See All Sites

GOLFING LEGENDS RAISE LA MANGA CLUB BAR TO NEW HEIGHTS

Dec 2, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Severiano Ballesteros all played key roles in La Manga Club’s glamorous and evolving history, and the famous Spanish resort has paid homage to the legendary golfing trio as part of its eagerly-awaited new-look golf clubhouse.

The golfing icons were integral to La Manga Club establishing itself as one of the world’s elite sports and leisure destinations, and have been fittingly honoured by the Murcian resort in its newly refurbished and rebranded 37 Spike & Sports Bar.

Player was La Manga Club’s first director of golf in 1972, Palmer won the 1975 Spanish Open at the resort and later redesigned its prestigious South Course while Ballesteros was the venue’s touring professional between 1980-85, and the three golfing superstars have each had a corner of the sports bar dedicated exclusively in their honour to celebrate their achievements.

As well as enjoying rare photographs of the trio in action, members and guests can also view priceless pieces of memorabilia including one of Spanish icon Ballesteros’ La Manga Club-logoed golf bags which he used during the pinnacle of his career, when he won four of his five Major titles. 

In addition, the redesigned bar features an inviting new décor, new seating and improved menu, which guests can sample while enjoying spectacular sweeping views of the resort’s North Course and Hotel Principe Felipe.

The 37 Spike & Sports Bar is one of a number of improvements that La Manga Club is carrying out to upgrade its food and beverages service this autumn, including the reopening of its famous Piano Bar after a summer refurbishment programme.

And the significant investment in its golf and leisure facilities, which has also included the redesign of its pro shop, the purchase of a new golf buggy fleet and refurbishment of its five-star hotel, has seen the resort win a number of top recent industry honours.

Having been named as Spain’s best golf hotel at the World Golf Awards for the last two years, La Manga Club was voted best golf resort in Spain by Today’s Golfer readers for the fifth year in a row earlier this year while it was selected as one of Europe’s top golf resorts in Golf World magazine’s inaugural list of the ‘Top 100 Resorts in Europe’ this autumn.

Set across an area of 1,400 acres, La Manga Club has been at the forefront of European sports and leisure destinations for more than four decades and is widely regarded as Spain’s flagship resort.

The official overseas training base of the Lawn Tennis Association, the multi award-winning venue boasts unrivalled facilities including three 18-hole golf courses and outstanding golf academy, a 28-court tennis centre, a new High Performance Sports Centre and 2,000sqm spa and fitness centre.

Guests can stay in a choice of the resort’s four-star Las Lomas self-catering apartments or five-star Principe Felipe Hotel, while La Manga Club offers more than 20 bars and restaurants and its own Mediterranean cove beach.

« Back

REFLECTIONS FROM AN INTERN IN THE BLACK KNIGHT ARCHIVES

Nov 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

I accepted the Archives Intern position at the Gary Player Group in September 2016 in order to learn what it was like to work in a professional office archive environment. I was unsure of what to expect having never worked in any sort of archives.

However, after interning here for the semester I not only enjoy working in the archives, but I have learned a good bit of information about preserving different types of materials, such as paper documents, photographs, slides, and textiles. After removing what felt like 1,000 staples from various documents I learned that staples can be an archivist’s worst nightmare. Staples, paper clips, adhesives, and other materials are hazardous to archival items because of rust, acidity, and off-gassing, causing discoloration, tears, and other damage. I also learned how to create a finding aid which helps the archivist locate things quickly when she needs them.

This internship also helped me to learn more about golfing icon Gary Player and his incredible achievements as well as the global environmentalist Dr. Ian Player.
Through assisting the full time archivist with the processing of the Ian Player Archives, I’ve gotten what seems like a personal look into the life of Gary Player’s brother, Ian Player. Dr. Player’s work with the white rhino is truly something special. Raising the population of white rhinos from 437 in 1952, to nearly 20,000 today is remarkable. Not only did his work save the white rhino from extinction, but he also developed programs to teach people how to survive in the wild, campaigned to have several wildlife areas preserved in South Africa (the first two ever in SA), and increased the amount of ecotourism to Africa. The latter led to an increase in income for people living in Africa, causing less people to feel the need to hunt big game for money. Dr. Player was an interesting man in many ways, and since he seems to have kept absolutely everything, I was lucky enough to get to look at a lot of his life’s work, as well as his personal interests.

I cannot thank Marc Player and the Gary Player Group enough for the opportunity given to me to learn firsthand what being an archivist entails, whether that be preservation, scanning documents, or organizing and processing materials. I really enjoyed learning everything that I could as well as being able to look into the lives of the famous Player brothers.

By Kristen Shepherd

« Back

IRISH STAR MCFADDEN AND TEAM HIT HIGH NOTES WITH GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL WIN

Nov 27, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

It took two of the most memorable final-hole putts in the history of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola for French LPGA Tour star Celine Herbin and her team including Irish singer Brian McFadden to claim a thrilling victory in this charity tournament on Sunday.

Starting the final round six shots off the lead, Herbin and her team of McFadden and businessmen Doug Jackson and Daryl Bernhart produced an inspired performance that saw them win by a single shot on 36 under par at The Lost City Golf Club.

But it took two big putts on the final hole to force the team of host Gary Player – who was hunting a hat-trick of titles in this tournament – football star Andy Cole and businessmen Kelvin Balogun and Anthony Leeming into second place.

Jackson was first to putt on the par-five 18th and holed a magnificent 25-footer for birdie. Then it was the turn of Herbin, who holed a 30-footer for eagle. And the man cheering the loudest was McFadden, who finally claimed the famous baobab trophy that he has spent the previous three visits to this tournament chasing.

“It’s overwhelming,” said a delighted McFadden, who a year ago watched close friend and fellow Irish performer Ronan Keating win the title.

“There have been years here where we’ve been close going into the final round and thinking we have a chance of winning. But this year we were second last and didn’t really think we had a chance. So to go out and shoot 25 under today as a team is just incredible. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life. I’m buzzing. Absolutely buzzing. Finally I’ve got that trophy to take back to Ireland.”

As team captain, Herbin was equally delighted with their performance and of her own victory on debut in this event. “I just told them to enjoy the final day. They were so focused and they really wanted to win. We had a great dynamic. But we laughed a lot over these two days as well.”

Jackson celebrated a milestone of his own in this event as he claimed his fourth team victory in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola.

“I’ve never experienced a finish like that. That last putt was an inch outside right, my caddie picked the line superbly – and it dropped. It was unbelievable. Then Celine rammed her eagle putt in. It was crazy. We just about dived into the pond,” he said.

This was the final tournament on the global Gary Player Invitational series, and it ended on a high note with more than R3 million raised for the two South African charities of Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust.

“The most important aspect of this tournament is the charity element,” said Herbin.

“I feel honoured to be a part of this Gary Player Invitational family and to have helped in my own way.”

Final Scores from the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola

-36 Celine Herbin, Brian McFadden, Doug Jackson, Daryl Bernhart
-35 Gary Player, Andy Cole, Kelvin Balogun, Anthony Leeming
-34 Paula Reto, Butch James, Daniel Gavagnin, Phil Grindrod
-31 Haydn Porteous, Roland Schoeman, Marco Saviozzi, Laurent Girouille
-23 Darren Clarke, John Smit, Gideon du Plessis, David Woollan
-15 Michael Campbell, Jimmy Tau, Stefanie Zinser, Steve Elford

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

« Back

TIPS FROM PLAYER HELP TEAM PORTEOUS INTO THE LEAD

Nov 26, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Haydn Porteous had a few minutes with Gary Player on the driving range in which he was given some advice for his game, and then went out and guided his team into the lead in the first round of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at The Lost City Golf Club on Saturday.

Porteous and his team of Olympic gold medal swimmer Roland Schoeman and businessmen Marco Saviozzi and Laurent Girouille finished the day with a four-stroke lead on 17 under par.

But they have Grand Slam champion Player and South African Olympic golfer Paula Reto and their respective teams chasing them on 13 under.

Before the round, the 22-year-old Porteous spent some time on the range with Player as he asked him to look at his swing and assist him with the mental side of his game. A few hours later and Porteous signed for an individual round of two-under-par 70, and then could only smile as behind him the 81-year-old Player matched that score.

“I watch Gary Player and he’s the most positive person I’ve ever met in my life. There’s a reason he looks the way he does at 81. I know he has exercised all of his life, but I think it’s also got to do with a strong mind making for a strong body. To get any advice from him is a treat and hopefully I can put that in play when it comes to my own game,” Porteous said.

Team Porteous certainly seemed inspired, especially on the par-five 18th where Schoeman made an impressive birdie to end a solid first day for them.

“It was a great day. To play golf with people like Roland and top businessmen from around the world is an unbelievable experience, and for me it’s great to able to learn from the experiences they’ve had in their lives.”

Porteous will be well aware of who is behind him, especially in the form of the Black Knight who is chasing a record third consecutive team victory in this annual charity tournament.

Former Springbok flyhalf Butch James, while pleased to be chasing the overall title as a member of Reto’s team only four strokes off the lead, is equally pleased to be leading his former teammate and captain John Smit in this tournament.

Smit is in the team of European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke and businessmen Gideon du Plessis and David Woollan who are six shots off the lead.

“I’m quite good at the recovery shots out of the bushes because I spend so much time there. Fortunately Paula is down the middle all the time. She was outstanding and really carried our team. But I’ll be glad to be able to put one over John in this tournament.”

The inspired golf followed the news that the tournament has raised more than R3 million for the two official charities – Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust.

Round 1 scores for the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola

-17 Haydn Porteous, Roland Schoeman, Marco Saviozzi, Laurent Girouille
-13 Paula Reto, Butch James, Daniel Gavagnin, Phil Grindrod
-13 Gary Player, Andy Cole, Kelvin Balogun, Anthony Leeming
-11 Celine Herbin, Brian McFadden, Doug Jackson, Daryl Bernhart
-11 Darren Clarke, John Smit, Gideon du Plessis, David Woollan
-3 Michael Campbell, Jimmy Tau, Stefanie Zinser, Steve Elford

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

« Back

SPORTS STARS AND BUSINESS GIANTS EMBRACE GOLF AND GIVING

Nov 25, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

A stirring performance by the Magaliesberg Secondary School Choir, an inspiring poem by charity beneficiary David Lesley, and a stellar set by Irish singer Brian McFadden set the tone for a magical night in which the supporters of this year’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola raised more than R3 million for charity.

The official gala dinner and charitable auction at Sun City on Friday evening was another memorable experience of Golf and Giving as it made a significant contribution to the two main charities of the tournament – Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands.

The charitable auction is the main fundraiser of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, and includes funds raised from the live auction at the dinner as well as personal pledges and bidding from a silent auction of several exclusive items.

The top bid of the evening went for the Gary Player African Wildlife Conservation Portfolio by David Yarrow in honour of the late Dr Ian Player’s lifetime dedication towards conservation, and which went for R350 000.

The conservation theme was carried through with a R100 000 bid for the Leopard in Motion sculpture by Donald Greig.

The Coca-Cola Wimbledon Men’s Final Experience was also a major contributor to the funds raised as it fetched R300 000.

The British Open and 2017 Berenberg Gary Player Invitational presented by Black Knight International was auctioned off for R275 000, matching the bid for the Formula 1 Monza VIP Package presented by SAP.

“We are extremely grateful for this phenomenal response and the generous way in which so many people contribute to the charity efforts of this tournament and The Player Foundation’s goal of raising $100 million for charity,” said Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International.

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

« Back

SPORTING GREATS GRATEFUL FOR CHANCE TO SUPPORT GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL

Nov 25, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

As some of the world’s great golfers and sportsmen arrived at the Lost City Golf Club for this weekend’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, there was a feeling of gratitude amongst them for being given the opportunity to be part of the spirit of Golf and Giving that is the hallmark of this event.

“To have the opportunity to help Mr Player is a fantastic feeling,” said former England and Manchester United football star Andy Cole as he makes his debut in this tournament.

“What a privilege to be here,” added former Springbok captain John Smit, who is making his debut in the South African leg of this global charity series.

Smit understands better than most what former South African President Nelson Mandela meant when he said sport can change the world as he led the Springboks during a momentous era in the country’s history, and he said Player’s similar vision is equally inspiring.

“Much like Nelson Mandela, when Gary Player asks you to help you don’t say no. People thank you for being here but we are the ones who are grateful to be here to be able to help those who don’t have as much as we do.”

Michael Campbell, winner of the 2005 US Open, was equally appreciative of the opportunity to contribute to The Player Foundation’s goal of raising $100 million for charity, including this week’s two South African beneficiaries in Wings and Wishes and Wildlands.

“Gary has given us so much in terms of the game of golf. He’s been such a great ambassador for the game, so when he invited me to this tournament I felt it was an opportunity to give him something in return.

“I have this philosophy that you’re born with two hands – one to receive and one to give back. This is the opportunity for us to give back, and to children who need it. I feel very honoured to be able to do that.”

European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke echoed these sentiments and said he stood in awe of what the global Gary Player Invitational series has done for charity over the years.

“We’re all here to help Gary raise money for underprivileged children and some of the figures I read today are astronomical. He’s raised $64 million thus far and wants to get to $100 million by 2025, so if we can go a little way towards helping him get a bit more of that this week, then that’s why we’re all here.”

Player’s infectious enthusiasm for people and contributing to society made such an impact on South African LPGA Tour star Paula Reto while she was at the Olympic Games with the Grand Slam champion that it’s become a theme for her own career.

“This is really exciting for me. I met Gary Player for the first time at the Olympics, and just to see how much he gives back has inspired me to want to do the same.”

The draw was also announced for the 36-hole team tournament on Saturday and Sunday, with a “captain’s pairing” of Clarke and Smit amongst the highlights, while host Player will have Cole in his four-ball.

Draw for the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola

Team 1 – 9:00: Paula Reto, Butch James, Daniel Gavagnin, Phil Grindrod
Team 2 – 9:08: Haydn Porteous, Roland Schoeman, Marco Saviozzi, Laurent Girouille
Team 3 – 9:16: Michael Campbell, Jimmy Tau, Stefanie Zinser, Steve Elford
Team 4 – 9:32: Celine Herbin, Brian McFadden, Doug Jackson, Daryl Bernhart
Team 5 – 9:40: Darren Clarke, John Smit, Gideon du Plessis, David Woollan
Team 6 – 9:48: Gary Player, Andy Cole, Kelvin Balogun, Anthony Leeming

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

« Back

RYDER CUP CAPTAIN DARREN CLARKE TO SUPPORT THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL AT SUN CITY

Nov 21, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke is headed to Sun City at the end of this month as he takes his place in a quality field of Olympians, celebrated sports stars and international business leaders for the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola.

This will be Clarke’s first tournament appearance since the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in September as he lends his support to Grand Slam champion Player’s goal of raising $100 million for charity through the global Gary Player Invitational series.

The South African tournament, to be played at Sun City’s Lost City Golf Club from November 24-27, is the last of the six-tournament series worldwide.

Clarke joins an illustrious list of European Ryder Cup captains who have played in the South African leg of the global Gary Player Invitational series.

Ian Woosnam, Sam Torrance and Mark James have also all supported the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola over the years.

Clarke forms part of a 2016 field that includes Former England and Manchester United football star Andy Cole, U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell, South African Olympic golfer Paula Reto, and European Tour winner Haydn Porteous.

“I’m delighted to be taking part in the Gary Player Invitational tournament,” said Clarke.
“It will be no doubt be another fantastic event and I’m sure we will have a lot of fun, but more importantly, we will raise a lot of money for some great causes.”

As golf’s global ambassador, Player has set the target of raising $100 million for children’s charities through The Player Foundation, and bolstered by this series of tournaments in the United States, United Kingdom, China, Japan, South Africa and the UAE. The Foundation has already raised more than $62 million.

“It’s been a very busy year for Darren and I’m thrilled that he has decided to join us in our charity effort in South Africa,” said Player.
“It’s exactly because of this kind of support from our good European friends that I believe we will reach our goal of $100 million for charity.”

All proceeds raised from the event in South Africa will go to the selected charity beneficiaries, Wings and Wishes and Wildlands.

For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit http://www.garyplayerinvitational.com

and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter and Instagram - #GOLFandGIVING.

« Back

Q&A: GARY PLAYER TALKS WORLD CUP OF GOLF

Nov 17, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

South Africa’s Gary Player, a nine-time major champion on TOUR and winner of the 1965 (as part of a team) and ‘77 (individual champion) World Cup of Golf, sat down to talk about one of the game’s greatest global team events.

Q: As a past champion at the World Cup, what do you remember about your victory in 1965?

A: I was playing with Harold Henning as my partner in Madrid, Spain, and I woke up the morning of the final round and couldn’t move my neck. I told Harold I needed to withdraw and he said “Don’t tell me that, tell my lawyer.” He wanted to win the tournament so badly. I decided to play after taking about four aspirin and got a massage on my neck. How I played I will never know. I couldn’t hit the ball 10 yards on the practice tee. Miraculously, I went on to win the team event with Harold and the individual championship. It was such a great tournament to me because you had so many different nations from all over the world. They gave the players $500 in American Express checks to come play, and we thought that was a lot of money. Now some of the players don’t even want to play when they are offered hundreds of thousands of dollars. Strange world.

Q: When you won, it split up a string of victories between Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. What do you remember about the competition at the World Cup of Golf?

A: The odds of them beating Harold and myself was great. Jack and Arnold were already super stars. But Harold was a terrific player and a great putter, so we played very well together. He had a great putting week and it was a thrill for us to break the American strong hold on the tournament. We were both thrilled.

Q: Would you agree that the World Cup of Golf was kind of the World Golf Championships of the past? Would you agree that it was at the forefront of true global competition?

A: It certainly was. You had nations around the world sending their best players to compete, and it was a wonderful tournament to promote global golf being played in different countries every year. I never turned it down, and played every possible time. It was a great dream to play. For me to travel and play golf was not only to try to win tournaments, but a wonderful global education to learn about people’s cultures, languages and history.

Q: What did it mean to you to represent your country in a team competition?

A: Obviously we wanted to have South Africa win this world title. Your country receives honor and a lot of publicity if their players win. It’s important. If we won, we could tell the world and the world could see that South Africa was such a beautiful country with tremendous athletes. A lot probably thought we were mostly a jungle country (laughs) when we were one of the most modern places in the world. People then began to think, well if they won the World Cup there must be incredible golf courses in South Africa. I am proud to say we have as good of courses as there are on the planet. It helped promote tourism too.

Q: The World Cup of Golf is being played at Kingston Heath in Australia. What do you like/love about the golf courses in Melbourne and in Australia?

A: I lost the Australian Open there to Frank Phillips, and I remember being so upset because I had it won, but came up short. Nicklaus and I were battling it out to see who could win the most Australian Opens. I am happy to say I still to this day have the most wins ever with 7 in that tournament. I went to the hotel room, picked my clubs up, and threw them across the room with my wife sitting right there and she got such a shock. I was so upset. Kingston Heath is a magnificent golf course. The Sandbelt golf courses are an incredible golf destination. I encourage all the players to arrive early and go have a look.

Q: Jaco Van Zyl and George Coetzee will be representing South Africa in this year’s World Cup of Golf. What makes them a threat to compete for the title?

A: At Kingston Heath you usually have a tricky wind blowing. They are both straight hitters, so it is to their advantage. I will be watching and rooting for them extra hard to give South Africa another world title.

Courtesy of PGA TOUR.

« Back

TRIPLE SUCCESS FOR MODRY LAS GOLF CLUB

Nov 15, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Modry Las Golf Club has been awarded a top honour during an exceptional evening celebrating the best of international golf tourism. The Gary Player-designed course made history by being named Poland’s best golf course at the World Golf Awards for the third time in a row on Saturday night.

The unprecedented accolade confirms Modry Las as one of Europe’s leading golf resorts laying down a benchmark for other emerging golfing destinations to follow. As World Golf Awards managing director Christopher Frost noted, the West Pomerania club has achieved much since it was opened in 2009.

“It is an honour for us to recognise Modry Las as Poland’s leading golf course, and to do so for the third consecutive year is unprecedented,” he said. “With golf tourism continuing to grow around the globe, it is destinations such as this that set the standard for others to follow. My heartfelt congratulations to everybody involved with making Modry Las such a wonderful destination and I wish them the best of luck with their future endeavours.”

This latest award follows months of voting by professionals working within the golf travel and tourism industry, as well as votes cast by the public. It rounds off an extraordinary year for the Polish resort which was also named Poland’s best golf course for the third time at the Polish Golf Awards; the country’s premier golf awards ceremony. With recognition both at home and abroad, Modry Las is securing a reputation as a world-class resort.

“It has been a year of triples!” said Arthur Gromadzki, Chairman at Modry Las. “It is always special to be recognized by your colleagues and contemporaries both on a national and international stage. But to receive these accolades year after year is truly a humbling experience.”

He continued: “We are extremely proud to be confirmed as Poland’s best golf course at the World Golf Awards, and at home in Poland. I think it shows more than ever that Poland is becoming a genuine golfing destination with international-quality layouts and service levels to match. As our nation’s flagbearer we take our responsibilities extremely seriously, so when our efforts are recognised in this way, we feel tremendously gratified.”

The notable year at Modry Las also saw two important tournaments being staged over the testing championship course. The World Amateur Golfers Championship and the International Polish Ladies Championship were both played out over the undulating fairways and smooth-running greens at Modry Las. The previous season saw the team at Modry Las unveil eco-friendly property opportunities and a much-anticipated nine-hole golf course.

“At Modry Las, we constantly strive to maintain momentum and show real advances both on and off the course,” said Gromadzki. “In recent years, this momentum has picked up pace with the opening of Orli Las, our nine-hole course and our property offering. Needless to say, we intend to maintain this upward trajectory with new developments that will take the resort to a whole new level in 2017. If anything, next year is likely to be our most exciting yet with our much anticipated clubhouse opening!”

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

« Back

SPRINGBOK GREAT SMIT TACKLES GOLF FOR GARY PLAYER CHARITY

Nov 14, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

World Cup-winning Springbok captain John Smit will make his debut in the South African leg of the global Gary Player Invitational series when he joins a strong field of professional golfers, sports stars, celebrities and business leaders at Sun City later this month.

Smit joins sporting greats such as fellow Springbok Butch James, the football duo of former England and Manchester United star Andy Cole and former Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs defender Jimmy Tau, 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell, South African Olympic swimming great Roland Schoeman, South African Olympic golfer Paula Reto and European Tour winner Haydn Porteous in this prestigious charity tournament to be played at the Lost City Golf Club from 24-27 November.

Irish singer and long-time Gary Player Invitational supporter Brian McFadden will also be at Sun City to support Player’s charity drive for underprivileged children and The Player Foundation’s quest to raise US$100 million for charity.

The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola is now in its 17th year as South Africa’s premier charity event, and has helped The Player Foundation raise more than R800 million across the world for various charities.

The proceeds from the South African tournament will go to various selected charity beneficiaries including Wings and Wishes and Wildlands.

Smit has played in the Gary Player Invitational series in England before, and South African rugby’s most capped captain in history is looking forward to his debut in the Sun City tournament.

“It’s extremely humbling to see how much money is raised for charity through the Gary Player Invitational tournaments. It is really a privilege to be part of such a worthy cause,” he said.

“I’m very honoured to be able to join so many other sportsmen and leaders in their field in the South African tournament, where we can hopefully raise even more money for the various charities.”

Player has welcomed the field as yet another example of how sport can change society.

“Our great leader Nelson Mandela always said sport has the power to change the world, and it’s through the support of our leading sportsmen and women that we are able to do our part and change the lives of thousands of underprivileged children through the Gary Player Invitational series,” he said.

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

« Back

GARY PLAYER STILL FLYING HIGH 64 YEARS LATER

Oct 31, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

When Gary Player returns to South Africa this November to host the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at Sun City, it will mark the end of what has been another epic year of international travel for the World’s Most Travelled Athlete™.

This has been the 64th consecutive year of international air travel for the Grand Slam champion, who has in this time journeyed more than 26 million air kilometers around the world for golf and charity, earning him the title of Golf’s Global Ambassador.

This year alone the 81-year-old Player has logged nearly 400,000 kilometers of air travel including trips to his six Gary Player Invitational charity tournaments in aid of underprivileged children. This year’s series has taken Player to Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, London, New York, and Mission Hills in China, with the final stop being Sun City for the South African tournament from 24-27 November.

Player’s other travel commitments this year makes for a staggering list of countries that he’s visited for either tournament, business, philanthropy or family commitments, which proves he has no intention of slowing down any time soon.

Starting with his annual family beach vacation in Plettenberg Bay in December 2015, Player’s global travel itinerary this year has taken him from Vietnam to Cuba to Germany, and back home to the Gary Player Stud Farm and his racehorses in South Africa.

He has been to Los Angeles for media engagements, Augusta for The Masters, taken trips to White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia and Branson in Missouri for golf course design projects, and Cuba to help grow the game. He has also had several playing commitments on the PGA Champions Tour.

Player also made time to return home to Colesberg in the Great Karoo where he joined his wife Vivienne, the Mayor and some of the residents in a cleanup campaign of the town with Wildlands, a beneficiary of The Player Foundation for the South African leg of the Gary Player Invitational.

There was a trip to Cape Town to film the Rolex documentary of his life, and then it was off to Frankfurt in Germany for a sponsor’s engagement with SAP and Berenberg. Player went to Troon in Scotland for The Open Championship after a stop in London to enjoy Wimbledon with his family.

After a visit to the World Golf Hall of Fame in Florida, Player traveled to Rio de Janeiro as part of the South African Olympic team, where he captained the country’s men’s and women’s golf teams.

Trips to New York, Honduras, South Carolina and Beijing followed, Player will begin to wind down his year of global travel when he hosts the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City and then his own charity tournament, the Gary Player Invitational.

“Air travel has changed so much since I started flying all those years ago,” says Player.

“It used to take us several days to get anywhere. For example, for the 1965 Australian Open, I had to fly from Paris to Melbourne via New York, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Fiji and Sydney. Think about that – a 40-hour trip with six children and no disposable diapers!”

« Back

THE BLACK KNIGHT: 81 MILESTONES

Oct 31, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

Off the course, Mr. Player has raised more than $62 million for underprivileged children’s education globally through the efforts of The Player Foundation; he has designed nearly 400 golf courses worldwide; he has bred more than 2000 winning racehorses on the Gary Player Stud Farm in South Africa; and in recognition of his achievements in golf as well as his dedication to charity, he has received many awards including the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award and the PGA Tour’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He currently serves as the Global Ambassador to the World Golf Hall of Fame and has been dubbed the Black Knight, Mr. Fitness, and The World’s Most Traveled Athlete™ having traveled more than 26 million kilometers.

In celebration of the Black Knight’s 81st birthday, we have compiled a list of 81 milestones throughout his life. From the golf course to his racehorse stud farm, Mr. Player continues to live his life to the fullest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1957 Married his wife, Vivienne, after she received a telegram proposal announcing a tournament win and they now had enough money to get married.  60 years later, they have six children and 22 grandchildren. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1962 Won the PGA Championship at Aronimink GC (3)

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

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

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

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

1966 Received the Bob Jones Award from the USGA in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf

1968 Won the Open Championship at Carnoustie (5)

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

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

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

1972 Won the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills (6)

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

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

1974 Won The Masters Tournament (7)

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

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

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

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

1983 Established The Player Foundation to aid underprivileged children and impoverished communities, they have raised more than $62 million

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

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

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

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

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

1987 Won Tournament Players Championship

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

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

1990 Won the Senior Open Championship at Turnberry

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

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

1994 Named an Honorary Member of the R & A

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

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

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

1997 Inducted into the Captains Club at the Memorial Tournament

1997 Won the Senior Open Championship at Royal Portrush

1997 Won the Shell Wentworth Masters

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

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

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

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

2000 Named South African Sportsman of the Century

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

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

2003 Received Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award for dedication to charity

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

2003 Celebrated his 50th year as a professional

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

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

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

2006 Received KPMG Golf Business Forum Lifetime Achievement Award

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

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

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

2010 Received Asia Pacific Golf Summit Lifetime Achievement Award

2011 Inducted into the Asia Pacific Golf Hall of Fame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 Gary Player captained the South African Men’s and Women’s Golf Teams at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He logged nearly 400,000 air kilometers traveling the world spreading the game of golf.

« Back

GRAND SLAM CHAMPION GARY PLAYER HITS THE LINKS IN CHINA WITH MICHAEL DOUGLAS AND YAO MING

Oct 25, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

With legends from golf, entertainment and sport in attendance at the star-studded extravaganza, Grand Slam Champion Gary Player, Oscar winner Michael Douglas, and NBA Hall of Famers Allen Iverson and Yao Ming, the World Celebrity Pro-Am at Mission Hills in China grabbed the attention of sports fans around the world.

Player, a regular at the Mission Hills event played alongside Douglas and Chinese filmmaker Feng Xiaogang.

“What a great event to help spread golf on a global stage,” exclaimed Player. “We have stars from sports and entertainment representing different cultures all over the world. We appreciate the Chu family’s commitment to this event and bringing us all together. I love golf and competing, it keeps me young, and it keeps me energized.”

“This was a treat, playing with my friend Gary Player, what they have done with the golf course here, this is just a stunning job,” said Michael Douglas.

Maybe the highlight of the tournament came from a simple picture of the 5’6 golf legend standing next to the 7’6 Yao Ming, who recently was inducted into the National Basketball Association’s Hall of Fame in the United States. The picture circulated on news outlets throughout the world. As for what the two were discussing, that’s up for debate.

Two-time Major Champion O’Meara described his admiration for fellow Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player. “Gary and I were sharing stories on Ben Hogan. I told him how much I appreciate what Gary Player has meant to me in my life and to the game,” said O’Meara of the 18-time Major winner. “It’s always great to be here in China and I thank the Chu family for their great hospitality.”

At the closing ceremony, Tenniel Chu of Mission Hills Group declared the fourth edition of the World Celebrity Pro-Am as the “biggest and best” yet. “Our common purpose this week was to bring the world to China; and China to the world through golf,” said the Vice-Chairman.

Chu was also upbeat about the legacy of the tournament which was screened to more than 200 countries worldwide: “Whether it was the fans here at Mission Hills Haikou, or those watching at home, I hope they are inspired to take up golf, because that is what the World Celebrity Pro-Am is all about, bringing golf to a new audience and allowing everyone to share in this great game.”

A total of nine professional golfers were competing over two rounds of individual stable ford for the $1 million Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am – with $250,000 going to the winner, local favorite Li Hao-tong of China.
This year’s impressive line-up of golfing greats also included John Daly, Rich Beem, Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist and Natalie Gulbis – all Major winners.

Hollywood legends Douglas and Jeremy Renner were part of a galaxy of stars playing alongside the elite golfers in a separate bid for the celebrity title, which was won by Chinese actor Man Wen-jun.
Icons from the world of sport included Boris Becker, Iverson and another basketball legend, Yao Ming of China. They were joined by a host of footballing icons which also included Manchester United stars Paul Scholes, Lee Sharpe and David May.

The biennial Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am was established in 2010 as Asia’s first and only pro-celebrity golf tournament. This sporting and entertainment extravaganza – which reaches more than 26 television channels in Greater China and over 200 countries worldwide – aims to popularize golf in China whilst also promoting Hainan Island as a tourist destination and supporting local charities. Proceeds are being donated to The Nature Conservancy and the Hainan United Youth Association.

Picture courtesy of Getty Images
Information courtesy of Mission Hills

« Back

GARY PLAYER EXCITED BY GROWTH OF ASIAN GOLF

Oct 24, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golfing great Gary Player said he was proud and excited by the growth of the sport in Asia and thinks it is only a matter of time before a future Tiger Woods comes from China.

The nine-time Major Champion was speaking from the Chinese tropical island of Hainan on the eve of the 2016 Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am.

“Golf in Asia is growing quicker than anywhere else in the world and I was very proud to see a Chinese lady (Feng Shanshan) win a bronze medal at the Olympics,” said the 80-year-old South African.

“We are going to see a Tiger Woods come from China in a matter of time which will be very exciting.”

Player will be gracing the fairways of the signature Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Haikou on October 22-23 for the fourth edition of the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am. He is joined by John Daly, Mark O’Meara and Rich Beem - all Major winners - plus an equally impressive foursome of LPGA stars Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Suzann Pettersen and Anna Nordqvist.

Local favorite Li Haotong, winner of the European Tour’s Volvo China Open earlier this year, will make up the field of nine elite golfers who will be competing over two rounds of individual stableford for a prize purse of 1 million US dollars - with 250,000 dollars going to the winner.

Excitement is building not just among the golfers but also from the sporting and entertainment icons who will be playing alongside them in a separate bid for the celebrity and team titles.

Hollywood stars Michael Douglas and Jeremy Renner are just two of the celebrities in Haikou for the week of golf and glamour.

Having attended the Mission Hills Film Forum, Douglas said: “This week is an extraordinary opportunity to bring the world together, for us to meet so many Chinese actors and directors and, for me, to combine golf and cinema - my two loves.”

“Being around so many great golfers, it will be fun to just watch and learn,” said Renner. “Spending time with fans is one of my favorite things and it has been amazing to come here to China and realise there is a lot of love and support here for me,” he added on his first visit to the country.

Stars from the world of sport include three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker and basketball Hall of Famers Allen Iverson and Yao Ming. They are joined by a host of footballing legends, including Manchester United stars Paul Scholes, Dwight Yorke, Lee Sharpe and David May and Liverpool greats Robbie Fowler, Luis Garcia and Gary McAllister.

The biennial Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am was established in 2010 as Asia’s first and only pro-celebrity golf tournament. This sporting and entertainment extravaganza - which reaches more than 26 television channels in Greater China and over 200 countries and regions worldwide - aims to popularize golf in China whilst also promoting Hainan Island as a tourist destination and supporting local charities. Proceeds are being donated to The Nature Conservancy and the Hainan United Youth Association.

The World Celebrity Pro-Am continues its long-standing partnership with some of the world’s leading brands, including global services company, American Express; sophisticated Belgian beer, Stella Artois; luxury car
brand, Lexus; leading premium bottled mineral water, Tibet 5100; and world renowned Swiss chocolate, LINDT.

The Lexus partnership with Mission Hills and the World Celebrity Pro-Am was announced this week by the Executive Vice President of Lexus China, Tetsuya Ezumi.

“We are very privileged to have reached a strategic cooperation agreement with the Mission Hills Group, who runs the world’s largest golf club. Mission Hills has built a vast platform by which both golf enthusiasts and casual players can enjoy the elegant life. Lexus is also committed to providing superior products and services for our consumers and creating a high-quality travel and lifestyle experience,” Ezumi said.

“Guided by these shared values, Lexus and the Mission Hills Group will work together through strategic co-operation over the next two years. In addition to supporting the Mission Hills Golf Tournaments, we will also provide official fleet services for players and VIP guests, providing comfortable, safe and eco-friendly transportation and raising the quality of life for all users.” Enditem

« Back

AUSTRALIAN OPEN MEMORIES: WE CHAT WITH GARY PLAYER

Oct 19, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Mr Player, your scoring record of 264 still stands from the 1965 Australian Open at Kooyonga, Adelaide, where you beat your nemesis Jack Nicklaus. Can you think of any other records you hold that are over fifty years old?

Becoming the first pro not from the US to win the career Grand Slam on the Regular Tour. Last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of my doing so and I still am the only one. But one of my favorite records is my seven Australian Open victories because it was over a nearly 20 year span. It is very hard to win consistently for a long time, and I always made sure I traveled the world to play in different countries promoting our wonderful game.

You are a seven-times Australian Open champion. Jack Nicklaus has 6 and both Greg Norman and Australian Amateur Ivo Whitton have 5. This may be a record that is never beaten… ever. How does that feel?

Records are made to be broken. I hope there is or will be another golfer out there that has the same passion and commitment that I have to travel around to different countries to compete in all sorts of tournaments. To be a world champion you simply have to win all over the world. Hell, I hope the top Australian pros feel strongly enough to play in your National Open and beat my record.

In the last ten years, we have had some formidable golfers winning The Australian Open, including Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Tim Clark, Geoff Ogilvy and Rory McIlroy. Do you tune in to the event each year to see if anyone will beat your scoring record?

I love keeping up with the golf world. Sometimes it is difficult to watch the matches on TV because of my travel schedule and the time change when I am in South Africa. But I’m not concerned about the scoring record. Just look at the equipment and condition of the courses the players are playing on today. Quite frankly, I’m shocked it hasn’t already been broken.

You won many significant events in Australia. Your victory in the Ampol event in 1956 blessed you with £5000 prizemoney, five times what The British Open offered in the same year. Can you describe how vibrant Australian golf was at the time and what you loved about our country?

The most important part of that victory was it gave me enough money to marry my wife Vivienne. You see, golfers did not make much when I first turned professional. I was constantly saving and being very frugal. Marrying Vivienne was the best decision I ever made, and we are going to celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary in 2017! I think that qualifies as being really significant.

How would you say that Norman Von Nida affected your life? 

In 1956 after I won the Dunlop Tournament with a record score in England, Norman invited me to Australia to play some of your biggest events. He made all the arrangements and looked after me so well. What a gesture! This was big step in my future and lead to a great career in Australia and instilled in me the confidence to win overseas. Without Norman, I wouldn’t have made 30 trips to play in Australia.
Norman has done as much for Australian golf as anyone. He was a dear friend. I loved that man.

The Australian Open has been held in Sydney for the last ten years…and no longer rotates to Australia’s best courses. Do you think this is a wise move by the golfing bodies, or should the tournament move around?

To me it’s like The Open Championship verses The Masters. The former is on a rota and the latter is always played in Augusta. I personally like the rotation to different courses. But that’s not for me to decide and both systems can work equally well. 

Kel Nagle left us in 2014, you had many great rounds with one of Australia’s most loved golfers. What would you say were Kel’s virtues, that the youth of today should aspire towards?

Kel and I had some fierce battles on the golf course, no more so than the 1965 U.S. Open when I completed the Grand Slam after beating him in a Monday 18-hole playoff. He was 15 years my senior, but we shared a common goal of wanting to win all over the world. What I admired most about him was his longevity. He was winning tournaments for nearly 30 years, which is incredible. He was gracious in victory and defeat. That’s the lesson young players should take from Kel Nagle, sportsmanship and to compete for as long as you can.

You are only five-foot 6 and weigh 150 pounds, yet you have won the Grand Slam, won tournaments all over the world, designed nearly 400 golf courses, have an incredible business portfolio and a wonderful family. What makes all that possible? 

Hard work, positive attitude, determination and total dedication to accomplishing my goals. It all comes down to a simple phrase that applies to all facets of golf, business and life – The harder you practice, the luckier you get. 

Can you describe how many hours’ practice you would do in the prime of your career? 

My hands have hit more balls over the last 65 years than any man to ever pick up a golf club. I was never satisfied and would practice from sun up to sun down. If I was able to practice 24/7, believe me, I would have. Quite simply, I was an animal in my single-minded approach to becoming a champion.

You are one of the world’s most prolific golf course designers. Why is it that golf course designers try to make golf courses harder and harder, when there are a lot of golfers (probably the majority) who want to try and enjoy their golf?

You are exactly right. Many designers come under pressure from developers because they want their course to be able to host professional tournaments. They have to make long holes with huge undulating greens. Not fun for an amateur or weekend golfer. Nobody wants to spend six hours of their day struggling through an impossible course. Our philosophy at Gary Player Design has always been to build playable courses while taking environmental sensitivity into account. No doubt it’s the way it should be.

You have never designed a golf course in Australia… the only continent missing from your resume as a golf course designer! What would it mean to you to have this final feather in the cap? 

Australia is such a golf rich continent that I would be privileged to leave my mark on from a design perspective. (Laughs) We have been close several times to various projects. Let me know if you know of anyone looking to build something really special.

What do you think of the modern golf swing and how the PGA trained professionals try to teach it? Was there more variety back in your day?

I believe the only man who truly knew the golf swing was Ben Hogan. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago I really found his secret and by then it was too late for me. But we all have different swings that change over time. I never relied on teachers or swing coaches. In my opinion they create too many technical problems for professional players. Yes, amateurs that want to improve their score should have lessons from their local pro to be instructed how to take the club back properly, line up towards the target, etc. There is just as much variety in swings today as there was when I first started playing. Do what works best for you, practice hard and just go out and have fun. Get off the couch, turn off the TV, shut down your phone, and get some exercise.

Which golf swings do you like the most in the modern era, or are you more interested in work ethic and attitude?

Watch Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Adam Scott. They all have fundamentally sound swings, which is why they are so successful. Look at their hips. Look at their hands. Look at their heads. More importantly they are all fine young men with positive attitudes. Because it’s not just about their swing. It’s about your mental approach to the game. Attitude is a critical component to success in any walk of life.

The Gary Player Classic just finished its 45th tournament year. Can you tell us what that means to you?

It is such a thrill for me to hear about the continued success of the Gary Player Classic. I always hoped that coming to play in Australia many years ago would inspire future generations in what is a talent
rich golfing country. Several Major Champions including Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Ian Baker-Finch and Jason Day also call themselves Gary Player Classic Champions, which is very, very special to me and a small way of giving back to a country I admire so much.

Article courtesy of Inside Golf Australia

« Back

TECHOGYM KINESIS: AS SELECTED BY GARY PLAYER

Oct 19, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share


When Gary Player was 9 years old, his older brother, Ian-about to leave their native South Africa to fight in World War II-gave him a set of free weights. “You really want to be a professional athlete?” fan said. “You’re small and weak, so you better start exercising and taking care of your body.” Remembering that day more than 70 years later Player says, “I promised him I would, and those words still echo through my head;’

At 5 feet 6 inches, Player was always smaller than contemporaries like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. But thanks largely to his dedication to fitness, he amassed an amazing professional golf career, with 165 tournament victories including nine major championships. Now 80, Player is still circling the globe playing tournaments, raising money for charity, managing a wide-ranging company, and taking phenomenal care of his body. (In 2013, he looked good enough to appear in ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue.) And he long ago traded those free weights for Technogym, multi unit training system designed for high-end gyms and at-home use that he calls a “game changer:’

“Technogym entered my life two decades ago and has helped me continue my fitness journey with its cutting-edge equipment,” Player says. “Being fit in the latter stages of my playing career allowed me to become the only person ever to win the career grand slam on the Senior Tour, and to win professional tournaments in my 70s.”

Player is especially fond of the company’s Kinesis line, which specializes in functional movement. “Kinesis completely revolutionized my fitness regime, allowing me to concentrate on essential elements of my body such as my core and legs, which contain the most vital muscles for golfers,” he says. “Using it in my own home allows me to stay fit by working on everything from flexibility to strength to breathing control, and no doubt has increased my longevity.”

One thing that doesn’t seem to increase is Player’s score. “At 80 years old,” he says, “I still average 70.”

Article courtesy of Robb Report

Picture courtesy of Technogym

« Back

GARY PLAYER COMPETES IN THE TORNEO DE GOLF EL DIA LA HISPANIDAD IN CUBA AT VARADERO GOLF CLUB

Oct 19, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Global golf icon Gary Player made quite an impact in Cuba during his visit last week to Varadero Golf Club where he participated in the annual Torneo de Golf El Dia La Hispanidad presented by the Spanish Embassy. The Black Knight played 18-holes alongside Tony Castro, several dignitaries and businessmen. They all shared many laughs, and Player coached his playing partners on golf fundamentals.

It is apparent Cuba recognizes the value of golf tourism as they begin to open their doors to the world and seek hospitality investment partners. Who better to lead the charge into Cuba than the International Ambassador of Golf? The Cuban media talks about Gary Player’s visit to the country in the special article below.

Gary Player: ícono del golf visita Cuba
Aliet Arzola Lima

Poco después de las dos de la tarde del pasado viernes 14 de octubre, parecía que el mundo se iba a caer en el balneario de Varadero, al noreste de la ciudad de Matanzas. Y en efecto, un torrencial aguacero mojó las arenas blancas de las paradisiacas playas yumurinas, al punto de que pensamos no ver más el sol en aquella jornada.

Sin embargo, en media hora se borraron los más mínimos vestigios de tormenta, y de la Mansión Xanadú, conocida hace décadas como la Casa Dupont, salió con su tradicional atuendo negro el sudafricano Gary Player (1ro de noviembre de 1935), uno de los mejores jugadores de golf en la historia, de visita en Cuba con motivo del Torneo Día de la Hispanidad, convocado por la embajada de España en el archipiélago.

El prestigioso y experimentado golfista, con más de 165 victorias en su carrera profesional, ofreció una clínica magistral en el Varadero Golf Club, donde solo una semana antes había estado el australiano Greg Norman (número uno del mundo durante más de 300 semanas en su trayectoria) como invitado a la octava edición del Gran Torneo Cuba Golf.

Player compartió con varios jugadores caribeños, españoles y sudamericanos presentes en el recinto, quienes disfrutaron de los consejos de un hombre que se mantiene en excelente forma, amparado sobre todo en una estricta disciplina alimentaria y una gran constancia en los entrenamientos.

El golf es como bailar, se trata de fluidez, de movimiento, de balance, de mucha observación. Además, el golf lo puedes jugar toda la vida, a diferencia de otros deportes, que ya con 30 años el rendimiento baja mucho. Yo, por ejemplo, gané un torneo con 63», expresó Gary en una distendida charla en el campo de entrenamiento del Club, plaza visitada por más de 62 mil turistas cada año.

Es un sitio maravilloso, he notado gran amor de los cubanos, desde la llegada recibimos una bienvenida muy calurosa. Muchos jugadores que han estado aquí en otras oportunidades me habían comentado que se trataba de un país hermoso, pero quería observarlo con mis propios ojos», precisó Player en diálogo exclusivo con Granma Internacional.

Llegamos aquí con una gran motivación, desarrollar el turismo y, por supuesto, el golf, sobre todo entre los niños y los jóvenes», nos comentó el sudafricano, quien ya en la clínica había resaltado la importancia de practicar el deporte desde edades tempranas.

Durante nuestro intercambio, Gary Player, miembro del Salón de la Fama del golf desde 1974, reconoció que a pesar del incipiente desarrollo de Cuba en dicha disciplina, nuestro país puede aspirar al crecimiento en un futuro a mediano o largo plazo.

No hay dudas de que el golf es un deporte costoso, pero cada vez está más abierto a todo el público. Existen más de 80 millones de practicantes en el planeta, y ahora con la inclusión en los Juegos Olímpicos se ha creado una gran diferencia muy positiva para los amantes del mismo.

El deporte atrae al turismo, y con el desarrollo del deporte crecerá mucho el turismo. Esa es la visión que puede tener Cuba, porque cuenta con una exquisita riqueza natural, gran belleza, es decir, un enorme potencial para atraer más viajeros y más dinero. Cuando en Rusia hay un frío tremendo, cuando en Londres no deja de llover, ustedes tienen un clima magnífico», apuntó Player.

De igual forma, el experimentado de 81 años dijo que el golf es una modalidad de turismo ideal, pues muchas personas con dinero practican la modalidad y la buscan como una variante necesaria en sus vacaciones.

Tener un campo es una manera adicional de atraer al turismo, sabemos que Cuba dispone de más estrategias y otros encantos en estas maravillosas playas, pero el golf puede rendir más frutos. Por ejemplo, muchas compañías estarían dispuestas a invertir en el país en la construcción de campos.

En Sudáfrica no existía tanto desarrollo, pero muchas personas pusieron dinero para construir campos y esto generó empleos, además del posterior crecimiento del deporte. Ese mismo ejemplo lo hemos visto recientemente en Honduras, y creemos que también será posible en Cuba», refirió el golfista.

Durante su intercambio en la clínica, Gary Player reconoció que el líder sudafricano Nelson Mandela es uno de los hombres más gentiles que ha conocido, y destacó que lo que hizo por su país fue algo increíble.

« Back

CARIBBEAN NEWS: GARY PLAYER, GOLF’S INTERNATIONAL AMBASSADOR, VISITS CUBA

Oct 19, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Last week, Gary Player further cemented his status as the International Ambassador of Golf when he traveled to Cuba to take part in the Torneo de Golf el Dia la Hispanidad at Varadero Golf Club, which is currently the country’s only 18-hole golf course. Fresh off a visit to Indura Golf Resort in Honduras, the Black Knight continued to spread his love, passion and influence on the game by hosting a clinic on Friday and playing in their tournament on Saturday. He also had the honor of hitting the tournament’s opening tee shot, and making a statement to all the dignitaries gathered about the amazing potential golf tourism has in the future and his commitment to help make this happen.
The following article from Caribbean News highlights Player’s trip to a country that is eager to boost their economy by making golf tourism a priority.

Cuba se vistió de gala una vez más para celebrar el 102 aniversario del Día de la Hispanidad el pasado 12 de octubre, conmemoración que recuerda el día del encuentro entre las culturas originarias americanas y la cultura europea, cuando el marinero Rodrigo de Triana, tras dos meses de navegación bajo el mando de Cristóbal Colón, avistó tierra.

Como cada país de Hispanoamérica, Cuba tiene una celebración propia, que bajo el auspicio y promoción de la Embajada de España organiza desde hace 15 años el Torneo Internacional de Golf por el Día de la Hispanidad. 2016 ha sido un año especial para este Torneo que desde su creación ha promovido el desarrollo del golf en Cuba. Este año, invitados especiales y profesionales se dieron cita desde el 14 al 16 de octubre en el emblemático campo del Varadero Golf Club, institución que posee el único campo profesional de 18 hoyos par 72 del país.

Estuvo presente en el evento como organizador y anfitrión principal el Señor Embajador de España en Cuba, Don Juan Francisco Montalbán quien en exclusiva para Caribbean News Digital expresó su satisfacción con el desarrollo del Torneo, donde la calidad de la competición y el nivel de los participantes cumplió las expectativas de su finalidad, que no es otra que la promoción de la práctica deportiva del golf en la Isla.

Una vez más el Hotel Meliá Las Américas dio cabida a las actividades colaterales del Torneo. Conferencias y encuentros de intercambio sobre las posibilidades y condiciones reales para el desarrollo del golf en Cuba, como otro renglón del turismo apenas explotado a pesar de las perfectas condiciones del país, fueron celebradas en los salones de este emblemático Hotel del balneario de Varadero.

El plato fuerte de las jornadas de competición fue la presencia por primera vez en Cuba del Caballero Negro del Golf, el Señor Gary Player, atleta más viajero del mundo, que a sus 81 años conserva el espíritu del inició de su carrera deportiva. De lujo fue presenciar el match amistoso entre Player y tres contrincantes aficionados que recibieron una clase magistral de uno de los tres grandes del Golf en el mundo.

En cada uno de los 18 hoyos del campo escuchamos sus impresiones sobre la disposición y dificultad de los mismos, mientras con la elegancia propia de su refinado estilo mostró las mejores maneras de evadir obstáculos y realizar tiros certeros. El alma del campo en la húmeda mañana del sábado 15 de octubre, vestido de negro, con singular sencillez y llamativos zapatos de dos tonos, hizo gala de la modestia y afán propio de quien habiendo alcanzado la maestría se empeña en divulgar su legado con swings demostrativos y corrección de posturas.

Describir la gracia y desenvoltura de este bailarín del Green es casi imposible cuando se ha visto como con impresionante precisión, solo en cuestión de segundos calcula distancias, ángulos y velocidades del viento. Ensaya cada golpe y sus milimétricos movimientos, resultado de la práctica diaria, son infalibles incluso para sus aprendices, quienes guiados por el maestro repitieron una y otra vez el swing hasta lograr la perfección deseada por el Caballero.

Gary Player, arquitecto de campos de golf de renombre y fama mundial, con más de 300 proyectos alrededor de todo el mundo, vino esta vez a Cuba con el fin de promocionar su disciplina como un deporte que entrena el alma y el cuerpo creando una pauta que para él es filosofía de vida.

En entrevista ofrecida para este medio, el señor Player comentó las impresionantes condiciones de Cuba para el desarrollo del Golf como ejercicio competitivo que puede practicar cualquier persona durante los 12 meses del año, para cultivar su mente y el cuerpo. Tras nuestra pregunta acerca de su estilo y movimientos, habló de la necesidad del trabajo constante y dedicado, del amor y gusto por lo que se hace.

En su cualidad de maestro expresó su insatisfacción con los que sin esfuerzo pretenden merecer todo y comentó de sus inicios en el golf, cuando tuvo que trabajar para contribuir al sustento de su familia y lograr cada éxito en su vida.

Con naturalidad y sencillez expresó sus expectativas de que en 5 años Cuba sea un destino turístico que tenga la práctica profesional de golf como valor añadido, que pueda enseñarse a diferentes niveles hasta que el país tenga al menos un profesional de este deporte. Según su visión la isla necesita una infraestructura adecuada para el desarrollo de este deporte, seguido por el turismo de alto nivel que necesita servicios y genera empleos, mejora la calidad de vida y diversifica el producto turístico del país.

Importantes fueron sus consideraciones sobre este deporte en Cuba que tiene varios entusiastas y patrocinadores dispuestos a apoyar su desarrollo y promoción. Su plática certera dejó sin preguntas a quienes le escuchábamos, pues la experiencia y lucidez de sus 81 años guiaron la conversación donde nos mostró el secreto de su éxito, que tras la fama alcanzada no ha trastocado el espíritu sencillo del hijo de una familia que apenas sobrevivía con 30 dólares al mes.

Escuchar de su boca parte de la historia de su vida, tras verle jugar toda la mañana y enseñar con paciencia a quienes acostumbrados a los swings de baseball golpeaban la bola como para alcanzar un home run y verlos terminar el hoyo 18 con un birdie apenas esperado, es una experiencia única. Ejemplo de sencillez y humildad ofreció a esta Isla su corazón lleno de amor y conocimiento ávido de enseñar, como lo demuestran sus conocidos eventos benéficos que han recaudado alrededor del mundo más de 62 millones de dólares.

De lujo y aleccionador, el Torneo de Golf por el Día de la Hispanidad 2016 en Cuba, encarnó el espíritu propio de esta celebración nacida como un recordatorio del surgimiento de la cultura hispanoamericana, de la hermandad y sobre todo como muestra de respeto a la humanidad.

La presencia de Gary Player en Cuba es un hito deportivo sin precedentes en el país, que busca incentivar el desarrollo de un deporte de élite como medio de desarrollo social, económico y deportivo, unificador de la familia, generador de empleos y proveedor de una mejor calidad de vida.

Read more at: http://www.caribbeannewsdigital.com/noticia/celebrada-nueva-edicion-del-torneo-de-golf-por-el-dia-de-la-hispanidad

« Back

GARY PLAYER’S NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE AND SUN CITY RELATIONSHIP DATES BACK MORE THAN THREE DECADES

Oct 17, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

As the Nedbank Golf Challenge, hosted by Gary Player, moves into a new era on the European Tour, the man who helped launch “Africa’s Major” remains as integral to its continued success as he did when he first designed the golf course and helped conceive the world’s first $1 million tournament.

Grand Slam champion Gary Player was instrumental in launching the tournament in 1981 and helped secure the five-man field of Johnny Miller, Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino, as well as also playing himself.

And 35 years later he is still a major presence during the week of the tournament. Player is a favourite with the fans as well as the world’s top players as he spends the entire week driving through the field, welcoming all of the golfers to his namesake Gary Player Country Club at Sun City. The commitment of Sun International and Nedbank over the years has built this into a world-class event that will now occupy a prominent position on the European Tour calendar, being the last event before the conclusion of the Race to Dubai the following week.

“I really love this tournament and I love Sun City,” said Player, who last year celebrated his 80th birthday with a gala dinner in his honour at Sun City. “To see the Nedbank Golf Challenge grow like it has, and to have been a part of this from the very beginning has been extremely satisfying.”

The 2016 Nedbank Golf Challenge will be played from 10-13 November, the week before the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship. The field has been increased to 72 players, and with it the prize money now totals $7 million.

But Player remembers some of the challenges the tournament faced in its early years.

“When Sol Kerzner and I first discussed the idea to host a unique million dollar golf tournament at Sun City, the biggest challenge we had was to build a golf course in time. We flew out there in a helicopter, and we walked through the veld of what would be the site for the Gary Player Country Club. I said to him, ‘Sol, you have one major problem here. There is no water and we have to build on volcanic rock’. He looked at me and said, ‘Gary, I’ll get you the water, you just build me a world-class golf course.’

“To get the likes of Nicklaus, Trevino and Ballesteros for that first Million Dollar Challenge – that was a coup in those days. We were in trouble politically, but they came and played. I told them I thought this would help to break down Apartheid, and I still think it played a small part in its demise.”

In those early days, Player even divided his time between competing in the tournament and hosting the golfers, media, fans, and raking the bunkers himself to ensure the Gary Player Country Club was in the best possible condition. For the first golf event at Sun City the greens had to be artificially dyed to look good on television.

Now the 18-time Major champion can only marvel at the Nedbank Golf Challenge occupying a premier place on the European Tour’s Final Series for the Race to Dubai.

“The Nedbank Golf Challenge was a special tournament from the start, and has become one of the world’s biggest tournaments. We’ve had some of the greatest players in the history of golf compete at Sun City. Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Nick Price, Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer and so many others have played in it.

“The tournament and golf course have gone from strength to strength, and I am very proud to see it now become such an important event on the European Tour.”

« Back

GOLF & HEALTH PROJECT LAUNCHES TO HIGHLIGHT HOW GOLF CAN BENEFIT ALL

Oct 11, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

World Golf Foundation (WGF) – the non-profit organization developing and supporting initiatives that positively impact lives through the game of golf and its traditional values – announces the launch of the Golf & Health Project, academically researching and highlighting how the game can benefit peoples’ lives.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, led by Dr. Andrew Murray and under the supervision of leading international academics, Professor Nanette Mutrie and Professor Liz Grant, have conducted the largest, most comprehensive study of golf and health, with the results shown in a Scoping Review published in the world’s leading sports medicine and science journal, The British Journal of Sports Medicine.  In total, 5,000 papers were reviewed to provide a comprehensive view on the impact of the game on health, illness prevention (and management) and associated injuries.

Key benefits include improvements in life expectancy and quality of life, as well as physical and mental health benefits.  Golf is expected to decrease the risk of more than 40 major chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, colon and breast cancer.  Current research shows that golf has positive impacts on cholesterol, body composition, metabolism, and longevity.

The Project launches with support from all of golf’s major organisations, along with an initial eight ambassadors from around the world with more than 30 majors and 350 wins between them - Gary Player (South Africa) Aaron Baddeley (Australia), Annika Sorenstam (Sweden), Brooke Henderson (Canada), Padraig Harrington (Ireland), Ryann O’Toole (USA), So Yeon Ryu (South Korea), and Zach Johnson (USA).

“I am delighted to be an Ambassador for the Golf & Health Project and wholeheartedly support the work they are doing to prove the health and wellbeing benefits of golf,” explained Gary Player, 18-time Major champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member.  “The systematic and academic confirmation of the physical and mental benefits golf gives people will be of great use to us all to spread the word to institutions, governments and the entire world!”

Current information from the Scoping Review and future research findings will continue to be available through the Golf & Health website – http://www.golfandhealth.org. This information is designed to be practical and usable by golf’s stakeholders to help develop the sport around the world.

The project also aims to show existing and future benefits that are identified are applicable to individuals of all ages throughout society, not just a specific sub-section of the population.

The WGF and the major golf organizations represented on its Board of Directors, along with partners such as the PGAs of Europe and the University of Edinburgh, academic collaborators and supporters from the University of California at San Francisco, and various other organizations, are working together on the Project with a view to sharing its work around the globe.

“The importance of the Golf & Health Project in the development of the sport is vital, not just for the WGF’s partners, but everyone involved with golf around the world,” said Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation.  “This Project is something we can all get behind, as it is universally agreed that golf is good for you. It is going to provide real, tangible resources that can be used by governments and politicians, professional tours, governing bodies, golf businesses, PGA Professionals and more - all to the sport’s benefit.”

The Project is planning various research-led activities to further prove areas of interest and also expand into currently under-researched areas such as the mental health benefits of golf, physical benefits in older players and the positive effects of spectating.

“For a number of years we’ve felt we’ve underplayed the likely benefits of golf on peoples’ health,” added Golf & Health Project Executive Director and European Tour Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Roger Hawkes.  “Over the last two or three years, there seems to be an interest from various bodies and we’ve been able to bring together that interest to actually study this area.”

Further information, news and features on the Golf & Health Project: http://www.golfandhealth.org, @GolfAndHealth on Twitter and ‘Golf and Health’ on Facebook.

« Back

STARS TO SUPPORT GARY PLAYER’S QUEST TO RAISE $100 MILLION

Oct 10, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Former England and Manchester United football star Andy Cole and U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell will join the Black Knight in this year’s November’s Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at Sun City’s Lost City Golf Club from November 24-27.

This is the final leg of the 2016 Gary Player Invitational charity golf series, which plays a major role in the Grand Slam champion’s quest to raise $100 million for charity.

Both Cole and Campbell will make their Gary Player Invitational debut, which this year has expanded to six tournaments worldwide all raising funds for The Player Foundation’s various charitable projects supporting underprivileged children.

“I’m really excited and feel privileged to be taking part in the Gary Player Invitational tournament,” said Cole. “I’m also looking forward to spending more time in beautiful South Africa.”

The two stars will be joined by South African Olympic golfer Paula Reto and European Tour winner Haydn Porteous, who are part of the first wave of participants named for this prestigious charity tournament.

“I’m so pleased that Andy and Michael will be joining us for the first time, and would also like to welcome two of our brightest young South African stars in Paula and Haydn,” said tournament host Gary Player. “The fact that they have taken time out of their busy schedules to contribute to our goal is very humbling.”

Cole’s glittering football career includes playing for Arsenal, Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City and others. But he is most remembered for his time with Manchester United, including his historic five goals in the club’s 9-0 win over Ipswich Town in 1995. He also made 15 appearances for England’s international team.

Campbell won the 2005 U.S. Open in a career which featured 15 professional titles and also included the 2005 HSBC World Match Play Championship.

Porteous claimed his maiden European Tour title at the 2016 Joburg Open, while Reto heads to Sun City as a LPGA Tour campaigner, as well as one of South Africa’s first Olympic golfers under the captaincy of the Black Knight.

As golf’s global ambassador, Player has set the target of raising $100 million for children’s charities through The Player Foundation bolstered by this series of tournaments in the United States, United Kingdom, China, Japan, South Africa and the UAE. The Foundation has already raised more than $62 million, and Player believes the goal of $100 million is within reach.

“We have so many people around the world who are seeing what we are doing for charity and want to support us with donations to help us reach our target,” Player said. “We have golf stars, businessmen, athletes and movie stars all supporting our cause. As a result we’ve been able to help so many children in need.”
The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, which finds itself in its 17th year as the South Africa’s premier charity event, has helped The Player Foundation raise more than R800 million across the world in an effort to help sustain the worthy causes. All proceeds raised from the event will go to various selected charity beneficiaries including, Wings and Wishes and Wildlands.

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

« Back

GARY PLAYER & SAP TEACH KIDS LESSONS IN GOLF AND LIFE AT ST. LEON ROT GOLF CLUB IN GERMANY

Oct 7, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Legendary Golfer Gary Player visited St. Leon Rot Golf Club to take part in a SAP sponsored event the where he was impressed with the extensive golf and athletic programs.

This was very appropriate as Player is widely known by the nickname of Mr. Fitness, and also is one of the most respected players in the history of golf. The visit of the 80-year old South African was made possible by the Waldorf Software Company, and also SAP, for which he continues his longstanding relationship as a brand ambassador.

The Black Knight is still a tireless, global ambassador for the golf world. In his long career which now spans seven decades, he has won 167 professional titles on six continents. He is the only non-American and one of only five men ever to capture golf’s coveted career Grand Slam, winning all four Majors by the age of 29. He is the only man in history to win the Grand Slam on the Regular Tour and Senior Tour, and has 18 Major titles to his name. In addition, the South African is one of the most respected golf course designers in the world with nearly 400 golf courses tied to the Gary Player brand all around the world. In addition, he is well known for the philanthropic efforts of The Player Foundation, which supports children children’s charities all around the world and is on track to raise $100 million for charity.

In St. Leon-Rot he was greeted by the Club President and SAP co-founder Dietmar Hopp. Player then viewed the large-scale training facilities and potential of the players from the club. He also visited the Alliance Golf arena, which is an ideal golf training centre in Germany during the winter months. During his visit to the athletics square, he witnessed an athletic show organized for him, and also took part in some exercises and demonstrated his impressive fitness to the children.

Another activity was a bunker clinic on the 18th green of the St. Leon-Rot Course. Player is considered by many as golf’s greatest bunker player. In a skilful manner, Player showed the guests how to safely hit the ball from the sand onto the green. He continued the day and played 10 holes of ‘birdie hunting,’ a challenge by a team of young top players of St. Leon-Rot Golf Club. Player also took time to help the players with tips and tricks. All came together for a barbecue afterwards where the Black Knight signed the Golden Book of the Club.

“We were very impressed by the appearance of Gary Player. He is a tireless Ambassador for our sport and we thank SAP that it has brought this charismatic and impressive personality in our Club. For all who have been there, Gary Player’s visit will be long remembered “, says SAP co-founder Dietmar Hopp.

« Back

JUNIOR PRESIDENTS CUP ANNOUNCED AS NEW PRECURSOR TO PRESIDENTS CUP 2017

Oct 5, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Officials from the PGA TOUR announced today that beginning with the 2017 Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club, the PGA TOUR will start a new chapter in Presidents Cup history by partnering with the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) to conduct the Junior Presidents Cup, featuring 24 of the best junior boys 19 years old or younger from the United States and around the world, excluding Europe.

“The PGA TOUR is excited to introduce this new tradition to Presidents Cup week,” said PGA TOUR Deputy Commissioner and COO Jay Monahan. “By partnering with the AJGA, our vision for the Junior Presidents Cup is to provide the best young players in the world with a unique playing opportunity that will not only help advance their golfing careers, but also be a source of inspiration as they then witness their professional golfing heroes compete at the highest level and represent their home countries with pride during the Presidents Cup.”

Set to take place at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey, host of THE NORTHERN TRUST, the first event of the FedExCup Playoffs in 2011 and 2015, the Junior Presidents Cup will kick off Presidents Cup week on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 25-26, with a two-day competition between the two teams of 12 just days before the Presidents Cup matches get underway at Liberty National. Following the conclusion of the Junior Presidents Cup, the teams will be invited to witness the Presidents Cup firsthand, a prelude to potential future Presidents Cup participation for those who move on to play the game professionally.

“Plainfield Country Club is proud and honored to host the inaugural Junior Presidents Cup,” said Ed English, president of Plainfield Country Club. “Plainfield has always enjoyed a rich tradition of supporting junior golf by our affiliation with The First Tee of Plainfield, and the members of Plainfield appreciate our continued successful partnership with the PGA TOUR. We are looking forward to the opportunity to showcase and share our world-class golf course with the best junior amateurs in the world for this unique event.”

At the 2015 Presidents Cup in Seoul, Korea, all 12 members of the U.S. Team were AJGA alumni, a telling sign that with the introduction of the Junior Presidents Cup, there will soon be Presidents Cup team members who once competed in the junior matches.

“The AJGA is thrilled to partner with the PGA TOUR for the Junior Presidents Cup,” said AJGA Executive Director Stephen Hamblin. “The overall growth and development of junior golfers is critical to the future of the industry, and we expect the Junior Presidents Cup to become a catalytic event that will inspire and motivate golf’s next generation to earn the honor of playing alongside the best players in the world.”

Teams will be led by Honorary Captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, whose presence will instill added inspiration and pride among their respective teams and further ensure an unforgettable experience for each junior participant. The two World Golf Hall of Fame members combine for seven total Presidents Cup captaincies, including the three where they captained against one another: 2003, which ended in a memorable tie and the captains agreed the two teams would share the Cup; 2005; and 2007.

Prior to his four stints as the U.S. Presidents Cup Team Captain along with two as the U.S. Ryder Cup Team Captain, Nicklaus competed on six U.S. Ryder Cup Teams (1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1981) and played in seven editions of the World Cup (1963-1967, 1971, 1973), winning the team portion of the competition six times.

“The four opportunities I had to serve as a captain in the Presidents Cup were arguably some of the most rewarding and memorable of my career,” Nicklaus said. “I love what is at the foundation of the event, which is to use a goodwill competition between some of the game’s greatest players as a platform to introduce the game around the world and help grow it.”

“To now marry the mission of the Presidents Cup with a competition for juniors from around the world creates the perfect confluence of objectives. The Junior Presidents Cup is an ideal way to further the growth of the game and shape the next generation of golfers. I am delighted to join my good friend Gary Player as an Honorary Captain, and I look forward to meeting the young men representing the future of our game.”

Player has made an indelible mark on the game internationally, winning 115 times outside the United States throughout his Hall-of-Fame career. The South African competed in the World Cup on 16 occasions, a testament to his commitment and passion for growing the game across the globe.

“What an honor and delight it is for me to be asked by Commissioner Tim Finchem to be Honorary Captain for the first International Team of the 2017 Junior Presidents Cup,” Player said. “Not only does it give me the opportunity to reunite with my all-time rival, close friend and Honorary Captain of the U.S. Team, Jack Nicklaus, but it opens the world to new possibilities for the younger generation of top junior golfers of which I am excited to be a part of.

“The youth are the future of golf and this is just another meaningful way for them to experience the spirit, goodwill and camaraderie of a game that I have so enjoyed for over 60 years now. An international team competition is a fantastic way to bring new excitement to junior golf. It’s truly a privilege to be the International Team’s Honorary Captain for the inaugural event. No doubt this will help enhance the Presidents Cup and help more people around the world join our wonderful game.”

Both Honorary Captains will each be supported by a captain for the Junior Presidents Cup, who will handle the primary duties during the competition, including creation of the daily pairings and conducting the draw of the matches. The U.S. Team will be captained by David Toms, while the International Team will be led by Trevor Immelman.

Toms is a four-time member of the U.S. Presidents Cup Team (2003, 2005, 2007, 2011) and three-time U.S. Ryder Cup Team member (2002, 2004, 2006). Toms has 13 career PGA TOUR victories to his credit, including his signature victory at the 2001 PGA Championship.

“For me it’s a great opportunity to be a captain in the first ever Junior Presidents Cup and to continue my involvement in the growth of junior golf,” said Toms, whose son, Carter, went through the AJGA program and now plays collegiately at LSU. “My foundation and I have a history in our commitment to junior golf through our golf academy and sponsorship of an AJGA event each summer in Shreveport, Louisiana, and I look forward to watching these kids enjoy this unique experience, as they will someday be representing both sides in the Presidents Cup.
“Trevor and I played each other twice in singles at the Presidents Cup, and I really respect him as a player, person and major champion. He’s given a lot to the game of golf and I’m looking forward to spending a few days with him in New York next year.”

Immelman competed on two International Presidents Cup Teams under Player (2005, 2007) and represented South Africa in four World Cups (2003, 2004, 2005, 2007). A two-time PGA TOUR winner, Immelman’s career is highlighted by his victory at the 2008 Masters Tournament.

“It is truly an honor to be selected as captain of the International Team for the Junior Presidents Cup,” Immelman said. “Having competed in junior tournaments in South Africa as well as in the AJGA, and having the privilege to play in two Presidents Cups, I understand exactly where these young men are now, and where they are striving to one day be. I look forward to spending the week with the 12 best international juniors in the world, and thank the PGA TOUR and the AJGA for giving these young men this fantastic opportunity.”

The same general criteria used to determine the Presidents Cup home country eligibility will be applied to the Junior Presidents Cup. The U.S. Team will be made up of the leading 11 qualified players based on the AJGA Polo Golf Rankings as of August 3, 2017, with the final leading player from the rankings being selected on September 6, 2017. Double points will be associated with The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf.

The International Team qualifying will be made up of the leading 11 qualified players based on the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) as of August 3, 2017, with the final leading player from the WAGR being selected on September 6, 2017.

In keeping with the charitable nature of the Presidents Cup, net proceeds from the Junior Presidents Cup will support charitable programs that include the AJGA’s ACE Grant scholarship program, which helps give top-flight golf opportunities to young golfers regardless of financial resources. Local chapters of The First Tee will also benefit from the event.

To purchase tickets or for updates on the Presidents Cup, check http://www.presidentscup.com, join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/thepresidentscup, Twitter and Instagram at @presidentscup and sign up for the Presidents Cup e-newsletter.

« Back

GOLF ICON GARY PLAYER TO VISIT INDURA BEACH & GOLF RESORT

Sep 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

In early October, Honduras will welcome one of golf’s foremost icons, Gary Player, who will arrive in the country to play at Indura Beach & Golf Resort, a course designed and inaugurated by the Black Knight.

Gary Player is one of the world’s greatest golfers in the history of the game, exemplified by a career where he is known as the “International Ambassador of Golf.” Today, he continues to travel around the world designing golf courses, hosting the Gary Player Invitational charity golf series in six countries on behalf of his charitable foundation, and participating in events such as The Masters Ceremonial Tee Shot with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

During his visit, Player will share his experiences on and off the golf course with a group of 60 international golfers who will take part in a pro-am tournament at Indura Beach & Golf Resort. The tournament will be played on the 18-hole Gary Player course, and the man of the hour will have special participation on the 12th hole where all golfers will have the honor of playing alongside the Grand Slam Champion.

“It is an honor to welcome Gary Player to Indura Beach & Golf Resort who will debut in a tournament that will count with the presence of a group of international golfers who will appreciate the nature and beauty offered by our golf course designed by the same famous golfer,” said Jose Gutierrez, General Director of Indura Beach & Golf Resort.

Player is a renowned golf course designer with nearly 400 courses around the world. His designs are known for setting industry standards because of their environmental sensitivity as well as that Player is personally involved in the conceptualization, master planning, design and promotional efforts of each course.

Player has catalogued the site of Indura Beach & Golf Resort as one of the most beautiful locations where his firm has designed due to the natural beauty of Honduras. Typically the best golf courses are those where people can appreciate the flora and fauna, and also have an enjoyable experience while you play.

“I am not aware of how many people know about the natural beauty that Honduras offers,” said Gary Player. “This is one of those places that people visit and speak wonders about its incredible nature and beauty.”

Indura Beach & Golf Resort continues to support the growth of golf in Honduras highlighted by the PGA Tour Latin America event dubbed the Honduras Open, which is set for its third year in 2017. Indura Beach & Golf Resort features an 18-hole golf course that is set in the midst of 1,800 pristine tropical acres. It is framed by golden beaches, blue lagoons and lush vegetation of native wetlands.

« Back

GARY PLAYER’S EMOTIONAL TRIBUTE TO ARNOLD PALMER

Sep 26, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share


Vivienne and I just woke up on the farm this morning to the sad news that our friend Arnold Palmer passed away peacefully last night in the USA.

I have so many vivid memories of our time together competing around the world, with our families, helping each other’s charities, and just being together. Arnold was many things to many people and undoubtedly made golf more popular, but to me he was simply a dear friend for over 60 years. Of course, like anybody we had our differences but these never stood in the way of our relationship and I will miss him terribly. He could be difficult and demanding but also blessed with charisma, charm and patience. Arnold Palmer simply transcended the game of golf. He was inspirational to so many and lived his life to the fullest. He had a slashing, dashing style accompanied with a knowing smile. He was loved by all even when they did not know him. He always made an effort, even when the odds were stacked against him. Our prayers go out to Kit and his entire loving family.

Muff, I will raise my glass and toast your life tonight my friend, and hope to be reunited for another round together in time. Rest In Peace. I love you.

« Back

GARY PLAYER CLASSIC CHAMPIONS CROWNED IN THE LAND DOWN UNDER

Sep 23, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

During his illustrious golf career that saw seven decades of professional tournament victories, Gary Player is no stranger to success in Australia. Winning a record seven Australian Open titles forever entrenched the Black Knight’s name into golf folklore in the Land Down Under. Legends Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman fell short of Player’s record, and current stars Jason Day and Adam Scott have one combined title in their
national open.

Player’s name is not just in the record books in Australia. This week marked the 45th Gary Player Classic, which is one of the longest running junior golf tournaments in the world. The annual event sponsored by the Grand Slam Champion has catapulted many amateurs towards reaching their professional aspirations with past champions including Jason Day, Adam Scott, Ian Baker-Finch and Greg Norman.

World No. 1 Jason Day claimed three Gary Player Classic titles, winning the Under 15 division in 2002, and the 16-17 division in both 2004 and 2005.

“It is such a thrill for me to hear about the continued success of the Gary Player Classic,” said Gary Player. “I always hoped that coming to play here many years ago would inspire future generations in what is a talent rich golfing country. Several Major Champions also call themselves Gary Player Classic Champions, which is very, very special to me.”

Blake Proverbs, Charles Pilon and Louis Dobbelaar were victorious at the conclusion of the three day competition at Pacific Golf Club. In his final years of eligibility, Proverbs successfully defended his title in emphatic style with a five shot victory over the field.

Pilon also has had great success. With his 2016 victory, he became the first player since Jason Day to sweep the 16-17 division.

Dobbelaar experienced a bit more drama, starting the final day trailing by six shots. He birdie five of the closing nine holes, including a clutch birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff. His birdie on the second playoff hole landed him his first Gary Player Classic trophy.

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

Player took to Twitter in what has become his custom to congratulate this year’s winners.

« Back

COMMUNITY UNITES FOR A CLEANER COLESBERG

Sep 21, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Today saw the launch of an exciting clean-up campaign for the town of Colesberg. Inspired and driven by Mrs Vivienne Player, wife of golfing legend, Gary Player, in partnership with the Municipality and Wildlands – a leading environmental non-profit organisation, the project hopes to clean up this hidden gem in the Karoo.

“Every year, thousands of holiday makers make their way through our town on their way to their holiday destinations, many opting to stay over for a day or two,” said Mrs. Player at the launch at Hugo Park this morning. “Unfortunately, over the last couple of years one can clearly see the increasing amount of rubbish and litter spoiling the image and welcome to our town. I decided enough was enough and it was time to do something about this – so we initiated discussions with the Mayor and Wildlands.”

“The event held today was aimed at kick starting and mobilising the community around cleaning up their town and recycling,” said Wildlands’ Strategic Manager David Moldenhauer. “Today would not have been possible without a generous donation of R50 000 from The Player Foundation – which was used to purchase grocery vouchers that were handed out to all the helping hands and community members that assisted us in the clean-up operations. It was also fantastic to see the turnout of more than 400 concerned citizens, including local farmers and businesses as well as several dignitaries such as the Honourable Mayor Mr Mzwandile Simon Toto, Ward Counsellors, representatives from the Community Works Programme and Masabalala DTI Group – all willing to do what they can to clean up Colesberg. Local farmers and businesses assisted us with the transportation of recycling while several local schools also got involved namely, Umso High School, Colesberg Primary, Lowryville Intermediate School, SS Madikane Primary School and Colesberg High School. Areas targeted for the clean-up included Lowryville, Kuyasa, Riemvasmaak and central town. All the waste collected today will be recycled, and furthermore our recently launched Green Desk Project will see some of this waste transformed into school desks.”

Honourable Mayor, Mr Mzwandile Simon Toto said, “It is such an honour to meet Gary Player for the first time. The municipality believe this is only the start of a long partnership, and we look forward to working with the Players and Wildlands to make Colesberg the best town in the Karoo!”

“This will not be a once off project that gets forgotten in a couple of months but rather an ongoing project.  Not only will the clean-up of Colesberg be reborn for all to enjoy but more importantly the development and help to the community will be far reaching,” commented Mrs Vivienne Player.

The long term vision and expansion of a project in Colesberg, simultaneously focused on the upliftment of women and recycling, was made possible through the long-standing Wildlands and Gary Player Invitational partnership. Coca-Cola the presenting sponsor and long-time partner of the charitable golf tournament is committed to giving back to communities and through the GPI initiatives, is able to demonstrate lasting, sustainable and positive change in the quality of life of communities especially women.

Over R1.7 million of the funds donated by The Player Foundation to Wildlands in 2015 through Africa’s premier golf event, was allocated to recycling staffing and logistic costs in both Colesberg and eThekwini. Furthermore, these funds have enabled the expansion of Wildlands’ female Waste-preneur* footprint across all their recycling nodes (Magaliesberg, uMgungundlovu, eThekwini, iLembe, uThungulu, uMkhanyakude, Zululand and Bushbuckridge).

« Back

GARY PLAYER’S MAJOR GOAL TO RAISE $100 MILLION FOR CHARITY

Sep 8, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, South Africa’s most successful charity golf tournament, will continue to receive support from The Coca-Cola Company and Sun International by partnering with The Player Foundation in their commitment towards raising $100 million for charity worldwide.

The continued support of Coca-Cola and Sun International for a further three years is a resounding endorsement of a tournament that first teed off in 2000 as part of Gary Player’s vision to raise funds for underprivileged children in South Africa. The tournament has since grown to include a global series of six tournaments worldwide raising more than $62 million for charity.

The Gary Player Invitational remains the single most influential series of charity golf tournaments in the game, travelling to Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Abu Dhabi and South Africa as part of Player’s quest to raise $100 million for underprivileged children.

The South African tournament will be played from November 24-27 at the “African Inspired” Gary Player-designed Lost City Golf Course, and has already secured 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell as well as South African European Tour winner and rising star Haydn Porteous as part of a stellar field.

At the official launch of the 2016 Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola on Thursday, Player expressed his excitement and gratitude about the future of this tournament.

“It is so humbling that every year we are able to bring together our friends, professional golfers, celebrities and some of the world’s most influential business leaders to take part in our pro-am tournament that has one common goal, and that is to help our fellow human beings,” said Player. “But you cannot do this without the support we receive from our partners. The Coca-Cola Company has been such a longstanding supporter of our philanthropic efforts and we are blessed to have them as our partner. Sun International also shares our vision and does an incredible amount of good in the local community around Sun City. I am extremely thankful to have a Major champion such as Michael and a young star like Haydn lend their support to our cause.

“I’m very proud to have such a powerful team behind our tournament, and it’s one of the reasons I know we will be able to reach our goal of raising $100 million for charity. It’s only when you have partners who are so closely aligned to your own vision that you can truly make a difference, and all our global sponsors have always shared this vision of creating a sustainable future for our communities.”

The Black Knight’s association with both The Coca-Cola Company and Sun International goes back many years.

In 1965, the same year Player became the first non-American and only the third golfer in history to win the career Grand Slam, he and Coca-Cola first joined forces in a relationship that has remained strong ever since as they’ve promoted their “Healthy Choice” initiative and their focus on juice and water.

“As a company we are proud to be a partner to the Gary Player Invitational, a platform that enables us to play an important role in the development of communities through innovative sustainable projects in South Africa. Through this partnership we have been able to uplift communities especially women and young people in the country, and Gary Player’s passion to help the underprivileged is what keeps driving our own support of his cause,” said Kelvin Balogun, Business Unit Director Coca-Cola Southern Africa.

Player designed both the golf courses at Sun City, Sun International’s flagship resort, including the iconic Gary Player Country Club which helped put the resort on the map globally, and The Lost City Golf Course over which the GPI will be played.

He is also the longstanding ambassador of Sun International’s flagship golf tournament, the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and this year is the tournament’s official host. Player has played a key role in the elevation of its status to a major European Tour event which this year forms part of the elite Final Series of the Race to Dubai.

“We are delighted to extend our partnership with Black Knight International and The Player Foundation in this prestigious golf charity event,” said Graeme Stephens, Chief Executive of Sun International.

“We have a longstanding relationship with Gary Player that goes back to the start of Sun City and his tireless efforts to promote it and South Africa to the world. The value he has added is immense. He is that rare individual who will be remembered as much for what he has done for charity as what he did in a glittering golf career, and we are proud to still partner with him in his efforts to keep making a difference.”

Since the tournament moved to its new home of The Lost City Golf Course in 2013, the first three years of this partnership have been a tremendous success as it has raised record amounts of money for underprivileged children in South Africa.

Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International said, “The extension of our association with all our sponsors and especially Sun International and Coca-Cola is indicative of the success of our partnership and the strength of the collective vision of all parties to keep working to help improve the lives of underprivileged children in South Africa and around the world.”

« Back

HAUTE COLLECTOR GARY PLAYER TALKS SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH ROLEX

Sep 6, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player hasn’t lost a single step. At 80 years old, the legendary sportsman and outspoken “International Ambassador of Golf” is still playing and working just as hard as he did in his prime, and he isn’t afraid of letting everybody know. Over his remarkable career, he’s reached the pinnacle of success, netting an incredible nine majors and becoming one of only 5 golfers to win a career Grand Slam (winning all four major tournaments). Thanks to his wonderful bravado and remarkable skill on the links, he helped shape golf into the sport it is today. His balmy summer showdowns with friends and rivals Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are the stuff of sport legend and has catapulted golf into the center of American consciousness, ushering the game from behind walled country clubs and to the hands of the masses.

And along for nearly every step on his lifelong journey in professional golf has been Rolex. Pieces from one of the world’s foremost Swiss luxury watch brands have found a home on Player’s wrist for over half a century, and all these years later, the sports legend still has nothing but wonderful words to say about the company and the timepieces they create “[Rolex] is one of the finest companies, and in my 80 years, I’ve worked with a lot of different companies,” ensures Player.

So what does it take to earn 60 years of adoration? Consistency seems to be the key, and Player remains impressed with the timepieces Rolex produces. “Everything in business is negotiable except quality, and that exemplifies Rolex: quality.”

Sadly, Player hasn’t always had the pleasure of enjoying quality timepieces. He had to work hard for them, and he’s very proud of how far he’s come in this life and the strenuous effort it took to get there. The son of a gold miner, he was born in working class South Africa, and wasn’t in the position to afford anything close to a Rolex for much of his youth. “I was making 30 pounds a month for three years, so I didn’t have much money,” remembers Player. Clearly, a Rolex was well beyond the means of a young Gary Player.

When thinking back to the first watch he ever owned, his memory was fuzzy, but it certainly wasn’t of the same caliber of his current favorite pieces. “The first watch I ever had, I don’t remember the make of it, but it was a very cheap watch. Something that couldn’t keep time religiously.”

When Player finally worked his way to becoming a professional golfer and netting his first Rolex, the piece shined even brighter due to the hard work it took to acquire. “You can imagine what a thrill that was for a young man to be wearing a Rolex watch, particularly if you were as poor as I was. No one in my family ever even dreamt of owning a Rolex watch,” says Player with a chuckle.

Nowadays, Player finds himself cycling through a handful of select pieces. For the average day on his farm, where he raises world-class thoroughbreds, he often wears a steel Deepsea. “For every day, my steel
Deepsea with a black face is super,” exclaims Player, adding, “When I work on my farm, I have to be careful because it’s dusty, so I make a point of keeping them in my pocket usually when I’m working. When people are around, or when I’m at dinner, obviously I wear my watch.”

According to Player, one of the benefits of wearing a Rolex is their unparalleled dependability, a feature he appreciates due to his non-stop lifestyle. “It’s such a versatile watch, I just put it over the tap and wipe it with my facecloth. It’s clean and it’s a warhorse. It’s got so much quality, that I don’t care where you take it, even underwater. It just comes out on top all the time. The words that come to mind every time I wear it is ‘What a quality watch,’” says Player excitedly.

Whether it’s designing golf courses, breeding race horses, playing in tournaments, or doing work with the Gary Player Foundation, he’s always on the move. In fact, Player travels so often, he feels confident enough to make a rather audacious claim. “Well I’ve traveled more miles than any human being ever. That’s 63 years of continuous travel. Nobody does that, not even pilots,” he says.

The golfing legend is also still as physically active as ever. In fact, right after our interview he headed to the gym for a workout that would exhaust even the most strapping 20-year-old. “At the age of 80, I still push 400 pounds with my legs in the leg press. This afternoon, I will do 1,000 sit-ups, crunches and planks, and I still put the treadmill on at max,” says Player matter-of-factly, continuing, “I have a zest for life.” He credits his healthy lifestyle and love of weight training for his success in golf. In particular, he says his intense exercise regimen gave him the edge in winning the Senior Grand Slam, which he considers the highlight of his professional career. “I was able to win the Senior Grand Slam for a very particular reason: because I worked out and started weight training in golf in 1953. I was called a nut and [told] that I’d never be able to last doing weight training, and the fact that I was so fit, when I became a senior at the age of 50, I was almost as fit as I was when I was 35, which not everybody else can say. And that’s the reason I went on to win it. So, I was being rewarded for my hard work.”

For his absolute favorite pieces to wear on the road, Gary finds himself returning to two specific watches. “I must say that my favorite watches are the Platinum Oyster Perpetual Day Date as well as my Yellow Gold GMT Master watch. I think those are absolutely fantastic,” he remarks. The Gold GMT master, in particular, holds a special significance. Player tells heartbreaking stories of his father toiling away in the dark recesses of a gold mine, a sacrifice that weighs on his mind while wearing it. The gold of his GMT Master serves as a constant reminder.

“My father worked in a gold mine 8,000 feet down in the ground, and I went down to watch this one time with Arnold Palmer. For every—and I think I’m correct in saying this—but for every 8 tons of rock that is mined, you get one ounce of gold, so anytime anybody wears anything with gold, they should put great value in it because, my goodness. Those people under the ground worked their tail off to get it,” Player reports, adding, “There’s never a day where I’m traveling with my gold master—there’s never a day, never a day—that I don’t put it on and think of my father, who worked down in that damn hole.”

For Player, remaining gracious and recognizing all of the hard work and sacrifice that went into giving him the life he enjoys now is of the utmost importance. “Gratitude is a terribly important thing of which my life revolves around. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t have a prayer of thanks and gratitude for the gifts that I am bestowed upon in my life,” says Player, his words heavy with appreciation.

Player’s intense admiration for Rolex extends beyond the luxurious product they produce. He also finds himself in awe of how the company is run. He recalls a trip to Geneva where he received an up-close look at the inner workings of Rolex. “That week, I met all kinds of people [employed by Rolex] involved in all different stations. I can tell you they all spoke so highly of Rolex, and it was such a clean factory and so well organized, that you come to discover the true value of a Rolex watch, and what it stood for,” says Player, adding, “They are just a great all-around company. An incredible company.”

So what’s next for Player? We’re sure he’ll continue traveling, working, golfing and training way beyond everyone’s expectations, not letting his age outstrip his zest for life. We also expect that the golfer will be wearing a Rolex every step of the way.

Article courtesy of Haute Time

« Back

THE ACE CLUB CONTINUES TO RISE COURSE RANKINGS

Sep 1, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The ACE Club, a Gary Player Signature Design located in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, continues to gain national course, most recently making a significant jump in the Top 100 Golf Course rankings.

The ACE Club was also ranked in the top 20 private courses in golf rich Pennsylvania by Golf Digest in 2015. The 7,500 yard layout is equipped with five tee placements for golfers of all abilities. Additionally, the course has one of the top caddie programs in Philadelphia to help players effectively navigate the golf course.

The ACE Club displays Gary Player Design’s significant redesign capabilities, as it was a renovation of the former Eagle Lodge property. The upgrade was conceived and expertly brought to life in 2002 by an individual who deeply appreciates the subtle nuances of a truly exquisite course - the legendary Gary Player. To merely call this course “designed” doesn’t begin to capture the inspiring vision, environmental sensitivity, and meticulous attention to detail on which Gary Player’s design company built its reputation.

“The ACE Club is one of our finest courses in the United States,” said legendary icon Gary Player. “Our team took a beautiful piece of property with a good golf course and made it great. And we continue to be involved. Club management’s willingness to make the necessary improvements to the course over time, will no doubt help the club continue to receive national and potentially global recognition.”

The strategic placement of every bunker. The undulations of every green. The stunning view from each tee. All were born of the passion for the game that has made Gary Player one of golf’s most celebrated champions.

Everywhere you look, you’ll find carefully considered course architecture that players of every level can appreciate. Those with a higher handicap will find the holes very playable, while more skilled golfers will be challenged to try different strategies based on weather conditions, tees played and other various circumstances.

Every hole at The ACE Club is a unique, rewarding experience. For a brief description and photography of each, coupled with some strategic insight from Gary Player himself, please visit their course tour page or click on any of the photographs here.Gary Player Design led The ACE Club’s bunker renovation project in 2010 to enhance the playability, maximizing aesthetics, and improving maintenance requirements. Thoughtful placement of every bunker to maximize strategic value and visual appeal was at the forefront of the project. The same character of the bunkers was kept, but there were many opportunities for improvements.

« Back

GARY PLAYER’S OLYMPIC DIARY

Aug 31, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player’s Olympic Diary: My first couple of days in the amazing, vibrant and beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro.

As I prepared to leave my beloved farm, I packed with a sense of anticipation, pride and excitement to be leaving for Rio as the first ever Captain of South Africa’s men and ladies golf teams.

I am especially enthusiastic to see golf back where it belongs, in the Olympics – the greatest stage for sport - after an absence of more than 100 years. Naturally I was disappointed with the withdrawal of some of our top ranked players, but as Captain of the team, there was not much I was able to do. This just opened doors for other South Africans and I will be rooting for them all the way.

The flight on SAA was amazing with outstanding service. We touched down in Sao Paulo where I nearly missed my connecting flight. I think we made it by just three minutes! In my rush to make my flight, my suitcase with all my Olympic clothing was left behind. Even after 63 years of nonstop travel, this can happen to anyone. But thanks to my wonderful support team, they spotted my Black Knight luggage amongst all the other athletes’ bags and knew I must have forgotten them. After 17 years of working together, thanks again to Beatrix Geen! She re-booked with only a little bit of trouble and barely made her own flight.

After a smooth flight into Rio my transport from the airport to the Olympic Village was very quick and efficient. We even drove past the Gavea Golf Course where I shot a 59 in the 1974 Brazilian Open and arrived at the Village around 11 p.m. And being rather knackered I fell immediately into my bed that resembled an old army cot and fell sound asleep.

I woke up on Friday morning with a slightly stiff hip which Avi, our Physio, sorted out in no time. He is absolutely amazing. After showering and freshening up, I made my way to the Dining Hall for breakfast and what a breakfast it was. I must congratulate the Rio Olympic Committee for the brilliant organization. There are about 11,000 athletes in this Village, that are fed, housed, looked after, transported, have all the amenities they desire, and yet everything runs so smoothly. I know what it is like trying to feed six children and 22 grandchildren, never mind thousands of demanding athletes.

In the time I was acclimatizing to Village life my wife, Vivienne, arrived at her hotel to support me as she has for the past 63 years on the road. It was fantastic seeing her after three weeks apart. We spent the day together checking out the city and a few venues. It was wonderful.

Friday night was met by a spectacular and world class event, the official Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. I was a little hesitant and confused dressing up in a 1990s style tracksuit for an opening of that calibre, but I was obliged. And off we went, transported through a maze of people, buildings, traffic and roads to one of the most spectacular stadiums in the world. Entering the Maracanã stadium third out of more than 200 countries sent shivers down the whole South African team’s spines. I have not felt this proud being a South African for many years. The lights, the screaming fans and being surrounded by the world’s best athletes was truly special. Being a golfer, I have never walked into an arena with nearly 80,000 people. Chills. The people of Rio gave all the teams such a warm and enthusiastic welcome. The evening went like clockwork and at the end of a long night, I was reunited with my army bed at around 2 a.m. What a night! 

I am looking forward to the start of the golf this week and am holding thumbs for the South African team, and I am sure they are going to be able to compete well against the best in the world.

Gary Player’s Olympic Diary, Chapter 2

My experience at the Olympics continues to be unique and what a time it has been! Waking up on Saturday morning in a strange room and bed, with very little sleep due to the late night after the Opening Ceremony, I definitely felt it. At 80 I am not as young as I used to be. That being said, I thought what a better way to get my body started than a workout at the magnificent gym in the Olympic Village surrounded by all the world-class athletes. I felt so honoured working out amongst Olympians who represent the pinnacle of world sport. The Olympics are the biggest sporting showpiece on the planet, bringing together the best of the best all under one roof. I felt humbled when many athletes, some I knew and some I didn’t, came up to me to chat, introduce themselves, and just make me feel alive again. What an amazing feeling. I absolutely love and admire those who take care of their mind and bodies.

Later that day the South African Sevens Rugby team invited me out to lunch. Not knowing what to expect I got dressed, met them, and landed up at, can you believe it a burger joint, and this with some of the world’s healthiest and fittest athletes. Well I suppose everybody deserves a cheat day every now and then. So I thought to myself, ‘What the hell. I worked out like a demon, I’m going to spoil myself and have a big fat cheeseburger.’ And what a burger it was! I don’t often eat burgers, but this I rate as one of the best I’ve ever tasted. We chatted, laughed and swapped stories for talking about everything from sports to life in general.
We all had so much fun, what a great bunch of guys, I hope they can pull it off and win gold for South Africa. In my mind I have no doubt they will.

I spent some quality time with my wife Vivienne on Sunday and after church we enjoyed more of the city and games. Monday morning I was invited for a breakfast by Laureus for the International Sports Journalist Association. As a member myself, it was great bumping into old friends again and catching up on all the good work this organisation is doing around the world.

Later that day I made my way down to the Olympic Golf Course for a Team Leaders’ meeting which went very well. Everyone is so excited, waiting in anticipation for the start of what promises to be a world class spectacle with many of the top pros in vying for the title of Olympic Champion. The South African team will have to play very well if we are to walk away with a medal.

I spent two days at the golf course just getting the feel of the layout and was pleasantly surprised. The course looks to be in superb condition, the greens quite undulating, and I am sure it is going to be a test for even the best players of the world if the prevailing winds blow hard enough. Well done to designer Gil Hanse.

As usual a great amount of my time was spent giving various media interviews regarding the re-admission of golf as an Olympic sport. All the channels I was interviewed by unanimously agreed that golf deserved to be included and are happy to have us back where we belong, part of the biggest sports show on the planet, the Olympic Games.

Until next time, obrigado, stay well, and enjoy Brazil and the Olympics!

Gary Player’s Olympic Diary: Chapter 3

After 112 years of waiting, Brazil’s Adilson da Silva had the honour of hitting the first tee shot of golf’s return at the 2016 Rio Olympics. I think all golf fanatics breathed a sigh of relief knowing golf is back where it belongs - in the Olympic Games.

South African Brandon Stone got off to a flyer birdieing holes 1 and 2. He eventually signed for a 75. Jaco van Zyl did slightly better finishing with a level Par 71. We must not forget that the Olympics is new to all golfers. Yes there are going to be nerves, and it will take time for them to find their feet and settle down. Another important point to remember is that in the Olympics it is not always about winning. Just being called an Olympian is an honour in itself and I have huge admiration and respect for our team and all the other golf professionals who are representing their country at the Games.

Day 1 of the golf had its fair share of excitement like Justin Rose having the first ever hole-in-one in Olympic golf history. As you can understand, he was ecstatic. The crowd erupted, which was fantastic to witness. The course played beautifully and everyone I spoke to during and after the round could not stop raving about the condition of the fairways and greens. At the end of the day it was the Australian Marcus Fraser who reigned supreme with a brilliant 63.

If there is anyone more obsessed with a sport than I am with golf, it must be my wife’s obsession with rugby. I decided to keep on the good side of Vivienne and bought tickets for the finals to surprise her. Oh my goodness was she happy! The drive to Deodoro Stadium was an experience in itself. We drove for what seemed to be hours through affluent areas, forests and favelas. We eventually found our seats and enjoyed a carnival of Sevens Rugby. As one can expect we were quite disappointed with South Africa losing to Great Britain, but have to be satisfied with the Bronze medal. The team played their hearts out, and we were very proud. We must remember one wins with honour and loses with dignity but disappointment will always remain a reality. I do feel sorry for our boys but they will come back stronger. Vivienne was over the moon and we all really enjoyed the whole experience.

Friday morning the golfers were met with cold and rainy conditions, and on a course this difficult that was bad news. The day did clear up and the golf as expected from this caliber of players was of the highest standard. Once again Marcus Fraser stayed out of trouble and kept his nose in front of a chasing pack of medal hungry players. 
Saturday was a clear but a very windy day. The players and fans could feel the crisp ocean breeze all day. There was a reshuffle on the leader board and Marcus Fraser was dethroned by a rampant Justin Rose who shot a magnificent 65 to put him one shot ahead of Henrik Stenson. Jaco van Zyl aced the 8th and I was thrilled to bits for him. That is something he will never ever forget. We held our breath for the final round.

Sunday was met with a buzz of excitement as the new golfing Olympians prepared for battle. I followed all the groups as best I could trying to catch a glimpse of as many players as possible, but eventually ended up following Jaco. After the round, I settled down to watch what became a ding-dong battle between two top players in the game right now, Major Champions Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. This was a perfect clash of titans for the fans in Rio. Who would hold his nerve and who would crack first? Unfortunately for Stenson, he had a tough final hole and dropped a shot against the birdie of Rose on 18 and had to settle for the silver medal. Mr. Nice Guy of golf, Matt Kutcher, raced up the leader board and took the bronze medal with a super 63.

The return of golf to the Olympics has exceeded all expectations and will surely etched its mark in Olympic folklore forever. Hopefully the IOC will not even remotely consider ever removing it from future Olympics. The golf was not only a huge success but also a beautiful spectacle put on by some amazing golfers and watched by thousands of appreciative fans. Long live golf at the Olympics!

The golf world’s attention now shifts to the ladies. They deserve so much credit for being super supporters of golf’s return to the Olympics. Many of the girls have played in our Gary Player Invitational events around the world over the years including Suzann Petersen. No doubt she has to be a favourite this week. It is great to see so many familiar faces. All the ladies here are full of life and excited to be Olympians. You have World No.1 Lydia Ko and the talented Canadian rookie Brooke Henderson. 34 countries are represented on the women’s side, a true melting pot of talent coming together in Rio. Think how inspiring it will be for a country like Korea or Thailand to bring home a gold medal in golf. It certainly will go a long way to boost the golf industry in that region of the world.

I am very excited to watch Paula Reto and Ashleigh Simon compete on behalf of South Africa in Rio. These two ladies have loads of talent and are having good seasons on Tour. They absolutely can bring home a medal to South Africa. If the men’s tournament is any indication of how well the weekend will play out for the women, get ready. Everyone is in for a real treat.

As the curtain falls on the first golf tournament to be held at the Olympics in more than 100 years, I look back at my whole Rio experience. Brazil is a country of many extremes. There is poverty beyond belief, unimaginable riches, and everything in between. I didn’t even see a single mosquito and that makes me more disappointed in the people who withdrew using Zika as an excuse. One may ask should Rio ever have hosted the Olympics or should they perhaps have used the money to better the lives of their people? I am not in a position to answer this question but will certainly never forget my experience. I had a wonderful time here and think that Brazil and the IOC did a marvelous job hosting a spectacle of this magnitude. At the end, golf was the winner and having so many new people watch golf we can only hope smaller countries will follow in the footsteps of this great sport. More countries than ever before have joined the International Golf Federation, a great omen for the future of golf around the world.

And so until the next week, from the Rio Olympics, obrigado and sleep well.

Gary Player’s Olympic Diary: Chapter 4

Having hardly recovered from the excitement of the men’s tournament I found myself receiving a jolt of energy by turning my attention to the ladies tournament, getting myself ready to captain two wonderful athletes, Paula Reto and Ashleigh Simon. All the women competing in Olympic golf work hard and are dedicated, not to mention they are extremely talented. This just enhances the fact that golf belongs in the Olympics.

On Monday I attended a Team Leaders meeting on the Women’s Golf Competition and you could feel the excitement building. I could not wait for the start of what I believed would become one of the premier tournaments in golf. Unlike the men, all the top ladies came to Rio to compete for their country. The spectators, organisers and media covering the event were just as anxious for the first tee shot, but alas we had another couple of days to wait.

Days in Rio flew by quickly, and before I knew it was tournament day! I arrived at the course extra early to watch some of the other countries’ golfers tee off. Then it was time for the South African ladies to hit their first shot as Olympians. I felt an enormous sense of pride as I watched their tee shots fly effortlessly down the centre of the first fairway. As with the men, they did not get off to the start I’m sure they had hoped for. Paula signed for a 74 and Ashleigh for a 75, but the competition was far from over. After the opening round I sat down to lunch with the team. Paula kindly asked me if I would be willing to assist her with a couple of things she was battling with. I spent a few hours with her, fine tuning and answering her questions. She is a fine young woman with enormous potential.

As has become the norm for the past few weeks there were numerous requests for interviews from the media representing countries all around the world. What an honour it is having people still interested in my views and opinions, and this at 80 years of age. I just love promoting the wonderful sport of golf, a sport that has given me so much in my 63 years as a professional.

I had a fascinating interview with Gianni Merlo, AIPS President and author of the book Blade Runner. What a tragic story of one of the greatest para-Olympian athletes and this is a reminder that for all we take in life we must pay. We have to face the consequences of our actions.

After almost two weeks of being in Rio, walking the course numerous times, and the added responsibility of captaining both the men and ladies teams, I could feel the tension building up in my body. I opted for a long and hard work out at the athlete’s village gym which I’ve come to love. Amazing how rejuvenated one feels after a good workout. I wondered what the fined tune athletes thought of this old geezer exercising next to those at the top of their game. Hopefully, it will inspire them to stay in shape well past their playing days.

Thursday soon came and I again followed our young ladies as they negotiated their way around a course that presented such a fair challenge. After the round, I spent time on the practice facilities with Paula, this time for putting. She really has talent and I predict to see her amongst the world’s very top players in the not too distant future.

On Friday I again started my day with various media interviews. One that I found special was from SABC, our own national broadcaster. It was nice to get a couple of words in for the thousands of people back home that have so religiously been supporting our athletes, regardless of the time difference here in Rio. I spent some time on the range with our team before they prepared for battle on the penultimate day.

All the ladies produced scintillating golf as did the men the previous week, but it always looked like there could be only one winner. South Korea’s Inbee Park was on a Golden mission, leaving the rest of the field to do battle for the Silver and Bronze. No doubt she is a future Hall of Famer. As was expected Inbee shot a five under to finish at 16 under par for the tournament, a full five shots clear of second place. The competition for Silver and Bronze was a little more exciting with several players battling throughout the final round for a cherished place on the podium. But in the end a birdie on the 18th by world No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand gave her the Silver followed by Shanshan Feng of China taking Bronze. The round of the day belonged to Maria Verchanova from Russia who shot a course record 62. Unbelievable! Our ladies played their hearts out. All of South Africa should be extremely proud of their achievements. Few can call themselves Olympians. Only four golfers in all of South Africa are Olympians. That in itself is fantastic. They are now true Olympians and that can never be taken away.

As the curtain falls on the 2016 Olympics and at the conclusion of the Ladies Golf Medal Ceremony, I sit alone in my room and look back in reflection. I can’t help but feel a tremendous sense of elation, pride and amazement at what I’ve just witnessed. A game that has been the anchor and provider for my family for 63 years has just returned to its place in the greatest sporting show on earth, the Olympics Games. I always say when I look back on my career there are no regrets. But if I had one it would have to be that I never had the opportunity to stand up and represent my country as an Olympian. This was as close as I will ever get.

I believe golf certainly can make our case to the IOC for inclusion after Tokyo in 2020 during our review next year. Anyone from the golf world who experienced what took place in Rio will agree with our inclusion. The TV ratings were excellent, the organisation seamless, the players overjoyed with the Olympic spirit, and golf undoubtedly made many new friends indeed. Everything exceeded our greatest expectations. We had medalists from six different nations. Golf left Brazil in far better shape than when it arrived. I am delighted to have been a part of this experience and will never forget it.

This has been a very special few weeks for me. I have met athletes and made friends from many different countries, different sports and different cultures. For this short time we forgot about all the world’s problems and came together as human beings. We have embraced each other with love and respect. I hope and pray that this attitude can be a catalyst to someday achieve peace and harmony throughout the world. To everyone and all involved in presenting this marvelous spectacle, a huge South African congratulations and well done. Long live Golf as an Olympic sport.

From Rio, thanks to all, God bless and good bye!

« Back

THE BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL HOSTS SUCCESSFUL EVENT AT GLENARBOR GOLF CLUB IN NEW YORK

Aug 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Black Knight International and title sponsor German bank Berenberg gathered top golf professionals and business influencers from around the world to celebrate the Union of Golf and Giving at the 2016 Berenberg Gary Player Invitational on August 29 at GlenArbor Golf Club in New York.

The star-studded event raised more than $100 000 for The Player Foundation, which supports underprivileged children, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.

The field included some of golf’s most celebrated players, including Tom Watson, Bill Haas, Jhonattan Vegas, Tom Lehman, Padraig Harrington, Branden Grace, Jay Haas, Camilo Villegas, Tony Finau, Kevin Kisner, Trevor Immelman, Mark O’Meara, Mike Weir, Larry Mize, Geoff Ogilvy, Blair O’Neal, Victoria Lovelady, Carly Booth, Alex Peters, Paige Mackenzie, Briana Mao, Henni Zuel, Nicole Hage, Kristy McPherson, Victoria Elizabeth, Emily Talley, Anna Rawson, Emiliano Grillo, Danielle Montgomery, Kathleen Ekey and Paula Reto.

The team led by Bill Haas and Carly Booth had a winning score of 90 points with 18 under par and was crowned champion of the 2016 Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at GlenArbor Golf Club.
Following an exciting day of golf, the festivities continued into the evening with a black tie Dinner and Gala Auction. The funds raised throughout the evening have helped The Player Foundation contribute more than $62 million to charitable causes since the series began more than 30 years ago.

The high-octane musical tour-de-force that took Broadway by storm, The Jersey Boys, created a high spirited evening that left guests entertained with the music and spirit of the Broadway show like no other tribute act. 
“I am humbled by the success of our event and the funds we have raised for The Player Foundation,” said Gary Player. “It’s an honor to be surrounded by so many generous individuals, who continue to support our mission in helping those less fortunate and reach our goal of raising $100 million.”

Hendrik Riehmer, Managing Partner at Berenberg commented, “We are proud to be part of Gary Player’s journey and efforts in supporting underprivileged children around the world. While he is a tremendous ambassador for the game of golf, his desire to change people’s lives is a remarkable inspiration to us all.”

Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International and GPI series founder, added, “We appreciate the contributions made by GlenArbor Golf Club, all our sponsors as well as the field of participants. Their involvement has been imperative in the success of our philanthropic efforts throughout the world.”

Besides title sponsor Berenberg, global brands like Porsche, Rolex, SAP and Lavazza supported the tournament.

The series will continue later this year in China and South Africa.

« Back

GARY PLAYER’S OLYMPIC DIARY: CHAPTER 4

Aug 25, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Having hardly recovered from the excitement of the men’s tournament I found myself receiving a jolt of energy by turning my attention to the ladies tournament, getting myself ready to captain two wonderful athletes, Paula Reto and Ashleigh Simon. All the women competing in Olympic golf work hard and are dedicated, not to mention they are extremely talented. This just enhances the fact that golf belongs in the Olympics.

On Monday I attended a Team Leaders meeting on the Women’s Golf Competition and you could feel the excitement building. I could not wait for the start of what I believed would become one of the premier tournaments in golf. Unlike the men, all the top ladies came to Rio to compete for their country. The spectators, organisers and media covering the event were just as anxious for the first tee shot, but alas we had another couple of days to wait.

Days in Rio flew by quickly, and before I knew it was tournament day! I arrived at the course extra early to watch some of the other countries’ golfers tee off. Then it was time for the South African ladies to hit their first shot as Olympians. I felt an enormous sense of pride as I watched their tee shots fly effortlessly down the centre of the first fairway. As with the men, they did not get off to the start I’m sure they had hoped for. Paula signed for a 74 and Ashleigh for a 75, but the competition was far from over. After the opening round I sat down to lunch with the team. Paula kindly asked me if I would be willing to assist her with a couple of things she was battling with. I spent a few hours with her, fine tuning and answering her questions. She is a fine young woman with enormous potential.

As has become the norm for the past few weeks there were numerous requests for interviews from the media representing countries all around the world. What an honour it is having people still interested in my views and opinions, and this at 80 years of age. I just love promoting the wonderful sport of golf, a sport that has given me so much in my 63 years as a professional.

I had a fascinating interview with Gianni Merlo, AIPS President and author of the book Blade Runner. What a tragic story of one of the greatest para-Olympian athletes and this is a reminder that for all we take in life we must pay. We have to face the consequences of our actions.

After almost two weeks of being in Rio, walking the course numerous times, and the added responsibility of captaining both the men and ladies teams, I could feel the tension building up in my body. I opted for a long and hard work out at the athlete’s village gym which I’ve come to love. Amazing how rejuvenated one feels after a good workout. I wondered what the fined tune athletes thought of this old geezer exercising next to those at the top of their game. Hopefully, it will inspire them to stay in shape well past their playing days.

Thursday soon came and I again followed our young ladies as they negotiated their way around a course that presented such a fair challenge. After the round, I spent time on the practice facilities with Paula, this time for putting. She really has talent and I predict to see her amongst the world’s very top players in the not too distant future.

On Friday I again started my day with various media interviews. One that I found special was from SABC, our own national broadcaster. It was nice to get a couple of words in for the thousands of people back home that have so religiously been supporting our athletes, regardless of the time difference here in Rio. I spent some time on the range with our team before they prepared for battle on the penultimate day.
All the ladies produced scintillating golf as did the men the previous week, but it always looked like there could be only one winner. South Korea’s Inbee Park was on a Golden mission, leaving the rest of the field to do battle for the Silver and Bronze. No doubt she is a future Hall of Famer. As was expected Inbee shot a five under to finish at 16 under par for the tournament, a full five shots clear of second place. The competition for Silver and Bronze was a little more exciting with several players battling throughout the final round for a cherished place on the podium. But in the end a birdie on the 18th by world No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand gave her the Silver followed by Shanshan Feng of China taking Bronze. The round of the day belonged to Maria Verchanova from Russia who shot a course record 62. Unbelievable! Our ladies played their hearts out. All of South Africa should be extremely proud of their achievements. Few can call themselves Olympians. Only four golfers in all of South Africa are Olympians. That in itself is fantastic. They are now true Olympians and that can never be taken away.

As the curtain falls on the 2016 Olympics and at the conclusion of the Ladies Golf Medal Ceremony, I sit alone in my room and look back in reflection. I can’t help but feel a tremendous sense of elation, pride and amazement at what I’ve just witnessed. A game that has been the anchor and provider for my family for 63 years has just returned to its place in the greatest sporting show on earth, the Olympics Games. I always say when I look back on my career there are no regrets. But if I had one it would have to be that I never had the opportunity to stand up and represent my country as an Olympian. This was as close as I will ever get.

I believe golf certainly can make our case to the IOC for inclusion after Tokyo in 2020 during our review next year. Anyone from the golf world who experienced what took place in Rio will agree with our inclusion. The TV ratings were excellent, the organisation seamless, the players overjoyed with the Olympic spirit, and golf undoubtedly made many new friends indeed. Everything exceeded our greatest expectations. We had medalists from six different nations. Golf left Brazil in far better shape than when it arrived. I am delighted to have been a part of this experience and will never forget it

This has been a very special few weeks for me. I have met athletes and made friends from many different countries, different sports and different cultures. For this short time we forgot about all the world’s problems and came together as human beings. We have embraced each other with love and respect. I hope and pray that this attitude can be a catalyst to someday achieve peace and harmony throughout the world. To everyone and all involved in presenting this marvelous spectacle, a huge South African congratulations and well done. Long live Golf as an Olympic sport.

From Rio, thanks to all, God bless and good bye!

« Back

BLACK KNIGHT ARCHIVES: BEHIND THE SCENES

Aug 24, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

As you might expect, the Black Knight Archives houses materials from Gary Player’s illustrious golf career, including photographs of the legend in action and his 167 global victories, medals, golf equipment, awards and gifts from the many who admire the Black Knight. The Archives is also home to family photos and personal correspondence, as well as unique historical documents such as this Slazenger endorsement check, found recently in the archives, written to Gary Player for £5 pounds in 1959.

While the Black Knight Archives is predominantly home to the documents, photos, and memorabilia from Gary Player’s long and successful golfing career, it also includes materials relating to Black Knight International and the family of Gary Player brands including Gary Player Design, Player Real Estate, Gary Player Enterprises, The Player Foundation, and the Gary Player Invitational Series of charitable golf events. The company archival collection includes advertisements, products, and company publications and correspondence. This collection grows constantly as new golf courses are designed by the Gary Player Design team, Gary Player makes appearances at corporate events and golf outings, and new Gary Player Invitational events are staged across the globe. Materials have recently arrived to archives from far flung places including Japan, Abu Dhabi, China, South Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom. These images show two of the many advertisements for Gary Player-branded merchandise in our collection.

 

Finally, the Black Knight Archives also includes the Ian Player Collection. Gary’s brother, Dr. Ian Player, was a noted international conservationist. His important work in saving the white rhino as well as promoting the conservation of all wildlife around the world, was saved by Marc Player and his staff over the past 10 years. It was recently moved on-site with the rest of the Archives. We are now working to completely inventory, catalog, digitize, and preserve it to the best archival standards.

This photo shows the cover and two inside pages of a 1952 diary from the newly arrived Ian Player Collection, in which Dr. Player had noted his daily activities including finding hippo tracks near his hotel and catching a teenager illegally fishing and giving him a “severe reprimand.” Dr. Player kept a number of different kinds of diaries and journals for both his personal and professional use, including daily diaries, dream diaries, field journals, overseas journals, and occurrence books. The collection also includes research, reports, correspondence, photos, audio tapes, and much more related to Dr. Player’s life and work with the Natal Parks Board and his projects such as Operation Rhino and Campaign St. Lucia.

All of the materials will be moved to archival boxes with acid-free folders and relabeled with appropriate materials to ensure long-term preservation of the contents which document the life and work of a man committed to saving endangered species around the world. They will also be described and cataloged into a database for quick searching and easy access to the information within.

For more frequent updates on the Black Knight Archives’ projects and highlights from our collection, see our Tumblr blog: http://garyplayerarchives.tumblr.com/.

« Back

AFRICA’S MAJOR CHANCE

Aug 23, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share


The 2016 Nedbank Golf Challenge, hosted by Gary Player, will undergo a major transformation as Sun City celebrates the inclusion of “Africa’s Major” on The European Tour’s elite Final Series of the Race to Dubai.

The golfing fraternity can look forward to another competitive challenge, with a full field of many of the European Tours leading golfers playing in this year’s new tournament format.

“It is very exciting to witness how much the Nedbank Golf Challenge has grown over the years, and I am delighted to continue playing a part of this outstanding event,” said Gary Player, World Golf Hall of Famer and Tournament Host. “Sol Kerzner’s vision for Sun City many years ago has come to full fruition with how important this tournament has become. It is simply Africa’s Major!”

Golf fans attending this year’s tournament at the Gary Player Country Club, from November 10 to 13, will witness a significant upgrade in the tournament infrastructure, as well as several other enhancements to mark this new era in the event’s illustrious history.

The Challenge will form part of one of the richest season finales in world golf and will have a premier place the week before The European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

It is set to draw the cream of The European Tour’s global stars, with the field having been increased from the current 30 players to 72 players. With no halfway cut it will also guarantee South African golf fans four days of world-class golf action.

The new status of the tournament also comes with a further three-year sponsorship from Nedbank, making this the longest running sports sponsorship in the bank’s history.

“The tournament has changed dramatically and grown immensely, and we are making several changes to reflect this at Sun City,” said Dan Sevel, Sun International’s sports marketing manager, who will, from 2017, take over as tournament director of the $7-million tournament for Sun International.

“The new initiatives around this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player have been designed with its elevated global status in mind and to create a more holistic experience for the golf fan.

”I think the fans who have been coming to this event for the past several years are going to be blown away by its new look.

“There will be a totally new fan experience from the main gate onwards when entering the Gary Player Country Club.

”As you enter, in previous years you walked through a main expo building to access the club, and it did have some experiences for the golf fan. The NGC team have come up with an entirely new way to present this and add brand new life to this entrance.”

“Change is the price of survival,” Player said in closing. “And Sun International is constantly improving with everything they undertake.”

Article courtesy of Southern Courier

« Back

PLAYER’S CHARGES MAKE A MOVE IN RIO

Aug 19, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Advice from South Africa’s team captain Gary Player helped Paula Reto to make a significant move on day two of the Women’s Golf Competition in Rio de Janeiro, while compatriot Ashleigh Simon’s decision to let go also paid dividends on Thursday.

Reto was in a buoyant mood after a four-under-par 67 that will see her start the third round six shots behind seven-time Major champion Inbee Park, whose successive rounds of 66 at the Olympic Course saw her take top spot at 10-under-par 132.

Frustrated with the putter after opening with a three over 75, Reto consulted nine-time Major champion Player. Not surprisingly, the short stick had a change of heart.

The Cape Town native produced a trio of birdies on the front nine to get back to level par and wiped out a soft bogey at 16 with a birdie-birdie finish to tie for 32nd.

“That was a lot better today,” said an upbeat Reto. “I had lunch with Mr Player and I took the plunge and asked him to look at my game.

“He was really amazing and gave me some great feedback. He helped me out with my putting and chipping and had a look at my swing; pretty much helped me all-round.

“I went out there today feeling a lot more confident and I stuck to the things he pointed out and I had a really had a great day. I want to work a bit more on distance control and putting, but overall I’m really happy with how I played and I’m excited to go back out there tomorrow.”

Simon was down in the deep forties at four over after a 75 after day one, but she also managed to shave some shots off her deficit.

The four-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner dropped successive shots at the third and fourth holes, but she holed a birdie putt at the par five fifth and that changed the tide.

“I started off rocky again,” Simon said. “I didn’t feel like my swing was quite there, so I told myself to free it up and once I had that feeling, I managed to play the last 11 holes really well.”

Simon notched gains at 14, 16 and 18 to close with a much improved two-under 69 to share 41st with 14-time Ladies European Tour champion Gwladys Nocera from France.

Park competed at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, but after missing the cut, she skipped the next two majors to nurse an ongoing thumb injury and the hiatus allowed her to prepare for Rio.

She arrived in great spirits and carried that positive attitude to the course to produce a bogey-free 66 in round one. In the second round, she dropped just one shot on her way to another 66 and the lead.
The South Korean is looking a lot like the player who has won seven majors, but she has some serious contenders breathing down her neck.

Lewis hasn’t won in more than two years, but she has taken nine runner-up finishes and the former world No 1 set the course on fire with an eight-under-par 63 in round two to get within a shot of Park.


More trouble brews just a further stroke back in the form of Canadian Brooke Henderson, who birdied the last four holes for a 64 to tie Charley Hull from Great Britain for third. Henderson might only be 18 years old, but she dispatched current world No 1 Lydia Ko in a play-off for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship title earlier this year.

Lewis and Henderson are in serious pursuit, but Park has plans of her own.

These games are all about the gold, silver and bronze. With four players in the field, there has been some serious talk back in South Korea about sweeping the podium.

“‘Being a Korean women’s golfer, I think we always have that kind of pressure on our shoulders,” Park told AFP. “‘It’s hard, because we play 30 events a year, and there isn’t many weeks where all Korean golfers finish first, second and third.

“Being able to do it in the Olympics would be something unreal, but obviously it’s going to be something that’s very, very hard to do with all the great competitors around the world. It is a lot of pressure for us. It is a really hard one. But you know, we really can’t help it.’‘

Ko, meanwhile, is also finding the going a little tough and sits at joint 22 after rounds of 69 and 70.

Article courtesy of Sport24

« Back

GARY PLAYER’S OLYMPIC DIARY: CHAPTER 3

Aug 17, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

After 112 years of waiting, Brazil’s Adilson da Silva had the honour of hitting the first tee shot of golf’s return at the 2016 Rio Olympics. I think all golf fanatics breathed a sigh of relief knowing golf is back where it belongs - in the Olympic Games.

South African Brandon Stone got off to a flyer birdieing holes 1 and 2. He eventually signed for a 75. Jaco van Zyl did slightly better finishing with a level Par 71. We must not forget that the Olympics is new to all golfers. Yes there are going to be nerves, and it will take time for them to find their feet and settle down. Another important point to remember is that in the Olympics it is not always about winning. Just being called an Olympian is an honour in itself and I have huge admiration and respect for our team and all the other golf professionals who are representing their country at the Games.

Day 1 of the golf had its fair share of excitement like Justin Rose having the first ever hole-in-one in Olympic golf history. As you can understand, he was ecstatic. The crowd erupted, which was fantastic to witness. The course played beautifully and everyone I spoke to during and after the round could not stop raving about the condition of the fairways and greens. At the end of the day it was the Australian Marcus Fraser who reigned supreme with a brilliant 63.

If there is anyone more obsessed with a sport than I am with golf, it must be my wife’s obsession with rugby. I decided to keep on the good side of Vivienne and bought tickets for the finals to surprise her. Oh my goodness was she happy! The drive to Deodoro Stadium was an experience in itself. We drove for what seemed to be hours through affluent areas, forests and favelas. We eventually found our seats and enjoyed a carnival of Sevens Rugby. As one can expect we were quite disappointed with South Africa losing to Great Britain, but have to be satisfied with the Bronze medal. The team played their hearts out, and we were very proud. We must remember one wins with honour and loses with dignity but disappointment will always remain a reality. I do feel sorry for our boys but they will come back stronger. Vivienne was over the moon and we all really enjoyed the whole experience.

Friday morning the golfers were met with cold and rainy conditions, and on a course this difficult that was bad news. The day did clear up and the golf as expected from this caliber of players was of the highest standard. Once again Marcus Fraser stayed out of trouble and kept his nose in front of a chasing pack of medal hungry players. 

Saturday was a clear but a very windy day. The players and fans could feel the crisp ocean breeze all day. There was a reshuffle on the leader board and Marcus Fraser was dethroned by a rampant Justin Rose who shot a magnificent 65 to put him one shot ahead of Henrik Stenson. Jaco van Zyl aced the 8th and I was thrilled to bits for him. That is something he will never ever forget. We held our breath for the final round.

Sunday was met with a buzz of excitement as the new golfing Olympians prepared for battle. I followed all the groups as best I could trying to catch a glimpse of as many players as possible, but eventually ended up following Jaco. After the round, I settled down to watch what became a ding-dong battle between two top players in the game right now, Major Champions Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. This was a perfect clash of titans for the fans in Rio. Who would hold his nerve and who would crack first? Unfortunately for Stenson, he had a tough final hole and dropped a shot against the birdie of Rose on 18 and had to settle for the silver medal. Mr. Nice Guy of golf, Matt Kutcher, raced up the leader board and took the bronze medal with a super 63.

The return of golf to the Olympics has exceeded all expectations and will surely etched its mark in Olympic folklore forever. Hopefully the IOC will not even remotely consider ever removing it from future Olympics. The golf was not only a huge success but also a beautiful spectacle put on by some amazing golfers and watched by thousands of appreciative fans. Long live golf at the Olympics!

The golf world’s attention now shifts to the ladies. They deserve so much credit for being super supporters of golf’s return to the Olympics. Many of the girls have played in our Gary Player Invitational events around the world over the years including Suzann Petersen. No doubt she has to be a favourite this week. It is great to see so many familiar faces. All the ladies here are full of life and excited to be Olympians. You have World No.1 Lydia Ko and the talented Canadian rookie Brooke Henderson. 34 countries are represented on the women’s side, a true melting pot of talent coming together in Rio. Think how inspiring it will be for a country like Korea or Thailand to bring home a gold medal in golf. It certainly will go a long way to boost the golf industry in that region of the world.

I am very excited to watch Paula Reto and Ashleigh Simon compete on behalf of South Africa in Rio. These two ladies have loads of talent and are having good seasons on Tour. They absolutely can bring home a medal to South Africa. If the men’s tournament is any indication of how well the weekend will play out for the women, get ready. Everyone is in for a real treat.

As the curtain falls on the first golf tournament to be held at the Olympics in more than 100 years, I look back at my whole Rio experience. Brazil is a country of many extremes. There is poverty beyond belief, unimaginable riches, and everything in between. I didn’t even see a single mosquito and that makes me more disappointed in the people who withdrew using Zika as an excuse. One may ask should Rio ever have hosted the Olympics or should they perhaps have used the money to better the lives of their people? I am not in a position to answer this question but will certainly never forget my experience. I had a wonderful time here and think that Brazil and the IOC did a marvellous job hosting a spectacle of this magnitude. At the end, golf was the winner and having so many new people watch golf we can only hope smaller countries will follow in the footsteps of this great sport. More countries than ever before have joined the International Golf Federation, a great omen for the future of golf around the world.

And so until the next week, from the Rio Olympics, obrigado and sleep well.

« Back

GARY PLAYER’S OLYMPIC DIARY: CHAPTER 2

Aug 11, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

My experience at the Olympics continues to be unique and what a time it has been! Waking up on Saturday morning in a strange room and bed, with very little sleep due to the late night after the Opening Ceremony, I definitely felt it. At 80 I am not as young as I used to be. That being said, I thought what a better way to get my body started than a workout at the magnificent gym in the Olympic Village surrounded by all the world-class athletes. I felt so honoured working out amongst Olympians who represent the pinnacle of world sport. The Olympics are the biggest sporting showpiece on the planet, bringing together the best of the best all under one roof. I felt humbled when many athletes, some I knew and some I didn’t, came up to me to chat, introduce themselves, and just make me feel alive again. What an amazing feeling. I absolutely love and admire those who take care of their mind and bodies.

Later that day the South African Sevens Rugby team invited me out to lunch. Not knowing what to expect I got dressed, met them, and landed up at, can you believe it a burger joint, and this with some of the world’s healthiest and fittest athletes. Well I suppose everybody deserves a cheat day every now and then. So I thought to myself, ‘What the hell. I worked out like a demon, I’m going to spoil myself and have a big fat cheeseburger.’ And what a burger it was! I don’t often eat burgers, but this I rate as one of the best I’ve ever tasted. We chatted, laughed and swapped stories for talking about everything from sports to life in general. We all had so much fun, what a great bunch of guys, I hope they can pull it off and win gold for South Africa. In my mind I have no doubt they will.

I spent some quality time with my wife Vivienne on Sunday and after church we enjoyed more of the city and games. Monday morning I was invited for a breakfast by Laureus for the International Sports Journalist Association. As a member myself, it was great bumping into old friends again and catching up on all the good work this organisation is doing around the world.

Later that day I made my way down to the Olympic Golf Course for a Team Leaders’ meeting which went very well. Everyone is so excited, waiting in anticipation for the start of what promises to be a world class spectacle with many of the top pros in vying for the title of Olympic Champion. The South African team will have to play very well if we are to walk away with a medal.

I spent two days at the golf course just getting the feel of the layout and was pleasantly surprised. The course looks to be in superb condition, the greens quite undulating, and I am sure it is going to be a test for even the best players of the world if the prevailing winds blow hard enough. Well done to designer Gil Hanse.

As usual a great amount of my time was spent giving various media interviews regarding the re-admission of golf as an Olympic sport. All the channels I was interviewed by unanimously agreed that golf deserved to be included and are happy to have us back where we belong, part of the biggest sports show on the planet, the Olympic Games.

Until next time, obrigado, stay well, and enjoy Brazil and the Olympics!

« Back

GARY PLAYER’S OLYMPIC DIARY: CHAPTER 1

Aug 8, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

As I prepared to leave my beloved farm, I packed with a sense of anticipation, pride and excitement to be leaving for Rio as the first ever Captain of South Africa’s men and ladies golf teams.

I am especially enthusiastic to see golf back where it belongs, in the Olympics – the greatest stage for sport - after an absence of more than 100 years. Naturally I was disappointed with the withdrawal of some of our top ranked players, but as Captain of the team, there was not much I was able to do. This just opened doors for other South Africans and I will be rooting for them all the way.

The flight on SAA was amazing with outstanding service. We touched down in Sao Paulo where I nearly missed my connecting flight. I think we made it by just three minutes! In my rush to make my flight, my suitcase with all my Olympic clothing was left behind. Even after 63 years of nonstop travel, this can happen to anyone. But thanks to my wonderful support team, they spotted my Black Knight luggage amongst all the other athletes’ bags and knew I must have forgotten them. After 17 years of working together, thanks again to Beatrix Geen! She re-booked with only a little bit of trouble and barely made her own flight.

After a smooth flight into Rio my transport from the airport to the Olympic Village was very quick and efficient. We even drove past the Gavea Golf Course where I shot a 59 in the 1974 Brazilian Open and arrived at the Village around 11 p.m. And being rather knackered I fell immediately into my bed that resembled an old army cot and fell sound asleep.

I woke up on Friday morning with a slightly stiff hip which Avi, our Physio, sorted out in no time. He is absolutely amazing. After showering and freshening up, I made my way to the Dining Hall for breakfast and what a breakfast it was. I must congratulate the Rio Olympic Committee for the brilliant organization. There are about 11,000 athletes in this Village, that are fed, housed, looked after, transported, have all the amenities they desire, and yet everything runs so smoothly. I know what it is like trying to feed six children and 22 grandchildren, never mind thousands of demanding athletes.

In the time I was acclimatizing to Village life my wife, Vivienne, arrived at her hotel to support me as she has for the past 63 years on the road. It was fantastic seeing her after three weeks apart. We spent the day together checking out the city and a few venues. It was wonderful.

Friday night was met by a spectacular and world class event, the official Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. I was a little hesitant and confused dressing up in a 1990s style tracksuit for an opening of that calibre, but I was obliged. And off we went, transported through a maze of people, buildings, traffic and roads to one of the most spectacular stadiums in the world. Entering the Maracanã stadium third out of more than 200 countries sent shivers down the whole South African team’s spines. I have not felt this proud being a South African for many years. The lights, the screaming fans and being surrounded by the world’s best athletes was truly special. Being a golfer, I have never walked into an arena with nearly 80,000 people. Chills. The people of Rio gave all the teams such a warm and enthusiastic welcome. The evening went like clockwork and at the end of a long night, I was reunited with my army bed at around 2 a.m. What a night! 

I am looking forward to the start of the golf this week and am holding thumbs for the South African team, and I am sure they are going to be able to compete well against the best in the world.

Picture courtesy of @BrandonMStone

« Back

GARY PLAYER TO HOST STAR-STUDDED CHARITY EVENT IN NEW YORK

Aug 2, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Black Knight International and Berenberg announced today that the 2016 Gary Player Invitational series will continue to celebrate the Union of Golf and Giving at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford, New York on August 28 and 29.

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational event promises to be a tremendous gathering of interesting celebrities, professional golfers and athletes. An 18-hole tournament will be followed by a gala dinner and charitable auction. The 6,900-yard Gary Player designed course layout will provide a stern test and fantastic backdrop for the two-day affair. It will mark the U.S. event’s second visit to the Tri-State area, after an already successful series of events this year in Abu Dhabi, Tokyo and London.

“I truly feel like we only just scratched the surface with our inaugural event at GlenArbor Golf Club last year and I am thrilled to return this summer to build on what we started and raise even more awareness and funds for The Player Foundation,” said Gary Player. “We are so fortunate to have a fantastic sponsor in Berenberg, the German investment bank, and we share a mutual passion for giving back and helping impoverished communities around the world.”

“We look forward to returning to New York for the U.S. leg of the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational following another successful event at Wentworth Club in London last month where we raised more than $150,000,” said Hendrik Riehmer, Managing Partner of Berenberg. “Our partnership with Gary Player has been rewarding on many levels and our efforts certainly will help The Player Foundation reach its ultimate goal of raising $100 million for charity.”

The U.S. portion of the global series returns to GlenArbor Golf Club after an enormously successful event last year. Some of the biggest names in golf and business came together, raising funds for The Player Foundation. Once again, this year’s event will bring together an all-star field including Tom Watson, Branden Grace, Bill Haas, Jay Haas, Camilo Villegas, Tom Lehman, Kevin Kisner, Tony Finau, Trevor Immelman, Mark O’Meara, Padraig Harrington, Mike Weir, Jhonattan Vegas, Carly Booth, Alex Peters, Briana Mao, Blair O’Neal, Paige Mackenzie, Henni Zuel, Emily Talley, Kristy McPherson, Tina Mickelson, Nicole Hage, Victoria Elizabeth, Victoria Lovelady, Anna Rawson and more.

“It’s an honor to be staging the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at GlenArbor Golf Club,” said Grant Gregory, Chairman of GlenArbor Golf Club. “We are thrilled to welcome some of the best players in the game to our course and support such a tremendous cause.”

The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational forms part of the world-leading charity golf series, which has helped The Player Foundation raise more than $62 million for charities worldwide. The Player Foundation’s goal is to donate $100 million by 2025 in the support of children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities, and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.

The series will continue later this year in China and South Africa.

« Back

GARY PLAYER DESIGN TO ADD NEW COURSE TO IS MOLAS RESORT

Aug 1, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

A new Gary Player Design Signature Course is being planned at Is Molas Resort in Cagliari, Sardinia further expanding the global golf course design portfolio of the Black Knight.

Designed to play more than 6.500 meters, the par-72 will flow following the natural contour of an uncontaminated natural reserve in the middle of a valley split by a stream. As always, the Gary Player Design team will work with the topography to create elevated tees to enhance playability and spectacular distant views. Environmental sensitivity will be at the forefront of the design with holes surrounded by typical Mediterranean vegetation, which remain vibrant throughout the year.

The new course will complete the resort, which already has a 27-hole Championship Course, nine-holes of which were added in 2001. Grand Slam Champion Gary Player and his design team are excited to add a new 18-hole course with picturesque water views to the acclaimed resort.

“Each new design presents an opportunity and challenge,” said Gary Player. “But the beauty of Sardinia cannot be duplicated. The area already is an established golf destination and this layout will enhance the existing resort.”

Gary Player’s signature design will follow the development of new villa styled homes at the resort. Studio Fuksas, composed of architect Massimiliano Fuksas and his wife, interior designer Doriana Fuksas, is leading the project, creating four different villa styles for the homes, which boast views of the hills, sea, and, of course, the golf course.

“The Gary Player Design brand, alongside the wonderful creativity of the Fuksas team, will create such a special environment,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. “We commend the Is Molas development team for their marketing vision and for their dedication to a unique resort and residential destination.”

Is Molas has long been considered the most renowned course facing the Mediterranean Sea. Built in the seventies, the course has hosted several Italian Opens, other PGA events, and many international amateur tournaments in its 40 year history.

Pictures courtesy of Is Molas Resort

« Back

BLACK KNIGHTS’ WILDSTONE GOLF COURSE RANKED IN TOP 100

Jul 31, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player Design’s Wildstone Golf Course was voted into Canada’s Top 100 Greatest Courses according to Score Golf, Canada’s leading golf publication.

The first golf course completed by Black Knight Design in Canada boasts a fabulous setting among the Kootney Rockies in the foothills of Fisher’s Peak. Wildstone, which opened in 2011, features a very walkable and player friendly layout with captivating mountain views and superior playing conditions.

“From our first site visit to the Grand Opening just five years ago, Wildstone was destined to be an outstanding product,” said Jeff Lawrence, Senior Designer at Gary Player Design. “Gorgeous views of the Rockies set into the natural landscape make Wildstone a very special golf venue.”

Summer travelers from all over the world frequent the area in British Columbia. And with the beautiful course complimenting the Canadian outdoors, golf enthusiasts as well as weekend golfers consider Wildstone a must play. Known for delivering a design both environmentally sensitive and sustainable, Black Knight Design was especially conscious of the abundant wildlife when finalizing the routing. Lakes and streams created in the design provide a unique environment for the local habitat.

Players can choose from five sets of tees measuring 7,127 yards from the tips, 6,669 yards from the blue, 6,233 White, 5,629 Red, and 4,947 from the forward Gold tees.

“Wildstone is the whole package,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. “British Columbia is such a picturesque region to design a golf course, and I vividly remember the first site visit done on horseback. Congratulations to the entire staff on this recognition. It’s a public golf course, which makes it even more special.”

Rankings are done by various golf industry and media through the year, and there are approximately 2,200 courses in Canada.

« Back

BLACK KNIGHT ARCHIVES: GARY PLAYER AND THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Jul 29, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

After winning two majors between 1959 and 1961, Gary Player’s winning streak faltered. 1962 was shaping up to be a good but disappointing year. He narrowly missed back-to-back wins at The Masters (losing in a playoff) and his top 10 finish at the U.S. Open was OK but not great. And, most upsetting to Player, he missed the cut at The Open for the first time in his career. These setbacks made him determined to win. His victory at the 1962 PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Club was his first Major victory in 15 months. The 1962 PGA Championship also brought Player one Major closer to the career Grand Slam he later achieved with his U.S. Open win in 1965. This photo shows the triumphant Black Knight with the Wanamaker Trophy.

This watch money clip commemorates Player’s 1962 PGA Championship win at Aronimink Golf Club. The Black Knight pulled off a one-shot victory over Bob Goalby with a three wood on the 72nd hole, securing his third Major Championship victory.

Aronimink Golf Club was the site of Gary Player’s first PGA Championship win. The Black Knight Archives includes several versions of Aronimink Golf Club’s scorecards.

Gary Player’s second PGA Championship victory featured one of the greatest shots in Major Championship history. The 1972 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club saw Player hit a shot on the 16th hole that landed in the rough. His path obscured by willow trees, Player used a nine iron to hit the ball out of the rough, over the trees and onto the green. The now famed willow tree shot led to victory for Player and he captured his 6th Major Championship victory.

In 1972 Dunlop ran this advertisement following Player’s impressive shot at the 1972 PGA Championship. Referencing the “Monster” of a course, Oakland Hills Country Club, and the bad weather during the tournament, the ad reads, “He tamed the Monster…with Maxfli” and details Player’s “magnificent nine iron on sixteen, blind to the green, over trees and water. Maxfli flew true, bit and held, four feet from the pin. One of golf’s all time great shots.” And it remains one of the greatest shots today.

« Back

INSPIRING GARY PLAYER DEFIES AGE, CONVENTION

Jul 28, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

One of the most egregious and unconscionable myths that is frequently advanced in this country is that once you hit 65 years of age, you’re supposed to accept the propaganda that says your life is basically over. That at that late of a date, you’ve become inconsequential and of negligible use.

This myopic thinking suggests that any perceived older man or woman should just get the hell out of Dodge and head to the sidelines, there to be rarely seen or heard from again. Just live out the rest of your life in anonymity, away from those who can no longer be bothered with your presence since in their small minds you contribute little and do nothing but get in the way.

Some of you reading this will find it hard to accept that that sort of age discrimination exists, but I’m here to say that it’s alive and insidious and reflected daily in the American culture. Instead of treating our elderly with respect, deference and admiration, too often they are dismissed, marginalized and made to feel as if they are nothing but dead weight. As a nation, we have failed miserably to take advantage of an incredible resource — namely the gifts, talents and wisdom that only our seniors can offer.

And hell, when it comes to athletics or any physical pursuit, those old geezers are practically useless and can’t show us anything, right? At that time in their lives, they should be relegated to being spectators and content with occupying that passive role. If the older crowd wants to watch the young Turks do their thing athletically, well then, they might be permit¬ted to do that, but they better not dare take up any space on tennis or hoop courts, golf courses, bowling alleys, baseball or softball diamonds or even the waves of the ocean. That’s not their turf anymore! They had their day in the sun but that time is now ancient history so just take off and find a comfortable chair from which to veg away the rest of your life. You’ve become passé with the parade having long since passed you by.

Believe it or not, such a disturbing and prejudicial mindset as this does live on in the United States and is hardly uncommon. It can be found just about anywhere you care to look.

That’s why it’s such a hoot when someone like golfing great Gary Player comes along and absolutely obliterates all those misguided, damaging and limiting stereotypes. Because Player is a living example that the years on a calendar can be irrelevant if the mind and the body remain active and engaged.

To this day, Player continues to be an athletic marvel at the rather astounding age of 80. What he’s physically capable of doing would cause 99.9% of twenty- somethings to quit in utter exhaustion, if not go into possible cardiac arrest. Get a load of this taxing regimen that Player religiously undertakes: 1,300 sit-ups a day and 4 to 5 times a week he engages in extensive leg, lower-back and neck stretching, sets of one-legged squats, 1,000 mixed crunches, several core exercises, sprints on a treadmill and just for good measure, he gets in a set of heavy leg presses. Man, I’m sweating bullets just thinking about all that exertion.

But there’s even more. When Player is on his farm in his native South Africa, where he spends approximately five months of the year, he’ll rise at 5 a.m. and work his butt off for 12 hours doing chores and gladly pitching in with the hands.

And because of his finely tuned body and still honed-in hand and eye coordination, his golf game remains remarkably intact. The man who earned the nicknames of “Mr. Fitness” and “The Black Knight” during his playing heyday, can’t remember the last time he didn’t shoot a score under his chronological age.

At his peak, Player measured out at only 5-foot-6 but he was a rock solid 150 pounds and possessed dashing good looks. Often decked out in his signature all black attire, the raven-haired Player would go on to carve out one of the most legendary careers in golf. It is irrefutable that he is the finest and most accomplished non-American golfer of all time. The winner of a staggering 165 tournaments on six continents over six decades, Player is only linkster to have completed the career Grand Slam on both the regular and senior tours, a true testament to his skill and amazing staying power.

A physical fitness devotee ever since his older brother gave him a set of weights when he was a youngster, Player was mocked, ridiculed and considered a nut-case when he continued training with weights even while participating in tournaments at the highest level. This was unheard of in the day, a radical approach that no one else had even considered. Some thought of it as pure lunacy with the prospect that Player would get too bulky which would invariably mess up his swing. In fact, predictions were constantly made that Player would inevitably wear down from all this supposed detrimental and extraneous exercise and be done in by the age 35.

But Gary knew better. He stayed nimble while gaining a significant physical edge because he knew he was in better shape than anyone else. This helped bolster the mental side of his game, convincing him that he would hold up better to pressure and stress coming down the stretch than would his less conditioned opponents. No one knew it then, but Player was a visionary and a man ahead of his time, emphasizing the importance of fitness in his sport and proving the golfers could indeed be athletes. Player became the forerunner to mega talents like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who would later devote themselves to being workout warriors and reaped tremendous benefits from their efforts to sculpt their bodies and get stronger. Today, in great part because of Player’s innovative thinking, the PGA Tour has its own traveling gym.

Player’s preeminence in the sport is perhaps best reflected by the fact that he became part of the only true “Big Three” that has ever existed in golf history. Joining icons Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, they formed the most dominant trio of competitors whose storied careers intersected over a lengthy period of time. They were giants of the game who continually did battle with one another and by doing so, elevated golf to an entirely new level. Palmer and Nicklaus were absolute heavyweights but the gritty Player stood right up to them and proved he that belonged in their elite company. His ability to hang with Arnie and Jack did much to stamp him as a legitimate immortal.

Never losing his zest or passion for life, Player has accomplished things that are completely breathtaking. A prolific golf designer, he has been involved in nearly 400 projects ranging over five continents. He has either authored or co-written 36 books. Because he never wished to abandon his South African roots and has continued to use it as a base of operations, Player has logged a staggering 26 million kilometers in travel worldwide.

His other extensive business endeavors and ventures are too numerous to detail in their entirety but among the more interesting are his involvement in wine production, real estate, apparel and the breeding of thoroughbreds. Other than that, Player hasn’t been all that busy, the lazy son of a gun.

Whether it has been his intention or not, Player has served as a beacon of inspiration for those that are getting on in years. Listening to him, it’s like getting a pep talk from an engaged and energetic coach. Player considers retirement to be an anathema and encourages people to forget about it. He feels that it is essential for those still capable to keep working and moving.

He is a big advocate of eating less and more sensibly, with a diet trending towards the vegetarian side and which incorporates plenty of fruits and nuts. And he particularly cautions against heavy dinners or late-night meals. Player says that one’s body is like a car and when it’s in the garage and not being used, it doesn’t require any gas. Likewise, when a human being has wrapped up his or her day and is basically at rest and taking it easy, there is no need for a great amount of sustenance. That should come during breakfast and lunch, when the demands of the day require the requisite energy and refueling.

Player also harps on the value of increased and consistent water intake. And he openly wonders how many people are being done a monumental disservice and having their health impaired because they are or have been over-medicated.

And it goes without saying that Gary is an apostle of staying active and having an exercise or workout regimen. To Player, inertia, lack of motivation or unwillingness to undertake a new routine is like handing the Grim Reaper your calling card. To the superbly fit Player, a body is meant to last an extremely long time if it is properly maintained and looked after.

Contending that he feels more like he’s 40 than his actual age, Player vows that he’ll never stop testing his body and when he reaches that magical 90-year plateau, he’ll still plans on getting around the course in fewer than 80 strokes.

Player feels that he has been rewarded with good health and longevity because he has diligently taken care of himself and he would like to see others experience a similar fate. As such, he recommends a robust lifestyle for as many as possible.

And when the end finally does come, whenever that may be, Player plans to be in the midst of working hard and not lounging on some couch. Gary will be going out with his boots on which seems only fitting for someone who recently amazed an onlooker when he leg pressed an eye-popping 400 pounds.

Player is the ideal to which we all should all aspire as we age – involved, engaged, enthusiastic and never allowing preconceived or false notions to deter or discourage him. He is concrete proof that life can be meaningful, full and extremely productive well into a person’s 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

And thanks to the shining example he continues to set to this day, others might be emboldened to broaden their horizons and not be satisfied with being told their days of contributing are over. As a senior citizen, you look at Player and draw tremendous inspiration and encouragement. He has clearly demonstrated that life at any stage is well worth the living.

Gary Player, winner of nine Grand Slam events (tied for 4th all-time) and golfing superstar, has left an indelible mark on the game he was so instrumental in helping to grow. But perhaps, one of his greatest contributions to his fellow man has been the way he has shown that advancing age doesn’t mean it’s time to pack it in. Player’s message has been to keep on doing what you’re doing and don’t retreat from life but rather embrace it for all its worth. Now that’s a credo worth living by!

Article courtesy of Time-Advocate

« Back

A CONVERSATION WITH GARY PLAYER: THE WORLD’S MOST TRAVELED ATHLETE

Jul 28, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player is a student of the world. In his restless pursuit of education,“The World’s Most Traveled Athlete” has flown more than 26 million kilometers in his 80 years. A conversation with him is akin to an interaction with a living encyclopedia — it’s a journey through history, politics, philosophy, health, science, and travel. He is a man who has met with far too many world leaders to name, and has tirelessly devoted his life to making a difference. By his own admission, his Gary Player Foundation has “raised $62 million in six parts of the world: Japan, Abu Dhabi, China, South Africa, America, and England.” When he speaks, you cannot help but hang on his every word.

Confession: I am not much of a golfer, nor am I a rabid golf enthusiast. That might not sound like much, but around the Jetset offices, the admission is tantamount to blasphemy. I play occasionally, follow a few players like Jordan Spieth, and at least watch The Masters every year, but I don’t live and breathe the game like many of my colleagues. So while I was familiar with Mr. Player — I knew he was the “Black Knight,” a former phenom who had won nine major championships and now in his eighties supposedly still does 1,000 sit-ups a day — when I drove to meet him at the Intercontinental on a picturesque afternoon in L.A., I really had no clue what to expect. I assumed we would talk golf. I assumed it would take effort on my part to get interesting answers out of him. I assumed wrong.

What ensued was one of the most enlightening conversations I’ve ever had in my life. From the moment I shook his hand and was thrust into the middle of an impassioned discussion he was having regarding the morning’s bombings in Belgium, I knew he was a deeply intelligent man who cared very much about the state of the world. “We should be striving for peace, bettering the planet, but I am afraid we will have wars forever,” he says, the wisdom of his 80 years showing. Moments later he smiles and says, “I learned long ago that I will never have the money of Bill Gates, so I will have to be a talker, not a doer.”

And boy, can he talk. Soon we are off on a wide array of topics, and Player continually posits probing questions (“In a leading country like the United States of America, why are there so many homeless?”). Everyone in the room is transfixed by this tireless octogenarian. (The fact that they are members of Team Player and should be accustomed to this by now, only makes it all the more impressive.) I soon learn that there is one thing above all that continues to drive Player. “I have traveled for 63 years, and if I can say one thing, it is that education is so important,” he tells me, “and there is nothing more important than educating others!”

You see, education saved Gary Player’s life. Growing up in extreme poverty in South Africa, his mother died of cancer when he was eight. When he was nine, his brother went to war. Player was grateful to have a good school to attend to give him hope amidst the despair. “Sometimes you lie in bed and you cry,” he recalls. “And you wonder if there is a life beyond what you know.” So as he gained success, he never forgot that feeling. The humility of his upbringing and his constant meetings with the less fortunate of the world have kept him grounded. “I get more of a sense of gratitude the older I get,” he tells me. He opens the door to the bedroom and shows me the sheets on the bed. “White sheets,” he says emphatically, looking deep in my eyes, “I never forget that there are people in this world who will live their entire lives without ever sleeping on clean white sheets!”

Soon I learn the story behind his incredible fitness regimen. “Before my brother went to war he asked me what I wanted to do with my life,” Player says. “I was eight. And I told him I wanted to be a professional athlete. He laughed. ‘You’re too small’ he said. So we went out and got me a weight set. And I promised him that every day I would work on being as strong and healthy as possible.” When I ask him if he still does all those famed sit-ups, he says,“Yesterday in Japan I did 1,000 crunches, I ran the treadmill at max speed, 16 miles, and pushed 400 pounds with my legs.” Truly astonishing for a man of any age. (Another confession: I don’t think I have performed 1,000 crunches once in my lifetime.)

Perhaps for that reason, Player believes that it is imperative that we educate people on fitness. By his estimation, “about one out of every twenty thousand people exercises and eats properly in the world.” He recently went to Capitol Hill to speak on the subject and was told that due to budgetary cutbacks, any additional funding simply wasn’t in the cards. “It was rather frustrating,” he tells me, “I walked out of there with my tail between my legs.” But he refused to give up.

“What an education I’ve had,” he tells me. “I have played golf with most of the presidents of America, met with the emirs of the Middle East, sat down with prime ministers, and the Royal Family. But I’ve also dined with the villagers in the huts of Africa, sat with the poor children on the streets of Mumbai. And I learned as much from them as I did from the higher echelon!” By all indications, Player is determined to spend the rest of his life traveling the world educating as many as he can while adding to his own erudition. “It’s been an incredible journey,” he says with a smile. And my guess is, it’s far from over.

Article courtesy of Jetset Magazine

« Back

GARY PLAYER HEADLINES WORLD-CLASS FIELD CONTINUING TO SPREAD GOLF GLOBALLY

Jul 25, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

The stars will be aligned over China’s Hainan Island on October 21-23, 2016 including legendary golfer, Gary Player, when the fourth edition of the World Celebrity Pro-Am tees off at Mission Hills Haikou.

As the premiere gathering of the stars in a sporting environment in the Asia-Pacific region, the World Celebrity Pro-Am brings together 30 internationally famous celebrities from the world of sport and entertainment and pairs them with eight professional golfers over three days of competition that is fun for the participants, fans and all involved. As with past years when top international stars have graced the field for the World Celebrity
Pro-Am, the 2016 edition is no different.

The golfing greats lined-up to lead the way over the Mission Hills Haikou Blackstone Course include the 18-time Major winner Gary Player, the big-hitting John Daly, Mark O’Meara, the Masters and Open Championship winner in 1998, and Rich Beem, the 2002 PGA Championship title holder. They are joined by an equally impressive foursome of ladies in Solheim Cup star Suzann Pettersen, the Norwegian former World No. 2, Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, runner-up at the recent US Women’s Open, American Paula Creamer, the 2010 US Women’s Open champion, and Natalie Gulbis, the glamour girl of the LPGA Tour who won the 2007 Evian Masters.

Player who has attended previous World Celebrity Pro-Ams at Mission Hills is excited to return to China where golf is continuing to gain popularity.

“Traveling to China to play golf gives me a great thrill,” said Player. “It was not too long ago the interest in golf with the people of China was very limited. That is changing. The past few decades have seen an economic boom in the expansion of golf in the Far East. Golf back in the Olympic Games will also boost golf throughout the region.

“With China’s large population, it is essential we help grow golf here so interest with its people stick for generations. No doubt this event has been a giant step in the right direction.”

Along with Player, early confirmations booked for Hainan Island are Academy Award-winning actor/producer Michael Douglas, superstar singer/actor Jay Chou, basketball giant Yao Ming and tennis great Boris Becker, a six-time Grand Slam winner. From the pitch, Dutch legends the De Boer twins, Frank and Ronald, lead a group of a footballers that include England internationals Robbie Fowler, Paul Scholes and Teddy Sheringham, Liverpool great Ian Rush, Scotland’s Gary McAllister and former Manchester United stars Dwight Yorke, David May and Lee Sharpe.

Much like the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and Alfred Dunhill Championship that for years has brought together celebrities from the world of sport and entertainment, the introduction of the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am in 2010 filled that championship gap in Asia-Pacific, creating an indelible mark on China golf.

The all-star gala brings together acting and music stars from Hollywood, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China and the world at large, paired with sporting greats, to create an event that generates huge media interest around the globe each time it is staged.

Along with Gary player, the participation of celebrities like Michael Douglas for the 2016 edition is a particular coupe as the golf fanatic is making his first visit to China for the event.
“I’ve heard great things about the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am so I’m very much looking forward to taking part in this year’s tournament,” said the two-time Oscar winner. “Playing golf alongside some of the best players in the world is going to be a tremendous experience and to be doing so at a resort like Mission Hills will make it even more memorable.”

The actor also stopped by the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at GlenArbor Golf Club last year to support the Black Knight on his quest to raise $100 million for children.

With nine Major titles on the Regular Tour and nine Majors on the Senior Tour, Gary Player is without a doubt one of the greatest ever to swing a club. He returns to Mission Hills Haikou where he will undoubtedly keep fans and his playing partners enthralled with his endless stories, quick wit and legendary bunker play.

Article courtesy of Seoul Times

« Back

FACING RIO NO-SHOWS, GOLF LOOKS TO EMERGING MARKET GROWTH

Jul 25, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Golf’s return to the Olympics after 112 years may not be as triumphant as many in the sport hoped.

The top four players in the men’s game—Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy—have controversially opted to skip the competition.

Three of them cited fears of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus spreading rapidly in the Americas, while Spieth blamed more general health concerns.

Some critics, including the great Gary Player who is South Africa’s Olympic captain, have suggested the absence of the top four and several others may have more to do with the lack of prize money in the Games event.

The no-shows represent another blow to the business of golf that has suffered since the global economic downturn and from the nosedive in form and injury struggles of 14-times major winner Tiger Woods.

The sport is struggling to grow as youngsters gravitate toward other pastimes such as soccer, with sales of golf apparel and equipment having fallen for several years.

The U.S. ‘golf economy’ declined 9.4 percent from $75.6 billion to $68.8 billion from 2005 to 2011, according to a report prepared by research institute SRI International.

Flagging sales have led companies such as Adidas AG to scale back golf investments.

Adidas said in May it would jettison its golf equipment brands including TaylorMade, Adams and Ashworth. The company toiled in its bid to sell these brands, Reuters has previously reported.

A global event like the Olympics might have been expected to give the industry a much-needed boost.

RELATED COVERAGE

› Q&A with designer of first Olympic golf course in a century
Many in the sport have fought tooth and nail for decades to mobilize a worldwide effort to get golf back into the Games, Player said in April.

“Players today make so much (money) and should be giving back,” he added.

Many of the top golfers who dropped out are in contention to win the FedExCup Series that pays out $10 million to the season-long champion of the U.S. PGA Tour.

A U.S. champion in Rio, by contrast, can expect to receive $25,000 from the national Olympic Committee. Other national organizations are offering similar token bonuses.

INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION

The absence of top golfers could, however, present an opening for lesser-known players to capture international attention for themselves, their countries and sponsors.

“Emerging markets for golf, such as China, southeast Asia, central Europe and South America, have just begun to realize their potential,” said Tom Stine, a partner at market research firm Golf Datatech.

If nothing else the sport will now have a bigger presence in the Olympic host country of Brazil, said Andrea Sartori, global head of sport for the professional service company KPMG.

The nation has 123 golf courses, less than half of the 319 layouts in Argentina, a much smaller country, according to a 2015 report by the R&A, organizers of the British Open.

The U.S., by comparison, has 15,373 courses.

The Olympic golf course, built from scratch in the Barra da Tijuca district, will become a public facility following the Olympics.

Golf Datatech estimates the global equipment market generated $8.7 billion in sales in 2014, with more than 70 percent coming from the U.S., Japan and South Korea.

About 2.3 percent of sales come from China while less than one percent of the market comes from South America (excluding Argentina) and countries such as Thailand and Singapore, its report found.

Steve Mona, chief executive of the World Golf Foundation, one of the groups that lobbied to get the sport back into the Olympics, said the Games could help companies expand their international reach.

Golf is guaranteed to be in the Olympics for at least one more Summer Games in Tokyo in 2020.

“That’s why we are so vested in this,” Mona said. “Not only from the standpoint of people participating in the game but also becoming consumers in the game.”

Callaway Golf’s senior vice president of marketing and brand management Harry Arnett said the Olympics will give the industry a boost despite the big-name no-shows “particularly in less golf-mature markets”.

Paul Swinand, analyst for the investment research and management firm Morningstar who covers stocks such as Adidas and Nike, expects the worldwide Olympic television audience to attract fresh viewers to the sport.

“Golf in the Olympics will be able to draw in new people who wouldn’t necessarily tune into the U.S. Masters,” Swinand said.

Article courtesy of Reuters

« Back

GARY PLAYER AND DANNY WILLETT ON ZIKA AT RIO 2016

Jul 22, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

16 male golfers have pulled out of the Rio Olympics so far and the string of withdrawals are sure to make it harder to argue the sport should continue in the Games beyond 2020.

The idea that golfers regarded the Olympics as something they could do without is certainly logical and Masters Champion Danny Willett believes that Zika is simply an excuse for some of the game’s biggest names.

“The Zika thing was a simple way of having an excuse,” said Willett, who was speaking from the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at Wentworth Club this week.

“It would be interesting if Zika wasn’t around because you have still got a few guys withdrawing purely because of the scheduling.

“I have played Leopard Creek in South Africa about four or five times and there is more of a risk of contracting malaria than there is getting Zika in Rio. As long as you take the appropriate precautions, you should be fine.

“It is a shame [the number of withdrawals] but I don’t think it should take anything away from what should be a fantastic Olympic Games.

“There is still going to be a fantastic field going down to Rio to compete. For all the negatives, we are still going to get one of the strongest fields this year.

“Hopefully a few more people will play in Tokyo, too.”

Nine time major champion, Gary Player echoed Willett’s opinions and went further saying he was shocked by the situation but praised lady golfers for their resolute approach to Zika at Rio 2016.

Player told Today’s Golfer: “I am absolutely in a state of shock to be quite honest with you. In America, literally thousands of people a year are killed by guns and motor cars.

“You have got far greater chance of being killed by guns or a motor car than Zika. The press can hype anything up to the point where you become petrified.

“You will have three and a half billion people watching the Olympics and golf needs to be promoted. Golf is not healthy amongst amateurs and the average man.

” I did accept it when Brandon [Grace] had the courtesy to phone me [to withdraw], which I appreciated as captain of the South African team. I respect his opinion. I don’t agree with it but I respect it to a great degree.

“Thankfully, the ladies have been fantastic. Only one lady has withdrawn so far; a South African lady I am sad to say. These ladies have been absolutely unbelievable and we’ve got to appeal to the IOC to keep us in there because golf needs this around the world.”

Willett and Player played in the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational this week, hosted at Wentworth Club. The charity event raised more than $150,000 for the Player Foundation in support of Depaul an organization working to help young people facing homelessness.

Article courtesy of Today’s Golfer

« Back

STAR-STUDDED BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL AT WENTWORTH CLUB RAISES MORE THAN $150,000

Jul 19, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Men and women of professional golf were brought together by Black Knight International and title sponsor Berenberg, under the banner of a Union of Golf and Giving, for a star-studded event that raised more than $150,000 for charity.

Part of the world leading Gary Player Invitational series, which has helped The Player Foundation raise more than $62 million for charitable causes, the annual event staged on the Gary Player-designed Edinburgh Course at Wentworth Club took place on July 17th and 18th.

The field included some of the game’s most successful players, such as 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett, Martin Kaymer, Tom Watson. This year’s tournament was in support of Depaul, an organization who helps homeless and vulnerable young people in London.

The golf tournament was won by Team Harrington, which saw the Irishman and three time Major Champion shoot a superb 62, alongside Caroline Martens of the Ladies European Tour.

“It is an honour that so many of the game’s great players came together for our union of golf and giving,” said tournament host Gary Player. “The generosity on display during the gala dinner, alongside the on-going support by our title sponsor Berenberg, continues to amaze me and we feel humbled to have helped such a wonderful and worthwhile cause in Depaul.”

The black-tie gala dinner and auction event included the opportunity for guests to bid on a number of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as a Masters Tournament package in Augusta at the Black Knight House, and trips to Wimbledon courtesy of SAP.

The evening also brought together players for the game’s most decorated selfie, featuring 12 Major champions, combining for a total 32 Major victories collectively.

Reflecting on the success of the event, Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, Managing Partner at Berenberg, “Gary Player is not only a great ambassador for the game of golf and Berenberg but his philanthropic initiatives, such as the GPI series, continue to help improve society as a whole. We continue to be very proud of our association with Gary, this event and to play a part in helping to raise money for our chosen charity, Depaul.” 

“I would like to thank all of our sponsors and the professional golfers who continue to support The Player Foundation and the Gary Player Invitational series,” added Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International and the Gary Player Invitational series founder. “Your on-going efforts ensure we are able to make a real difference to the lives of those less fortunate around the world.”

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

« Back

OLCZYK TO DELIVER KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT THOROUGHBRED OWNERS CONFERENCE

Jul 11, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Thoroughbred owner and NBC Sports horse racing and hockey analyst Eddie Olczyk will deliver the keynote address at OwnerView’s third Thoroughbred Owner Conference at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., on Wednesday, November 2, 2016.

OwnerView, the Thoroughbred owner resource developed by The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA), is hosting the conference October 31 – November 3, 2016, the same week as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The presenting sponsors are Breeders’ Cup, Keeneland, and The Stronach Group.

The conference, once again, is designed to educate, inform, and entertain new, prospective, and current Thoroughbred owners through a series of panels and social events.

The keynote speakers at the first two Thoroughbred owner conferences were golfer Gary Player and radio personality Jim Rome. A video of Rome’s emotional presentation detailing his Thoroughbred ownership experience has been downloaded more than 5,500 times.

“Like Gary Player and Jim Rome, Eddie Olczyk maintains a deep passion for this sport and he will be sharing the perspectives of an owner, fan and broadcaster to this conference,” said James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club. “We are extremely honored to have him as our keynote speaker, especially with the hectic schedule he has for Breeders’ Cup Week.”

The panels for this conference include business considerations for racehorse ownership; Breeders’ Cup winning owners, jockeys, and trainers; and a session about feature films with racing as a backdrop. Among the panelists are Richard Mandella, Art Sherman, Gary Stevens, Mike Smith, Laffit Pincay Jr., Dean Reeves, Barbara Banke, and John Amerman.

As an added bonus, on behalf of the Breeders’ Cup, registration will include one Grandstand Reserved seating ticket for both Breeders’ Cup World Championships racing days on November 4 and 5.

Olczyk played 16 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL), winning a Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994. Following his playing career, he joined the Pittsburgh Penguins game broadcasts for Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh and provided analysis for ESPN, ESPN2 and NHL Radio. He served as head coach of the Penguins from 2003 to 2005.

Airdrie
In the course of his NHL career, Olczyk scored 342 goals and recorded 794 points in 1,031 games with the Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, and Los Angeles Kings. The third overall selection in the 1984 Entry Draft, he was a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic hockey team and is a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

Olczyk’s first broadcasting experience took place during the NHL’s labor dispute in 1994, when he served as an on-air handicapper for the Thoroughbred meet at The Meadowlands in New Jersey.

Years later, in his debut as a horse racing analyst on NBC Sports Network’s coverage of the 2014 Gold Cup from Santa Anita, Olczyk correctly picked the long-shot winner in both races on the telecast: Majestic Harbor, at odds of 14-1 in the Gold Cup, and Sheza Smoke Show, at 10-1 in the Senorita Stakes.

Olcyzk then joined the Breeders’ Cup telecast and became part of the Triple Crown on-air team for the 2015 Kentucky Derby.

“Eddie’s knowledge of and enthusiasm for the sport of horse racing is infectious,” said Rob Hyland, coordinating producer for NBC Sports Group. “We are happy that what started out as a labor of love for him has turned into a regular role on our horse racing telecasts.”

Article courtesy of Paulick Report

« Back

A CONVERSATION WITH GARY PLAYER: THE WORLD’S MOST TRAVELED ATHLETE

Jul 6, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player is a student of the world. In his restless pursuit of education,“The World’s Most Traveled Athlete” has flown over 14 million miles in his 80 years. A conversation with him is akin to an interaction with a living encyclopedia — it’s a journey through history, politics, philosophy, health, science, and travel. He is a man who has met with far too many world leaders to name, and has tirelessly devoted his life to making a difference. By his own admission, his Gary Player Foundation has “raised 60 million dollars in six parts of the world: Japan, Abu Dhabi, China, South Africa, America, and England.” When he speaks, you cannot help but hang on his every word.

Confession: I am not much of a golfer, nor am I a rabid golf enthusiast. That might not sound like much, but around the Jetset offices, the admission is tantamount to blasphemy. I play occasionally, follow a few players like Jordan Spieth, and at least watch The Masters every year, but I don’t live and breathe the game like many of my colleagues. So while I was familiar with Mr. Player — I knew he was the “Black Knight,” a former phenom who had won nine major championships and now in his eighties supposedly still does 1,300 sit-ups a day — when I drove to meet him at the Intercontinental on a picturesque afternoon in L.A., I really had no clue what to expect. I assumed we would talk golf. I assumed it would take effort on my part to get interesting answers out of him. I assumed wrong.

What ensued was one of the most enlightening conversations I’ve ever had in my life. From the moment I shook his hand and was thrust into the middle of an impassioned discussion he was having regarding the morning’s bombings in Belgium, I knew he was a deeply intelligent man who cared very much about the state of the world. “We should be striving for peace, bettering the planet, but I am afraid we will have wars forever,” he says, the wisdom of his 80 years showing. Moments later he smiles and says, “I learned long ago that I will never have the money of Bill Gates, so I will have to be a talker, not a doer.”

And boy, can he talk. Soon we are off on a wide array of topics, and Player continually posits probing questions (“In a leading country like the United States of America, why are there so many homeless?”). Everyone in the room is transfixed by this tireless octogenarian. (The fact that they are members of Team Player and should be accustomed to this by now, only makes it all the more impressive.) I soon learn that there is one thing above all that continues to drive Player. “I have traveled for 63 years, and if I can say one thing, it is that education is so important,” he tells me, “and there is nothing more important than educating others!”

You see, education saved Gary Player’s life. Growing up in extreme poverty in South Africa, his mother died of cancer when he was eight. When he was nine, his brother went to war. Player was grateful to have a good school to attend to give him hope amidst the despair. “Sometimes you lie in bed and you cry,” he recalls. “And you wonder if there is a life beyond what you know.” So as he gained success, he never forgot that feeling. The humility of his upbringing and his constant meetings with the less fortunate of the world have kept him grounded. “I get more of a sense of gratitude the older I get,” he tells me. He opens the door to the bedroom and shows me the sheets on the bed. “White sheets,” he says emphatically, looking deep in my eyes, “I never forget that there are people in this world who will live their entire lives without ever sleeping on clean white sheets!”

Soon I learn the story behind his incredible fitness regimen. “Before my brother went to war he asked me what I wanted to do with my life,” Player says. “I was eight. And I told him I wanted to be a professional athlete. He laughed. ‘You’re too small’ he said. So we went out and got me a weight set. And I promised him that every day I would work on being as strong and healthy as possible.” When I ask him if he still does all those famed sit-ups, he says,“Yesterday in Japan I did 1,000 crunches, I ran the treadmill at max speed, 16 miles, and pushed 400 pounds with my legs.” Truly astonishing for a man of any age. (Another confession: I don’t think I have performed 1,000 crunches once in my lifetime.)

Perhaps for that reason, Player believes that it is imperative that we educate people on fitness. By his estimation, “about one out of every twenty thousand people exercises and eats properly in the world.” He recently went to Capitol Hill to speak on the subject and was told that due to budgetary cutbacks, any additional funding simply wasn’t in the cards. “It was rather frustrating,” he tells me, “I walked out of there with my tail between my legs.” But he refused to give up.

“What an education I’ve had,” he tells me. “I have played golf with most of the presidents of America, met with the emirs of the Middle East, sat down with prime ministers, and the Royal Family. But I’ve also dined with the villagers in the huts of Africa, sat with the poor children on the streets of Mumbai. And I learned as much from them as I did from the higher echelon!” By all indications, Player is determined to spend the rest of his life traveling the world educating as many as he can while adding to his own erudition. “It’s been an incredible journey,” he says with a smile. And my guess is, it’s far from over.

« Back

BERENBERG GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL AND THE PLAYER FOUNDATION PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR DEPAUL UK

Jun 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

This year’s Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at Wentworth Club, will be played in support of Depaul, an organisation nominated by Berenberg and The Player Foundation who helps homeless and vulnerable young people.

Part of the world-leading Gary Player Invitational series which has raised more than $62 million for charitable causes, the annual ‘Union of Golf and Giving’ takes place on the Monday after The Open at Royal Troon, and will welcome global stars and legends of the game, including 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett, Tom Watson and Fred Couples.

Hosted by ‘The Black Knight’ himself, the only non-American to have achieved golf’s Grand Slam, the event brings together one of the world’s best pro-am fields, including 13 Major winners, to play on Wentworth’s Edinburgh course, a layout designed by Gary Player.

Commenting on this year’s event, Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International and the founder of the GPI series, said, “Depaul works tirelessly to help the homeless. The Player Foundation looks forward to this year’s event at Wentworth Club, which with the support of our main sponsor Berenberg, will raise charitable funds that can positively influence so many young lives.”

Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, Managing Partner at Berenberg, the second oldest bank of the world, added: “We are proud to be associated with the Gary Player Invitational series and play our part in raising money for those in need. Depaul is such a worthwhile charity and I’m confident this year’s event at Wentworth will be one of the best ever.”

The professional competitor list, from the men’s game, is: Gary Player, Tom Watson, Danny Willett, Branden Grace, Martin Kaymer, Colin Montgomerie, Jason Dufner, Tom Lehman, Fred Couples, Padraig Harrington, Charl Schwartzel, Marc Leishman, Paul McGinley, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Rich Beem, David Howell and Sam Torrance.

From the women’s game, Carly Booth, Suzann Pettersen, Georgia Hall, Joanna Klatten, Emma Cabrera-Bello, Victoria Lovelady, Danielle Montgomery, Caroline Martens, Anna Rawson, Courtney Harter, Alex Peters, Lauren Taylor and Sarah Jane Boyd.

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

« Back

GARY PLAYER DOCUMENTARY: “PICTURE THIS” DEBUTS TO GLOBAL AUDIENCE

Jun 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

Gary Player: Picture This premiered last weekend to much acclaim as the documentary style film chronicles an in-depth look into the life and career of the Black Knight.

Presented by Rolex, Player examines his deep rooted past as a poor boy in rural South Africa to his rise becoming the third man in history to complete golf’s career Grand Slam and offers never before seen moments pulled deep from archives around the world. Player, his wife Vivienne, members of his family, fellow golf legend Jack Nicklaus, and many others dive into the moments that shaped the Black Knight’s place in history as a legendary golfer, philanthropist, and family man.

The documentary, produced by IMG, will broadcast to a world-wide audience and has already run on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom.

“Our goal was to go beyond Gary Player the golfer,” said Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International and Executive Producer of the project. “His fans know the big moments: the Majors, the fitness, the philanthropy. But what is behind those moments? What was going through his mind when he met Nelson Mandela? That is what we captured, and that is the story we told. I hope we accomplished this goal.”

The story uses specific pictures to trigger emotions usually hidden within Gary Player’s psyche. Starting with his spectacular 80th birthday celebration in Sun City where more than 50 members of his ever-growing family were present, viewers are able to connect with the Black Knight like never before.

Player, in a dark blacked out room, recalls a memory from his childhood about his father’s work deep inside the South African gold mines.

“He took me down there once,” said Gary Player. “And I never wanted to go back. I was determined my life was going to be very different.”

Family is a central theme of Gary Player’s life and also of this documentary. Learn firsthand from the World’s Most Traveled Athlete™ how he and his wife of nearly 60 years, Vivienne, coped with heartbreak and triumph on Tour while raising six children. The Black Knight Archives estimates Player will reach 20 million air miles traveled by 2020.

Golf’s Global Ambassador has won more than 165 professional tournaments including 18 Majors, nine on the regular Tour and nine on the Senior Tour. Following the premier, many fans took to Twitter to praise the documentary about one of golf’s most cherished figures. Player actively uses the social media outlet, interacting with fans on a daily basis.

Today, his home is a thoroughbred racehorse stud farm in the small town of Colesberg in the Great Karoo of South Africa, but he travels seven months out of the year raising money for children through The Player Foundation. He also participates in several special events such as The Master’s Par 3 Contest, where this year he became the oldest player participating in the event to record a hole-in-one.

“Age is just a number,” said Player. “I plan to travel and work as long as my health allows. The way I have taken care of my body, I will be disappointed if I do not live to be 100.

“When all is said and done and my time on this earth comes to an end, I want to be remembered not as a great athlete but someone who did everything in their power to make life better and contribute to my fellow man.”

« Back

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

Jun 29, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

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

Jun 29, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of The New York Times

« Back

12 THINGS GARY PLAYER CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT

Jun 28, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture courtesy of Bose

« Back

IN CONVERSATION WITH GARY PLAYER…

Jun 28, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What is its heritage in golf?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Should golf feel confident about its future?

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

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

Q: How would you personally like to be remembered?

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

« Back

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

Jun 13, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of The Scotsman

« Back

GOLF THE MAZAGAN WAY

Jun 13, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fair play Sir Gary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Golf Punk

« Back

LIES, DAMN LIES & STATISTICS

Jun 10, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Bunkered

« Back

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

Jun 10, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of The Scotsman

« Back

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

Jun 1, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

« Back

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

May 31, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

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

May 27, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

“FELT LIKE WINNING THE BRITISH OPEN” - GARY PLAYER

May 24, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Morgan Piek

« Back

WENTWORTH CLUB ANNOUNCES GARY PLAYER DESIGN FOR EDINBURGH COURSE RENOVATION

May 20, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

GARY PLAYER SHARES MEMORIES FROM SCOTLAND AND TIPS FOR HEALTHY LIVING

May 18, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Open remains pinnacle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fitness fanatic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eat less, exercise more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

WHY I CRIED AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL

May 18, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Today’s Golfer

« Back

GOLFING GREAT PLAYER IS PITCH PERFECT IN PARADISE

May 17, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Celtic FC

« Back

TRAVELING WITH GOLF’S ULTIMATE TRAVELER

May 10, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article and picture courtesy of Matt Ginella

« Back

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

May 5, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

“When designing this course, we made sure to emphasize playability for all levels and the ecological sensitivity that is so important to our firm,” said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. “We are thrilled for Indura’s second annual tournament on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica and know it will continue to provide an excellent fan experience and great test for professionals.

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

Picture courtesy of PGA Tour

« Back

THE 3M GREATS OF GOLF RETURN TO INSPERITY INVITATIONAL

Apr 28, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of CBS Houston

« Back

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

Apr 26, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

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

Apr 25, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Indian Sporting News

« Back

COOLEST PHOTO SHOT AT 2016 MASTERS AND STORY BEHIND IT

Apr 14, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That would come later.

Both Wood and Yarrow described the roar as deafening.

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

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

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

Story courtesy of Adam Schupak

« Back

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

Apr 13, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Star-Tribune

« Back

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

Apr 13, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of The Register-Herald

« Back

LIFE LESSONS FROM GARY PLAYER

Mar 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Athlon Spots

« Back

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

Mar 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge

When: April 20-24

Where: Top of the Rock and Buffalo Ridge golf courses

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

« Back

GOLF DIGEST PODCAST: GARY PLAYER TALKS ALL THINGS MASTERS

Mar 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

He holds the mark for most Masters played: 52.

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the full interview with Ryan Herrington of Golf Digest

« Back

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

Mar 30, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit WorldGolfHallofFame.org.

World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum Selection Commission

Co-Chairs  

Gary Player, Nancy Lopez, Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam

« Back

TRIPLE GLORY FOR MODRY LAS GOLF CLUB

Mar 24, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

THE GARY PLAYER INVITATIONAL’S IMPACT REACHES JAPAN

Mar 23, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

GOLF’S GLOBAL AMBASSDOR, GARY PLAYER, VISITS VIETNAM

Mar 17, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

IAN PLAYER’S LEGACY CONTINUES TO INSPIRE

Mar 15, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

Gary Player remembers his brother as “a great South African, a dedicated conservationist, a gentleman, a scholar, and to me, a loving brother.” Player felt that “Ian truly made a difference in this world with his heroic efforts for which he was bestowed countless awards and accolades, all of which he richly deserved.”

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

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

« Back

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

Mar 11, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of the Augusta Chronicle

« Back

MASTERS MEMORIES WITH THE BLACK KNIGHT

Feb 29, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

Article from Golf E Turismo

« Back

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

Feb 28, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of the R&A

« Back

TOP GOLFERS HAIL SAADIYAT BEACH GOLF CLUB

Feb 10, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Gulf News

« Back

PLAYER: SPIETH THE GREATEST PUTTER I’VE EVER SEEN

Feb 9, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Gulf News

« Back

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

Feb 9, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

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

Feb 8, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

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

Feb 7, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

GARY PLAYER NAMED HOST OF NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE

Feb 6, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture courtesy of Getty Images

« Back

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

Feb 5, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

TOP GREEN HONORS FOR THE LINKS AT FANCOURT

Jan 29, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article courtesy of Fancourt

« Back

GARY PLAYER | PROFESSIONAL GOLFER, PHILANTHROPIST & GOLF COURSE DESIGNER

Jan 26, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

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

Jan 25, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article and picture courtesy of Dusi

« Back

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

Jan 25, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Back

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

Jan 22, 2016 | Filed Under: General News   Share

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

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

The Gary Player Invitational in Japan forms part of the world-leading charity golf series, which has raised more than $60 million for charities worldwide. The Player Foundation aims to donate $100 million by 2020 to the support of children’s charities, the betterment of impoverished communities, and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.

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

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

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

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

« Back