. “When somebody is coming up to the club for their round it’s an amazing first impression. They are like, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that before, these are the coolest seats ever.’ You haven’t even stepped on the golf course yet or the range and you already have a wow factor . . . and all you’ve done is shown them the golf cart.”

Most of the front nine cuts through a wooded area and along the river while the back is more open with a large lake guarding a few holes and Player’s design center, where Lawrence watched as his masterpiece was being constructed outside his office window.

“The contractor was like ‘Ah, he’s too close,’ ” Lawrence said with a chuckle. “During the construction part it was new to me because most of our projects were across the Pond somewhere, so it was six-, eight- 10-, 15-hour plane rides. But Mountain Park was in our backyard and every time I looked out my window I kept saying, ‘I’ve got to get out there, I’ve got to get out there.’ But there are times that you have to back off a little bit and let them get their work done.
“Even though I’m so close I don’t tinker at all,” Lawrence said when I asked him about any comparison to Donald Ross once living along the fairways of famed Pinehurst No. 2. “Sure, you always say, ‘I wish I would have done this or that,’ but nothing major. We are trying more to refine the conditioning now and does it play the way it should from a design perspective - fast and firm to a certain degree. We’re trying to get those conditions to marry and compliment the design features.”

The design features are many, most notably massive greens (averaging around 7,500 square feet), flash bunkering, native grasses galore, with swales and hollows around the greens that make for some interesting club selections.

“We concentrated on shot options, wanting to bring the bump-and-run back, bring the contouring of golf back,” Lawrence said. “That was a passion of mine and I kind of incorporated that here with the blessing of Mr. Player, saying ‘Let’s just not do the standard grab-my-wedge and hit a certain kind of shot, let’s be creative and get back to the original concept of golf in the U.K and Scotland.’ We weren’t really sure how the membership was going to embrace it. They were either going to love it or hate it. I think they’ve come to realize maybe a wedge isn’t the shot. We spent an exceptional amount of time around the greens thinking and being creative.”
Williams, for one, can’t get enough of the greens and their surrounding complexes.

“One of the first times I played the course I kind of wanted to miss the greens in some ways because it is just not common to see green shapes like this and the surrounding swales,” he said. “You just want to come out here and bring a bag of shag balls and start hitting chip shots, and bump-and-runs that you’re not normally able to do. We’ve had some PGA Tour players around and play it and you see everything from putter to hybrid to fairway wood to 7-iron to your lob wedge. The lob wedge definitely isn’t the automatic club of choice, not at all.”

Mountain Park is not overly long. In fact, three of its four par-3s are 150 yards or less, a refreshing design feature.

“We just were trying to create a good balance,” said Lawrence, who has also worked for Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio during his design career. “Mr. Player and I talked about remembering the clientele who will be playing the course; that we didn’t need a 7,500-yard golf course. We wanted golfers to think their way around the golf course, and not just grab a driver and get up and hit it. We wanted them to think how they could use the contours to their advantage. Some of the greatest holes in golf are 110-yard par-3s or 310-yard par-4s. They don’t all have to be monsters, which I think gets lost today in architecture. That was always in the back of our minds.”

Player has been nicknamed the Black Knight, so Mountain Park has dubbed its final four holes The Joust, which pits golfers against a series of interesting and intriguing options down the concluding stretch of your round. “We wanted to create our own section of the golf course that has its own identity,” Williams said.

The 15th hole, a par-5, features a blind tee shot and a fairway shot around a large tree, while the 16th is a 225-yard par-3, No. 17 is a drivable par-4 and the finale is another par-5.

“We wanted to create this finish to where you can be as aggressive as you want or you can be as safe as you want, so it is like you versus the golf course,” Williams said. “We are branding it and we’re going to have merchandise in the pro shop with its own joust logo. We’ll be putting a sign out there on the tee box saying, ‘Welcome to The Joust,’ creating a brand within a brand.”

Finishing strong, not necessarily on time, seems to be a theme at The Cliffs at Mountain Park. In the end, this is one course that stimulates the golf senses with visual intimidation off the tee, a variety of shots around the greens and a flowing, seamless layout.

I mark great courses by saying, “We’re done already?” My round at The Cliffs at Mountain Park ended with an appetite for more, the sign of a truly fun golf experience.

Article courtesy of Cybergolf and Dave Droschak

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SIRIUSXM TO AIR TOWN HALL WITH LEGENDARY GOLFER GARY PLAYER

Oct 2, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Legendary golfer Gary Player will sit down for an exclusive Q&A session with an audience of SiriusXM listeners at the SiriusXM Studios in New York City on Monday, October 6, as part of SiriusXM’s “Town Hall” series.

“SiriusXM’s Town Hall with Gary Player” will air nationwide two days later - on Wednesday, October 8 at 1:00 pm ET - on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio (XM channel 93, Sirius channel 208) and will be moderated by veteran golf broadcaster and SiriusXM host Matt Adams.  Player will answer questions from SiriusXM subscribers in the audience and talk about his remarkable career and his efforts to promote health and fitness.

“I am excited to sit down for an exclusive Town Hall to answer questions from the fantastic listeners of SiriusXM,” said Grand Slam champion Gary Player. “My career has spanned over 60 years now, so I am looking forward to some great questions about golf, as well as diet, exercise and fitness.”

“Gary is extraordinary not just for his career on the course, which is legendary, but also for his life-long commitment to healthy living and exercise,” said Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM’s President and Chief Content Officer.  “He’s more fit than most people half his age and his life and career are an inspiration to millions around the world.  We’re thrilled and honored to have him sit and talk with our subscribers for our Town Hall series.”

Gary Player is one of golf’s greatest players, having won 165 professional tournaments worldwide.  In 2015, he will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his Grand Slam, which he won at age 29 at the 1965 US Open. Player became only the third golfer to win all four of golf’s major tournaments, following Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen. Since then, only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have added their names to this elite group.  Player has also been a renowned proponent of healthy living through proper diet and exercise throughout his entire career and is recognized as a pioneer of fitness in sports.  He maintains an incredible workout routine even today at age 78 that includes hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups daily.  He also serves as a spokesman for the health care company, Humana Inc., and is active in their efforts to fight childhood obesity and promote a healthy lifestyle.

The event is part of SiriusXM’s “Town Hall” series, which features intimate gatherings with an iconic personality sitting down with a studio audience of SiriusXM listeners.  After the debut broadcast, the program will be available on SiriusXM On Demand for subscribers via the SiriusXM Internet Radio App or online at SiriusXM.com.

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TOP JUNIOR TALENT EMERGES AT GARY PLAYER CLASSIC

Sep 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share


Daniel Gale, Joshua Taylor and Charles Pilon claimed victory their respective
age divisions in last week’s Gary Player Classic

Following another exhilarating competition, the Gary Player Classic continues to prove itself as one of the most significant and successful events for Australian Junior golfers. Over the past 42 years, the annual event sponsored by the South African Grand Slam champion has brought many amateurs under the age of 21 closer to their professional dreams and launched the careers for many past champions including Jason Day, Adam Scott, Ian Baker-Finch and Greg Norman.

“It is such a pleasure to support Junior Golf in Australia and see so many talented young golfers prosper after competing in this long-standing event,” said golfing icon Gary Player.  “Junior golf is extremely crucial to the future and growth of golf around the world. Golf Queensland has done a superb job with the Gary Player Classic, and I am thrilled to be involved with this top-notch tournament.”

The Gary Player Classic, held at the Pacific Club in Brisbane, continues to showcase Australia’s top talent in one of the longest running junior tournaments in the country.

This year’s field has attracted a number of emerging juniors to compete for the 18-20, 16-17, and Under 15 bracket titles with Daniel Gale, Joshua Taylor and Charles Pilon winning their respective age divisions as the tournament concluded last Friday.


Jason Day, pictured during the 2014 Berenberg
Gary Player Invitational, is one of the few players
to win three Gary Player Classic titles and is now
ranked Number Eight in the world.

The 15 years and under Division was dominated by Pilon from the Hills Golf Club. After an opening round of 81, he managed to rebound with rounds of 73,70 and 75 to finish at 11-over for a seven shot victory.

The 16-17 years division was a closer affair with only one shot separating champion Joshua Taylor, from Yarra Yarra, and runner-up Douglas Klein, from Redcliffe. Taylor held a one shot lead heading into Friday’s final round and was able to hang onto the lead despite a spirited challenge from Klein, finishing with rounds of 72-75-76-74 to card 9-over.

In the 18-20 years division, Daniel Gale, from Castle Hill, was able to extend away from the field with a four stroke winning margin after scores of 70-72-75-75 to finish at 4-over.

Gale, Taylor, and Pilon are just the latest to join the list of storied champions at the Gary Player Classic, which includes many of Australia’s top golfers who have risen to prominence over the event’s history.

Former World Number One golfers Greg Norman and Adam Scott are notable past victors.

Jason Day, current World Number Eight, is one of the few players to have won three Gary Player Classic titles as he won the Under 15 division in 2002, and 16-17 division in both 2004 and 2005.

The Gary Player Classic is a feature on the Australian Junior Order of Merit, now in its 43rd year.

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GARY PLAYER AND STAR-STUDDED FIELD PREPARE FOR MISSION HILLS WORLD CELEBRITY PRO-AM

Sep 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golfing icon Gary Player is looking forward to a busy month ahead as he travels to China for golf course design visits and the next stop on the Gary Player Invitational series schedule in Shanghai, but the Black Knight’s first stop will have him competing with Hollywood’s A-list in a week of golf, glamour, and gala events at the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am on October 24-26.

The event represents a significant gathering of sports and entertainment legends congregating at Mission Hills China, the world’s largest golf resort.

Held on the tropical island of Hainan, top golfers, in addition to Grand Slam champion Player, joining the event will include 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Greg Norman, Ian Woosnam, Darren Clarke, and fresh off Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup victory Paul McGinley.

“It is going to be a real thrill to tee it up alongside the world-class group of celebrities and professionals that is set to gather for the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am,” said Gary Player. “Golf continues to grow by leaps and bounds in China, but events like the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am are just fantastic to introduce more and more people to this great game as 24 professional golfers and 24 celebrities come together for this event that is sure to be a great combination of golf and entertainment.”

Among the stars competing for golf glory will be Morgan Freeman, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Nicole Kidman, and Kenny G. Basketball legend Yao Ming will be returning for the second year in a row bringing national and global attention to the event and further fueling the rapidly growing popularity of golf in China.

Celebrities will be partnering with golf pros for the tournament, which will take place over the weekend. While assisting their celebrity partners, the professional golfers will compete for an individual prize of a million dollars.

Celebrities participants in the field are, understandably, looking forward to the event.

“I’m incredibly excited to be taking part in the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am in China,” said Hollywood star Jessica Alba. “I’m really looking forward to enjoying the incredible facilities at Mission Hills.”

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GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL CONTINUES MOMENTUM AS SERIES MOVES TO CHINA & SOUTH AFRICA

Sep 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Building upon the momentum set during the European and American legs of the Gary Player Invitational series, Black Knight International looks to continue its success as the “Union of Golf and Giving” moves to the Far East and golfing icon Gary Player’s home country of South Africa.

The leading charity event features professional golfers and business leaders, as well as notable celebrities alongside one of the sporting world’s most iconic golf champions, Gary Player, who aims to make a difference in the lives of others as host of the event.

On November 3 and 4, the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) will take to Shanghai, China where the Jing An Shangri-La Hotel will stage a glittering evening gala before participants test their golf skills in the pro-am event at the Shanghai Links Golf Club.

As the event takes shape, acclaimed pop stars, multinational business leaders, and other celebrities have all pledged their support to benefit The Player Foundation and event beneficiaries seeking to aid underprivileged children.


Gary Player holds a clinic with teenage sensation Guan Tianlang during
last year’s GPI in Shanghai

The Chinese leg of the GPI series has always produced extraordinary results for the fundraising drive to benefit youth in need across the world’s most populous country, and this year stands to be no different.

“We are looking forward to another successful year in Shanghai to build upon the existing success of our ‘Union of Golf and Giving’ in order to continue bringing a brighter future to children in need across China,” said Marc Tudhope, Tournament Director and Black Knight International Managing Director.

The busy month of November will end in South Africa concluding the 2014 series as the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola will celebrate its 15th anniversary as South Africa’s premier charity golf tournament at Sun City from November 20-23.


Hollywood actors Anthony Anderson and Carmine Giovinazzo pose with 2001
& 2004 US Open Champion Retief Goosen during the GPI gala at Sun City

“Golf has shown itself to be the leader among all sports when it comes to raising funds for charity time and time again,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “The unwavering support of the world’s top golfers, celebrities, and leading businesspeople has been central to the success of the Gary Player Invitational in South Africa, and we are looking forward to bringing all these personalities together to keep this dream alive for our 15th consecutive year.”

Since the establishment of The Player Foundation in 1983 by Marc Player, the foundation has raised nearly $60 million across the globe to aid underprivileged children through the GPI series.

“I have achieved all and more than I ever dreamt for on the golf course, but I count what The Player Foundation has been able to accomplish with the help of our Gary Player Invitational series as one of the most important and fulfilling achievements of my life,” said tournament host and golf icon Gary Player.

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

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BLACK KNIGHT TO DELIVER THOROUGHBRED OWNER CONFERENCE KEYNOTE IN BANNER YEAR FOR GARY PLAYER STUD

Sep 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

On the golf course, Gary Player has solidified his place in the game’s history, but the Black Knight continues to prove his skill away from the course as he has turned his passion for breeding thoroughbred race horses into a widely successful business that has placed the Gary Player Stud consistently among the top of the National Breeders List.

The golfing legend will soon travel to the Bluegrass State and its heralded horse country where he will deliver the keynote address for the inaugural Thoroughbred Owner Conference in Lexington, Kentucky set to take place October 13-16.

The Thoroughbred Owner Conference will gather at Keeneland and will be co-presented by Del Mar, Keeneland, the New York Racing Association, and The Stronach Group.

As Player continues to build his stud portfolio as a leading breeder in South Africa, delivering the keynote address at the inaugural conference is yet further evidence of his successful foray into the horse business. Player, a longtime Thoroughbred owner, breeder, and advocate, was also named a Breeders’ Cup Ambassador in 2013 for his dedication to the sport. 

The Gary Player Stud Farm has bred over 2000 winning thoroughbred race horses since the golfing icon acquired the 2000 acre farm in 1974 and is consistently among the leading breeders in South Africa.

Continuing to grow and lift the profile of the stud farm, the Gary Player Stud has recently acquired five noteworthy mares, in foal to one of South Africa’s most successful stallions, Fort Wood.


Young colt recently delivered to the Gary Player Stud Farm during this
foaling season

Earlier this year, the stud sold a remarkable racehorse in a yearling by popular stallion Var. The yearling made the top price of R1m at the KwaZulu-Natal Yearling Sale in Durban.

Additionally, Saratoga Dancer, a colt by Mambo in Seattle out of Super Elle that sold at the Two Year Old sale last year, was resold at the Ready to Run sale with success in his recent races. The colt has qualified for next tier races and will see action next month following this sale.

As the Gary Player Stud continues into foaling season, the operation has already welcomed the arrival of new foals from notable stallions including Dynasty, Ideal World, Mambo in Seattle, Judpot, Noordhoek Flyer, Sail from Seattle, Captain Al and Var.

Driven by the passion of Player and the dedicated stud farm team, the Gary Player Stud continues to produce top thoroughbreds in South Africa, which has been recognized within the sport and around the world.

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GARY PLAYER CLASSIC UNDERWAY AT PACIFIC GOLF CLUB

Sep 24, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Gary Player Classic continues to showcase Australia’s top junior talent in one of the longest running junior tournaments in the country.

The annual event sponsored by the South African Grand Slam champion is staged at the Pacific Club in Brisbane, where in the event’s 42 year history previous victors include Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Jason Day, and Ian Baker-Finch.

This year’s field has attracted a number of emerging juniors including Daniel Kolar, Connor Reeves and Tim Hyland.


Top Australian junior golfers including Daniel Kolar compete this week in the Gary
Player Classic (Credit: Anthony Powter)

Competitors do battle for the Under 15, 16-17, and 18-20 bracket titles. The field will be reduced to the leading 25 players (plus ties) in each age division after 54 holes. These players will contest the final round this Friday at Pacific Golf Club.

The Gary Player Classic has certainly produced many a fine champion during the event’s history.

As a 16-year-old Jason Day secured a six shot victory to add to his Australian Junior, Queensland Amateur, New Zealand Under 19 and Junior World titles he won in 2004.

Day returned the following year to successfully defend his title and in the process join Greg Norman, Peter Senior, Stephen Taylor (twice), Matthew King, Richard Backwell, Shane Tait, Luke Parkin, Andrew Buckle and Tom Davis as the only players to have defended an age-group title in the Gary Player Classic.

Day also became one of only a few players to have won three Gary Player Classic titles, having also won the 15 Years and Under division in 2002.

Daniel Nisbet fired a closing 64 in 2006 for a nine stroke win and in 2008 Cameron Smith won the 15-years division.

Article Courtest of Golf Grinder and Anthony Powter.

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PGA TOUR TOGETHER, ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE: GARY PLAYER & CHRISTOPHER DAVIS REUNITE

Sep 24, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

After giving The First Tee participant Christopher Davis life changing advice five years ago at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, Gary Player witnessed first hand how his motivational health advice turned into amazing results during the 2014 3M Championship.

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WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM TO BRING 2015 INDUCTION CEREMONY TO ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND

Sep 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum will stage the 2015 Induction Ceremony at the home of golf in St Andrews, Scotland, in conjunction with The Open Championship.  The Ceremony will be held on Monday, July 13 at the University of St Andrews, just blocks from the Old Course, host site of that week’s 144th Open.

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

“This expanded schedule is an important step for the World Golf Hall of Fame as it continues to grow and cultivate audiences in the U.S. and abroad,” said Tim Finchem, PGA TOUR Commissioner and chairman of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors.  “The Board of Directors believes this is an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of the Induction Ceremony.”

The 2015 Ceremony will be held at the University of St Andrews, which has a history of recognizing golf’s greatest players.  The University has conferred honorary Doctor of Law degrees to several Hall of Fame members – including Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer – in recognition of their outstanding achievements and contributions to the sport of golf.

“I am absolutely delighted that the first Induction Ceremony to be staged internationally is coming to St Andrews,” said Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A.  “The Class of 2015 will have a truly special experience in being recognized in the place where golf began.  There will be many thousands of visitors to St Andrews during the Open Championship and the Induction Ceremony will start the week with real fanfare.”

The Class of 2015 will be introduced later this year.

“This is an exciting opportunity to continue to increase the world-wide visibility of the Hall of Fame and Induction Ceremony,” said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame.  “St Andrews is an ideal location, considering its rich history with Hall of Fame members.  I would like to thank our sponsors Shell Oil Company and Rolex, along with the Board of Directors, and The R&A and USGA in particular, for helping us bring the Class of 2015 and Class of 2019 Induction Ceremonies to two of golf’s most iconic locations.”

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R&A VOTES TO WELCOME WOMEN MEMBERS

Sep 18, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The result of the postal ballot among members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews was declared early yesterday evening. The decision to hold a ballot in which all of the Club’s global members had a chance to participate was more than vindicated by the participation of more than 75% of those eligible to vote.

Secretary of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club Peter Dawson said, “I am very pleased indeed to announce that the membership of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews has voted overwhelmingly in favour of welcoming women members. More than three quarters of the club’s global membership took part in the ballot, with a decisive 85% voting for women to become members.”

“This vote has immediate effect and I can confirm that The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is now a mixed membership club. The membership has also acted to fast-track a significant initial number of women to become members in the coming months. This is a very important and positive day in the history of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. The R&A has served the sport of golf well for 260 years and I am confident that the club will continue to do so in future with the support of all its members, both women and men.”

Commenting on the historic vote, golf icon Gary Player stated, “I could not be more delighted that R&A voted to include female members. This was absolutely the correct decision and I believe it will great for the game of golf.”

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‘NICO ROSBERG HAS HAD AN AMAZING SEASON, HE COULD WIN A LAUREUS AWARD’ SAYS DAVID COULTHARD

Sep 8, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Nico Rosberg goes into today’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza, with Laureus Ambassador and former Formula One star David Coulthard predicting that the young German could win a Laureus World Sports Award.

Coulthard, who won 13 Grand Prix in a career lasting 15 years, was speaking at a star-studded gala charity night in Milan, to raise funds for the Italian Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

Asked if he could see his fellow Laureus Ambassador Nico Rosberg winning a Laureus Award, Coulthard said: “No question! He has had an amazing season in Formula One, he’s a multiple Grand Prix winner and leader of the World Championship. Nico is a great ambassador and appreciates the opportunities he has been given.”

Rosberg lines up alongside his MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS team-mate Lewis Hamilton, himself a winner of a Laureus Award in 2008, on the front row of the grid for today’s race at Monza. Rosberg currently leads Hamilton by 29 points in the World Championship.

Now an expert Formula One analyst, Coulthard applauded the competition between the two. He said: “They are two great drivers of the modern era in F1. They are on the same team and are battling head-to-head for the Formula One World Championship.  What we are witnessing are the emotions that sport brings out in people.”

The Laureus gala charity night, staged at the Mercedes-Benz Centre in Milan, had a strong Formula One focus, ahead of today’s race. In addition to Rosberg, Hamilton and Coulthard, also present were former Formula One world champion and Laureus Academy Member Emerson Fittipaldi and French favourite Jean Alesi.

Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, also attended the event with fellow Academy Members Giacomo Agostini, Franz Klammer, Mike Horn and Alberto Tomba. Other guests included Davide Cassani, Marco Bortolami, Antonio Rossi, Alessandro Fabian, Alessia Trost, Aldo Montano and Garret McNamara.

The charity night raised more than €200,000 for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation to support Italian projects which have helped more than 2,000 disadvantaged young people in its ten years of life.

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PLAYER CELEBRATES 15 YEARS OF “GIVING GOLF A HEART” THROUGH THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Sep 8, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola will celebrate its 15th anniversary as South Africa’s premier charity golf tournament when professional golfers, celebrities and business leaders gather for this year’s tournament at the Lost City Golf Course at Sun City from November 20-23.

As a “Union of Golf and Giving” that stretches around the globe, the South African charity event concludes the international Gary Player Invitational series which also stages events in the USA, Europe, China, and Abu Dhabi.

Professional golfers are paired with celebrities and business leaders in the event that aims to give golf a heart as it raises money for charities supported by The Player Foundation. The official beneficiaries of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola are the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka, as well as Wings and Wishes.

To date, the series has raised over R600 million for charity, a core component of what the golfing icon and Grand Slam champion hopes will be one of his greatest legacies.

“I have achieved all and more than I ever dreamt for on the golf course, but I count what The Player Foundation has been able to accomplish with the help of our Gary Player Invitational series as one of the most important and fulfilling achievements of my life,” said tournament host and golf icon Gary Player. “I want my epitaph to say, ‘Here is a man who was interested in his fellow man, education and health. And he bettered the lives of those less fortunate. Surely that is the greatest legacy a man can leave? I count my blessings that my career has allowed me to do this and that we have had the support of all our generous sponsors to help make this possible.”

Coca-Cola remains one of the longest standing supporters of the Gary Player Invitational’s drive to improve the lives of the poor and provide a sustainable future for them through a focus on Women, Wellness and Water.

“We are always proud to be associated with the GPI.  Coca-Cola has been creating jobs and economic opportunity while bringing people together for good causes and good times – from recycling programs to fitness programs and women’s empowerment initiatives. It’s in our DNA to make a lasting difference in communities around the world. To ensure we continue to make a positive impact on people, communities and the environment over time, we are embedding sustainability into our business and making it a part of everything we do and the GPI is one platform that allows us to do this,” said Therese Gearhart, President of Coca-Cola Southern Africa,” said Therese Gearhart, President of Coca-Cola Southern Africa.

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

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RIP, JOAN RIVERS. YOU WERE NEVER AFRAID TO TELL IT LIKE IT IS. – GARY PLAYER

Sep 4, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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JACK VICKERS RECEIVES PGA TOUR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Sep 4, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Jack Vickers, whose vision of bringing PGA TOUR golf to Castle Pines Golf Club outside Denver resulted in one of the most memorable stops on TOUR for more than 20 years, was named the 11th recipient of the PGA TOUR Lifetime Achievement Award. The ceremony will take place today, on September 4, at Denver Country Club during the week of the 2014 BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club.

Created in 1996, the Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals “who have made outstanding contributions to the PGA TOUR over an extended period of time through their performances on the golf course as well as (through) their actions off the course in serving as ambassadors of the game.”

Vickers will join past recipients Gene Sarazen (1996), Byron Nelson (1997), Arnold Palmer (1998), Sam Snead (1998), Jack Burke, Jr. (2003), Pete Dye (2005), Deane Beman (2007), Jack Nicklaus (2008), President George H.W. Bush (2009), and most recently, Gary Player (2012).

“Jack Vickers was a gracious host of THE INTERNATIONAL for 21 years and remains a great ambassador for golf with a strong commitment to charity,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “Castle Pines’ spectacular mountain setting and the Modified Stableford scoring system made THE INTERNATIONAL one of the most unique tournaments on the PGA TOUR schedule and a favorite among our players for its unmatched hospitality. Jack’s selection will be celebrated by everyone he touched, including the many hundreds of TOUR players he befriended at his tournament.”


Jack Vickers (Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file)

A lifelong passionate golfer, Vickers acquired the land and founded Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock, with the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course completed in 1981. The inaugural INTERNATIONAL was played in 1986 with the largest purse in PGA TOUR history at the time, $1 million. Champions at THE INTERNATIONAL included Greg Norman (1989), Davis Love III (1990 and 2003), Phil Mickelson (1993 and 1997), Vijay Singh (1998) and Ernie Els (2000). Vickers granted Els his second-ever PGA TOUR start as a sponsor exemption in 1991 at a time when golf was not nearly as global as it is today. Els subsequently went on to play the event 15 times, missing only 2005 due to a knee injury.

Vickers and Castle Pines Golf Club have made a significant charitable impact in the Metro Denver area over the years, with the primary charity of THE INTERNATIONAL having been the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. Additionally, the annual Jack Vickers Invitational hosted by John Elway at Castle Pines has raised several million dollars for the Boys & Girls Clubs since the tournament’s inception in 2008.

Born in Colorado Springs on August 8, 1925, Vickers is a well-respected businessman, whose companies include business interests in oil, gas and mineral properties, real estate, land development and farm and stock investments.

Vickers has an extensive history with Colorado sports in addition to the PGA TOUR. He is the former chairman and majority owner of the Colorado Rockies NHL team in Denver; was the organizer and president of the University of Colorado’s Flatirons Club, a major fundraiser for the university; sponsor of the Vickers Wichita team in the old National Industrial Basketball league that later formed the ABA; and sponsor for the start of the pro career of three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin.

The recipient of numerous awards, Vickers was named the 2003 Ambassador of Golf by Northeast Ohio Charities as part of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. He is also a member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, Colorado Golf Hall of Fame, Colorado Business Hall of Fame and Denver and Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame.

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YOUTH OLYMPIC GOLF A SUCCESS AT NANJING ZHONGSHAN INTERNATIONAL GOLF CLUB

Aug 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

As the second edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China came to a close on August 28, the first ever Youth Olympic golf competition can go down in history as a resounding success after an exciting week of competition at the Gary Player-designed Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club.

The Gary Player Signature Course saw 64 youth Olympians from 32 countries tee-off to compete for their country in a 54-hole stroke play tournament.

Of the world’s top junior golfers aged 15 to 18, Italy’s Renato Paratore overturned a three shot deficit to win Gold in the Boy’s Individual Stroke Play Competition and Lee Soyoung of Korea played a near perfect final round to claim the Gold Medal in the Girl’s Individual Stroke Play Competition.


Soyoung Lee of Korea on her way to a Gold Medal in the Girl’s Individual
Stroke Play at Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club. (Getty)

The Swedish team of Marcus Kinhult and Linnea Storm went on to claim the Mixed Team Gold Medal after a dramatic play-off victory over Korea.

Excitement was at a high as another Olympic first was made when Canada’s Tony Gil made the first hole-in-one in Olympic history during the Boy’s Individual Stroke-Play Competition. Gil aced the 164-yard third hole with a 7-iron during the first round.

The successful addition of golf to the Youth Olympics, as well as its inclusion in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after a 110 year absence, mark exciting steps in global golf development.

“The success of golf in the Youth Olympics is just another reason that I, like so many others, am looking forward to the return of golf in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games,” said golf icon Gary Player. “To see top junior golfers from across the globe compete in the Nanjing Games is a real treat and I am thrilled that our Signature Course at Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club could stage the competition.”

As golf grows across China, hopes are that the sport will continue to gain momentum following these 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics and the Rio 2016 Games. While the long-awaited return of golf in Rio draws closer, success in the Nanjing Summer Youth Olympics is sure to pave the way for the sustained inclusion of golf in future games.

The 27-hole Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club, which opened for play in 2005, previously hosted to China’s 10th National Games and several China Tour events including the IGC Open and Sofitel Golf Championship. Other Gary Player Design courses in China hosting professional or high profile amateur events include Suzhou Jinji Lake International Golf Club and Kau Sai Chau in Hong Kong.

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GOLF-FOCUSED FITNESS - THE SECRET TO INJURY PREVENTION AND LONGEVITY

Aug 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

As an uncompromising proponent of diet, health, and fitness, Gary Player has been a longtime advocate of fitness in the game of golf. The Grand Slam champion unquestionably counts being fit as one of the most important factors in his success, and his passion left him dubbed “Mr. Fitness”. Today, fitness has become an integral part of the sport, yet the number of injuries that seems to be popping up on the major professional tours of the world is concerning.

What might be the root cause of today’s pros becoming more prone to injury? Player states that player’s workouts themselves might actually be the source as more and more individuals seem to be tailoring their fitness routines incorrectly for golf.

The benefits of functional golf fitness are abundant, but include a stronger, more agile, and safer body movement for the game.  Player has seen this throughout his career that has spanned over 60 years as he broke against the mold early in his career and was often considered mad for his attitude on diet, health, and fitness. The benefits have been numerous for the golf legend as he now nears his 80th birthday.

While it might seem counterintuitive that more players are exercising yet becoming injured, the root lies in targeting the incorrect areas. Not tailoring routines for golf will surely lead to injuries due to the repetitive nature of the golf swing. Players must understand that they cannot exercise to look like a football or rugby player.

“I always tell young guys that they should train to look like Popeye with strong forearms, core, legs, and buttocks,” said Player. “Those areas are key in the golf game. If they try to build a big chest and large biceps, it will interfere with the swing motion. This is just another example that proves the necessity of a golf muscle-focused workout.”

Another issue that he points out is that many of the exercise machines and equipment in gyms are not designed for professional golfers, but instead for those trying bulk up or for the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the world. These machines can be harmful to golfers and even cause damage the rotator cuff or lower back.

This is where finding the right trainer and someone who understands what is physically demanded from a professional golfer comes into play. In his over 60 year career, Player has never had to withdraw from a tournament due to injury. The golfing icon simply believes that this is due to his golf-focused approach to exercise that emphasize the entire body.

“I have been exercising for well over 65 years, which has taught me the importance of focusing on the correct muscles,” said Player. “I exercise my whole body to prepare for and prevent the common issues triggered by the golf swing.”

One of the best exercises that Player has found to benefit his golf game is a heavy weighted club. Exercising both sides of his body has been a key component to how he has avoided injury; making sure to properly work the left side of the body in his fitness routines helps to prevent one arm and shoulder from being much stronger. When performing any repetitive motion like the golf swing, it is incredibly important to strengthen the corresponding muscle groups. This is where Player’s heavy weighted club comes into play: “every time I practice, I will swing the heavy weighted club five times on my left side for each regular swing. Not only does this help keep my body balanced, but promotes a strong core.”

Being in the best shape possible allowed Player to be a better golfer, but also lead to him being a more mentally focused player. He will admit that perhaps he was not the most naturally gifted player of his generation, but he aimed to be the fittest and best prepared - that was his edge.  He says, “When you prepare your body and mind to become a champion, you will become a champion.”

Over the past 25 years, there has been a permanent and positive change towards beliefs on golf fitness and health, and not just for professionals, but for amateurs and juniors as well.  These changes continue to be positive for the game, but necessitate proper training and fitness routines to ensure that players eliminate the likelihood of injury that continues to mar many careers of those on professional tours today.

“I hope to serve as a testament for the benefits of exercising properly because, at this stage of my life, I still feel as strong and fit as ever,” said Player. “Longevity reflects who I am, and my dedication to health. Golf-focused fitness has been the key to not only my success on the course, but to my success in life.”

“Golf is a sport you can enjoy for a lifetime if you keep yourself fit. I’ve always said ‘rest is rust’, so I intend to enjoy this wonderful game for many more years to come.”

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DR. IAN PLAYER ON THE FIGHT FOR RHINO CONSERVATION

Aug 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The number of rhinos that are poached in South Africa continues to be staggering. Over 620 rhinos have been killed in 2014 alone, with more than 3,200 falling victim to poachers since 2007. It is apparent that South Africa, which boasts the world’s largest rhino population, is facing a rhino protection crisis.

As a leading figure in conservation since the 1950s, Dr. Ian Player continues lend his voice and efforts to combat the illicit poaching surge in South African game reserves and private game ranches due to the demand for rhino horn on the black market in Asian nations, notably China and Vietnam, as they maintain a false belief that the horn possesses medical properties and can cure diseases including cancer.

Dr. Player, brother to golf icon Gary Player, admits that when the Rhino poaching began in 2007, after 65 years of involvement, he thought it was time to retire. But he then had dreams of a young white rhino climbing onto his bed and putting its head on his shoulder. “The unconscious had spoken,” he stated. He then knew that he had to be involved.

Various conservation efforts continue in South Africa, including attempts to relocate many rhinos to nearby Botswana in order to repopulate the species in their national parks and sanctuaries. Discussions are even in progress with an Australian group to move a viable population. Yet, the perilous situation continues to unfold, and after numerous conservation efforts have failed to relieve the poaching epidemic, Dr. Player now states that, for a sustained system of conservation, a regulated legal trade in horn is a necessary option to promote a sustainable anti-poaching alternative. This idea has also been backed by Ezemvelo, the KwaZulu authority responsible for game reserves.

As it currently stands, legal trade is prohibited by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1977.

Player argues that economics play a major role in contemporary wildlife conservation in South Africa, and that with a trade ban lifted, as was done in the early 1970s, farmers could being investing in and breeding rhinos for economic purposes. In the 1970s, this practice led to an explosion in the number of game ranches, who in turn took more and more rhinos from the over populated game reserves.

Some 2 percent, equaling nearly 400, of South Africa’s rhino population die every year from natural causes and utilizing these horns to satisfy the demand of traditional Chinese medicine would provide a smart and legal trade option for the horn that fetches prices of $65 000 a kilogram for each horn set. This money could help in protection, as well as supporting local communities.

South Africa currently is home to 85% of the world’s rhino population, leaving the home country of Player at the forefront of conservation for the African ‘Big 5’ animal.  Last year, rhinos were killed at a rate of three per day – an astonishing rate considering that the total number of rhino poached in year 2000 were in the single digits.

All five rhino species are now listed on the “Red List of Endangered Species” and this proves to be a cause for alarm for Player and other conservationists around the globe, but also leaves the legal trade of horn as a viable and smart solution to the current epidemic. 

Player’s interest in conservation started after his return from WWII when he pioneered the Duzi Canoe Marathon in 1950 from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, which covers 110 river miles. He expected to see an abundance of wildlife along the river bank over the course of the marathon that he won three times, but to his dismay, there was almost none. And so began his ambitious journey to fight for nature conservation, which notably included spearheading the Operation Rhino campaign to bring the white rhino back from the brink of extinction in the 1950s.

For his significant contributions to the conservation community, Dr. Ian Player will serve as a Rhino Elder at the upcoming World Youth Rhino Summit at the iMfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa from September 21 to 23.

The World Youth Rhino Summit will be a focused gathering of 100 young conservation leaders aged 15-17 years from South Africa, other African countries affected by rhino poaching, consumer countries in Asia, and other representative countries. Delegates, educators, and conservation leaders will be brought together at the symbolic iMfolozi Game Reserve, where in 1953 there were only 437 white rhino and was the first proclaimed Game reserve in Africa. The Summit will directly address the current rhino poaching crisis and develop resolutions needed to stop rhino poaching.

In addition to his role as an elder at the conference, Dr. Player’s presence and legacy within the conservation community will be witnessed as Asian delegates from the Summit will travel to the Wilderness Leadership School, founded by Player, immediately following the event. As the impact of Asia continues to be seen on rhino poaching and trade, hopes are that the experience will have a profound impact on delegates by witnessing the beauty of Africa’s unspoilt wilderness and the realization that Africa is the home of mankind.

For additional information on Dr. Player and rhino conversation, The White Rhino Saga by Dr. Ian Player tells more of the story.

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FORTUNE PRO-FILES: HOW GOLFER GARY PLAYER BECAME A GLOBAL BUSINESS LEADER

Aug 21, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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NANJING ZHONGSHAN INTERNATIONAL GOLF CLUB HOSTS GOLF FOR FIRST APPEARANCE IN YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES

Aug 19, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

As top junior athletes from around the globe converge upon Nanjing, China for the second edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games, the Gary Player-designed Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club will provide the stage for the first ever golf event to be played in the Games.

The Gary Player Signature Course will see 64 youth Olympians from 32 countries tee-off to compete for their country in a 54-hole stroke play tournament. The world’s top junior golfers aged 15 to 18 will then take part in the mixed gender team event set to take place from August 24 to 26.

The addition of golf to the Youth Olympics, as well as its inclusion in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after a 110 year absence, mark exciting steps in global golf development.

“I, like so many others, am looking forward to the return of golf in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but I could not be more thrilled that the future superstars of the game are able to compete for their home countries in golf’s first appearance in the Youth Olympic Games,” said golf icon Gary Player. “I visited our Signature Course at Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club last year, and I have no doubt that it will be a terrific venue.  I wish all those competing the best of luck.”

As golf grows across China, hopes are that the sport will continue to gain momentum following these 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics and the Rio 2016 Games. While the long-awaited return of golf draws closer, success in the Nanjing Summer Youth Olympics is sure to pave the way for the sustained inclusion of golf in future games.

The 27-hole Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club, which opened for play in 2005, previously hosted to China’s 10th National Games and several China Tour events including the IGC Open and Sofitel Golf Championship. Other Gary Player Design courses in China hosting professional or high profile amateur events include Suzhou Jinji Lake International Golf Club and Kau Sai Chau.

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GARY PLAYER INSPIRES FIRST TEE PARTICIPANT CHRISTOPHER DAVIS ON LIFELONG WELLNESSS

Aug 18, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

In 2009, Gary Player met First Tee participant Chris Davis while on the Pebble Beach putting green when Davis was invited to the First Tee Open. That brief encounter led to a complete life change for Davis when a putting lesson turned to the topic of diet, health, and fitness.

Davis was “shell-shocked” after the Grand Slam champion challenged him five years ago to make a lifestyle change, but Player offered advice and told Davis how a person’s physical shape “carries over to different parts of your life and how it could make me a better athlete and a better person.”

After the first encounter, Davis went home and gained 10 more pounds.

“I was a big sweets dude and had dessert after every meal,” said Chris Davis. “But as I started gaining more weight, I realized I have to listen to him. Things were getting out of control. It was tough. All my friends in high school were eating pizza and fries and were 150 pounds, but I realized I wasn’t them.”

Davis then cut his intake to 2,000 calories a day, including three servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit every day. In addition to diet changes, he also exercised and ran for 90 minutes five days a week. The teenager ended up dropping from 225 pounds to 165 in seven months. But even then everything was not perfect.

“I struggled with my golf game, trying to play with a completely new body,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if everything I was doing was worth it.”

Davis eventually improved on the golf course and reached the state championship for the first time as a high school senior.

When members of the 2009 First Tee class were asked to write an essay on their most memorable First Tee experience, Davis wrote about his encounter with Player and how that inspired him to lose 65 pounds in seven months and become a better student. He was immediately called by the PGA Tour’s entertainment department and invited to Minneapolis.

The pair were was reunited after five years as the golfing icon met with the now college student during the 3M Championship where Player competed in the Greats of Golf exhibition.

“I simply could not believe the way this young man changed his life,” said Gary Player. “He is truly an inspiration for countless young people out there to do the same.”

With his newfound healthy lifestyle, Davis plays Division III golf for Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin where he was one of the top five golfers on the team as a junior last year. Davis is also on the Dean’s List at Carroll with a 3.5 GPA in elementary education. Far improved from the 2.75 mark he carried before Player gave him a tough talking to.

The reunion was all slaps on the back.

“It was completely unreal,” Davis said. “We went to breakfast with him, me and my parents. Then we were ushered into a private room. The entire time we talked about fitness, golf, and the obesity crisis. We loved every minute of it.

“Then Gary and Jack and Arnie had a press conference and he brought me over to meet them. When I was talking to Jack and Arnie, they said, ‘We know about you.’ All three of them shook my hand and told me to be an ambassador for health and fitness and turning my life around.”

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THRACIAN CLIFFS BESTOWED MEMBERSHIP OF ‘LEADING GOLF COURSES EUROPE’

Aug 4, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

The world-class, Gary Player-designed Thracian Cliffs Resort in Bulgaria has been bestowed membership of the prestigious ‘Leading Golf Courses Europe’ collection following a recent inspection visit by its senior team.

The luxury Black Sea venue has gained many admirers since opening in 2011, with images of its sensational cliff-top Gary Player golf course being transmitted around the world. It also successfully hosted the 2013 Volvo World Match Play Championship and scooped the ‘European Golf Resort of the Year 2014′ award, bestowed by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO).

Following a personal visit headed by Wolfgang Kunneth, president of the Leading Golf Courses Europe, Thracian Cliffs was installed as the latest member, joining other elite courses in Europe including Costa Navarino, Son Gual, Monte Rei and Open Championship venue Turnberry.

Receiving the membership award, Thracian Cliffs’ general manager, Claudio Marini, said: “We are delighted that Mr. Kunneth and his team have chosen to inaugurate our fantastic golf course into its prestigious collection of venues.

“It will help us in showcasing our wonderful product across Europe and we look forward to welcoming members of these iconic venues to experience Thracian Cliffs Resort.”

Offering a choice of two high-spec residential villages, gourmet restaurants, a bijou spa and its own beach club, Thracian Cliffs offers plenty for both golfers and lifestyle seekers – all within the unique environment of the Cape Kaliakra coast, which boasts an average of 10 hours’ daily sunshine between the months of April and October.

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GARY PLAYER TO DESIGN BIG CEDAR LODGE’S NEW FAMILY-FRIENDLY GOLF COURSE IN THE OZARKS

Jul 31, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player and Johnny Morris are pleased to announce a partnership to create a world-class, family-friendly golf course at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri.

Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops founder and noted conservationist, and golf icon Gary Player share a similar passion for nature and golf. Through a joined pioneering spirit to create a new family-friendly golf course, Morris and Player seek to deliver a special offering for the guests of Big Cedar Lodge, which is ranked as one of the top resorts for families in America.

“We are incredibly excited to partner with Johnny Morris and Big Cedar Lodge to create something truly spectacular and innovative with our family golf center,” said Player. “Growing the game continues to be of the utmost importance and we are thrilled to be able to work alongside Johnny to implement a number of new ideas to help grow golf in a location of such natural beauty.”


Gary Player tours the Big Cedar Lodge property with Johnny Morris

The resort’s family appeal inspired Morris to create a golf center that caters to beginners and juniors, and helps introduce them to the sport in a welcoming environment. The new Gary Player-designed family-friendly golf course will add to the already impressive variety of golf offerings at Big Cedar Lodge. This year, Big Cedar Lodge opened Buffalo Ridge, an 18-hole championship golf course, and Top of the Rock, a striking homage to pure golf that includes the remarkable Jack Nicklaus Signature Design par-3 golf course, recently ranked among the Top 10 most searched golf destinations on Yahoo Search, Arnold Palmer Practice Facility and “Himalayas” Putting Complex designed by Tom Watson.

At the heart of the Morris and Player project, which is set to open in 2015, is creating enjoyment in the game of golf for all ages and skill levels. The course will be designed in a very welcoming, fun and creative way, so as not to intimidate novice players. 

“Gary Player Design will use creative, unique, and untraditional concepts to help all members of the family enjoy the game,” said Scott Ferrell, Gary Player Design President. “Our aim is to create an enjoyable course that will pique the interest of those just beginning to play the game, while also creating a unique design that allows the whole family to enjoy.”

Known as the Black Knight, Player is one of the original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame and is the International Ambassador of Golf. He has been a longtime promoter of growing golf around the world, and, as such, his Gary Player Design projects have consistently emphasized playability for all levels to enjoy the game.

“All of us at Big Cedar Lodge are honored to have Gary Player help us create a special family golf experience in the Ozarks. My son and I had the opportunity to visit Gary at his ranch in South Africa, where his brother Ian is a renowned conservationist.  Gary and I share many things in common and it did not take long for me to realize that we are both nuts about rocks and nature.  It quickly became apparent to me that I had just met one of the nicest and most enthusiastic men on earth. That is what is going to make this project so fun—our shared passion to get young people outside spending more time in outdoor sports,” Morris said. 

In addition to the family golf center, the innovative nature of Big Cedar Lodge was evidenced earlier this year at the Champions Tour’s Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf presented by Bass Pro Shops. In a groundbreaking move, the longest running event on the Champions Tour schedule was moved to Big Cedar Lodge where the first par-3 course, Top of the Rock, was used in an official PGA TOUR-sanctioned event. Grand Slam Champion Gary Player partnered with longtime friend and legend Jack Nicklaus to play in the event, which took place June 4-8.

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THE BLACK KNIGHT SHOWS STYLE ON AND OFF THE COURSE WITH THE GARY PLAYER COLLECTION

Jul 31, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

There is no doubt that Gary Player has rightfully earned his nickname of the Black Knight after displaying his penchant for wearing all black clothing for over six decades now. While Player is known for his stylish choices on the course, the golf icon continues to prove his timeless style both on and off the course through the Gary Player Collection.

The Black Knight brand’s apparel and merchandise collection is fashioned after the man himself with performance and style in mind. From Italian-made, double mercerized cotton offerings to sporty and sophisticated performance apparel, the Gary Player Collection represents a refined lifestyle ready for the golf course or next business meeting.

Gary Player has long been sporting his black knight logo that has become synonymous with the South African golfer whose achievements include the career Grand Slam, 9 Major Championships on the PGA Tour, 9 Major Championships on the Senior Tour, and 165 worldwide victories.

Grand Slam style can be achieved with the same items that Player wears on tour from everyday golf apparel to Player’s trademark Black Knight hat or sterling silver Black Knight belt buckle.

In addition to apparel and as an ode to Player’s South African roots, a partnership with Zimbabwean artist and sculptor Patrick Marvos offers a beautiful selection of African themed, custom designed, and hand-sculpted sterling silver pieces that range from cuff links, bangles, belt buckles, and home décor items. 

In addition to the partnership with the Black Knight Shop, Mavros’ work with golfing legend extends to the Gary Player Invitational series as he custom designed the series’ baobab trophy. The baobab tree is an African icon that symbolizes enduring strength, very much to the image of the Black Knight.

In the spirit of giving back and creating a brighter future, a percentage of each sale from the Black Knight Shop is donated to The Player Foundation in order to help underprivileged children across the globe. Since its establishment in 1983, The Player Foundation has raised over $50 million to give disadvantaged youth a brighter future in all corners of the world.

View all Black Knight offerings at www.garyplayershop.com.

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THE BIG THREE COMPETE AT 3M CHAMPIONSHIP

Jul 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

Gary Player will reunite The Big Three on August 2 as he, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer gear up for the 3M Championship’s Greats of Golf competition at TPC-Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota from July 28 – August 3.

The Greats of Golf, which began in 2004 at the 3M Championship, will include The Big Three, along with Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Dave Stockton, Tony Jacklin, Fuzzy Zoeller, Annika Sorenstam, and Nancy Lopez, among others during the three-man team 18-hole scramble on Saturday, August 2.

“To have The Big Three, Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, and all of the legends together in one event is history in the making,” said Robin Torgerson, vice president of U.S. Sales for 3M.

Earlier this year, a similar event at Houston’s Insperity Invitational resulted in a tie between the team of Player, Nicklaus, and Trevino and Miller, Stockton, and Tony Jacklin. Both teams shot 10-under 62.

“I am looking forward to going out to compete here at the 3M Championship to see if Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, and I can best our performance earlier this year at the Insperity Championship Greats of Golf,” said Grand Slam champion Gary Player. “It is always a thrill be able to play with some of my great friends like Jack and Lee. I am looking forward to a wonderful tournament.”

The 3M Championship will also have a stout field that features top names from the Champions Tour including Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, Tom Lehman, Rocco Mediate, and Champions Tour rookie Miguel Angel Jimenez as Tom Pernice, Jr. looks to defend his title in Minnesota.

General admission will be free for all spectators. For more information, visit www.3MChampionship.com.

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CHARITY TRIUMPHS AT THE BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Jul 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

The 2014 Berenberg Gary Player Invitational concluded yet another successful event which saw some of the biggest names in golf, entertainment and business join together with golf icon and Grand Slam champion Gary Player to help raise over $100,000 for underprivileged children at London’s historic Wentworth Club on Monday, 21 July.

The charitable funds, exceeding $100,000, were quickly raised by auctioneer Jonny Gould on only four bespoke items as professional golfers and participants alike joined in the fun and giving during the gala auction.

Following the evening’s gala, Player together with The Player Foundation and presenting sponsor Berenberg, were able to donate the sizable contribution to this year’s event beneficiary, Depaul UK, in order to aid young people who are homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged.

“I continue to be astounded and humbled by the funds we are able to raise for children’s charities,” said tournament host Gary Player. “Our global series of events is fast approaching $60 million raised for charity worldwide, but together with Berenberg we have certainly raised the bar in what we are able to accomplish.”

The second leg of the global series, was won by the team of Australian professional Marc Leishman and Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald, along with businessmen Nicklas Backstrom and Stephen Irvine.

The star-studded field gathered for charity saw the likes of professional golfers Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Jason Day, Fred Couples, Jason Dufner, David Howell, Bernd Wiesberger, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Woosnam. Participating ladies professionals included Suzann Pettersen, Charley Hull, Carly Booth, Melissa Reid, Henni Zuel, Amy Boulden, Whitney Hillier, Diana Luna and Maria Balikoeva. Additionally, celebrities involved were Ronan Keating, Dougray Scott, Heikki Kovalainen, Jonathan Joseph, Zoe Hardman and Mike Tindall.

“We are proud to call Gary Player our Brand Ambassador, as he is truly a great Ambassador for the game of golf,” said Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, Managing Partner of Berenberg. “This must be measured not just in terms of his career achievements as a Grand Slam Champion, but also in driving such outstanding philanthropic initiatives as the Gary Player Invitational series. The event’s great virtues and its ability to give so much back to charity is one of the many reasons we have chosen this sponsorship as an important business platform for years to come.”

“This was yet another banner event in our Gary Player Invitational series and we are extremely grateful to those who have supported our events over the years,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “The all-star cast of golf professionals and celebrities as well as the prominent businessmen contributed significantly to the success of the event over the past two days to truly celebrate a union of golf and giving.”

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised in excess of $50 million for charities worldwide. The next stop for the Gary Player Invitational will take the Grand Slam champion to Shanghai on November 3-4 before the series concludes in South Africa on November 20-23.

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BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL LANDS NETJETS OFFICIAL SPONSORSHIP

Jul 21, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

NetJets has signed an exclusive partnership with world-leading charity golf event, the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational, to become the Official Private Jet Sponsor.

NetJets is supporting the European-leg of the Gary Player Invitational series in a variety of ways, including flying the world-class professional field yesterday from The Open Championship at Hoylake to the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at Wentworth. NetJets is also benefitting from a suite of exclusive sponsorship benefits throughout the event held over two days, Sunday 20th and Monday 21st July.

“Golf takes me all over the world, just as it does our superb cast of participating professionals,” said tournament host and Grand Slam champion Gary Player.  “I know for each one of them that time is of the essence and they want to arrive ready to compete. The excellent service provided by NetJets is a great support for our participants off the back of their high-profile Open Championship week.”

“Our Gary Player Invitational series continues to grow with the generosity of our sponsors, and we pride ourselves on the guest experience at our union of golf and giving,” said Black Knight International CEO Marc Player. “The partnership with NetJets has enabled our field of professional golfers to travel quickly and seamlessly to London and is a perfect partner for our event.”

Todd Goldstein, NetJets Senior Vice President and Director – Golf, added: “The Gary Player Invitational sets the benchmark for charity golf tournaments worldwide and we’re delighted we can support this great cause through our partnership with the event. NetJets has a long-standing and unparalleled reputation in supporting golf’s elite players. We are delighted to be working with Gary Player and his team to further enhance this reputation and help the event raise monies for the designated charities.”

The 2014 event in London boasts an all-star professional field, including: Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Jason Day, Fred Couples, Jason Dufner, David Howell, Bernd Wiesberger, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Woosnam and Marc Leishman. Participating ladies professionals include Suzann Pettersen, Charley Hull, Carly Booth, Melissa Reid, Henni Zuel, Amy Boulden, Whitney Hillier, Diana Luna, Maria Balikoeva and Kelsey MacDonald. Sporting and entertainment celebrities also joining the event include Ronan Keating, Dougray Scott, Heikki Kovalainen, Jonathan Joseph, Zoe Hardman and Mike Tindall to complete the field.

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised in excess of $50 million for charities worldwide.

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LEADING PROFESSIONALS RALLY FOR CHARITY AT THE 2014 BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Jul 14, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

London’s historic Wentworth Club will soon see an impressive rally for charity as the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational welcomes twenty-seven of the world’s top golfing professionals. The golfing stars will join tournament host and Grand Slam champion Gary Player, along with prominent celebrity and business guests to compete in the “Union of Golf and Giving” on July 20-21.

“It is wonderful to see this fantastic group of professionals that will join our cause at Wentworth seeking to provide a brighter future for underprivileged children,” said golf icon Gary Player.  “This year is sure to be yet another unique and memorable event. With the support of our wonderful sponsors, like Berenberg, we are able to deliver some of the world’s finest golf experiences and, in doing so, create powerful fundraising platforms for those less fortunate than ourselves.”

One of the many distinguishing factors of this leading charity golf event is the unique format that pairs invited business guests with a PGA or European Tour Professional, LPGA or LET Professional, and prominent celebrities. 

Current US Open Champion Martin Kaymer said, “I have had the privilege of receiving valuable information and knowledge from Mr. Player for many years now. For almost as many years, we have talked about coming together for one of his events and finally here we are. Mr. Player has done a lot of good for many people and causes around the world. The world keeps changing and, more than ever, I feel that words from more experienced people than yourself should be listened to. A day with Mr. Player is like nothing else, and I am very much looking forward to be in his presence once again.”

Ahead of his first-ever GPI event, world number 6 ranked player Jason Day, added, “I’ve heard so much about Mr. Player’s worldwide charity event series. We play a lot of tournament golf throughout the year and attend many Pro-Am events, but this is one that I’ve really wanted to attend for some time now. Off the back of such a high-pressure week as The Open, it will be great to join so many of my peers and leading ladies Tour Professionals for the event to raise funds for charity.”

On behalf of the female Professionals, world number 4 golfer Suzann Pettersen had this to add, “Everyone knows about Gary Player’s achievements on the course, as well as the many successful initiatives to benefit the game and the people that love it. Golf has provided us the opportunity to give back to such great causes as The Player Foundation and this is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of our careers. I’m thrilled to help Gary at this year’s event at Wentworth – a venue I’ve never before competed at, which makes it doubly exciting.”

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised in excess of $50million for charities worldwide.

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GARY PLAYER CLOSER TO BIG WINNER AMBITION

Jul 11, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

As he approaches his 79th birthday, there is unfinished business for the legendary golfer Gary Player. He would love to breed a horse capable of winning a big race like the Durban July.

Gary Player’s stud has produced a quality racehorse in a yearling by popular stallion Var. The youngster made top price of R1m at last weekend’s KwaZulu-Natal Yearling Sale at the Suncoast Casino resort in Durban.

There was spirited bidding before the hammer came down in favour of Johannesburg businessman Adriaan van Vuuren. It was one of four purchases for his Misty Meadows operation and he spent R1.54m over the two-day sale. Van Vuuren has made a big impression at thoroughbred sales countrywide. His horses are trained in Gauteng by Michael Azzie.

Champion sire Silvano was represented by only three lots so it was no surprise that one of his sons — consigned by Maine Chance Farms — got the second-highest price, knocked down to Brian Burnard for R750,000.

Michael Leaf — quoted as saying he would “have to live with the result” following the demotion of Wylie Hall to second place in last Saturday’s Durban July — must hope he has another top horse in a son of Ideal World, which he bought from Mauritzfontein Stud for R340,000.

Mauritzfontein topped the vendors’ list with their 10 yearlings, sold for a total of R2.1m.

Maine Chance Farms sold nine yearlings for R1.7m, The Alchemy also sold nine, for R1.5m, and Boland Stud sold 14 for R1.3m.

The average of R100,268 was a record for this sale, up from last year’s of R88,798.

Bloodstock South Africa sales manager Caroline Simpson said: “We are thrilled with the results.

“There’s no doubt breeders brought some highly attractive yearlings to the sale.”

Racing returns to the Vaal on Thursday and punters will be delighted that champion jockey-elect S’manga Khumalo is back in the saddle. Khumalo missed the July meeting due to concussion, but he might have had no winners at the meeting as Whiteline Fever ran unplaced in the big race, as did the useful juvenile filly, Carry On Alice, in the Golden Slipper.

Khumalo partners four-year-old Tayba in the fifth race and trainer Mike de Kock’s filly will be tough to beat as she has already proven she acts well on the Vaal sand surface.

If Tayba fluffs her lines, the runner most likely to take advantage is the lightly raced Lady Casey, who receives 6kg from De Kock’s runner. Steve Moffatt’s filly is drawn in pole position and could be difficult to overhaul if she establishes a big lead.

Another good mount for Khumalo should be War Trail, who should go close in the third race provided he handles the sand surface, which he is trying for the first time. Punters wanting to include another runner in the place accumulator should consider St John Gray’s Sirocco Bay.

Article courtesy of The Sunday Times, Business Day.

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN TO UPDATE SARASOTA’S LAUREL OAK COUNTRY CLUB

Jul 1, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

Gary Player Design will soon embark on a strategic redesign of Laurel Oak Country Club’s East Course. Laurel Oak, located in Sarasota, Florida, has commissioned Player’s design firm to update the club’s original Gary Player Signature Course to preserve the original design, while modernizing strategic course elements in the renovation that is due to start construction in early 2015.

As a world-leading golf course design firm, Gary Player Design features over 325 courses in their global portfolio. The work at Laurel Oaks offers an excellent opportunity to continue to build upon the longstanding prominence of the Black Knight’s design firm.

“We always welcome the opportunity to enhance existing courses that have been in the Gary Player Design portfolio for many years,” said Scott Ferrell, Gary Player Design President. “This allows us to ensure the course maintains the original design intent while keeping up with today’s technology.”

The East Course at Laurel Oak Country Club redesign is expected to focus on work to the green complexes in order to restore the original size, contours, and shape to the greens. While work is planned on each of the greens, a number of holes will likely have completely renovated green complexes. The final scope of the design work will be determined following the conceptual analysis currently underway.

The thriving club, which opened in 1995, features a prospering membership and continues to look to improve its golf experience through the renovation.

“Golf courses are living, breathing creatures and tend to evolve and change over time,” said Jeff Lawrence, Gary Player Design Senior Designer. “We are looking forward to implementing a number of modifications in this redesign that allow us to bring back the primary design intent while also improving the experience as a whole.”

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THE BLACK KNIGHT RETURNS TO HOYLAKE FOR 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF ‘74 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP WIN

Jun 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

As golf’s oldest major championship heads to Royal Liverpool in a few weeks’ time, nine-time Major Championship winner and golf icon Gary Player will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his 1974 Open Championship victory at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club.

“To know that it has been 40 years since I won my final Open Championship is incredible,” said Gary Player. “That was one of the best victories of my career, and one that I am particularly proud of as I became only the man in the modern era to win the Open Championship in three separate decades.”

Many remember the tournament for the Black Knight’s iconic shot on the final hole of the Championship. Player was forced to chip left-handed with his trusted blade putter following a second shot that flew over the green to land alongside the stone clubhouse wall. The shot defined Player’s tournament after the ball unbelievably landed 10 feet from the hole, setting up his third Open victory.

In what was his twentieth consecutive Open start, Player finished the tournament scoring rounds of 69, 68, 75, 70 for a 2-under-par 282 to hold off a strong contingent of competitors, including Englishman Peter Oosterhuis and Jack Nicklaus to add to the previous titles at Muirfield in 1959 and Carnoustie in 1968.

Perhaps Player’s best year in the Majors, he won the 1974 Masters Tournament before heading to the Open Championship, but also achieved top ten finishes in the U.S. Open Championship and PGA Championship as well. 

“It was a great year for me in the Majors and even now it is wonderful to look back,” said Player. “I had all the confidence in the world heading into that tournament, so I felt great after four solid rounds to win at Royal Lytham & St Annes.”

Player continues to return to the Open Championship each year to watch history unfold and entertain corporate clients.

“The Open has always been a favourite tournament of mine with its great history, and it holds so many special memories after playing in some 44 Opens,” remarked the golf legend. “It is wonderful to return each July.”

This year, the Open Championship moves to England and to the exact venue where Player started his journey at the famed tournament. Player traveled to Royal Liverpool in 1956 at just 20 years of age to take on the Hoylake course.  He impressively finished in fourth behind Peter Thomson, whose win that year brought him the only hat-trick of wins in the 20th century.

Hoylake has seen a number of great champions with the likes of Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, and Tiger Woods joining Thomson in winning there. Only time will tell the 2014 champion, but certainly Player is looking forward to yet another thriller.

“I have always liked a championship course that puts accuracy at a premium, and this is just one reason that Hoylake is a great Open venue,” said Player. “I’m looking forward to seeing how today’s top pros deal with the course, but I am certain that it will be yet another classic Open.”

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BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL GATHERS CHAMPIONS FOR CHARITY AT WENTWORTH

Jun 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Charity will once again take center stage as a spectacular field of professional golfers, celebrities, and businessmen gather for the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational to take place at the historic Wentworth Club on July 20-21. As part of the world’s leading charity series, the European leg of Gary Player Invitational (GPI) series promises to be another thrilling union of golf and giving to aid underprivileged children.

“Youth are the trustees of posterity, so I am so grateful that through our Berenberg Gary Player Invitational event, we can provide a brighter future to children in need across the UK,” said Grand Slam champion and tournament host Gary Player. “Giving back has always been incredibly important throughout my career, but we are truly doing something special with our event at Wentworth.”

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational is the second tournament of the GPI series, which also includes events in the United States, China, and South Africa. Through monies raised in the global series, The Player Foundation has raised over $50 million to support youth across the world over the past 30 years.

Funds from the event immediately following the Open Championship will benefit DePaul UK and their work to help homeless and disadvantaged young people. Depaul, which has locations throughout the United Kingdom, works with youth to tackle homelessness at every level and, since their establishment in 1989, has helped over 50,000 young people. Depaul’s Nightstop service also offers emergency, short term accommodations in the homes of local volunteers on a night by night basis providing over 120,000 bed nights to those who are vulnerable and in need each year.

“It is a great honor to stage this tournament together with our brand ambassador, Gary Player, and to be a part of his world leading charity golf series. Support for young people is important to both Berenberg and Gary Player. Together, we work with our foundations to benefit children in need,” said Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, Managing Partner of Berenberg.

The GPI field is comprised of an incredible list of champions, including reigning U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer and PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner. In addition to the golfing professionals that together hold 18 Major Championships and countless worldwide tournament victories, celebrities joining the union of golf and giving include longtime supporter Ronan Keating, fellow Irish star Brian McFadden, and Johnathan “DJ Spoony” Joseph.

“The game of golf continues to be the greatest catalyst of all sports for charitable giving,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “The GPI series is another fine example of what can be achieved when sponsors like Berenberg, SAP, Callaway, Coca-Cola and Rolex all come together with the purpose of making a difference. We are grateful for everyone’s support.”

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SA GOLFERS NEED A SELF-BELIEF SHOT

Jun 23, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Any of the following sound familiar? South African golfers have won more Majors than any other nations besides the US. For a small country, we operate well above our fighting weight on the fairways of the world. Gary Player is the greatest sportsman South Africa has ever produced. Ernie Els is this country’s favourite sporting son.

We’ve had these statements drummed into us in glowing terms, lauding how exceptional our male golfers perform internationally. And while it’s difficult to argue against Player being our all-time No 1, as far as the other assertions go, things aren’t looking so rosy this year.
Els has been missing cuts, and so have fellow Major winners Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman. Branden Grace, who won four times in a sensational 2012 European Tour season, is off the boil. George Coetzee did win the Joburg Open in February to break his duck on the European Tour, but has been quiet ever since.

So what’s the problem? Well, for starters it has to be admitted that golf can be infuriatingly unpredictable. One day you can’t go wrong, the next day you’re chunking it and there’s no logical explanation why you’re making bogeys instead of birdies.

Yet for most, if not all, our players on the European and PGA Tours to be going through relatively dry spells at the same time is a little disconcerting for a proud golfing nation like South Africa.

The way the boys swing the club shouldn’t be an issue. From Ernie to Louis to Charl – their fellow professionals would give anything to have their rhythm and textbook technique.

But right now they all lack the season-upon-season consistency that the great Gary Player has displayed for half a century and more (although to be fair to Els, in his younger days he set records for the number of consecutive cuts made).

Perhaps the answer is that the current crop need to learn not just a little about self-belief from Mr Player, who – need we be reminded – won 165 tournaments worldwide over five decades, including nine Majors and nine Senior Majors.

Ever since he was a boy, Player was determined to be a world champion. Reading Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking helped him strengthen his self-belief. “I learnt very early on that pure talent will get you only so far, because the mind takes over and leads a person into the realm of perfection,” he wrote in Don’t Choke.

Perhaps the supreme example of this self-belief – almost self-hypnosis – came when he was about to take part in the 1965 US Open at Bellerive CC in Missouri. He said: “By the first tee was a big scoreboard which included all the names of previous US Open. The last one said ‘1964, Ken Venturi’. In the space below was ‘1965’, followed by a blank.

“The first time I walked past that scoreboard I saw in my mind the letters ‘1965, Gary Player’, as clearly as they had been painted on in beautiful, gold capital letters. Every time I passed that board I forced myself to look at it, and there was my name. The message was imprinted on me that it was going to happen, that it would be my year.”

Well, history tells us it was indeed Player’s year. He did win the 1965 US Open to become only the third player after Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen to complete the coveted Grand Slam. He was just 29 years old. It took the kind of self-belief that perhaps Charl and Louis and George and Branden need.

Article courtesy of IOL Sport and Grant Winter

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN’S DONNAFUGATA MORE POPULAR THAN EVER BEFORE WITH UK GOLFERS

Jun 17, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa’s reputation amongst travelling UK golfers continues to grow at a record rate with the deluxe Sicilian venue having taken more bookings than ever before in a calendar year – with more than six months to go in 2014.

Latest figures announced by Donnafugata reveal that its popularity in the UK golf market is at a new high, with bookings up by an astounding 52 per cent on the corresponding period last year.

Featuring two 18-hole championship courses – Gary Player-designed Parkland course and the Links – and extensive practice facilities, Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa has won widespread acclaim across the golf industry since opening in 2010. Gary Player Design’s Parkland course was also the venue for the 2011 Sicilian Open, won by Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin, on the European Tour.

The resort is already 17 per cent ahead of the total number of room nights booked by golfers for the whole of 2013 and, with numbers projected to grow at a similar rate for the next six months, end-of-year bookings are expected to have increased by more than six-fold in the last two years at Donnafugata.

The new numbers mean that the UK has now overtaken Switzerland to rank alongside Germany and Italy as one of Donnafugata’s three biggest markets.

And with a number of new services available at the resort, including the opening of new flight routes into Comiso and Catania, new rental club pacakages and the opening of a new Darren Clarke Centre of Excellence – the first facility of its kind in continental Europe – UK golfers are set to continue flocking to discover Donnafugata in their droves.

Donnafugata is continuing to reap the rewards of working closely with a range of specialist golf tour operators, both large and small, across the UK and its decision to invest in a concentrated PR campaign in the media, including advertising on Sky Sports for the first time.

Guy Roberts, director of golf at Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa, said: “The UK market was one of our biggest growth areas in 2013 and and the booking numbers we’ve already taken for this year are tremendously encouraging.

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this spectacular increase in the volume of business generated from the UK market is thanks largely to the tremendous visibility that we have managed to secure over the past 12 to 18 months in the British press, and also as a result of a number of important PR campaigns.”

Located just 20 minutes from Comiso airport and set in the beautiful area of Donnafugata, a natural reserve and famous tourist destination known for the imposing castle which bears the same name, the resort also boasts a number of fantastic historical cities nearby. These include Val di Noto, the heart of Sicilian baroque; Ragusa Ibla, Modica, Noto and Scicli. All are deemed fitting of UNESCO World Heritage status.

As well as its outstanding golf facilities, Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa has 202 rooms, an award-winning spa and health club, swimming pools and three restaurants offering a broad selection of gastronomic delights, well accompanied by perfect Sicilian wines to enhance flavour.

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SUPERSTARS HEADING TO CHINA FOR THE MISSION HILLS WORLD CELEBRITY PRO-AM

Jun 10, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

Hollywood superstars, sporting legends and golfing greats will converge on China in October for the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am.

The guest list for the eagerly-awaited week of golf, glamour and gala events reads like a Who’s Who of global show business and elite sporting endeavour.

Top golfers confirmed for the tournament include reigning US Open champion Justin Rose, the flamboyant Ian Poulter, Grand Slam champion Gary Player, multiple Major winners Greg Norman and John Daly, and Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley.

Other professional golfers confirmed to join the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am are Major winner Rich Beem and top female players Danielle Montgomery, Carly Booth, Joanna Klatten, Linda Wessberg, Caroline Martens, Sharmila Nicollet, Maria Balikoeva, Diana Luna and Lee-Anne Pace.

Oscar winners Morgan Freeman, Chris Evans and Nicole Kidman are being lined up to appear, and dazzling actress Jessica Alba is also confirmed to take part, as is music maestro Kenny G.

Sporting icons heading to the globally-televised World Celebrity Pro-Am include two Olympic legends, Russian ice skater Evgeni Plushenko, Chinese gymnast Li Ning, and former Portuguese international footballer Luís Figo.

China’s basketball legend and former NBA star Yao Ming will also take part in the tournament for the second time. The retired athlete remains one of the most influential sporting figures in China.

In total, participants in this year’s star-spangled event have collected more than 160 acting awards, over 100 music awards, 35 Olympic and World Championship medals and a staggering 335 professional golf victories, including 15 Majors.

China’s entertainment industry will be well represented by film director, Feng Xiaogang, acclaimed actors Chen Daoming and Wang Zhiwen, and singer Sun Nan.

Hong Kong celebrities taking part include film director Sammo Hung, actors Donnie Yen, Eric Tsang, Simon Yam, Natalis Chan, Michael Wong and Ruco Chan, and actress Miriam Yeung.

The third edition of the World Celebrity Pro-Am will be held from 24-26 October at the fully-integrated Mission Hills Haikou Resort on the tropical island of Hainan.

The tournament will see 24 professional golfers and 24 celebrities come together for a bonanza of action and entertainment – including the first-ever staging in China of the new combination sport that is taking Europe by storm, football-golf.

For the first time, the World Celebrity Pro-Am will feature a Ryder Cup-style format, with the 24 celebrities divided into two teams for an Entertainment v Sport showdown. Each celebrity will be paired with a professional golfer and the teams will face off over two rounds of fourball betterball.

While assisting their celebrity playing partners, the professional golfers will also be competing for an individual prize fund of US$1 million.

“The World Celebrity Pro-Am will, once again, bring together some of the biggest stars in show business and sport for a golf-and-entertainment spectacular that will make headlines around the world,” Mission Hills Chairman and CEO Dr. Ken Chu and Vice Chairman Mr. Tenniel Chu said in a joint statement.

The World Celebrity Pro-Am will be played on Mission Hills Haikou’s signature Blackstone Course which hosted the World Cup of Golf in 2011, “The Match at Mission Hills” between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy last October and the recent World Ladies Championship, won by world No.1 Inbee Park.

The fun will start early, on Thursday 23 October, with celebrities taking part in a football-golf challenge on a specially constructed course. Players will be kicking a football towards the pin and aiming to outscore each other on a series of par-three, par-four and par-five holes.

The traditional pro-celebrity-amateur practice round will take place on Friday 24 October followed by Red Carpet, Cocktail Reception, Opening Ceremony and Gala Dinner, all taking place at Mission Hills Haikou • Lan Kwai Fong, the resort’s new entertainment district.

The World Celebrity Pro-Am itself will be played over two rounds at the weekend, while Saturday evening will also feature a Celebrities and Players Appreciation Party at Mission Hills Haikou • H. Brothers • Feng Xiaogang Movie Town, the recently-opened tourist attraction that features vintage street settings from Feng’s classic movies, state-of-the-art film studios, an array of shopping and dining options and countless other entertainment and leisure features.

The previous edition of the World Celebrity Pro-Am, in 2012, was won by top American professional Matt Kuchar and actor Andy Garcia, while Kuchar also captured the individual trophy.

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HAAS, PRICE NAMED PRESIDENTS CUP CAPTAINS FOR 2015

Jun 5, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Jay Haas and Nick Price will serve as captains of the U.S. and International teams, respectively, for The Presidents Cup 2015 in Songdo IBD, Incheon City, South Korea. PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem made the announcement Wednesday at the inaugural Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf presented by Bass Pro Shops.

Price, captain of the International Team in 2013 and a World Golf Hall of Famer, joined Finchem for the announcement, as did Haas, a three-time U.S. Team captain’s assistant; both players are past Presidents Cup participants and both are competing in this week’s Champions Tour event at Top of the Rock.

Also attending the press conference to lend perspective on The Presidents Cup and support of this next chapter in the event’s history were Jack Nicklaus, a four-time U.S. Team captain, and fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player, an International Team captain three times.  Nicklaus and Player are also in the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf field.

The Presidents Cup 2015 will be held Oct. 6-11 when the biennial competition makes its first trip to Asia.  Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea will be the fourth international venue to host The Presidents Cup, joining The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (1998, 2011); The Links at Fancourt, George, South Africa (2003); and The Royal Montreal Golf Club in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (2007).

“Nick Price and Jay Haas bring tremendous experience, enthusiasm and knowledge to The Presidents Cup and were obvious choices to captain the International and U.S. Teams as we take the event to Asia in less than 16 months,” Finchem said.

Immediately upon being unveiled as The Presidents Cup 2015 captains, Price and Haas each named one of their captain’s assistants.

Price invited South Korea’s K.J. Choi to join his team’s leadership, and, in a nod to the significance of The Presidents Cup being played in Asia for the first time, Choi was given an elevated title of vice-captain.

Haas essentially “traded places” with World Golf Hall of Famer Fred Couples, asking his good friend and three-time U.S. Team captain to assist him in 2015.  Choi attended Wednesday’s announcement; Couples was scheduled to attend but withdrew from the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf due to a back injury.

Price and Haas will announce their additional captain’s assistants (up to three, total) later this year.

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN EUROPEAN PROJECTS GAIN MOMENTUM

May 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share


Gary Player overlooks the quarry crater that has been filled to make way for
the golf course at Limni Golf Resort

While Asia has recently taken center stage in golf course development, Gary Player Design continues to build upon its impressive global portfolio as European projects push forward in Cyprus and Italy.

The Mediterranean island of Cyprus will soon feature the first ever Gary Player Signature Course as the Limni Golf Resort, located in the mountainous town of Polis on the northwest coast, has formally moved into the detailed design phase.

The Shacolas Group, the largest private commercial group in Cyprus, recently hosted a design workshop together with Gary Player Design and representatives of acclaimed architect Sir Norman Foster, who has been engaged to design residential and resort amenities.

The Limni Golf Resort will prove to be one of the most intriguing courses in the ever-expanding Gary Player Design portfolio. Built upon what was once an operating copper mine, the 800 meter-wide quarry crater has been filled with over eight million cubic meters of earth to make way for the championship course.


Player and Senior Designer Steven McFarlane on a site to finalize designs for the
Limni Gary Player Signature Course

“We have nine holes of the course that will be woven through the area that was formerly the copper mine where there will still be about 30 meters of quarry walls exposed,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design.  “The course landscape is sure to offer a unique and dramatic experience.”

Situated in the coastal hills, the site offers dramatic elevation changes that will not only add to the character of the championship course, but offer countless views of the Chrysochou Bay.

“This is one of the most unique and challenging sites that we have ever worked with, but I am confident that this is going to be one of the most special courses in our portfolio,” said Grand Slam champion Gary Player. “I am most excited to see the former ecological eyesore turned into a beautiful, green space for visitors and local golfers to enjoy.”


Construction on the Gary Player-designed Manzano Golf Resort has commenced
in Tuscany

In addition to the Gary Player Signature Course, the resort will feature an 18-hole course designed by Jack Nicklaus, high-end residential villas, a luxury boutique hotel, sports facilities, and wellness center. As the first and only Player-Nicklaus development in the whole of Europe, Limni Golf Resort will undoubtedly be in a class of its own.

From one stunning location to another, construction has now commenced on Gary Player Design’s newest Italian project, Manzano Golf Resort in Tuscany.

The Gary Player Design project will be the first golf resort in the Tuscan village of Cortona, Italy and will offer a true Tuscan experience with the course routing surrounded by vineyards among the rolling colorful landscape.

The Manzano Golf Resort will also feature a luxury, full-service boutique hotel for the discerning traveler.

The Manzano project will complement the existing Gary Player-designed courses in Italy, including at Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa, which hosted the 2011 Sicilian Open and was also recently named one of the top courses in the country. The firm also has future plans to design a new course at Is Molas, the popular resort in Sardinia, Italy.

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THE BLACK KNIGHT TO TEE IT UP IN THE BIG CEDAR LODGE LEGENDS OF GOLF

May 29, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share


Grand Slam champion Gary Player during the 2013 Legends of Golf

When the Legends of Golf tournament heads to Missouri next week, Grand Slam champion Gary Player will once again partner with longtime friend Jack Nicklaus in the tournament played June 2-8.

As the longest running Champions Tour event, which has been played since 1978, the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf now moves to an exciting new venue outside Branson, Missouri to take place over three days on the Top of the Rock par-three golf course and Buffalo Ridge, an 18-hole championship golf course.

In the move, the tournament is sure to offer new thrills as it is the first PGA Tour-sanctioned event to use a par-3 course as part of the official tournament under new sponsorship by Bass Pro Shops.


The Top of the Rock golf course will make history June 2-8 as it becomes
the first par-3 course to stage a official PGA Tour-sanctioned event

“The Legends of Golf is one of my favorite events to play in each year,” exclaimed Gary Player. “As a two-time winner, I am thrilled to once again tee up with my friend, Jack Nicklaus, at Big Cedar Lodge’s Top of the Rock in what should be a fantastic tournament.”

Player and Nicklaus, who partnered for the tournament last year in its final installation in Savannah, will join a spectacular cast of fellow golfers teeing it up in the two-man team competition conducted over 54 holes including World Golf Hall of Fame members Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, Ben Crenshaw, Sandy Lyle, Nick Price, John Jacobs, Tony Jacklin, and Hubert Green.

The move to the par-3 course for a PGA Tour- sanctioned event shows the ongoing shift in golf to make the game more exciting, accessible, and fun for all levels of players.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem called the tournament played over a par-3 course “groundbreaking,” but golfing icon Gary Player also added, “The move to a par-3 course for the Legends of Golf is just fantastic,” said Player. “It will be wonderful for spectators and provide plenty of excitement on the golf course. We are seeing the game shift more and more to accessible and less timely ways to play, so I think this is a step in a great direction to build golf. I would not be surprised in the least bit if this is just one of many tour-sanctioned tournaments to be played over par-3 courses in the near future.”

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GARY PLAYER VISITS ROYAL LIVERPOOL AHEAD OF OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP WITH ROLEX

May 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share


Gary Player hits an approach shot into Royal Liverpool’s 18th green

Three-time Open Champion Gary Player recently had the chance to preview Royal Liverpool ahead of this year’s The Open Championship as the Black Knight traveled to the UK with longtime partner Rolex.

In addition to a relationship with Player that dates back to 1965 when he captured the Grand Slam at age 29, Rolex has been a proud sponsor of golf and has added to the rich history of the sport through their ongoing sponsorship and involvement, especially in terms of The Open Championship and Ryder Cup.

Following a round on the Royal Liverpool course, Player remarked, “I have incredibly fond memories at Royal Liverpool as it was the site of my first Open Championship appearance. I am looking forward to coming back this summer to see the world’s best golfers take on this great course in what I am sure will be another thrilling Open.”

European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley was also in attendance. Following their stop at Royal Liverpool, Rolex, Player, and McGinley made their way up to Scotland’s Gleneagles Hotel, a longtime favored destination of the Black Knight, before the Ryder Cup travels to the celebrated Scottish golf destination this September when Rolex will be an official partner of the event.

The Ryder Cup returning to Scotland will be quite celebrated as 2014 will be the first time in more than 40 years that the Ryder Cup has been contested on Scottish soil. Additionally, the origins of the sporting contest can be traced back to Gleneagles where the first match between professionals from Great Britain and the United States was played in 1921, six years before the establishment of the official event.

“I have always loved my visits to Gleneagles over the years,” said Player. “I can’t think of a nicer place to host the Ryder Cup.  The PGA Centenary Course should certainly prove to be a tough test for both the American and European teams, especially if the weather gets nasty.”

Aside from The Open Championship, The Senior Open Championship, and the Ryder Cup, Rolex has also been a longtime sponsor of the global Gary Player Invitational series, which will make a summer stop in the UK at Wentworth Golf Club immediately following The Open on July 20-21.

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TOP PROFESSIONALS JOIN THE UNION OF GOLF AND GIVING AT BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL 2014

May 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share


Berenberg Managing Partner Dr. Hans-Walter Peters and Golf icon Gary Player

Black Knight International and Berenberg announced today that the 2014 Berenberg Gary Player Invitational, to be played at Wentworth on Monday 21st July, will feature a remarkable field of world-renowned golf professionals. 

This year’s event, the first of a new 3-year-cooperation between title sponsor Berenberg and Black Knight International, will feature an all-star cast alongside tournament host and golfing icon Gary Player. The participating professionals are: Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Jason Day, Fred Couples, David Howell, Bernd Wiesberger, Suzann Pettersen, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Dufner, Thomas Bjorn, Ian Woosnam, George Coetzee and Marc Leishman.

Speaking ahead of the event, Grand Slam champion and tournament host Gary Player said: “I’m thrilled to be joined by so many of my peers from the world of golf, including so many stars across different generations and nationalities. So far the field accounts for 17 Major Championships and many hundreds of tournament victories worldwide. This is a gathering of Pros that any event worldwide would clearly love to have, and I am very grateful to each of them for their support as we strive to continue to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children.”

Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, Managing Partner of Berenberg said: “Our partnership with Gary Player goes back to 2008 and since then we’ve achieved many great things together. Gary is a golfing icon and truly one of the game’s Global Ambassadors. The union of three such historic brands as Berenberg, Gary Player and Wentworth provides us with a totally unique opportunity to build relationships, as well as doing so much good in the process and raising many millions for charity.”

One of the many participating world-class Professionals, Rickie Fowler, said: “When I received the invite from Mr. Player, I immediately wanted to attend. Gary Player is a legend of the game and I have heard so many good things about the event and the GPI series, so I’m delighted to be part of it in 2014. I am so looking forward to getting together with so many Professional colleagues, other sports stars and celebrities for a fun union of golf and giving for those less fortunate.”

The event is part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational charity golf event series, which has raised in excess of $50 million for charities worldwide. This year’s chosen UK beneficiary is Depaul, working for the prevention of youth homelessness.

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GARY PLAYER-DESIGNED MODRY LAS PREMIERS AT NORDEA MASTERS

May 27, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

Modry Las has confirmed it will make its debut at this year’s Nordea Masters; Scandinavia’s flagship tournament. Exhibiting under the banner of Golf in West Pomerania, Poland’s top golf course will make its premiere as it prepares to celebrate its fifth anniversary.

One of the top courses in continental Europe, the Gary Player design is Poland’s only signature golf course and is widely praised for its striking and engaging layout. The 18-hole championship course is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a flurry of developments that include the launch of six new one-bedroom guest suites that join three stylish on-site self-catering cottages that opened last year.

The new guest suites have been designed for couples or individuals eager to sample the challenge and beauty of Poland’s top golf course. In addition, eco shelters have been constructed on the course and a new sleek road running through the property is being built alongside upgraded golf cart paths.

“The first five years at Modry Las have been incredible,” said Pamela Gromadzki, the resort’s international marketing director, “but we know we cannot sit on our laurels. That is why we are continuing with our investment programme in order to make Modry Las a luxurious, thriving and sustainable community.”

Located in West Pomerania which is a convenient ferry trip from the Swedish port of Ystad, Modry Las is proving particularly popular with Scandinavian golfers. “Swedish golfers especially enjoy our course because of the challenge it presents,” says Gromadzki. “Gary Player’s design is certainly striking to look at, but it also tests their skills and course management. We are adding to this experience with our second, nine-hole course that will also test their short-game technique. With 27 holes to choose from and new on-site accommodation, Modry Las is entering an exciting phase.”

Perhaps the most significant development at Modry Las will be the completion of the nine-hole Orli Las course, which is due to open in spring 2015. This championship course in miniature has been routed through a stunning peninsula with a lakeside forest providing incredible vistas to infinity greens.

“As we grow and improve our offering at Modry Las, so do our clients expectations,” noted Gromadzki. “Our objective is to create an international resort and community that provides a unique place to enjoy the challenge of the fairways and the beauty of the countryside. Our new guest suites and golf course are important steps on the road towards this goal.”

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PLAYER PREVIEWS THE U.S. OPEN AT PINEHURST

May 27, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

One of the most demanding tests in golf, the U.S. Open, consistently offers some special moments in golf’s history. It was the U.S. Open in 1965 where I captured the Grand Slam with a victory at Bellerive Country Club. The U.S. Open is certainly an exceptional tournament, and the tournament this year at Pinehurst will be especially exciting as the well-known Carolina resort will make history by hosting back-to-back U.S. Opens with the U. S. Women’s Open immediately following the conclusion of the men’s Major.

Pinehurst’s No. 2 course is a classic in every way and holds very special memories for me as it was the site of the inaugural World Golf Hall of Fame inductions in 1974 when Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, myself, and a number of others were part of the Hall of Fame’s first class. It was a very special time for me, but Pinehurst holds so many wonderful moments.

Those special moments are sure to grow as the wonderful Carolina resort will crown another U.S. Open champion this June.


Pinehurst will host back-to-back U.S. Opens with the U. S. Women’s Open
immediately following the conclusion of the men’s Major this June

I must say that there have been few courses that are as mentally challenging as Pinehurst No. 2. The course has always tested every aspect of my game, so I am sure that this will hold true in a few weeks’ time. While demanding, the course has a natural beauty all its own set among the stately Carolina pines.

I recently had a chance to play Pinehurst and experience the recent renovations firsthand while hosting the iGate CEO Cup this March. All the renovations, which affected every hole, are fantastic, and I think that Pinehurst No. 2 will offer a different challenge than many other courses that these players have faced with no traditional rough and a great deal of sand.

The course has been restored to Donald Ross’ original vision of a course where strategy is key with natural and historic character. As a designer of over 300 courses worldwide, I have been a huge advocate of designing environmentally-friendly, sustainable courses. Water usage is a huge concern in most parts of the world, so these renovations to Pinehurst are ideal to me.

Building upon the course’s natural character is always a large part of our Gary Player Design courses, so we always want to leave the land better than we found it and add to the natural beauty of the land. I have always enjoyed golf courses that allow you to experience nature as much as possible.

I would love to see more and more courses adopt similar renovations back to more natural conditions, eliminate unnecessary water usage, and establish native grasses.

Spectators won’t see any rough while during the tournament this year, but natural areas of sand, wire and native grasses, and pine straw. It will be a challenge different from many other U.S. Open courses, which will be entertaining to watch.

One thing that will add to the difficulty is that Pinehurst has eliminated overseeding during the winter months, so we can be certain that the greens will play quick and fast. Short games will be of the utmost importance. Pinehurst’s greens with their convex, bowl-like shapes demand precise iron approach shots or the ball will roll down and off the greens.

Also, the course will also play some 300 yards longer with new championship tees added to lengthen the course to 7,565 yards.

Strategy will play a huge factor for players as the fairways have been widened to offer more options for playing from tee to green. Strategic play is one reason that I think one of the older players will likely have a great chance at the title. We saw this already this year at The Masters, where there were seven players over 50 who made the cut at Augusta with Miguel Angel Jiménez and Bernhard Langer finishing in the top ten. Jiménez also just became the oldest winner on the European Tour with his Open de España victory.

What players will need to realize is that patience will be a very important quality to have the week of the U.S. Open.

One player who I think has a good a chance as any is Jordan Spieth, and he learned the value of patience during The Masters final round when he had a two stroke lead over Bubba Watson, then made a mistake on famed par-3 12th hole. I am sure he learned from that blunder, but I have been so impressed by this young guy. After being named 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Jordan has already made a run at The Masters and then also turned around and played extremely well at The Players. After top four finishes in the two biggest tournaments of the year so far, he is hungry for a victory. It is just a matter of time until this young man captures his first Major, and I am betting that it will be sooner rather than later.

Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, and Francesco Molinari could also fare well. 

But it would certainly be something if Phil was able to win at the U.S. Open and become just the sixth person to achieve golf’s Grand Slam. Pinehurst is a course that suits his game with no rough and emphasis on the short game and putting. Phil has already shown that he has what it takes to win at Pinehurst with his runner-up victory in 1999 when Payne Stewart won his emotional final Major. It would be a quite the story to see him win at Pinehurst.

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HSBC GOLF BUSINESS FORUM DRIVES GLOBAL CONNECTIONS

Apr 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The global growth of golf and the rise of Asia as a region with major golf potential set the agenda at the HSBC Golf Business Forum in Abu Dhabi.

More than 260 golf business leaders from 30 countries attended the event at the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, April 28-30, connecting leading companies, organisations and individuals.

Speaking about the international opportunities for the golf business, Giles Morgan, HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship and Events, called for a customer-centric approach to drive increased participation in established and emerging markets.

“Golf needs to take a broader approach, it is not just about the game,” he said. “Golf must be flexible, it must reflect the zeitgeist for inclusion, it must ensure it is sustainable, and it must uphold the traditions of the game but instigate innovation.”

The opportunity for golf to capitalise on its inclusion in the Olympics at Rio 2016 was discussed in a leaders’ question time featuring Antony Scanlon of the International Golf Federation, sports executive Donna Orender, Guy Kinnings of IMG and Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of the R&A.

Antony Scanlon said, “Golf at the Olympics has a potential TV audience of 3.4 billion. I don’t think everything will change immediately, but we have an opportunity around the halo effect – three weeks after the Olympics 75% of viewers will have seen a sport they hadn’t seen before.”

“I think it is a great opportunity to showcase men and women being equal in golf,” he added.

Focusing on the rise of golf in Asia, the conference heard that China is the fastest growing market for golf development in the world. With more than 600 courses already open, it is estimated up to 1,500 courses are required to satisfy current demand.

Guy Kinnings of IMG predicted the next global superstar would come from either China or Korea, while Peter Dawson responded to a call for a major championship in Asia.

“Clearly, it is illogical that as golf in Asia grows there would be three majors in America and one in the UK. It is not possible for a golfing body to determine an event in Asia should become a major, but I have no doubt it will happen in due time.”

Mr Dawson, who recently announced he would retire from the R&A in 2015, was presented with the HSBC Golf Business Forum Lifetime Achievement Award by Italian golf sensation Matteo Mannasero, an ambassador for Golf in Abu Dhabi.

Peter Dawson said: “I’d like to thank everyone here at the HSBC Golf Business Forum. It’s a thrill to receive this in front of so many people who are involved in the business of golf and love the game. It’s a particular thrill to receive this from Matteo – I have known him for many years and at such a young age he is a fantastic ambassador for golf.”

Wrapping up the conference, with a strong hint that the 2015 HSBC Golf Business Forum could be in Shanghai, China, Guy Kinnings, IMG Global Head of Golf, said, “It has been a fantastic inaugural event for IMG, and our thanks go to our sponsors, especially HSBC and the TCA, and to our hosts at the Westin. We wanted this forum to be a forward looking conference whilst learning from the past; we have looked into the world of innovation and how this may help shape the future of this sport we love. Rest assured as we move forward with this event, our commitment to this will grow and evolve and I hope we have done it proud in our inaugural year.”

For more information about the HSBC Golf Business Forum, visit http://www.golfbusinessforum.com.

Article courtesy of Golf South.

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GOLF’S ELUSIVE GRAND SLAM & ITS CHAMPIONS

Apr 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golf has seen its fair share of legends and superstars in the game, but when it comes to the game’s storied Major Championships, only five individuals - Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods - have broken through to have their names etched on each of The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, and PGA Championship trophies.

The idea of players winning each Major Championship is quite a coup. Seventeen players have managed to win four or more Majors since the establishment of the Masters Tournament in 1934, marking the modern era of the Grand Slam. But each major has its own unique tests that have perhaps kept even great players from triumph over all four.

Much like each Major, each Grand Slam champion has their own distinct story.

In just the second year of The Masters, Gene Sarazen became the first individual to complete the Grand Slam as he captured his seventh and final Major. Sarazen unquestionably did so with a bang. It was the “shot heard ‘round the world” that catapulted Sarazen to his 1935 Masters Tournament victory on the 15th Hole, a par 5, where a 235-yard 4-wood found the hole, giving him a very rare double eagle 2.

Perhaps the greatest ball striker in the game, Ben Hogan attained golf’s highest achievement 18 years following Sarazen. It was during his only Open Championship appearance, due to the nearly simultaneous schedule of the PGA Championship and The Open Championship at the time, where Hogan captured the Grand Slam and his ninth and final Major when he prevailed at Carnoustie in 1953. 

Hogan’s road to the Grand Slam was not without difficulty and obstacles to overcome. Following serving in World War II, Hogan returned to his career to win three Majors before suffering a near-fatal car accident that left him, at age 36, in the hospital for nearly 60 days. Doctors had said he may never walk again, let alone play golf competitively. Despite limitations caused by his accident, Hogan returned to professional golf in 1950 and went on to win an additional six Majors in a span of three years.

Gary Player often praises Ben Hogan as the best golfer he has ever seen and the only golfer who fully understood the golf swing, saying, “I have seen many players who understand the golf swing from A to Y, but only one that understood from A to Z and that is Ben Hogan.”

By 1965, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer had solidified The Big Three™ as tournament contenders week in and week out.  Each needed just one Major to join Sarazen and Hogan in the elite level of golfers who completed golf’s career Grand Slam.

South African Player already had achieved unparalleled success for an international golfer as he became the youngest Open Championship victor at age 23 and the first international winner of The Masters. When Player arrived to the 1965 U.S. Open at Bellrieve Country Club with three Major titles to his name, he was convinced that he could, in fact, win the tournament and beat Nicklaus to the Grand Slam. That belief proved fruitful as it was Player who was lifting the U.S. Open after a Monday playoff round against Australian Kel Nagle.

Nine-time major champion Player is the only international golfer to win the Grand Slam still to this day.

Shortly following Player, Jack Nicklaus joined the exclusive club of Grand Slam champions at the 1966 Open Championship. The Golden Bear, perhaps the most accomplished golfer of all time with 18 Major Championship titles to his name, showed his utter authority in the game as he not only won each Major, but each at least three times.

Whether he surpasses Jack Nicklaus’ record number of Major titles is still to be determined, but Tiger Woods has certainly carved out his place in golf history. There is no mistaking Tiger Woods’ (still ongoing) legacy in the sport.

With his victory at the 129th British Open in July 2000 at 24 years old, Woods became the youngest golfer to complete the Grand Slam. From 2000 to 2001, Tiger Woods went on the win the U.S. Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship, and The Masters in succession in the so-called “Tiger Slam.”

“To win four majors in succession, it’s hard to believe, really, because there’s so many things that go into winning a Major Championship,” said Woods following his 2001 Masters victory.  “For that matter, any tournament, but more so Majors because you’ve got to have your game peak at the right time, and on top of that, you’ve got to have some luck.”

Perhaps that is where Player’s adage, “The harder you practice, the luckier you get” comes into play.

While no one is certain if the Grand Slam will be achieved again anytime soon, Phil Mickelson could join the distinguished group with a U.S. Open victory at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club this June. Mickelson has finished second at the U.S. Open a record six times.

Others poised to take a shot at the career Grand Slam? Many could not count out 24 year-old Rory McIlroy with a U.S. Open and PGA Championship title already under his belt and many more years of golf to be played. Perhaps as Player and Woods said, just a bit of luck will be needed.

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THE GREATS OF GOLF RETURNS TO INSPERITY INVITATIONAL

Apr 30, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino Headline Special Saturday Competition

In what is quickly becoming a Saturday tradition at the Insperity Invitational presented by UnitedHealthcare, the Greats of Golf returns on May 3 for the third consecutive year.

Fans will have the rare opportunity to see Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Lee Trevino in a special competition Saturday afternoon of tournament week at The Woodlands Country Club Tournament Course.

For the past two years, thousands of fans have lined the fairways to watch one of the year’s best events in golf as a collection of the game’s greatest legends share laughter and competition during one of the best Champions Tour events on the calendar. Once again the “Big Four” along with Johnny Miller, Raymond Floyd, Don January, David Graham, Tony Jacklin, and Dave Stockton will compete in the “Greats of Golf” competition.

Palmer will not compete this year. However, he will be in attendance and serve as an honorary chairman for the event.

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

Last year, Stockton, Miller, and Jacklin teamed to shoot 11-under for the win. The 2012 champions, Palmer, Nicklaus, and Player finished second, four strokes back.

“We are pleased these gentlemen have enjoyed this friendly competition and will continue this tradition again this year,” said Insperity Invitational Executive Director, Bryan Naugle. “During the past two years, fans have told us how much fun it is to see these greats on the golf course. We are excited the fans can enjoy the experience again this year.”

This group includes seven World Golf Hall of Fame members, has more than 300 PGA TOUR victories, over 50 major championship titles, and more than 150 Champions Tour wins.

The 2014 edition of Houston’s Champions Tour event will be the beginning of a new era for the tournament. The event will have new criteria to determine the players in the field, and in turn the name of the event has changed to Insperity Invitational. This format change makes the tournament a unique event on the Champions Tour schedule.

The Insperity Invitational offers free grounds only admission tickets courtesy of Insperity, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Woodforest National Bank, and HP. The grounds ticket also includes free parking and shuttle service. For updated information on all aspects of the Insperity Invitational, fans are encouraged to visit http://www.InsperityInvitational.com.

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN LEADS GOLF DIGEST’S 2014 GOLF COURSE RANKINGS

Apr 25, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share


The Links at Fancourt

Golf Digest has just released its biennial “Top 100 South Africa Courses” list, and Gary Player Design achieved an unprecedented result as five of the top six courses belong to the firm’s portfolio. The Links at Fancourt in George maintained the No. 1 spot and was followed by Leopard Creek in Malelane and Gary Player Country Club in the 2nd and 3rd positions. Blair Atholl (No. 4) and Montague at Fancourt (No.6) rounded out the list’s Top 10.

“Having The Links at Fancourt recognized as the best in South Africa is a great honor, and having five courses be ranked in Golf Digest’s Top 10 is absolutely fantastic,” said Gary Player.


Leopard Creek

“I have been given many opportunities to create designs that reflect the true nature of my beloved country and I am very proud of the courses we have designed here. South Africa offers such diverse natural landscapes; it makes the golf course come alive and has enabled us to create some truly incredible designs. We have 325 truly unique courses and each present their own design challenges, but there is always something special about working at home,” said Player.

A coveted list, the publication’s rankings are based on course evaluations by 120 volunteer panel members throughout South Africa and are qualified based on seven criteria: shot values, playability, resistance to scoring, aesthetics, design variety, memorability and conditioning.


Gary Player Country Club

“Gary Player Design is widely considered the finest design firm globally, which as founder makes me very proud indeed, and these rankings from Golf Digest are most rewarding,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO.

Golf Digest South Africa also recognized several other ranking categories, including: “Top 25 Most Difficult Courses,” “Top 25 Most Scenic Courses,” “Top 10 Best 18th Holes,” “Top 10 Best Opening Shots,” “Top 10 Bunkers,” “Best Conditioned Courses,” and more. Considering the vast number of high caliber courses in South Africa, Gary Player Design is also proud to have several of its courses included within all of these competitive categories.


Blair Atholl

“The recognition we are receiving for our work is really gratifying,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. “We pride ourselves in designing courses that embrace the natural characteristics of the area, and to be considered in such high regard by an independent ranking group exemplifies the continued progress of our designs in South Africa and around the world.” 

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GOLF ICON GARY PLAYER DAZZLES AND DELIVERS AT THE JUNIOR INVITATIONAL AT SAGE VALLEY

Apr 24, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

Fresh off his recent trip to Augusta, Georgia for The Masters and the first of four Gary Player Invitational events of 2014, golf icon Gary Player ventured back to the area as 54 of the top junior golfers from around the world compete at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley this week. Player was the guest speaker for the tournament’s Opening Ceremony and left all in attendance amazed.

Winner of 165 worldwide tournaments and the Grand Slam on the regular and Champions Tour, Player had plenty of advice for the participants and guests from his career that has spanned over six decades.

True to Player’s personality, the crowd was entertained throughout. To the tune of Paul Simon’s “I Know What I Know,” Player swept up ladies from the crowd to dance as he moved to the stage. His reasoning? “Happiness is contagious,” laughed Player.

There was plenty for all involved to be happy about as the Junior Invitational, which has been consistently voted the number one tournament in junior golf by Golfweek, welcomed the best 54 amateur boys in the world to compete, including 13 players from nine countries outside of the United States. Competitor Keegan De Lange hails from the Black Knight’s home country of South Africa.

Reflecting on his career, Player told stories of his early career, including his first trip abroad as a professional to the Open Championship at St. Andrews when he had to sleep in a dune because he could not afford a hotel room. He kept everyone in attendance in hysterics, but also made sure to pass along the message of gratitude.

“Mr. Fitness” displayed his legendary fitness as he challenged the young men to join him on stage for a friendly competition to see if anyone could match his feat of holding two drivers parallel to the ground by just using his pointer and middle finger. No volunteers could, but Player made sure that they realized the importance of fitness in golf and in life. 

Aside from golf and fitness advice, the Black Knight made sure that everyone was grateful for they have in their lives, stating many in the world are without a shower, a TV, and three meals a day. On the progression of golf, Player stated how fortunate the young golfers are today as they hopefully have the opportunity to compete on the professional tours of today, which have grown to offer weekly first place prizes over $1 million.

“We are so lucky that we have wonderful governing bodies and sponsors that have made it possible for professional golfers to compete for millions at each tournament,” said Player. “But to make it, you’ve got to work harder than everyone else. And you have to want it.”

“All I hear about is ‘some of these junior boys are hitting the ball 320 yards’,” exclaimed Player. “That’s not what wins the tournaments. If somebody would just say to me, ‘you should see this junior at my club. He’s got a mind like Tiger Woods. He’s got such a focus, like Tiger Woods. He’s got a short game like Tiger Woods.’ But I never hear that, never. That’s what wins golf tournaments. It’s all the putting, the chipping, the bunker shot, and the wedges. Seventy percent of shots in golf are played from 100 yards in.”

To end on, Player made sure to pass along the educational message he’s learned in his career to the juniors before they head out of compete in the 4th annual Junior Invitational, presented by Electrolux, on Thursday.

“Golf’s a game that teaches you manners. It teaches you to win, and it teaches you to lose. You’re going to lose a lot more than you’re going to win,” he said. “All in all, it’s an education. Golf is a miraculous sport, and I wish you all luck this week.”

The Junior Invitational will be held April 24th-26th at the renowned Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, SC.

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GARY PLAYER TO SPEAK AT THOROUGHBRED OWNERS AND BREEDERS ASSOCIATION OWNERS CONFERENCE

Apr 24, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player, a legend in the golfing world and a longtime Thoroughbred owner, breeder, and advocate of Thoroughbred aftercare, will deliver the keynote address when OwnerView, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and The Jockey Club host the inaugural Thoroughbred Owner Conference in Lexington Oct. 13-16.

Player has owned the 20,000-acre Gary Player Stud in South Africa since 1974 and is consistently among the leading breeders in South Africa. He has frequently implored those involved in horse racing to come up with innovative ideas that would generate interest in the sport.

The Thoroughbred Owner Conference will take place at Keeneland and will be co-presented by Del Mar, Keeneland, the New York Racing Association, and The Stronach Group.

“Our goal in hosting this conference is to showcase a unique lifestyle, whether you are an experienced owner or a potential investor in the Thoroughbred industry,” said Bill Thomason, the president and chief executive officer of the Keeneland Association, in a release. “Del Mar, NYRA, The Stronach Group, and Keeneland all realize and appreciate that Thoroughbred owners play a critical role in our industry, and we all want to make the ownership experience immensely enjoyable at every juncture.”

Attendees at the conference will have a welcome reception at Adena Springs Farm near Paris, Ky., an evening dinner, a day of racing, and numerous opportunities to network with panelists and industry personnel alike.

“The OwnerView initiative has really grown tremendously in a short period of time, and this conference is just a natural extension of our efforts to retain and attract owners,” said Gary Falter, vice president of operations for OwnerView, in a statement. “We are grateful to Keeneland for making its facility available and to all four racing organizations for their sponsorship support.”

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2014 GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL SERIES KICKS OFF WITH SUCCESSFUL STAR-STUDDED CHARITY EVENT IN AUGUSTA

Apr 16, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Following an exciting Masters Week with Bubba Watson winning his second Green Jacket, Black Knight International kicked off the 2014 Gary Player Invitational (GPI) Series on April 13-14 in Augusta, GA, raising more than $328,000 to fund underprivileged children’s education.

Participants were welcomed to the charity event, which pairs celebrities, businessmen, international sports figures and professional golfers in a Pro-Am team competition, at the Black Knight International house for a welcome reception and Masters viewing party with three-time Masters winner and GPI host Gary Player.

The tournament started off with a thrilling clinic by Long Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski who entertained guests with his incredible drives surpassing 400 yards. Plenty of action followed on the course as the four-ball scramble tournament was won by the team of James Wilson, Grant Horsfield, Scott Ferrell, Greg Lubbe, and Justin Downes, who together shot an impressive 24 under par.

Celebrities attending the charity event included: Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Sandra Gal, Jamie Sadlowski, Chris Doleman, Beverly Johnson, Kevin Sorbo, Victor Green, George Gervin, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Kristy Swanson, Lloyd Eisler, Tony Womack, Jeremy Dale, Justin Wheelon, Dan Jansen, Karen Palacios-Jansen, Nigel Smith, and John Patrick.

“This year was yet another fantastic event at Champions Retreat,” commented Grand Slam champion Gary Player. “It has been a wonderful start to the annual GPI series, and I continue to be inspired and amazed by the tremendous work that can be accomplished when business people, athletes and celebrities come together in support of a common cause.”

The Gary Player Invitational Series consists of charity golf tournaments held throughout the year in the USA, Europe, China, and South Africa to benefit The Player Foundation and its beneficiaries. Since its establishment in 1983, The Player Foundation has raised more than $50 million in support of children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities, and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.

“We are truly grateful for the continued support of our corporate partners. Year after year, Rolex, Callaway, SAP, Coca-Cola, Humana, and Land Rover support our GPI events and have played a significant role in the fundraising successes we have achieved thus far,” added Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO.

The next invitational series event is the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational, which is set to take place at the historic Wentworth Golf Club outside of London July 20-21, 2014.

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN SELECTED FOR TIANZHU GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB PROJECT IN BEIJING

Mar 31, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

Beijing will soon be home to its second Gary Player Signature Design, as Tianzhu Golf & Country Club announced the Black Knight’s firm has been selected to undertake the redesign of their 27-hole course. The announcement was shared at a kick-off meeting during Player’s recent trip to China for several design site visits and the China Golf Show.

“We continue to see the great possibility and future of golf in China,” said Gary Player. “Our design firm has been very busy across Asia lately, and we are truly looking forward to our design at Tianzhu Golf & Country Club. Our client is looking to build a championship course, and I am confident that the end result will be a fantastic addition to further grow the game in Beijing.”

Sanpower Group, the investor behind the project, entrusted the Black Knight with the redesign as they aim for the 27-hole course to stage international level tournaments in the future.

Gary Player Design has previously seen professional events contested on its Chinese courses, such as the European Tour sanctioned 2010 Volvo China Open at the acclaimed Suzhou Jinji Lake International Golf Club.

“Our conceptual design at Tianzhu has allowed for us to achieve three 9-hole loops that are all championship length and quality,” said Scott Ferrell, Gary Player Design President. “Members and guests will be very pleasantly surprised with all of the improvements to be implemented.”

Player has already visited the Beijing site twice to begin the planning stages of the project.  The golf course will reopen in phases with nine holes completed this year and the remaining 18 to reopen in late 2015.

In addition to the championship quality and as with all Gary Player Design projects, Tianzhu will follow the long established sustainable and environmentally friendly practices for which Gary Player Design has come to be recognized. Under the renovation, the design team has sought to protect existing groups of trees during the complete overhaul of the existing course routing.


Player with Sanpower Chairman Yafei Yuan & Tianzhu Golf Club
Partner Jishan Li during a site visit earlier this month

With the amateurs being the heart of the game, the Tianzhu project seeks to build upon the active membership at the club, which has been open for a decade.

“Tianzhu has an established membership, and it is our hope that the renovations to the course will continue to build upon the existing success with championship-level courses that stress playability for all members and guests,” said Ferrell.

In addition to the Gary Player Signature Course, the site will include a renovated clubhouse and conference center, as well as a luxury residential component.

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WILDSTONE GOLF CLUB SET TO OPEN APRIL 18TH FOR THIRD SEASON IN SPARKLING CONDITION

Mar 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

CRANBROOK, BC – Whether you’re a local teeing it up in one of its signature events or passing through the Kootney Rockies and looking for a great place to play golf, Wildstone GC offers one of the most exceptional golf experiences in the land.

It has only been three years since the one-and-only Black Knight design in Canada first wowed British Columbia golfers, but in that time Wildstone has established itself as a premier golf property where regular guests and travellers have been warmly welcomed and embraced in a remarkable world-class setting.

Wildstone, a resort golf facility that offers a variety of green fee specials, has developed a niche market. Its 10-game passports to golf that currently sell for just $590 continue to be incredibly popular with a growing number of loyal Wildstone enthusiasts. “As an added bonus, the frequent player passbooks can be used for two-for-one golf for twilight golf starting at 3 pm, so people could get 20 rounds, which is a huge savings,” says General Manager Chris Andrews.

Wildstone continues to develop engaging and unique programming from its fun, player-friendly Easter Scramble that gets the golf season going to the year-ending Ironman Championship, a two-person team event played from the back with six holes best ball, six holes shamble and six holes scramble to Sunday pins!

“Whether they are a regular or visiting us for the first time we want people who come to Wildstone to enjoy a golf experience that encourages them to come and visit us again,” Andrews says. “Programs like the Wildstone Golf League, Sunday Night Skins and our incredible course conditions have helped make Wildstone the flagship golf club in the area.”

With an abundance of sunshine year-round and plenty of snow in winter, the area is an all-season, second-to-none destination for vacationers from all over the world. They come for the clear, sparkling lakes, some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery in the world, hiking trails, ski resorts, championship golf courses, hot springs, unique shops and cultural festivals.

Wildstone continues to see a growing number of travellers and out of province guests from Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Saskatchewan, while there is also a strong contingent from across the BC Interior.

“We’re a strong destination for golf with several excellent options in the Cranbrook area and many other excellent facilities throughout the Kimberley and Columbia Valley,” Andrews says, noting Wildstone was the Regional Winner of the BC PGA 2012 Golf Facility of the Year Award.
Wildstone is set to open for its third full season on Friday, April 18th so Easter weekend is a golf holiday this year, and not a ski vacation like most.

“I’m really looking forward to the start of golf season,” says Terry Dupley who lives in Cranbrook and played about 40 rounds at Wildstone in 2013. “Over the last three years the course has continued to mature so beautifully. It’s always in amazing shape and just keeps getting better. I guess what makes it truly memorable are the elevation changes, a terrific variety of golf holes and the final five holes are a true test if you’re going to post a good score.”

Canada’s one and only Black Knight Design by Gary Player Design features a very walkable and player friendly layout with spectacular Rocky Mountain views, and superior conditioning. The gently rolling par-72 routing plays from five sets of tees measuring 7,127 yards from the tips, 6,669 yards for Blue, 6,233 for White, 5,629 for Red and 4,947 from the forward gold tees.

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THE GARY PLAYER VIEWERS’ GUIDE TO THE 2014 MASTERS

Mar 26, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Grand Slam champion Gary Player and Black Knight International recently partnered with CW Publishing to bring to life The Gary Player Viewers’ Guide to the 2014 Masters. Prior to his 57th trip to Augusta, the legendary golfer offers insight into golf’s first major of the year and a tournament he has won three times.

The Black Knight’s storied history at The Masters includes three Green Jackets (1961, 1974, 1978), the record for most Masters appearances (52), and the most consecutive cuts made (23). Player sat down for an exclusive Q&A on his love of Augusta and how he continues to beat his age, as well as discussing several of his tournament favorites. 

The Gary Player Viewers’ Guide also features some of the industry’s top golf writers adding stories of how the tournament in Georgia has brought about some of the most thrilling under-the-gun moments the game has ever had and why Augusta National has come to be one of the most treasured venues in golf.

With The Masters quickly approaching, Player will once again reunite The Big Three as Honorary Starters to kick off the 78th edition of the Masters Tournament on April 10.

To view The Gary Player Viewers’ Guide to the 2014 Masters e-book, click here.

Preview (Flash Required):

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COCA-COLA CHINA EXTENDS SPONSORSHIP OF THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Mar 24, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

The Coca-Cola Company, a global leader in the beverage industry, has agreed to continue their giving ways by announcing their renewed sponsorship of the Gary Player Invitational event for a further three years.

The Chinese leg of the Gary Player Invitational (GPI) global charity series, staged by Black Knight International to benefit The Player Foundation, will be held at the Shanghai Links on November 3 – 4. Grand Slam champion Gary Player will once again host the event that is expected to field yet another star-studded cast of professional golfers, celebrities and business people to compete for the tournament title, but more importantly to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children.

“The decision to continue to sponsor this ‘Union of Golf and Giving’ forms part of our long-term sustainability commitment in China. It is at the core of our business to develop a healthy and sustainable environment for our local communities, and by sponsoring the Gary Player Invitational, we continue to give back and play a small role for those underprivileged kids affected by AIDS,” said David G. Brooks, Chairman, Coca-Cola Greater China & Korea.

The Gary Player Invitational presented by The Coca-Cola Company is China’s most prestigious charity golf event, featuring a diverse field of participating sponsors, top business leaders, and superstars from the world of sport and entertainment who come together each year in support of the Yunnan Orphans program with the Chinese Foundation for the Prevention of STD and AIDS.

“This special event has shown growth year after year, and we are thrilled that The Coca-Cola Company and other sponsors continue to show their commitment towards to The Player Foundation as we move into our eighth series event in China,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “We are proud of what this event has achieved and look ahead to another year of record fundraising to better the lives of those in need.”

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WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO PROCESS FOR ENSHRINEMENT

Mar 23, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum will introduce a new process for individuals to be inducted beginning with the Class of 2015, in an announcement made today by PGA TOUR Commissioner and chairman of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors Tim Finchem. The changes are the result of an extensive review of the Ballot and Nomination process announced last fall. The review included an evaluation of the ballot system and voting body, along with criteria such as tournament victories and age, and the changing dynamics of the game and its constituents.

The Induction process will now be governed by a Selection Commission made up of 16 individuals who will be responsible for electing candidates into the Hall of Fame, with each Inductee needing at least 75 percent of the vote to gain entry. The Selection Commission will be Co-Chaired by Hall of Fame members Nancy Lopez, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Annika Sorenstam and will include the members of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors and a mix of institutional and at-large seats. Lopez, Palmer and Player were on hand for today’s announcement, while Sorenstam participated via teleconference.

“The Hall of Fame has established itself as the place to celebrate golf’s greatest players and contributors, and this process will ensure it maintains that place as the game continues to grow and evolve,” said Finchem. “The World Golf Foundation Board of Directors unanimously approved the changes to the process and we applaud the Hall of Fame team for working diligently to make this happen, along with all of the Hall of Fame members who have agreed to participate.”

“This is a great step for the Hall of Fame,” said Palmer. “I was honored to be a part of the first Hall of Fame class 40 years ago in 1974, and it will be a privilege to serve on the Selection Commission with Nancy, Annika and Gary for the Class of 2015.”

“Golf is a global sport with a rich heritage that’s centuries old,” said Sorenstam. “I am honored to have been asked to play a role in determining which men and women have made the greatest impact and deserve the ultimate honor of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.”

In addition, a Selection Sub-Committee has been established to oversee the qualification and vetting process and is responsible for submitting finalists for consideration to the Selection Commission. The Selection Sub-Committee will be comprised of 20 individuals, including six Hall of Fame members and a mix of institutional and at-large seats.

“The Hall of Fame has done a wonderful job with these changes,” said Lopez. “From the LPGA Founders to the players of my generation to the ladies winning today, the women’s game has always been a big part of the Hall of Fame, and this process will continue that tradition. I am thrilled to serve on the Selection Commission.”

“It is a great honor to be a part of this change to the selection process for the Hall of Fame,” Player said. “It is important to preserve the past and the traditions of this game that we all love and enjoy, and with this comes the responsibility for us to recognize those individuals who have significantly contributed to the success of our game. I look forward to being a part of this Selection Commission.”

The new process will include four categories under which an individual may be considered for Induction: Male and Female Competitor Categories and the Veterans and Lifetime Achievement Categories.

The Male and Female Competitor Categories will have similar criteria for qualification: a player must have 15 or more official victories on approved tours or at least two victories among approved major events.

Each player also must be at least 40 years old at the start of the year selections are made or at least five years removed from active competition. The Veterans Category will include players whose careers were primarily completed before 1975, and the Lifetime Achievement Category will continue to be made up of individuals who contributed to the game from outside of the competitive arena.

The new process will begin with the Selection Sub-Committee meeting this spring to debate the candidates in all four categories. It will then present five finalists in the Male and Female categories and three each in Veterans and Lifetime Achievement to the Selection Commission. In the summer, the Commission will discuss the merits and vote on the 16 finalists. Each new member of the class must receive at least 75 percent of the vote. Each class will include no more than five inductees. The Class of 2015 will be announced later this fall.

Starting with the 2015 event, the Induction Ceremony will become a biennial celebration with the following Ceremony taking place in 2017. The Hall of Fame is working with its television partners to create an enhanced promotional strategy, focusing on expanding coverage of the Induction Ceremony. The additional time between Ceremonies will also serve to heighten anticipation for each event.

“The changes to the process and Induction Ceremony will serve the long-term interest of the institution well,” said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. “The changes take the unique nature of the game and its candidates into account and, most important, will continue to allow the Hall of Fame to recognize worthy individuals. We also viewed this as an opportunity to increase the engagement of Hall of Fame members, and we are grateful to all the members who assisted us during this review and who will participate in the process going forward.”

For more information visit WorldGolfHallofFame.org.

World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum Selection Commission
Co-Chairs
Nancy Lopez
Arnold Palmer
Gary Player
Annika Sorenstam

Institutional Members
World Golf Foundation Board of Directors
European Tour George O’Grady, Chief Executive
LPGA Mike Whan, Commissioner
PGA of America Peter Bevacqua, Chief Executive Officer
PGA TOUR Tim Finchem, Commissioner
The Masters Will Jones, Executive Director
The R&A Peter Dawson, Chief Executive
USGA Mike Davis, Executive Director
Chairman of the AGW & President of the GWAA
AGW Derek Lawrenson, Chairman
GWAA Ron Sirak, President

At-Large Members
Hiromi Kobayashi Chairman, Japan LPGA
Selwyn Nathan Executive Director, Sunshine Tour
John Hopkins Past Chairman, AGW

World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum Selection Sub-Committee
Sub-Committee Chairman
World Golf Hall of Fame Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer

Institutional Members
World Golf Foundation Board Organizations
European Tour Richard Hills, Ryder Cup Director
LPGA Heather Daly-Donofrio, Sr. VP Tour Operations
PGA of America Julius Mason, Sr. Director Communications & Media Relations
PGA TOUR Charlie Zink, Executive Vice President & Co-Chief Operating Officer
The Masters Ron Cross, Director of Corporate Affairs
The R&A Angela Howe, Director, Museum & Heritage
USGA Rand Jerris, Sr. Managing Director, Public Services

At-Large Members
World Golf Hall of Fame Members
Peter Alliss
Beth Daniel
Carol Mann
Johnny Miller
Curtis Strange
Karrie Webb
International Federation of PGA Tours
Ivan Khodabakhsh Chief Executive Officer, Ladies European Tour
Andy Yamanaka Executive Director, Japan Golf Tour
Individual Members
Alastair Johnston
Lewine Mair
Pete McDaniel
Charlie Mechem
Ty Votaw

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IGATE AND FORBES HOST IGATE CEO CUP GOLF TOURNAMENT

Mar 21, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share


Golfing icon Gary Player arrives to Pinehurst Resort, site
of the 2014 iGate CEO Cup

iGATE, the NASDAQ-listed leading outsourcing services company, in association with Forbes, the publisher of Forbes magazine and forbes.com, announced today the second iGATE CEO Cup Golf tournament.  This first-class championship-style golf tournament will be held March 21 – 22, 2014, at Course No. 2 and Course No. 8 of the legendary Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in North Carolina, USA. Grand Slam champion Gary Player will co-host the iGATE CEO Cup just as he did for the inaugural tournament last year.

Commenting on the tournament, Gary Player, said, “The iGATE CEO Cup has created a thrilling format for a charitable tournament with CEOs representing many of the world’s top companies playing for a noble cause. Following the inaugural iGATE CEO Cup earlier this year, I am happy to continue my involvement as the tournament now moves to Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, and includes an international field of CEOs from across the globe.”

In 2014, the iGATE CEO Cup will have a global scope as CEOs of Global 2000 companies will be invited to compete for total prize money of $120,000, with the ‘Player of the Tournament’ winning $40,000 - double the amount of the inaugural event.  Winners will donate their prize money to the charities of their choice.


CEOs from around the world tee off with Player during the tournament
presented by iGate in association with Forbes

“I am looking forward to another successful tournament, and will be interested to see who lifts the world’s largest gold trophy in 2014,” said Player.

Gary Player, an original inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame, is widely regarded as one of the greatest golfers in history. The South African native has won 165 tournaments over his career spanning six decades, including nine major championships on the regular tour, and nine major championships on the Senior Tour. He is one of only five golfers – and the only non-American golfer – to win the coveted career Grand Slam.

Recognized around the globe as the Black Knight and the International Ambassador of Golf, Player is also a renowned golf course architect with over 325 design projects on five continents. Black Knight International, the company founded by his son Marc Player, includes Gary Player Design, Player Real Estate, Black Knight Enterprises and The Player Foundation, which has a primary objective of promoting education for underprivileged children around the world.

The World’s Heaviest and Largest Gold Trophy

The iGATE CEO Cup winner’s trophy is the world’s largest and heaviest gold trophy, designed by India-based Guinness World Record holder, Amit Pabuwal.  A priceless creation, the 21-inches-tall iGATE CEO Cup is one and one-half times bigger than the FIFA World Cup trophy - the largest trophy so far.  The trophy is made with 8.6 kilograms of gold and emblazoned with diamonds and rubies.

The Venue

Located in the North Carolina heartland, Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, established in 1895, is a 2,000-acre property featuring an award-winning spa, eight golf courses, tennis, and activities for the family.  Widely known as the cradle of American golf, Pinehurst has hosted more single golf championships than any other site in America, including the U.S. Open, PGA Championship, Ryder Cup Matches, TOUR Championship and many others.  It will serve as the site of both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open Championships in 2014.

The inaugural iGATE CEO Cup Golf Tournament, held in January last year, at TPC® Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., hosted CEOs from North American companies, awarding $100,000 to the winners’ favorite charities. Autotrader’s ex-CEO Chip Perry was the winner of the first event, donating his prize money of $20,000 to Watauga (N.C.) Humane Society.

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GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL CHARITY EVENT SET FOR APRIL 13-14 IN AUGUSTA, GEORGIA

Mar 20, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player Foundation   Share

Black Knight International will stage the US leg of the Gary Player Invitational charity series on April 13-14, 2014 at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The annual event is an intimate gathering of professional athletes, celebrities, and business people representing a “Union of Golf and Giving,” as the charity Pro-Am tournament raises funds for The Player Foundation to benefit underprivileged children across the globe.

“Our GPI events continue to grow with each year, and we are pleased to kick off the 2014 series at Champions Retreat in Augusta,” said Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International. “It is an exciting time to meet with many of our friends and corporate partners while attending The Masters. We are looking forward to a very successful event and hope to make it the best year yet.” 

The Gary Player Invitational (GPI) global series consists of charity golf tournaments held in the USA, Europe, China, and South Africa. Each event pairs celebrities and professional golfers with international businessmen in a Pro-Am team competition.

Confirmed celebrities joining the GPI at Champions Retreat include: Hollywood actors Anthony Anderson, Kevin Sorbo, Kristy Swanson, Beverly Johnson, and Joel Gretsch; pro athletes Victor Green, Chris Doleman, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, George Gervin, Andre Reed, and Ed “Too Tall” Jones; Olympians Dan Jansen and Lloyd Eisler; and golfers Sandra Gal, Jeremy Dale, Jamie Sadlowski, and Karen Palacios-Jansen.

Funds raised at the charity event will benefit The Player Foundation, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2013. Gary Player’s namesake Foundation counts an ever-expanding number of beneficiaries including: BerenbergKids, the Chinese Foundation for the Prevention of STDs and AIDS, Wings & Wishes, the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhebeka, as well as many others. Since its establishment in 1983 by Marc Player, The Player Foundation has raised more than $50 million to the support of children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities, and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.

“There are so many children all over the world who need access to a quality education, nutritional programs, fitness, and especially a safe and loving environment in which to grow,” said GPI host and golfing icon Gary Player. “I have always felt that contributing to others is essential, and we as a society must do whatever we can to invest in the future of our youth.”

Champions Retreat Golf Club is a 27-hole layout located in Augusta, Georgia. This unique championship golf course features nine signature holes of championship golf designed by three of the greatest names in the game - Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer.

Gary Player Invitational 2014 Series
United States – Georgia
Dates: 13-14 April 2014
Champions Retreat, Augusta

Europe – United Kingdom
Dates: 20-21 July 2014
Wentworth Golf Club, Surrey

China – Shanghai
Dates: 2-3 November 2014
Shanghai Links

South Africa – Sun City
Dates: 20-23 November 2014
The Lost City Golf Course, The Palace Hotel, Sun City

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MONAHAN SET TO FOLLOW TRAIL BLAZED BY FINCHEM

Mar 18, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

When he signed a four-year contract extension that would keep him in the role of PGA Tour commissioner until June, 2016 – when he’d be 69 years old and in his 22nd year on the job – Tim Finchem didn’t mix messages regarding his future beyond that point.

“I never rule out any possibilities,” he said at the time. “But the likelihood is this will probably be it for me. There’s other things I want to do.”
In a move that cleared a path toward those other things and Finchem’s inevitable retirement, Jay Monahan, previously CMO and executive vice president, was named deputy commissioner on Tuesday, the first step in transitioning to the next phase by publicly recognizing a successor.

What does it all mean? This move should signify business as usual for the PGA Tour. By not seeking its next commissioner from outside Ponte Vedra Beach headquarters, the organization is following the blueprint recently laid out by the NBA, where Adam Silver took over for outgoing David Stern last month after serving in the same role that Monahan, 43, will now have.

All of which should be considered good news.

It would be premature to start ticking off Finchem’s entire list of accomplishments over the past two decades, but here are a few noteworthy ones: He negotiated three television contracts, including the current 15-year deal; he successfully navigated choppy waters during the economic recession, actually adding sponsorships when most corporations were reticent to forge such relationships; he implemented a mandatory drug testing policy in a game in which many believed it was unnecessary; and he oversaw an increase in purses of nearly 400 percent, from $56.4 million in 1994 to what will be in the neighborhood of $280 million this year.

For players who like their pockets lined with cash and fans who like their tournaments televised four days per week for 11 months out of the year, Finchem’s tenure has to be considered not only successful, but essential.

Tuesday’s news that such matters will be kept in house will only help to ensure these positive steps continue in the right direction. Not that there won’t be stumbling blocks along the way, but an unambiguous move to maintain the status quo should be considered a victory for all those who have a stake in the future of the PGA Tour’s business.

Article courtesy of the Golf Channel

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INSIDE LOOK AT GARY PLAYER VILLA AT TRUMP NATIONAL DORAL

Mar 18, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Among the many amenities that came from the $250 million spent by Donald Trump at his Trump National Doral Resort are eight deluxe guestroom villas, each one named for one of the most influential golfers in the world: Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and Tiger Woods.

With the PGA Tour in town this week, Rory McIlroy was relegated to the Tiger Woods Villa, joking that he couldn’t get away from Tiger.

There’s no word on who is staying in the other villas, but we have some insight into the Gary Player Villa, which was the first to be completed at the end of January. About the only things that differentiate one villa from another are the pictures hanging on the walls aimed at capturing the namesake golf legends at iconic moments in their illustrious careers.

Designed by Ivanka Trump and world-renowned architects WATG, the new deluxe guestroom villas are immaculate. A chic palette of elegant neutrals – including ivory, champagne and caramel – are accentuated with mahogany wood and gold leaf details. The spacious bathrooms more closely resemble in-room spas with frameless showers, rainfall showerheads, marble flooring, and imported stone countertops and vanities.

Each villa offers golf course or garden views with expansive balconies or terraces.

“Our vision for Doral from the onset has been to create an ultra-luxurious golf resort in the heart of Miami and the Gary Player Villa is a reflection of this,” said Ivanka, Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions at The Trump Organization. “The elegant design, luxurious and spacious rooms and suites, and attention to every last detail are a few of the defining characteristics that will make Trump National Doral an unparalleled experience for our guests.”

“Doral is one of the most important golf properties in history and it is incredible to see the changes that the Trump Family has delivered in such a short period of time,” Player said. “The new villas look magnificent and I am truly honored to have the very first bear my name.”

“I have been a longtime fan of Gary and am thrilled to honor him with our first villa dedication and celebrate his legendary career,” Donald Trump said.

Article courtesy of Back9Network.

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2013 BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS NOMINATED FOR SPORTS EVENT OF THE YEAR

Mar 18, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships has been nominated in the Sports Event of the Year category for the 2014 Sports Business Awards presented by Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily.

The 2013 Breeders’ Cup, held before 89,742 fans on November 1 & 2 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., featured world-class Thoroughbred racing along with musical entertainment, great parties, fashion events and celebrity appearances. The NBC Sports Group provided 9.5 hours of live domestic coverage which was distributed to more than 130 countries. The 2013 Breeders’ Cup, which named golfing icon Gary Player as one of their esteemed Breeders’ Cup Ambassadors, consisted of 14 races and purses and awards totaling $27 million, making last year’s Championships one of the richest prize money events in sports.

“We have set the ambitious goal for our Championships to be one of the elite sporting events in the world and it is very gratifying to everyone at the Breeders’ Cup that Sports Business Journal has recognized our 2013 event as among the very best in sports,” said Craig Fravel Breeders’ Cup President and CEO. “The spectacular finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park, and before a nationally televised live audience on NBC, capped off two outstanding days of international competition conducted at its highest level. Along with our terrific partners, Santa Anita Park and the Stronach Group, we thank all the owners and nominators who competed, as well as our sponsors, and the State of California for their part in staging the 2013 Championships for our fans around the world.”

Watch the 2013 Breeders’ Cup recap video here.

The other nominees in the Sports Event of the Year category are: Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic; The ONE: Mayweather vs. Canelo, presented by Showtime Networks in partnership with Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions; 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open and Super Bowl XLVIII.

The Sports Business Awards recognize excellence and outstanding achievement in the business of sports for the period from January 1, 2013 through February 28, 2014.  Single games or events, or event series that occurred in North America, for professional or collegiate teams, sanctioning bodies or national governing bodies were eligible.

Winners will be announced at an awards gala that will be held Thursday, May 21, at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City.

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PETER DAWSON TO RECEIVE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD AT 2014 HSBC GOLF BUSINESS FORUM

Mar 13, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A, will be presented with a special Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 HSBC Golf Business Forum taking place at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, Abu Dhabi, April 28-30.

The award is to recognise outstanding contribution, achievement and leadership in both the game and business of golf. Past winners include Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Greg Norman, as well as visionary business leaders Dr. David Chu, Ken Schofield and Dana Garmany. George O’Grady CBE, Chief Executive of The European Tour, and Tim Finchem, PGA TOUR Commissioner, were the joint recipients of the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dawson became Chief Executive of The R&A, which organises The Open Championship and governs the game worldwide together with the United States Golf Association, in 1999 having previously worked in the engineering industry. He was appointed President of the International Golf Federation in December 2010. Dawson, who plays to a handicap of three, is the most recent addition to a list of speakers at the three day conference that includes a host of influential names from inside and outside of the golf world, reflecting the Forum’s position as one of the most anticipated gatherings in the golf business calendar.

The 2014 Golf Business Forum will feature a host of influential speakers from inside and outside of the golf world, reflecting the forum’s position as one of the most anticipated gatherings in the golf business calendar.

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GARY PLAYER JOINS PHIT AMERICA AS CELEBRITY AMBASSADOR

Mar 11, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

PHIT America – the non-profit education and advocacy organization designed to combat the nation’s inactivity and obesity crisis – announces Gary Player, one of the greatest players in golf history, as a celebrity ambassador.

Winner of 165 tournaments, including nine Major Championships, Player achieved legendary status as one of only five golfers in history to claim a career Grand Slam winning the Masters Tournament (1961, 1974, 1978), U.S. Open (1965), The Open Championship (1959, 1968, 1974) and PGA Championship (1962, 1972). Additionally, Player is the only golfer in history to achieve the Grand Slam on the Senior Tour.

He credits his success on the course to the stringent exercise regimen maintained throughout his career.

“At age 78, I still complete a rigorous fitness routine, which includes 1,000 sit-ups daily,” says Player. “My greatest ambition is to spread the message to the youth of the world that your body is a temple – you cannot do anything without health.”

As a father of six and grandfather of 22, Player’s desire to instill the importance of an active lifestyle, especially in children, aligns with the message of PHIT America. Participation in youth sports is a way to get fit while also building self-confidence and developing skills such as discipline and dedication to setting and achieving goals.

Player joins an all-star roster of celebrity ambassadors including NFL icon Herschel Walker and Golf Channel instructor Michael Breed. Each PHIT America ambassador is selected due to a common vision. The collective goal is to create “A Movement for a Fit and Healthy America” by educating men, women and children about the importance of an active lifestyle to improve overall health.

“Almost 30 percent of Americans are totally sedentary and this has increased the last five years,” says Jim Baugh, Founder of PHIT America, former President of Wilson Sporting Goods and a 2011 inductee into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame. “Inactivity is the prime contributor to the escalating health care costs we all face and Gary Player is setting a great example of how we can all work to create a more fit country.”

Since its January 2013 launch, more than 150 leading companies and associations from the sports, fitness, retail and media industries have contributed funds and services to support PHIT America.

The organization supports two pieces of legislation crucial to increasing the number of healthy Americans. When passed, the Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT) will allow people to use pre-tax medical accounts for physical activity expenses. The Physical Education Program (PEP) is a 14-year Federal grant from the Department of Education for schools to rebuild and revolutionize fitness programs.

Americans are encouraged to support PHIT America by visiting http://www.PHITAmerica.org to advocate, provide a donation or participate in health and wellness programs.

To view the entire list of PHIT America celebrities, click HERE.

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GOLF CHANNEL EQUIPMENT INSIDER REVIEWS GARY PLAYER: A GAME FOR LIFE

Mar 11, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

There aren’t many golfers out there who couldn’t learn a thing or two from Gary Player. And we’re talking on and off the course.

The 78-year-old South African legend has nine major championships to his name and still does 1,000 sit-ups every morning. So if you can pick his brain for any tips on golf, or life in general, you’d be wise to do so.

Now with the new DVD series, “Gary Player: A Game for Life,” you can. As the title suggests, it’s a radically different approach to any type of golf instruction that you’ve received in the past.

In fact, the first three sentences on the website read like this:

Forget about your grip. Forget about your swing plane. Put down your golf instruction books.

“I didn’t want to go, ‘you got to take your backswing here, you got to do this, you got to walk through.’ It was more about ‘what are the things that are important to your longevity.’ And they were short game, sand play, how to practice, how to warm-up, a lot of physical fitness stuff,” said executive producer Justin Tupper at January’s PGA Show in Orlando. “So it’s very different from a typical ‘this is how you swing a golf club.’”

Without giving too much away, this three DVD series will change your approach to the game with an outside-the-box thought process. Player’s balanced approach will help you almost immediately. Instead of focusing solely on the technical aspects of your swing, the Black Knight gives advice for when you’re on the course from a guy who has been there and done that, such as the secret to creating feel, how to turn three shots into two and maintaining motivation.

“We spent five days at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, and boiled it down to about 4 1/2 hours. So it’s super comprehensive,” said Tupper.

“Gary Player: A Game for Life” is available for $99.95. For more information or to make a purchase, check out the DVD series online.

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GARY PLAYER PREPARES FOR BUSY TOUR OF ASIAN DESIGN SITES

Feb 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

There is no question that Asia has quickly emerged as one of the brightest spots in the golf course design industry with the increasing globalization of golf in recent years. With a continually growing portfolio of projects spanning the continent, Gary Player Design continues to solidify its presence across Asia.

The Black Knight is preparing for a busy trip in March as he is set to tour a number of sites in China and India that are currently under construction for the firm. In addition to design duties, Player will end his trip to Asia on a high note at the annual China Golf Show in Beijing where the golfing icon is slated to give the keynote address.

“This is a great time for golf globally, and it has been such a thrill to see the game evolve so much over my career,” said Gary Player. “I love being involved with the game’s growth across Asia and could not be any happier with the quality of courses that we are designing across the continent.”

Gary Player Design features a global portfolio that includes over 325 courses in 35 countries and remains one of the most active firms internationally. Gary Player Design is currently working on 16 projects across Asia, with scheduled courses openings at DLF Golf and Country Club in India and Longping Jiuhua Sports and Leisure Park in China late this year.

“Our industry has clearly turned to Asia for growth, and the potential is enormous.  Our job is to contribute quality courses to the landscape, which will provide the proper foundation for the future.  I’m proud to say we are doing just that,” said Gary Player Design President Scott Ferrell.

Player’s first stop will be in Delhi, India where the first nine of a Gary Player Signature Course was unveiled at DLF Golf and Country Club last Fall.  The Black Knight will walk through the second nine currently under construction to ensure the design details are ready for the scheduled October grand opening.

In China, Gary Player Design counts eleven completed courses in its portfolio. More notably, the “International Ambassador of Golf” is currently working on eight courses that are in various design and construction phases.

Aside from visits to courses currently under construction, Player and the design team will visit a number of prospective project sites in China, as well as stop by the Nanjing Zhongshan International Sports Park, a 27-hole Gary Player Signature Course that was completed a decade ago.

One of the busiest hubs for Gary Player Design is currently located in China’s capital city Beijing, where two Signature Design courses will receive site visits from Player before he caps off his trip with the China Golf Show.

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GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL SERIES POISED FOR FANTASTIC YEAR OF GOLF & GIVING

Feb 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Fresh off of a highly successful 30th anniversary year for The Player Foundation, the global Gary Player Invitational series is looking to make a splash once again in the annual “Union of Golf and Giving” series that spans the globe. Returning to iconic golfing venues with exciting sponsor additions, Black Knight International and Gary Player have a great deal to look forward to in 2014, as they offer golfers an exciting way to give back to underprivileged children and impoverished communities.

The first event of the year, the US leg in Augusta following The Masters, is already starting to take shape as April approaches. Confirmed celebrities include stars from the NBA and NFL, Hollywood actors, models, and trick shot artists looking to spice up the event set to take place April 13-14.

Once again hosted at Champions Retreat – the only golf property in the USA to feature 9-holes designed by “The Big Three” – participants, celebrities, and professional golfers will be welcomed to Augusta with a cocktail reception at the Black Knight International home for a final round Masters viewing with three-time Masters champion Gary Player before teeing off in the pro-am tournament the next morning.

One of the most exciting additions for the 2014 series is the announcement that Berenberg, the world’s second oldest bank, extended their multiyear title sponsorship of the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational in the UK. Held at the historic Wentworth Golf Club, home of the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship, the event will feature a new official tournament and gala auction on July 20-21 this year before expanding into a four day event in 2015.

When the GPI series travels to Shanghai on November 2-3, longtime title sponsor Coca-Cola will be joined by BMW as a major supporter of the event as the Gary Player Invitational will take place between the BMW Masters and the WGC - HSBC Champions.  In the 8th edition of China’s premier charity golf event, Player and company look to continue their support of the Chinese Foundation for the Prevention of STDs and AIDS, which has assisted over 12,500 AIDS-affected children across China through funds collected at the event.

Capping off the year is the largest event of the series that travels to the Black Knight’s home country of South Africa on November 20-23. The GPI will once again be held at Sun City’s Lost City Golf Course with the gala and auction at The Palace of the Lost City.

“I can’t thank our corporate partners enough,” added Marc Player. “Coca-Cola, SAP, Berenberg, Rolex, Callaway, SAP, UPS, and BMW offer great support of our GPI series throughout the world and we would simply not be able to achieve the level of success in raising funds for underprivileged children without them.”

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PLAYER HIGHLIGHTS THREE DIMENSIONAL GOLF IN ‘A GAME FOR LIFE’ INSTRUCTIONAL SERIES

Feb 28, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

When it comes to golf instruction, Gary Player has always felt that the best way for any golfer to improve is through a three dimensional approach that addresses the skill, mental, and physical elements of the game. This is the exact philosophy that Player and Revolution Golf, the world’s #1 golf learning website, highlight in the Grand Slam champion’s widely successful instructional multimedia series Gary Player: A Game for Life.

Skill may be the most obvious element of the Black Knight’s instructional philosophy, but Player insists on breaking the mold by refusing to concentrate on ultra-technical swing instruction that can stump any golfer - amateur or professional. In A Game for Life, Player instead reveals countless easily understood tips for on and off the course that will lead to better scores.

From his signature bunker play to the secrets on putting, accurate driving, soft fades, and powerful draws, Player offers guidance and advice on all aspects that helped propel him to 165 worldwide tournament victories and will help golfers to lower their handicap.

As a longtime advocate of fitness in golf, it should come as no surprise that “Mr. Fitness” insists that the physical aspects of golf be taken seriously. A Game for Life follows Player’s everyday fitness routine as he breaks down exercises from his home gym that can easily and quickly lead to an improved round including stretching and the importance of developing the core, forearms, and fast muscles.

Last, but not least, the golfing icon addresses the mental element, where he insists that great golfers tend to separate themselves - through mental toughness, ability to overcome adversity, confidence, and, most importantly, positivity.

“One of the most commonly overlooked aspects to the game is our mind and mental strength,” says Player.

To learn more on the three dimensional approach, Gary Player: A Game For Life is currently available in a collectible three-disc DVD box set from Amazon.

In addition to four hours of content in A Game for Life, Revolution Golf customers can expect additional content and new tips from the Black Knight later this year.

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HIGH FIVE FOR POLAND’S TOP GOLF RESORT

Feb 27, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

The 2014 golf season is set to be the most significant yet for Poland’s top golf resort, according to the team at Modry Las Golf Club. Celebrating its fifth anniversary in July, the acclaimed Gary Player-designed course will be joined by a new nine-hole course in the autumn, more accommodation and the first glimpse of the property offering at the resort.

This latest tranche of work is the next step in a meteoric rise following the opening of the course in 2009. Since then, Poland’s only signature course has won a series of national and international awards and gained recognition from across the globe.

“The first five years at Modry Las have been exceptional,” said Pamela Gromadzki, the resort’s International Marketing Director. “We set out to create one of Europe’s most natural courses and welcome visitors from across the world, and that is what we have done. Now we are creating world-class facilities to go with it. As birthday celebrations go; it should be one to remember.”

Perhaps the most significant development will be the completion of the nine-hole Orli Las course to be officially opened in 2015. This championship course in miniature has been routed through a peninsula with a lake-side forest which provides incredible views towards infinity greens.

According to Gromadzki, the course has been designed to provide golfers of all abilities with a real golfing test. “Visitors to Modry Las should be under no illusions; Orli Las is far from being a pitch-and-putt course,” she explained. “Orli Las has been created so that learners and advanced golfers can play together with each enjoying the challenge for different reasons. More importantly, it is a wonderful course which is big on challenge and easily fits with your schedule - you can play a round in less than an hour.”

With over-hanging trees and dramatic lake views, this clever, compact design is due for a soft opening later in the year. To accompany the launch, the resort will also have new accommodation options with the resort’s three Swiss-style self-catering cottages being joined by six guest suites.

Like the cottages, the suites have been designed with golfers in mind with spacious, comfortable rooms situated adjacent to the course. “It has always been important for our guests to have a place to sit, relax and enjoy Modry Las,” noted Gromadzki. “We introduced the cottages last year and they proved so popular that we decided to expand our accommodation offering by introducing our guest suites.”

In addition, 2014 will also provide a foretaste of the property vision for Modry Las in the form of a two-bedroom, eco-friendly show home. With 150 plots for sale and 10% already taken, this unique property scheme is already attracting attention from possible buyers. “The property element was part of the original master plan and an important element of the vision for Modry Las,” said Gromadzki. “Modry Las will become a unique leisure community in Poland.”

The busy year ahead follows a momentous 2013 for Modry Las which saw a number of milestones reached. These included the opening of the course-side cottages and the Peter Bronson Golf Academy run by Poland’s top golf pro. There was also new collaborations with local schools, the introduction of free golf lessons for children and a programme of promotional activities that culminated in two oversubscribed press/FAM visits and new photography created by award-winning photographer Mark Alexander.

“It was a busy year,” said Gromadzki. “There was a lot going on and a lot to be proud of, but this year is set to be the busiest yet. I am particularly excited about the new properties, but what will grab everyone’s attention is Orli Las. It really is a jewel.”

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2014 LAUREUS WORLD SPORTS AWARDS NOMINEES REVEALED

Feb 26, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

A glittering collection of the world’s greatest sports stars have been nominated for the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards, following a ballot by the world’s media.

Among the giants of sport who have been nominated are three-time Laureus winners Usain Bolt and Serena Williams, brilliant young Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel, short-listed for the fifth time, and Tiger Woods, who won in 2000, the inaugural year of Laureus, who is selected again after returning to the summit of world golf. Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva, both two-time Laureus winners, are nominated in two categories.

Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses said: “I have never seen such a potentially close contest in so many categories before. This is going to be a classic year. There is a wonderful balance between some of the great names who have dominated sport over many years and some exciting newcomers like Missy Franklin and Marc Márquez. I am especially thrilled by the line-up for the Disability Award, where you could make a case for any of the six to win. This is really the crème de la crème of sport and it is going to be an exciting night in Kuala Lumpur discovering which of these great athletes will receive Laureus Awards.”

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
Usain Bolt (Jamaica) Athletics – won 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m World Championship gold medals
Mo Farah (UK) Athletics – won classic 5,000m and 10,000m double in World Championships
LeBron James (US) Basketball – Miami Heat star, voted NBA MVP for fourth time in five years
Rafael Nadal (Spain) Tennis – winner of French Open, US Open and five ATP Masters event
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Football - scored 69 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal in 2013
Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Motor Racing – won fourth straight Formula One World Championship

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year
Nadine Angerer (Germany) Football – FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, captain of German team
Missy Franklin (US) Swimming – at 18, won a record six gold medals in World Championships
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) Athletics – won three sprint gold medals in World Championships
Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) Athletics – won pole vault world title in front of home Russian crowd
Tina Maze (Slovenia) Skiing – won Overall World Cup and three other disciplines, plus Super G world title
Serena Williams (US) Tennis – won French Open and US Open, plus eight other tournaments in 2013

Laureus World Team of the Year
All Blacks (NZ) Rugby Union – first time a national team achieved a 100% record in professional era
Bayern Munich (Germany) Football – won Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble
Brazil Men’s Football Team – won Confederations Cup, beating World Cup holders Spain in final
Bob & Mike Bryan (US) Tennis – completed doubles ‘Golden Slam’ – four Grand Slams and Olympic gold
Miami Heat (US) Basketball – won NBA title for second straight year, beating San Antonio Spurs in final
Red Bull (Austria) Motor Racing – won fourth straight Formula One Constructors’ World Championship

Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year
Afghanistan Cricket Team – learned cricket in refugee camps, in 2013 reached first World Cup finals
Marc Márquez (Spain) Motor Cycling – youngest ever MotoGP world champion, at 20 years 266 days
Raphael Holzdeppe (Germany) Athletics – won Germany’s first World Championship pole vault gold
Nairo Quintana (Colombia) Cycling – first Tour de France rookie to finish on the podium since 1996
Justin Rose (UK) Golf – won his first Major Championship at US Open, at the age of 32
Adam Scott (Australia) Golf – first Australian winner in the 77-year history of US Masters

 

Laureus World Comeback of the Year
Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) Athletics – won pole vault world title in front of home Russian crowd
Rafael Nadal (Spain) Tennis – winner of French Open, US Open and five ATP Masters event
Oracle Team USA - Sailing – 8-1 down in America’s Cup, Oracle fought back for a remarkable 9-8 victory
Tony Parker (France) Basketball – European Championship MVP after recovering from serious eye injury
Ronaldinho (Brazil) Football – at 33, led unfashionable Atlético Mineiro to victory in Copa Libertadores
Tiger Woods (US) Golf – US PGA Player of the Year after five tour victories, regained world No 1 ranking

Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Marie Bochet (France) Skiing – first winner of all five disciplines at a single Alpine World Championships
Marcel Hug (Switzerland) Wheelchair Racing – won five golds and a silver medal at World Championships
Tatyana McFadden (US) Wheelchair Racing – won four city marathons and six golds at World Championships
Sophie Pascoe (NZ) Swimming – won five gold medals out of five attempts at World Championships
Sarah Louise Rung (Norway) Swimming – won four gold medals in her five races in World Championships
Olga Sviderska (Ukraine) Swimming – took five individual and two relay golds in the World Championships

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year
Jamie Bestwick (UK) BMX – only athlete in X Games history to win eight straight gold medals
Bob Burnquist (Brazil) Skateboarding – overtook Dave Mirra to win a record 25th X-Games gold medal
Mick Fanning (Australia) Surfing – clinched his third World Surfing Championship in last event of year
John John Florence (US) Surfing – scored perfect 10 for completing the Alley Oop in Bali
Maya Gabeira (Brazil) Surfing – nearly drowned after attempting to surf a 70ft wave in Portugal
Shaun White (US) Snowboarding – won sixth consecutive SuperPipe gold medal at Winter X Games

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GOLFING GREAT IS AWED BY CHINA PROGRESS

Feb 24, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

The country needs to import instructors if it wants to climb the world ladder, Gary Player says.

The golfer Gary Player, who has designed eight golf courses in China, and with another five in the pipeline, says it is only a matter of time before the country produces a world-dominating player of its own.

Player, who recently turned 78, is a regular visitor to the country to inspect courses that carry his name and to host the annual Gary Player invitational tournament, which is held in Shanghai and raises money for AIDS orphans. Each time he comes, says Player, he is awed by the pace and scale of progress.

“I admire China and America because they are both nations that worked hard to attain success,” he says. “If you look at China, then the change has come basically overnight, whether it is economics or sport. With the history of China, then I am sure it will in time produce great golfers - just look at the success they have had in the Olympics.

“To really develop golf in China they need to bring in instructors from other parts of the world and have golf academies with top instructors. You also need public golf courses. We charge a substantial fee but we would do a public golf course in this country for no fee.”

Player’s most high-profile China project is at Yanxi Lake, outside Beijing, part of the showcase complex where the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will be held in October. That is a Gary Player Signature Course, which means the man himself has been involved intimately with all aspects of the design - and personally inspected the course a number of times to ensure it met his standards.

“He is very concerned about the evolution of golf and making it more accessible for less-wealthy people,” says Beijing-based Justin Downes, whose company, Axis Leisure Management, represents the golfer’s business interests in the country.

“He wants young, old, men, women and children to be able to play. He wants courses to be playable and fun, rather than just making them as long and difficult as possible. We go to a site and say to him ‘We have got two hours’ and he will be there for eight. He will walk every square inch of every golf hole and stand in every bunker location and every vantage point; he will take for ever. He is very involved.

“He is very switched on and engaged, active in every single way, a long way from being a retiree. You might think that sports stars would be self-absorbed, but he is not. He is a very humble person, very proud of his accomplishments but doesn’t talk about them unless you want to talk about them. He wants to know about you and your environment. He has seen a lot in his many years he has some great stories, fun stuff and sad stuff and technical stuff.”

Player, who has six children and 22 grandchildren, is known for being an avid fitness buff, taking exercise and diet seriously long before it became fashionable; in years gone by, fellow golfers on the international circuit thought him to be slightly eccentric by insisting on seeking out a gym to perform his daily regimen. Even now, the day starts with a thousand push-ups, with a round of golf later if time permits. He follows a mostly vegetarian diet and drinks alcohol only very occasionally, and sparingly.

Home is the United States, in a Florida golf enclave, and a giant estate in South Africa with its own private game reserve. But for much of the year Player travels around the world by private jet, a non-stop schedule that has earned him the title of the world’s most-traveled athlete. He is said to have clocked up about 25 million kilometers during 40 years of competition in which he had 165 tournament victories.

Most keen globetrotting amateur golfers would have hauled their clubs around at least one of the 300-plus Player courses scattered around the world. One of the most spectacular is the Kau Sai Chau public course in Hong Kong, located on an outlying island, where golfers get to the course by ferry and play with a dramatic background of ocean and mountain.

Another China course garnering praise from golf aficionados is Jinji Lake, in Suzhou, a 27-hole development that has won numerous awards and hosted several large tournaments. Like other Player courses, there is a strict insistence on environmental sustainability, ensuring that water is recycled and pollution minimized.


Kau Sai Chau

Player has been showered with accolades over his career, but one that gave him particular pride was a lavish endorsement by the late Nelson Mandela, who had followed the sportsman’s career during his near 30 years in prison.

Writing later in Golf Digest magazine, the South African president pointed out that Player had sometimes been unfairly associated with the apartheid regime; in reality, he had lobbied for black athletes such as tennis player Arthur Ashe and golfer Lee Elder to be allowed to compete in South Africa. In addition, Mandela said that he established the Gary Player Foundation, which did a great deal to further education among young black people.

Mandela wrote: “He won tournaments in five different decades, including the Grand Slam - all four professional majors - in his career. That is impressive, but it is important to note that Mr Player also was voted one of the top five influential people in our nation’s history. His accomplishments as a humanitarian and statesman are equal to, and may even surpass, his accomplishments as an athlete. That is a legacy that will last forever.”

Another of Player’s many roles is as de facto tourism ambassador for his country, trying to persuade people to pay a visit - whether they are gourmands, nature lovers, surfers, wine buffs, big-game spotters or just lovers of big wide open spaces, clean ocean and blue skies. Golfers, of course, are also apprised of the splendid courses in South Africa.


Leopard Creek Country Club

“One of my favorites courses is the Leopard Creek Country Club,” Player says. “It is on the border of the Kruger National Park. You walk out on to the veranda and you see 22 million acres of space with wild animals and not a light, or a person, to be seen. You can be sitting down for breakfast and 15 meters from your table you will see an elephant, or a lion, or hippos in the river. They are wild animals and if you walked into their territory it is likely they would attack you. The front door has animals outside, the back door has the golf course: you have to make sure you don’t mix up the doors. I designed the course in such a way that you can see often see crocodile, hippo, antelope, buffalo and wild boar either on the course itself, or in or next to the river running alongside several holes.

“I have to nominate the home of golf, St Andrews in Scotland, as another of my favorites. The Royal and Ancient Club there is where it all began; it is inundated with history. You can tee off at 10 pm at night there and there will be people watching you. I remember playing once at night with Arnold Palmer - word spread through the town and within half an hour of us starting there were 5,000 people on the course watching.”

Article courtesy of China Daily

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LEGENDS OF SPORT TO ANNOUNCE 2014 LAUREUS WORLD SPORTS AWARDS NOMINEES

Feb 20, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Three of the greatest sportsmen in the world will be in Malaysia later this month to announce the Nominees for the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards.

French World Cup winner Marcel Desailly, top football coach André Villas-Boas and five-times world motor cycling champion Mick Doohan will reveal the names of the six outstanding sportsmen, sportswomen and teams in seven different categories, following a ballot by the world’s media,The announcement will be made in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, February 26 – exactly one month before the 15th Laureus World Sports Awards is staged in the Malaysian capital.

Laureus Ambassador and Malaysian squash legend Nicol David, seven times world champion, said: “I am so excited that the Laureus World Sports Awards are being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, my home country. I know that Kuala Lumpur will host a great Awards Ceremony. Everyone in my country loves sport and I can promise a really wonderful Malaysia welcome.”

This is the 15th year of the Laureus World Sports Awards and Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “I am delighted that the 2014 Awards is to be staged in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is an exciting development that Laureus is being held in South East Asia for the first time, enabling the Laureus message to be extended to a new part of the world.”

Six Nominees will be announced in various categories on February 26: Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, Laureus World Team of the Year, Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year, Laureus World Comeback of the Year, Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year. The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy will then vote by secret ballot to decide the winners.

More exciting events are planned for the Nominations day so be sure to follow Laureus on Twitter and Facebook to find out what’s going on and how to get involved.

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GOLF DIGEST RANKS THE LINKS AT FANCOURT & LEOPARD CREEK AMONG WORLD’S 100 GREATEST GOLF COURSES

Jan 31, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

Two Gary Player Design courses made a statement in Golf Digest’s first ever listing of the world’s 100 greatest golf courses. The golfing icon from South Africa designed the only courses from his home country to make the list, as The Links at Fancourt ranks at the 34th spot and Leopard Creek lands as the 84th best course in the world.

“I am so pleased that Golf Digest has recognized both The Links at Fancourt and Leopard Creek as Top 100 courses in the world,” said Gary Player, whose design firm has shaped over 325 courses across the globe. “These are two great representatives of the terrific golf that can be found throughout South Africa.  I’m very proud of both courses, which are two of my favorites in our global portfolio.”

The Links at Fancourt, located in George, South Africa, has long been a fixture among the listings of top courses in country. A former airfield, The Links was designed as a homage to the traditional Scottish links courses that have always been among Player’s favorites. 

Fancourt Resort, which features three Gary Player-designed golf courses, was recently also voted as one of the World’s 10 Best Resorts across the globe by the global news giant CNN. In addition to The Links at Fancourt, other courses at the resort designed by the Black Knight include Montagu and Outeniqua.

“We are extremely proud of the work that we do at The Links and therefore it is an honour for it to be recognized amongst the greatest in the world,” remarked Kerrin Titmas, CEO of Fancourt.  “I could not be more proud of our team as they have worked hard to raise the standards and create a piece of golfing and environmental heritage. They continually strive to achieve world-class standards in both course condition and service delivery. I want to emphasize the contribution of the rest of our team too, as I believe the overall Fancourt experience as South Africa’s premier golfing and leisure destination on the Garden Route, positively impacts on the experience of any visitor to The Links.”

Leopard Creek is also sure to provide a golfing experience that is both outstanding and unique to South Africa. The championship course annually hosts the Alfred Dunhill Championship, a European Tour event. Most notably, Leopard Creek sits along the Kruger National Park and is renowned for the variety of wildlife that regularly makes appearances adjacent to the course including giraffes, crocodiles, leopards and hippos.

Leopard Creek and The Links at Fancourt also topped the rankings in Golf Digest South Africa’s rankings which had the Player-designed courses ranked as one and two respectively.

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

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GARY PLAYER VILLA UNVEILED AT TRUMP NATIONAL DORAL

Jan 27, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

As Trump National Doral prepares for the first World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship since drastic renovations to Doral, Gary Player joined Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump last week to unveil the new Gary Player Villa at the renowned Miami resort. 

Player was happy to celebrate the inauguration of his namesake villa, which is the first of eight deluxe guestroom villas to be completed and each will be named after one of the world’s most influential golfers including Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson - many of which have competed on the resort’s famed Blue Monster golf course.

“Doral is one of the most important golf properties in history and it is incredible to see the amazing changes that the Trump Family has delivered in such a short period of time,” said golfing icon Gary Player. “The new Villas look magnificent and I am truly honored to have the very first bear my name.”

“We are thrilled to honor the legendary Gary Player with our first Villa dedication and celebrate his incredible career,” said Donald J. Trump, Chairman and President of The Trump Organization.

The Gary Player Villa is one of eight new deluxe guestroom villas designed by Ivanka Trump and world renowned architects WATG as part of the $250 million renovation currently underway at the iconic property. Historically, Doral been regarded as one of the most exceptional golf resorts in the world and the completion of the Gary Player Villa signifies the Trump family’s continued commitment to restoring, that surpassing, that reputation while honoring the great legends of golf. 

“Our vision for Doral from the onset has been to create an ultra-luxurious golf resort in the heart of Miami and the Gary Player Villa is a reflection of this,” said Ivanka Trump, Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions at The Trump Organization. “The elegant design, luxurious and spacious rooms and suites, and attention to every last detail are a few of the defining characteristics that will make Trump National Doral an unparalleled experience for our guests.”

To accent the design vision of Ivanka Trump, the Gary Player Villa at Doral features iconic images and memorabilia from the Black Knight’s career throughout the property.

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DONNAFUGATA MAKES DEBUT IN LIST OF ITALY’S BEST GOLF COURSES

Jan 24, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

The position of Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa in European golf continues to soar after receiving new recognition from one of the continent’s top course-ranking websites.

For the first time in its brief history, the five-star Sicilian venue has been included in the updated list of the ‘Top 30 Courses in Italy’ from popular website http://www.top100golfcourses.co.uk – with both its 18-hole championship courses making debuts in the new standings. The Gary Player-designed Parkland course, which hosted the 2011 Sicilian Open, appears on the list at the 22nd spot.

Donnafugata has won widespread acclaim throughout the golf industry since opening in 2010 and, acknowledging its new position in the standings, The Top 100 Courses website comments: “Sicily may well be the largest Mediterranean island but, up until recently, Sicilian golf courses were in short supply.

“The introduction of the Gary Player-fashioned course that ably supports the contrasting Franco Piras-designed Links course at Donnafugata has (helped) completely raise the golfing bar on this charming island. The two championship courses at the luxury five-star Donnafugata Resort in the south of Sicily offer golfers a rather splendid 36-hole golf experience.

“The Links layout is routed around a couple of lakes that lie within two valleys while the Parkland course winds through a typical Ragusan landscape of olive and carob trees.”

Guy Roberts, Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa’s director of golf, said: “We were particularly keen to be recognised in the new list and for both courses to have been included is fantastic news for the resort.

“The two courses may both be comparatively new but everyone who plays them comments on how good and well-established they are. They are also so incredibly varied that they complement each other very well.

“Having respected ranking sites likes this one endorse their views is further proof of how highly both have come to be regarded in a relatively short space of time.”

After hosting the 2011 Sicilian Open, Donnafugata has enjoyed an outstanding period of success including becoming the first course in Italy to join IMG Prestige, an exclusive collection of some of the world’s most celebrated golfing venues, and both its courses being named in Golf World’s latest biennial list of the ‘Top 200 Courses in Continental Europe’.

Located just 20 minutes away from Comiso airport and set in the beautiful area of Donnafugata, a natural reserve and famous tourist destination known for the imposing castle which bears the same name, the resort also boasts a number of fantastic historical cities nearby. These include Val di Noto, the heart of Sicilian baroque: Ragusa Ibla, Modica, Noto and Scicli. All of them are deemed fitting of UNESCO World Heritage status.

Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa has 202 rooms, an award-winning spa and health club, swimming pools and three restaurants offering a broad selection of gastronomic delights, well accompanied by perfect Sicilian wines to enhance flavour.

For more details on the latest ‘Top 30 Courses in Italy’ list, go to http://www.top100golfcourses.co.uk/htmlsite/story.asp?id=491

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GARY PLAYER GOLF SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE GRADUATES LOUIS & EDDIE TAYLOR CHASE PRO DREAMS

Jan 22, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

If Louis Taylor and his twin brother Eddie both make it through this week’s Sunshine Tour Qualifying School at Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park Golf Club, they will be the first South African twins to play professional golf.

Louis has already made his mark nationally: He took the Freddie Tait Cup for leading amateur in the South African Open Championship last November when he was the only amateur to make the cut. He finished at one-over-par 289 after his closing 78 saw him share 59th behind winner Morten Orum Madsen of Denmark.

“I am so grateful that the South African Golf Association gave me the chance to tee it up in a tournament of this stature,” Taylor said.

“I came to see how things are run at an event like the SA Open. It was my first proper pro tournament and I wanted see how the pros play and at the same time just try to play my own game.

“After playing the SA Open, I know now this is a big step from amateur level. You can see it in every aspect and the organisation is just so professional. I’m glad that I’ve experienced it, seen it and got a glimpse of what is to come. It’s been fun to out here with all the great golfers.”

The Taylors were born in Harrismith in the Free State and then schooled at Hilton College, KwaZulu-Natal. There their sporting talent came to the fore and both were capped for the school’s first cricket team. They also excelled at hockey and were selected for the under-19 KwaZulu-Natal inter-provincial side.

Despite their success on the cricket and hockey fields, the Taylors turned to golf when they completed their schooling and relocated to Gauteng, where they attended the Gary Player Golf School of Excellence. The 22-year-olds play out of the Johannesburg Country Club and have established themselves among the leading South African amateurs.

Louis also had a runner-up finish at the IGT Race to Q-School at Kempton Park, where he lost to Eddie.

“I think the time has come for me to turn pro,” he said. “I know it is going to be tough and the way the Sunshine Tour works, you know you are going to be in for a tough year with all the qualifiers, but then you just need to wait for a break. If it happens early in the year, that’s great but if it doesn’t, you just have to grind it out.”

He has his work cut out for him after an opening five-over-par 77, while Eddie fared a little better with his one-over par 73.

Article Courtesy of SuperSport. Photo Courtesy of the Sunshine Tour.

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GARY PLAYER HEADLINES 2014 JUNIOR INVITATIONAL AT SAGE VALLEY GOLF CLUB OPENING CEREMONY

Jan 21, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player, the International Ambassador of Golf, has tirelessly considered junior golf the heart of the game and remains active in his travels across the globe in support of the sport’s growth. Player will soon have the exciting opportunity to reach many of the most promising juniors in the world during the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley presented by Electrolux, when the Grand Slam champion will be the featured speaker for the 2014 Opening Ceremony.

The Junior Invitational at Sage Valley will be held April 24th-26th at the renowned Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, SC. An invitation-only banquet will kick off the 4th edition of the tournament on Tuesday, April 22 when the Black Knight will address and pass along his insight to competitors.

The tournament features the top 54 junior boys in the world and has been recognized by Golfweek for the past 3 years as the number one event in all of junior golf.

The impressive international field has included past participants from South Africa, Denmark, Germany, South Korea, Bolivia, France, England, India, among other nations.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Player will have plenty to share with the promising young juniors. From the importance of mental strength and attitude to Player’s famous saying “The harder you practice, the luckier you get”, the Junior Invitational participants will receive many insights from a professional who accumulated an impressive nine major championships on the PGA Tour and a matching nine major championships on the Senior Tour.

The Black Knight will join Jay Haas and Bill Haas, President George W. Bush and Jack Nicklaus on the roster of distinguished, accomplished individuals that have headlined the Junior Invitational Opening Ceremony.

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GARY PLAYER TOPS THE ALL-TIME FITTEST PGA TOUR PLAYERS LIST

Jan 16, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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BUFFALO COMMUNICATIONS SELECTED TO MANAGE PR PROGRAM FOR ‘GARY PLAYER: A GAME FOR LIFE’ SERIES

Jan 16, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Buffalo Communications (Buffalo) has been selected by producers of Gary Player:  A Game For Life to create and manage a public relations program for the new, four-hour instructional video series in which the legendary golfer divulges never-before-seen secrets to better golf.

Available in an attractive, three-disc DVD box set and via digital download, Gary Player: A Game For Life goes beyond standard golf instruction of explaining club positioning at different points of the swing. The only individual to win the Grand Slam on both the PGA and Champions Tours, Player provides previously-untold tips on sand play, efficient practice, short game, course management and fitness for a roadmap to improved play.

Among the entertaining and informative counsel Player shares:

• Proven strategy for turning three shots into two on every hole
• Two simple steps to hitting a perfect and powerful draw
• How toes are keys to the perfect set-up for the ideal swing
• Why high-handicappers should abandon their 3, 4 and 5 irons for accuracy from 170 to 220 yards
• A 30-second pre-bedtime exercise that will improve golfers’ games more than club technology
• Easy ways to hit great shots out of fairway bunkers, creating feel and making the most of practice
• Methods to unleash power in the full swing, even among the most inflexible golfers
• How gardening transforms bunker play and reading the morning newspapers also aids scores
• A unique technique to produce Tour-quality spin on approach shots time and again

“A Game for Life unlocks Mr. Player’s winning approach in an easy-to-digest manner compared to traditional instruction methods that can be expensive and time-consuming,” says Justin Tupper, Executive Producer of A Game For Life. “This is the type of education golfers need, and Buffalo Communications is the ideal partner to help Gary Player help more golfers.”

With proven advice to reduce strokes, produce Tour-quality spin on approach shots and remain strong later in life, A Game for Life (MSRP $99) is available for purchase on http://www.amazon.com. Four hours of high-definition content is consumed through a traditional DVD, computer or mobile device. Digital portability means the Black Knight’s legendary knowledge can be viewed on the driving range, putting green and gym and put to immediate use.

“Until now, Gary Player hasn’t gone deep conveying his inner-most secrets to help everyday golfers enjoy the game more,” says Rich Katz, Managing Director of Buffalo. “Through consistent media coverage, players of all abilities will learn how A Game For Life cost-effectively delivers cool, engaging and surprisingly simple guidance.”

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GARY PLAYER AND HUMANA CONTINUE PARTNERSHIP AT 2014 HUMANA CHALLENGE

Jan 3, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golf legend Gary Player and Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), one of the nation’s leading health and well-being companies, announced today the continuation of their three-year partnership as the Black Knight will once again co-host at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, California on January 13-19, 2014. Since the partnership’s inception last year, Player has served as a national spokesman for the health care company, promoting lifelong well-being and healthy living through proper diet and exercise. Player has also joined forces with Humana to help address the increasing challenges of childhood obesity.

“I firmly believe that The Humana Challenge is one of the most important events on the TOUR schedule. Humana and the PGA TOUR have created an incredible platform to raise awareness for healthy living and I am honored to play a key role in spreading a message that is close to my heart,” said Player, who has won more than 165 professional tournaments worldwide, including nine major championships, and is one of only five individuals to win the coveted Grand Slam of golf.

Sponsored by Humana and the William J. Clinton Foundation, the 2014 Humana Challenge is an annual PGA TOUR event featuring 156 professionals playing at PGA WEST and La Quinta Country Club. To date, the event has successfully raised more than $2.1 million for charity and was named “Sports Event of the Year” by The Sports Business Journal.

Player has been an advocate of healthy living through proper diet and exercise and has maintained an incredible level of fitness throughout his legendary golfing career. At the age of 78, Player is recognized as an ambassador to fitness and serves as a role model for many of today’s up-and-coming PGA TOUR stars. The 2014 Humana Challenge takes place fresh off a milestone year for Player, which included his 60th anniversary as a professional and the 30th anniversary of his philanthropic endeavor, The Player Foundation.

“I greatly admire the efforts and commitment of Humana and President Clinton to promote lifelong well-being. Over my 60-year golfing career, I placed great emphasis on fitness and a healthy diet and at this stage in my life, I am really seeing the benefits of my lifelong commitment more than ever,” Player said.

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GARY PLAYER DESIGN LOOKS FORWARD TO GLOBAL OPENINGS IN 2014

Jan 2, 2014 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

The design firm of the International Ambassador of Golf, Gary Player, features a global portfolio that includes over 325 courses in 35 countries and remains one of the most active firms internationally. Gary Player Design will continue its global expansion in 2014 as four course openings are planned that span from Honduras to India to China.

“We are very pleased with how 2014 is shaping up in regard to course openings,” said Scott Ferrell, Gary Player Design President. “As the golf industry increasingly moves towards emerging golf countries, with an emphasis on Asia, our courses at Indura, DLF, Presidential, and Longping will be terrific additions to our international portfolio.”

Indura Resort, the first Signature Course for the Black Knight in Honduras, will be unveiled in conjunction with the resort’s grand opening in late Summer. Stretching along 26 miles of the Tela Bay, Indura is a flagship project for Honduras that will not only set the standard for championship golf in the Latin-American country, but will also showcase the longstanding sustainability practices of Gary Player Design.

“Our course at Indura Resort will play through a number experiences, with holes meandering through the jungle, lagoon, and along the ocean,” said Jeff Lawrence, Gary Player Design Senior Designer. “When designing this course, we made sure to emphasize playability for all levels and the ecological sensitivity that is so important to our firm.”

DLF Golf and Country Club in Guragon, India debuted the first nine of their 18-hole Gary Player Signature Design in October 2013 to fantastic reviews. The Black Knight will return to India in the Fall of 2014 to open the second nine that is currently under construction.  The final championship course will utilize the top technology and sustainability practices of today.

“We feel strongly that the second nine at DLF will be a wonderful complement to the first,” said Lawrence.

China continues to be one of the brightest spots for the global golf course design industry. Gary Player Design already counts among its portfolio seven completed golf courses in China, but continues to drive expansion with another seven courses in various phases of design and construction.

“We remain very excited about the future growth potential in China and about the courses we are currently developing,” said Ferrell.

Perhaps one of the most notable design projects to debut this year will be the Presidential Golf Club in Beijing. The Signature Design located in China’s capital city is being developed in conjunction with the Chinese government’s plans to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in late 2014.

The second Chinese design to be completed in 2014 will be Longping Jiuhua Sports and Leisure Park in Changsha, which will boast an 18-hole Black Knight Design course as part of a 36-hole facility.

The second 18-hole course will be a Gary Player Signature Design that is due to open in 2015.

“Longping Jiuhua Sports and Leisure Park is progressing nicely and will be a very visually dramatic design along with a great deal of topography that will come into play,” said Steven McFarlane, Gary Player Design Senior Designer.

Beyond these course openings, Gary Player Design has additional courses in various stages of development in the USA, China, India, Montenegro, Cyprus, Gabon, Malaysia, Italy, and Peru.

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SAP EXPERIENCES FARM LIFE WITH THE BLACK KNIGHT

Jan 1, 2014 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Grand Slam champion Gary Player makes no secret of his great love of thoroughbred racehorses and his stud farm in the Great Karoo of South Africa.  Guests of longtime corporate partner SAP experienced the magic of Player’s farm in a weekend to be remembered during their recent visit.

“It was such a pleasure to have our friends at SAP join my wife, Vivienne, and I on our farm for the weekend,” said Gary Player. “We made sure to show them the best of what our beautiful countryside has to offer. From interacting with our mares and stallions, as well as our new foals, to game drives and a round on my Karoo golf course, I think it was a fantastic time for all.”

Player has owned his Colesberg-based stud farm since 1974 and now makes his primary residence in the Karoo. The Black Knight has turned his passion away from the golf course into successful business that has landed Gary Player Stud among top of the National Breeders List.

After fun on the farm interacting with Player’s prized horses, guests did not have to travel far to experience South Africa’s incredible wildlife. The onsite game reserve includes a variety of herds of Wildebeest, Impala, Waterbuck, Hartebees, Springbuck, Blesbuck and Gemsbuck. Skeet shooting and a boat tour of the Gariep Dam kept guests busy following a safari and game drive.

“To experience a weekend with Gary on his farm was incredible,” said James Wilson of Experience Worldwide. “It was refreshing to see Gary in his element away from the golf course and really catch a glimpse into his everyday life on the farm.”

While Player’s horses and the African experience were the focal points of this trip, SAP clients and guests were still able to play some golf with the icon. The round was over Player’s personal golf course that utilizes water-saving techniques for an environmentally friendly golf course featuring distinctive bunker styles that plays to the arid conditions of the Karoo.

“We were amazed minute by minute by the hospitality and Gary and his wife’s warmth,” said a SAP guest. “It was something which cannot be described as it needs to be lived out!”

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GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL HELPS MOBILISE MORE PEOPLE WITH BICYCLES

Dec 16, 2013 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player Foundation   Share

The annual Gary Player Invitational (GPI) Gala Auction took place at The Palace of the Lost City on Friday 15 November and raised over R4 million for Wings & Wishes and Qhubeka, in partnership with its implementation partner, Wildlands Conservation Trust.

The GPI is Africa’s leading charity tournament, presented by Coca-Cola. This year’s event was held on 16 and 17 November and featured celebrities teamed with professional golfers and leading business executives. Golfing stars Gary Player, Retief Goosen, Tony Johnstone and Cheyenne Woods were in attendance, along with Law & Order star Anthony Anderson and CSI New York’s Carmine Giovinazzo, Westlife’s Brian McFadden and his glamorous wife Vogue, as well as South Africa’s first couple of radio Unathi and Thomas Msengana.

Here’s how the money raised through the Gary Player Invitational helped Qhubeka to mobilise more people with bicycles in 2013:


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A NEW ERA OF THE NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE IS BJØRN

Dec 9, 2013 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

If Thomas Bjørn was looking for confirmation that at the age of 42 he could still compete with the best in the game, then his two-stroke victory in the 2013 Nedbank Golf Challenge gave him 1 250 000 reasons to keep believing. The $1 250 000 cheque he received for becoming the first Danish winner of “Africa’s Major” is nothing compared with the confidence he gained from a clinical four days at the Gary Player Country Club.

With a final round of 65 on Sunday, he claimed his second victory in 2013 on a total of 20 under par. “This is right up there with the biggest victories of my career,” said Bjørn after beating Sergio Garcia and Jamie Donaldson into second place on 18 under par. “The golf I played this week was so good. I’m 42 and to start my 14th season like this is unbelievable. This takes me into 2014 with the belief that I can compete with the best in the world.”

On Bjørn’s spectacular round, Golf icon Gary Player said, “I was thrilled to see Thomas’ victory at the GPCC. A fantastic start to the 2014 season for Thomas, and I must say that I am so happy to see the success of the Nedbank as this year represented a real milestone for the tournament.”

Bjørn went into the final round three strokes behind leader Donaldson. Garcia made the most significant move early on, but Bjørn birdied the ninth and then hit a magnificent five iron for his second into the 10th for an eagle that gave him the lead. The back nine turned into a duel between him and Garcia. Then on the par-five 14th Bjørn enjoyed some luck when his second shot pitched in the waste bunker and then skipped onto the green, from where he made another eagle.

Garcia birdied the 15th to close to within one shot of the Dane. But Garcia bogeyed 16 and Bjørn birdied 15 to see him three clear playing the last, affording him a bogey on 18.

“Golf is funny. Sometimes it takes away from you and other times it gives back to you. Today it was my time. It was a battle early on between Jamie and me, but I kind of had a feeling that either one of Henrik Stenson or Sergio Garcia were going to be there in the end.

I’m proud of the way I handled myself this week. This is one of those tournaments that have been around for so long. I’ve come close to winning it before, and I’ve always wanted to come down here and put in a good performance.”

In a moving prize giving ceremony on the 18th green, Bjørn paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, who passed away during the tournament. “He was an inspiration to human beings. To see what one man can do is an inspiration to all of us. If we all just do a little bit more then this world will be a better place.”

In a golf sense, Bjørn found the little bit more he needed. He’s now become the first Dane to win “Africa’s Major”. Does he think it possible he could become the first Dane to win a Major in 2014? “I like to think so. I want to compete and play with the best. I have no interest in being a guy on tour who just makes a living.”

Article courtesy of Sun International.

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GARY PLAYER REMEMBERS NELSON MANDELA

Dec 5, 2013 | Filed Under: General News   Share

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of our beloved Madiba, President Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela is one of the great heroes in my life and I believe did more for our country than any other person in our history. As a proud South African, I am certain Mandela’s legacy will endure in our nation and across the world as a figure of courage, value, spirit, and above all else, love.

Madiba’s long life inspired great change in our nation, but not without adversity. I commend him for all that he did over his 95 years. He was a courageous leader who fought for all that is right, and he possessed an aura that inspired people, and our nation, to change for the better.

When I was a young man, I stated that Madiba should be released from prison, where he spent twenty-seven years. I was labeled a traitor, yet paid no mind. Time would prove that decision right. Moreover, time would prove how truly special he was after emerging from prison with no hatred or revenge. He was never broken, just empowered.

Our nation enters into a time of mourning, but also a celebration of his great life and the spirit he instilled in our nation. May we all lovingly remember our truly remarkable former President and the father of our nation. Thank you, Madiba.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family.

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BERENBERG EXPANDS GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL SPONSORSHIP

Dec 4, 2013 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

Berenberg, the second oldest bank in the world, announced today an extended three year title sponsorship of the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational event in London.

The European leg of the Gary Player Invitational global charity series, staged by Black Knight International to benefit The Player Foundation, will expand to a two-day affair consisting of an official tournament, as well as nightly entertainment cumulating with the charity gala and auction.

The 2014 Berenberg Gary Player Invitational will be held on July 20-21 at the historic Wentworth Golf Club, the longtime home of the World Match Play and the current home of the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship. Hosted by Grand Slam champion Gary Player, the GPI will once again field a star-studded cast of professional golfers, celebrities and business people to compete for the tournament title, but more importantly to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children.

“Dr. Hans-Walter Peters and Hendrik Riehmer from Berenberg have been extremely generous in their support of The Player Foundation and our Gary Player Invitational series,” said Gary Player. “As a newly appointed global ambassador for Berenberg, I could not be more pleased with their shared passion for giving back.”

“Gary Player is the finest ambassador of Golf you can imagine. We are proud to present this tournament together with him and to help with the collection of funds for underprivileged children,” says Hendrik Riehmer, Managing Partner of Berenberg.

Since 2011, Berenberg has generously supported the European-leg of the GPI series in London. The multiyear sponsorship has resulted from a relationship developed over the years following the participation of Berenberg Managing Partners Dr. Hans-Walter Peters and Hendrik Riehmer in the GPI at South Africa’s Fancourt Resort.

As the title sponsor, Berenberg has been a trusted partner in raising funds for underprivileged children and impoverished communities. In addition to The Player Foundation, the global bank’s charity, BerenbergKids, will remain a beneficiary of the event. 

“Berenberg has been a longtime supporter of The Player Foundation, and we could not be more thrilled to see their commitment grow as we aim for the tournament to raise record funds to help in creating a brighter future for those in need,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “We look forward to a fantastic event this coming July that truly represents a ‘Union of Golf and Giving.’”

Over the years, golf stars and celebrities joining the European GPI have included Ronan Keating, Tim Henman, Kenny Dalglish, Mick Fitzgerald, Carly Booth, Henrietta Zuel, DJ Spoony, Brian McFadden, Sean Fitzpatrick, Jodie Kidd and Martin Bayfield.

The expansion of the Gary Player Invitational sponsorship by Berenberg follows the November 1 announcement that golf icon Gary Player will serve as a global ambassador for the renowned private and investment bank.

Founded in 1590, Berenberg remains an independent private bank after over 400 years of business. Spanning across Europe, the United States and Asia, Berenberg is recognized for their quality and distinction in servicing divisions that include Private Banking, Investment Banking, Asset Management and Corporate Banking.

Black Knight International has announced the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational will be the second stop of the global 2014 GPI series, which will also make stops in the United States on April 13-14, China on November 2-3, and finish in South Africa on November 20-23.

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LEOPARD CREEK & GARY PLAYER COUNTRY CLUB SHINE ON EUROPEAN TOUR

Dec 3, 2013 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course DesignEvents & Tournaments   Share


The Gary Player Country Club welcomes 30 of the world’s elite golfers this week
in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

The European Tour continues to strengthen their association with South Africa as eight tournaments are now co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour. This should come as no surprise as the small nation of only 50 million has 24 Major Championships attributed to its countrymen and has emerged as a dominate force in the world of golf.

South Africa’s most successful golfer, Gary Player counts golf’s coveted Career Grand Slam, nine Major Championships on the PGA Tour, nine Major Championships on the Senior Tour, and 165 tournament victories among his accomplishments. Player continues to leave his mark on the game as the European Tour takes to two of his most acclaimed designs in the country, Leopard Creek and the Gary Player Country Club, for the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the Nedbank Golf Challenge.


South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel is already off to a great start in the
2014 season following his success at the Dunhill. (Getty)

Following last week’s Dunhill staged at Leopard Creek, the Race to Dubai is already off to an sensational start as Charl Schwartzel, South Africa’s highest ranked golfer, took the title after firing four consecutive rounds of 68 or below.

Player’s design at Leopard Creek provided its own thrills as the course sits on the edge of Kruger National Park. Widely considered one of the best courses in the world, Leopard Creek is renowned for the variety of wildlife that regularly makes appearances on the course including giraffes, crocodiles, leopards and hippos.


Leopard Creek

The competition will heat up this week when the Nedbank Golf Challenge, “Africa’s Major”, is welcomed to the European Tour. Formerly a 12-man field, the new format expands to a field of 30 elite golfers to battle for the $6.5 million prize fund, as well as standings on the European Tour’s money list and points in the Official World Golf Rankings and The Race to Dubai.

“I’ve always been in favour of a bigger field,” said Gary Player. “Now that the field has grown to 30 of the world’s top golfers, I cannot wait to watch the tournament unfold. It will be an exciting tournament and I assure you the golf course will certainly provide a good test.”

The illustrious history of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, formerly the Million Dollar Challenge, can be seen by the impressive list of past champions including Johnny Miller, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, and Lee Westwood.


Gary Player Country Club

Spawning from a conversation Player had with Sun City developer Sol Kerzner in 1978, Player proposed launching a new golf tournament that would bring the world’s top players to South Africa and wanted to offer something that no other tournament in the world did - a $1 million first place check.  The Million Dollar Challenge officially launched in 1981 and the rest remains history.

The par-72 Gary Player Country Club has remained a fierce challenge for the world’s finest players over the years, and this year promises to be no different.

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NEDBANK GOLF CHALLNEGE FIELD SET TO SIZZLE AT GARY PLAYER COUNTRY CLUB

Dec 3, 2013 | Filed Under: General NewsEvents & Tournaments   Share

The 30 players that will tee it up in Thursday’s first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge bring with them a collective golfing might that is among the strongest ever seen at the Gary Player Country Club.

The expanded field includes players who have a combined 354 tournament victories worldwide. There are also five Major winners in the field, including Ernie Els, Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and defending champion Martin Kaymer.

In terms of current form, 23 of the 30 golfers have won at least one title this year.

And there are 18 golfers making their debut in “Africa’s Major”.

But perhaps the most important statistic of all is that the field includes a select group of four golfers who are past Nedbank Golf Challenge champions. Els, Kaymer, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia are quite clearly the ones the rest of the field will look to as the favourites.

The 2013 Nedbank Golf Challenge field:

Victor Dubuisson, Thongchai Jaidee, Thomas Bjørn, Thaworn Wiratchant, Sergio Garcia, Peter Uihlein, Richard Sterne, Ryan Moore, Matteo Manassero, Morten Ørum Madsen, Peter Senior, Louis Oosthuizen, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Joost Luiten, Justin Rose, Kevin Streelman, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, Henrik Stenson, Jamie Donaldson, Ernie Els, Francesco Molinari, Gary Woodland, DA Points, Darren Fichardt, Dawie van der Walt, Branden Grace, Brendon de Jonge, Charl Schwartzel, and David Lynn.

Article courtesy of Sport24.

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RECORD GIVING YEAR FOR THE PLAYER FOUNDATION DURING 30TH ANNIVERSARY

Dec 2, 2013 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

It was an extraordinary end to the annual Gary Player Invitational (GPI) global charity series as celebrities, professional golfers, and acclaimed businessmen gathered at South Africa’s Sun City Resort to close out the series in 2013.  Following the finale, The Player Foundation raised nearly $2.5 million for underprivileged children across the globe during its 30th anniversary of giving.

Through the successes of each of the GPI events covering four continents, The Player Foundation continues to add to its total funds that now well exceed $50 million raised to provide hope for a brighter future for disadvantaged youth.

“We continue to work tirelessly to improve education for underprivileged children and provide aid for impoverished communities around the world,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “Thanks to the support of our generous sponsors, participants, and celebrities, The Player Foundation has once again experienced a record year.”

The growth and global impact of the philanthropic endeavor was not predicted when Marc Player established the Foundation seeking to improve the lives of needy children in 1983.

Primarily funded through the GPI Series staged by Black Knight International, The Player Foundation was able to provide support for numerous organizations this year that included BerenbergKids, the Chinese Foundation for the Prevention of STDs and AIDS, Wings & Wishes, the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhebeka, as well as many others.

Among those contributing to the golfing icon’s benevolent cause through their participation in the Augusta, London, Shanghai, or Sun City events were golfers Retief Goosen, Tony Johnstone, Cheyenne Woods, Carly Booth, Ian Woosnam, Guan Tianlang, Tano Goya, Brandon Stone, Hennie Zuel, notable celebrities Ronan Keating, Jeffrey Donovan, Kevin Sorbo, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, JJ Lim, Anton Du Beke, Anthony Anderson, Carmine Giovinazzo, Brian McFadden, Herschelle Gibbs, Vogue Williams, as well as Unathi and Thomas Msengana.

“Our GPI events continue to grow year after year and with exciting developments in our 2014 series, we continue to have great hope for the future of The Player Foundation and the impact we are able to make,” commented Marc Player.

Upon the completion of the 30th anniversary milestone, The Player Foundation continues to aspire to creating a brighter future with goals of raising a $100 million endowment to benefit the education of needy children and betterment of impoverished communities.

“I have always felt that contributing to others in need is an essential ingredient in life,” said Gary Player. “I could not be any more pleased with the work we are doing across the world with monies raised at these events. As we move into 2014, I only hope to continue expanding our impact and raising additional funds to benefit those less fortunate.”

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GARY PLAYER NO LONGER TO DESIGN NEW ZIMBALI GOLF COURSE

Nov 26, 2013 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

Gary Player and Gary Player Design will no longer have any further involvement as the designer of the new Zimbali Lakes Golf Course near Durban, South Africa.  Developer IFA Hotels and Resorts and Black Knight International announced that they would be going their separate ways, after over ten years of various environmental and other challenges that delayed construction of the golf course.

“We wish IFA and Zimbali Lakes the best as they continue to pursue approvals to build this golf course.  We have many active projects around the world, and have taken the view that our resources and attention should be prioritized elsewhere,” stated Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design.

Black Knight International CEO Marc Player added, “We have worked hard for 10 years through challenging conditions, but we felt that continued delays were not in our best interest.  IFA and Zimbali understandably could not make the commitments we sought, so we have mutually agreed to part company.  I do hope that Zimbali will build on past successes, as it will be good for the Durban economy and South Africa in general.”

“The decision to part ways was arrived at jointly and while we are disappointed to lose our association with Gary Player Design we do understand their decision and wish them well,” commented Werner Burger, IFA CEO.

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THRACIAN CLIFFS NAMED THE BEST GOLF RESORT IN EUROPE FOR 2014 BY IAGTO

Nov 21, 2013 | Filed Under: General NewsGolf Course Design   Share

Only three years after its official opening and a few months after the 50th Anniversary Volvo World Match Play Championship, Thracian Cliffs was awarded as European Golf Resort of the Year 2014. The prestigious award has been voted by the International Association of Golf Tourism Operators (IAGTO), the global trade organization of the golf industry.

IAGTO’s Chief Executive, Peter Walton, said: “The annual golf holiday is the highlight of the golfing year for many of the world’s 55 million players, and the IAGTO Awards serve to reward a few exceptional contributions to this world of golf travel.”

Thracian Cliffs owner Georg Tsvetanski and President of the Bulgarian Golf Association Krassimir Guergov were on hand to accept the award during the IAGTO Awards gala dinner on November 14 as part of the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) in Spain.


Thracian Cliffs Owner Georg Tsvetanski and Bulgarian Golf Association President
Krassimir Guergov accept IAGTO’s award for the 2014 European Golf Resort of the
Year during the November 14 International Golf Travel Market in Spain.

The European Golf Resort of the Year award is voted by IAGTO’s specialist golf tour operator members, which now number over 516 from 62 different countries. Each operator was asked to vote for what they considered to be the best performing golf resorts of the year. The following criteria were considered:
• Customer Satisfaction
• Quality of Golf Courses and Accommodation
• Value for money
• Support from Suppliers, Tourist Boards & Airlines
• Professional Conduct of Suppliers
• Accessibility to Tee Times

IAGTO’s award serves as great recognition for this unique piece of land in Bulgaria. The Thracian Cliffs golf course can challenge every golfer and in 2014 it will validate its status as one of the “must-play” golf courses in the world. This prestigious prize for Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort is received just one year after Bulgaria was voted Undiscovered Golf Destination. Following these accolades, Thracian Cliffs continues working towards delivering even higher levels of excellent golf services and experience in Bulgaria.

Georg Tsvetanski, Owner, Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort
“I would like to express my gratitude to the golf tourism industry for their recognition of Thracian Cliffs as one of the best golf courses in the world. I can honestly say that Gary Player created a unique piece of land that can challenge every golfer. Over 1.5 billion people watched the Volvo World Match Play, held in May this year at Thracian Cliffs, on television. This popularity creates great potential for the travel industry to attract more golfers to visit the course and appreciate the beauty of this picturesque piece of land.”

Krassimir Guergov, President, Bulgarian Golf Association
“It is a great honour for us to receive this globally-recognised award after more than 10 years’ development of golf tourism in Bulgaria. It is an expression of our achievements as a result of hard work in the creation, development and improvement of our golf courses. Over the last years, Thracian Cliffs has achieved an acknowledgement to be a world-class course, where professional golf tourism has been developing. The Volvo World Match Play Championship 2013 is a proof of all this. Bulgaria was Undiscovered Golf Destination for 2012, but now with this award our country appears to find a place on the world golf map as a prestigious and luxury golf destination. Thracian Cliffs will be a must-play golf course in Europe for 2014 for all the golfers, looking for a challenge!”

Perry Einfeldt, General Manager, Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort
“Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort is extremely proud to be awarded as European Golf Resort of the Year 2014 Europe. From all five awards Thracian Cliffs has received since its opening in 2011, this is without a doubt the most important one for us. Being selected as the winner of this award is clearly showing that Thracian Cliffs and its staff are on the right path, and that the services are appreciated by our guests. On top of that, and no less important, it also shows that Bulgaria is on the right course in becoming a very popular golf destination in the very near future.”

Dragomir Stoynev, Minister of Economic, Energy and Tourism of Bulgaria
“It is a great honour for Bulgaria that the prestigious 2014 award, European Golf Resort of the Year, goes to the Bulgarian Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort. We are excited that Thracian Cliffs is so highly valued for the members of the International Association of Golf Tourism Operators in the competitive world of today’s golf industry. This award shows that even a young golf destination such as Bulgaria can be positioned first among the luxury ones. Thracian Cliffs experienced fast growth in international golf tourism during the last three years and this award is a sign that the golf industry in Bulgaria is moving further. This recognition is of a great benefit, not only to Thracian Cliffs, but also to the development of tourism in the South East region of Europe. We are fully aware of the responsibilities and obligations that this award carries. It is our ambition for Bulgaria to become a well-recognised ‘signature’ golf destination with a proven reputation. We will definitely work hard to develop our golf courses with high-level services provided to golf players from all over the world.”

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UPS SUPPORTS THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Nov 20, 2013 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

UPS, a global logistics leader, has once again stepped up to pledge its support to the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, South Africa’s premier charity golf event. The four-day event took place from 14th – 17th November at the Lost City Golf Course at Sun City , and partnered champions and regular tour golfers together with top businessmen and celebrities.

“This is the eighth year that UPS has been involved with this event. As the official logistics supplier to the Gary Player Invitational, we are pleased to support all the players who all generously come out to raise funds for underprivileged communities under the iconic name of Gary Player,” said Paul Horsfall, country manager, UPS South Africa.

“We are once again we are thrilled by the generous support of UPS,” said Marc Player, Black Knight International CEO. “UPS has been a fantastic sponsor not only in our mission to aid those in need in South Africa and around the world, but also as a leading logistic company to provide safe and efficient shipment of all our auction items and memorabilia around the world.”

Through the Gary Player Invitational, The Player Foundation raises funds for local charities in South Africa. As The Player Foundation celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2013, the Foundation has raised an astounding R500 million for underprivileged children and impoverished communities around the world. The charities earmarked to benefit from the R4 million raised at this year’s event include: Wing & Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka.

Renowned pro-golfers Cheyenne Woods, Tony Johnstone, Retief Goosen, as well as Gary Player himself, participated in this year’s tournament, along with international celebrities and business people including Thomas Msengana, Brian McFadden, Doug Jackson, Anthony Anderson, Carmine Giovinazzo, and Unathi Msengana.

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GOOSEN AND CO. RELY ON 16-HANDICAPPER TO WIN GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Nov 17, 2013 | Filed Under: General NewsThe Player FoundationEvents & Tournaments   Share

The 2013 Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola and organized by Black Knight International produced one of the most memorable finishes in the long history of this charity tournament when Retief Goosen led his team to a playoff victory at the Lost City Golf Course on Sunday.

And ultimately, the double US Open champion relied on a magnificent birdie putt from businessman and 16-handicapper Mike Dladla to carry the team to victory on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.

A final push by Goosen’s team of former Proteas cricketer Herschelle Gibbs and businessmen Anthony Leeming and Dladla saw them tie for the lead with the team of Swedish professional Niclas Fasth, actor Anthony Anderson and businessmen Chuck Colton and Greg Whittaker on 27 under par after the regulation 36 holes.

Playing the par-five 18th again, Dladla then holed a tremendous birdie putt that allowed Goosen to tap in his two-foot putt for the victory.

“I told Mike to at least two-putt because we would’ve won on a count-out. But he hit it straight and firm and in it went,” said Goosen.

“It was quite a turnaround for us because in regulation play we played 17 in one over par and only made three points on it, so we thought we were out of it coming down 18. But then we saw them struggling a bit as they were all left in the trees. I made birdie on 18 and Anthony did the same, so it was a big turnaround for us.”

It was a thrilling finish to a tournament that raised over R4 million through the Player Foundation and which will be distributed to appointed charities, the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka, and Wings and Wishes.

“I want to thank all of our sponsors who made for such a special week. This was by far the best tournament we have had,” said host Gary Player.

Finishing second was a tough blow for the team of Fasth, who were first into the clubhouse and convinced they had done enough for a victory.

“There was a lot of trash talking out there, and yes, from you Mr Retief Goosen. And now, where are you on the scoreboard?” said Anderson as he chided team Goosen before hearing they faced a playoff.

Third place went to the team of Tony Johnstone, DJ Thomas Msengana and businessmen Phil Grindrod and Daryl Bernhard on 25 under par.

“I’m devastated,” said Msengana. “This is the second time I’ve come this close to a victory in this tournament. But it’s always an honour to be invited and help Gary Player raise money for charity.”

Irish singer and songwriter Brian McFadden thoroughly enjoyed his second appearance in this event, as his team finished tied fourth. “We had good fun and posted a solid score. Now I just have to cosy up to the organisers so they invite me back again next year.”

His professional partner Cheyenne Woods, niece of Tiger Woods, echoed those sentiments. “I’ll always remember this. It’s so important for anybody in our position to give back. And I love South Africa. There is so much positive energy here.”

Final Scores (* won on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff):

-27 *Retief Goosen, Herschelle Gibbs, Anthony Leeming, Mike Dladla
-27 Niclas Fasth, Anthony Anderson, Chuck Colton, Greg Whittaker
-25 Tony Johnstone, Thomas Msengana, Phil Grindrod, Daryl Bernhard
-23 Gary Player, Carmine Giovinazzo, Gideon du Plessis, Ngan Boon Mac
-23 Cheyenne Woods, Brian McFadden, Doug Jackson, Alex Maditsi
-16 Thomas Levet, Johnathan Joseph, Chris Kirubi, Grant Horsfield

For more information on the event, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter.

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TEAMS OF GOOSEN, FASTH SHINE IN GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Nov 16, 2013 | Filed Under: General News   Share

There was very little separating the top teams after Saturday’s first round of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at the Lost City Golf Course.

Double US Open champion Retief Goosen and Swedish professional Niclas Fasth both led their teams to the joint lead on 14 under par, but only one stroke clear of the field in an entertaining first round of this charity tournament.

Goosen and his team of former Proteas cricket star Herschelle Gibbs and businessmen Anthony Leeming and Mike Dladla made a terrific start and were 12 under through their first eight holes. “But unfortunately we didn’t finish as strong as we would’ve liked,” said Goosen.

“We had an unfortunate four-putt on the last green to sacrifice the sole lead, but we’re still in a good place. We’re tied for the lead going into the final day so anything can happen. But I must admit it was difficult to hit the fairways on this course.”

Goosen’s last statement brought a cheer from playing partner Gibbs. “I can’t tell you how nice it is to hear a multiple Major winner say that.”

Alongside them, the team of Fasth dovetailed superbly in a difficult first round of gusting wind. “We all helped each other out when we needed to,” the Swede said. And it was echoed by his business partner Chuck Colton. “Our pro looked good all day and everyone else filled in. We dovetailed like you were supposed to.” Although their teammate, American actor Anthony Anderson, felt his contribution was being undervalued. “To be honest, I carried the team on my broad shoulders, but I think I peaked too soon in the round and then just fell from the sky. But we had a great team and had a lot of fun. I saw a few baboons on the course that looked like some family members of mine. I was like, ‘Hey uncle George. What are you doing here?’”

The final round of this 36-hole tournament will be a fiercely contested one, especially with the team of Tony Johnstone only one stroke behind the leaders.

“We didn’t really get going on the front nine. We were three under after nine, but the boys did the work as we kicked into gear on the back nine. Now we’re in the hunt,” said the Presidents Cup vice-captain.

And at nine under par and currently last in the field, even the team of Thomas Levet still feel five shots is nothing to make up in the final round. And they’ll be expecting more from teammate and popular British DJ Johnathan Joseph, a longtime supporter of this charity event.

“Johnathan the DJ didn’t show up too much today, but he made birdie on the last to keep us in contention,” said Levet. And even Joseph admitted he was looking forward to a better second round. “Today I was so far offline on this course I saw animals that are native to India.”

Their other teammate, businessman Grant Horsfield, is hoping his brilliant performance in the gala dinner auction where he contributed significantly to the over R4 million raised for charity will begin to rub off on his game as well.

“This morning my wife reminded me about my generosity at the auction. But we’re only five behind going into the final round and we’ll be giving it our all on Sunday.”

Scores
Round 1, Saturday 16 November:

-14 Niclas Fasth, Anthony Anderson, Chuck Colton, Greg Whittaker
-14 Retief Goosen, Herschelle Gibbs, Anthony Leeming, Mike Dladla
-13 Tony Johnstone, Thomas Msengana, Phil Grindrod, Daryl Bernhard
-12 Gary Player, Carmine Giovinazzo, Gideon du Plessis, Ngan Boon Mac
-11 Cheyenne Woods, Brian McFadden, Doug Jackson, Alex Maditsi
-9 Thomas Levet, Johnathan Joseph, Chris Kirubi, Grant Horsfield

For more information on the event, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter.

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