Gary Player is widely considered one of the greatest golfers of all time. A member of The Big Three alongside Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, Player is a career Grand Slam Champion on both the Regular Tour and Senior Tour. He won nine Major champions on both Tours. Having won 167 tournaments in 16 different countries worldwide, Player is truly the international ambassador for the game of golf.
In his newest book, Gary Player’s Black Book, the Black Knight outlines 60 tips on golf, business, and life, drawing from his lifetime of experiences on and off the course. Below are 9 of his best tips for success.
1. Be positive.
You have two choices when you are dealing with setbacks as Player was in 1962 after missing the cut at The Open Championship. “I could either carry on down this road of self-pity and intense emotional examination. Or I could change. I could force myself to think more positively about my situation. And that’s what I did.” Dwelling on negative moments and emotions doesn’t help. Instead, move forward and try to be positive. Having missed the cut, Player had more time to practice before the PGA Championship than other golfers who were still playing in The Open at Troon. In those days the tournaments were in succession, limiting preparation. By changing his mindset and putting in the extra practice, Player went on to win the 1962 PGA Championship.
2. Eat healthy.
Be mindful of what you put in your body and how much. Player’s advice on diet is to eat more fruit & vegetables, less sugar, but above all, “to have a good breakfast, a nice lunch, and a small dinner. You don’t have to put gasoline in your car when you park it in the garage at night. The worst thing you can do is overeat. Stay healthy for a longer more productive, enjoyable life.”
No matter your age or fitness level, Player’s motto is to keep moving. “Rest is rust. Always keep moving.” The exercises he most recommends for golfers are walking, swimming, and core exercises, as they strengthen your back and give power in your swing. Swinging a weighted club is also good exercise for golfers. Get off the couch. Stop watching TV. Get active. Sitting is the new smoking.
4. Stay focused.
On the golf course and off, stay focused on your goals. Player explains, “Golf is the most difficult sport of all when it comes to the mind.” And when other players are being negative it can be distracting. Instead Player says to shut out negative remarks and emotions from outside and focus on your own golf. The mind is the most powerful tool we have. Never stop learning. Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
5. Have a sense of humor.
“You’ve got to have fun in your work. You’ve got to create the passion. Never lose sight that work is never as serious as you think it is. Even in the most serious moments, you can find a way to have fun.” Even in the midst of competitions against his main rivals and friends, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, Gary Player would play practical jokes. Player once climbed along the balcony of a hotel to scare Arnold Palmer and Mark McCormack and on another occasion started a food fight with Palmer and Nicklaus in a hotel room. “Never lose your sense of humor in your work.” Laughter is the best medicine. Sing. Dance. Be happy.
6. Take one step.
Player advises on how to bounce back from bad business decisions or disappointments by accepting that we are human and “mistakes are a fact of life. So accept that you’re having a bad run, and that you’re not the first or the last. Then get back to basics. If you’ve made a bad decision and it’s cost you, accept it as such. But move on positively. Forget about it and don’t dwell on it.” Take that first step toward moving forward, “because to stand still and remain in that place of disappointment or hurt will break you.” Even if it means taking a few steps back, Player says its ok to back up, correct mistakes, and then move forward. Failure is just a lesson to your next success.
7. Maintain balance in your life.
“Balance is as important in life as it is in the golf swing,” Player advises. In speaking of work-life balance and avoiding burn out, Player explains, “Your business can only succeed for as long as you have the energy to make it succeed. So you have to take care of yourself. You may also need to remind yourself what drives you. Remind yourself what drives you, and you’ll start to get that passion back.” Spend time with family and friends. Go fishing, camping or swimming at the beach. Spend a little time in meditation.
8. Take advice from those you trust.
“Advice is like your caddie in life. The caddie who just agrees with you all the time is not worth the golf bag he’s carrying. It’s the caddie who sometimes challenges your view, who questions your shot or club choice, whom you value because he’s bringing that extra dimension to your thinking.” You have to respect and trust who you take advice from though. You want advice that is meant to help you grow and not purely negative advice. “Trust the advice of the man who loves you even though you like it not at present. A great saying.”
9. Don’t lose perspective.
“When it has come to the biggest disappointments or saddest moments in my life I have always tried to maintain perspective. Perspective to realize that you’re not the only one who’s had setbacks in life.” Looking at your disappointment or suffering through the lens of perspective can help you to better view and deal with it. Most of us are blessed with good health, family and friends. Don’t take this for granted.
Player has had success not only on the golf course, but also in business and in life. He has designed nearly 400 golf courses, is the ambassador for several global brands, including Callaway, Berenberg, Rolex, and SAP, and has been running a successful thoroughbred stud farm for decades, turning out racehorse champions. Player has also been married for 60 years to Vivienne, and they have six children and 23 grandchildren. At 81 years young, Player continues to exercise every day, eats healthily, and can easily keep up with men less than half his age.
Pick up a copy of Gary Player’s Black Book, available now, for more advice from the Black Knight on life, business, and golf.