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whenimetgary

South Africa’s most successful sportsman, Grand Slam Champion and philanthropist. Gary Player has touched the lives of so many, and we want to show him all the lives he´s changed. Share your story of when you met the Black Knight.

When I met Gary Player

Gary is my role model and hero, He continues to inspire so many of us through his web site.

Every time I have been with him I have walked away with a humanitarian story to remember,

Gary manages to put other people first no matter how tired or busy he is. He gives everyone he spends time with respect and an open ear. Most people who are lucky enough to enjoy his company walk away feeling better about themselves.

When I met Gary Player

MR. RAMON ESPINOSA
GOLF COURSE ARCHITECT FROM EUROPE
PRESIDENT OF GARDEN & GOLF COMPANY

This is a story that my father always remembers, and about what he likes to talk. It has been a long time since my father, Ramón Espinosa, had the opportunity to meet Gary Player.
Ramón Espinosa is one of the most renowned Spanish golf course architect, being President of the EUROPEAN SOCIETY OF GOLF COURSE ARCHITECTS (ESGA), during 1994 to 1996. Ramon Espinosa is also the President of the international golf course construction company Garden & Golf, one of the best golf course construction companies in Europe.
It was 1973 when he first met Gary Player during the construction of 18 holes golf course in Spain. This golf course was and still is the “Golf El Paraíso”, which is one of the most established golf courses on the Costa del Sol, Spain.
After that wonderful experience, they worked together again in 1976 in a new golf course construction, “Almerimar Golf Resort” in Almería, south of Spain.
The understanding was so good and the golf course construction with Gary Player was so successful, that my father invited him to play the first tournament that his construction company organized in the golf course Las Lomas del Bosque, in Madrid (Spain). This company was IBERGOLF.
In this tournament, there were players like Brian Huggett, Jerry Heard, Tony Jacklin, and also a very young new player Severiano Ballesteros.
Nothing to say about the tournament winner…… Of course, as you can see in one of the pictures, it was Gary Player!
My father Ramon Espinosa always remembers fondly those great moments with Gary Player long time ago.
Attach to this document, you can see a picture of the Fist Ibergolf Tournament in Madrid and a picture signed from Gary to my father, Ramón.
Thank you Gary for those moments, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

When I met Gary Player

I was 10 years old and watching Mr. Player play at the old Colonial CC in Memphis. I was walking along the Gallery ropes and he was having a conversation with me and neither of us saw the crossing hazard and I just walked right into it. He was most definitely concerned and made sure I was ok. Later in the round, Mr. Player hit his tee shot into the bunker behind the green. I remember that it was buried and if you know the hole, he we facing a difficult shot as the lake was on the other side. I never will forget he blasted out of the bunker and made it for a 2! I also had fun playing with his son Wayne in the Future masters. Lastly, Mr. Player will be glad to know that my son Smylie just won his first PGA event. We look forward to meeting you in April!! God Bless and Happy 80th to you sir!

Jeff Kaufman

When I met Gary Player

Gary and I met in the late 1990’s when we played a four ball at Loch Lomond. We had great fun going around the course, sharing stories of all the ups and downs that go with living life to the full and we found that we had very similar experiences.

We discovered that we both had a passion for horses and over dinner we discussed our favourite stallions and which ones would be most capable of producing group and listed race progeny. I won’t bore you with all the horse breeding chit chat but suffice to say, I couldn’t believe Gary’s amazing knowledge and understanding of the industry. It is quite remarkable when you take into account that he has spent most of his adult life on planes, trains and automobiles circumnavigating the globe whilst competing in top level golf tournaments. During our conversation about producing winners for the Derby, Melbourne Cup, Breeders Cup etc, we made a plan to join forces and breed ourselves some champions. We have since bred lots of nice horses.

My wife June and I have become close friends with Gary and Vivienne and whenever we are down in South Africa, we make a point of going to see them on the farm. Gary and Vivienne are frequent visitors to our golf resort at Archerfield in East Lothian. Gary has kindly brought his tournament over which has been a great success and a great privilege for Archerfield to host.

In my travels, I have met many people from all walks of life but I can honestly say that June and I feel blessed to have met Gary and Vivienne.

Have a great birthday Gary.

Kevin & June Doyle

When I met Gary Player

I was hired by Tom Herron to host the Gary Player Golf Vacations videos. As a result, I got to spend a lot of time with Gary, mostly at championship golf events.
My greatest memory of those days was when, at dinner one night, I learned that Gary was as knowledgeable about what was happening around the world and he added the great story of how, with Mandella’s help, he established a golf course on his property in South Africa and included a method so that all animals could travel from the jungle from one side of the course to the other side. It was a ditch need deep and wide enough to hide the tallest of all animals with a cover over the top. In addition to satisfying animal needs but also taking care of the safety of human golfers. At the end of the story I was so fascinated with the whole concept that Gary invited me to come to South Africa, stay at his home and play the course.

When I met Gary Player

When I met Gary in Savannah, Georgia in 2012 it was truly a pleasure. It can be quite intimidating to meet such a legend, but not with this guy! I’ve been involved in the world of professional golf since 2000 and won my only tournament (as a caddy) on the Nationwide Tour in Louisiana in 2003.

Dear Mr. Player,

I have met and befriended many players on the PGA Tour over the years but not one can hold a candle close to you. You are an incredible human being. All should learn from you and take your valuable life lessons to heart. In the one day we spent together you inspired myself and my daughter, Taylor, to be better people. Thank you for all you do for animals, children and charities across the globe. This world is a better place because of you.

Wow. Eighty years on this planet. Just look what you have accomplished! The best trophy you have ever won? Your beautiful wife, Vivienne Verwey Player. Your love story has inspired me in my relationship with your nephew Bobby Jr. Life is about love, compassion, forgiveness and communication. Because of you, our relationship has blossomed over the past six years and I can’t wait to be an “official” part of the family next summer in South Africa. If it weren’t for the game of golf, and Bobby’s stories about your time together, my life would be a very boring one!

Happy 80th Birthday Uncle Gabs! Your love for the game and life is an inspiration to me and so many others. I so wish we could be there with you to celebrate this tremendous milestone in your life, but know we are there with you in spirit. We will see you in Augusta in the spring, I promise!

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” -Nelson Mandela

Sincerely,

Michele Ikerd

#iMetGary

When I met Gary Player

For the past six years, I have grown up knowing The Legend, Gary Player, a bit different than others. You see, I call him “Uncle Gary”. He is Bobby Verwey Jr.’s (my “Bonus Dad’s”) Uncle. When I met Mr. Player for the first time, I was 8 years old at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf in Savannah, Georgia.(Apr 20 – 22, 2012) What a day that was! During his practice round he let me and my mom, Michele, ride on the cart with him. THAT is what kind of a gentleman he is. He explained to me about being kind to people, always showing love/compassion for others/animals, and most importantly how to eat healthy!!!

In this day and time, as a twelve year old “tween” in America, we have a lack of true role models. Gary Player is an amazing man. He is very busy building golf courses around the world, raising money for charities and making people smile as big as he does. We don’t get to see him very much, but I know I can look up to this man and follow his every lead. I am a young athlete/golfer myself, so if the world expects me to look up to current sports celebrities or a reality tv star as a role model, they’re nuts… I’ll take The Man over anyone!

Because of Mr. Gary Player; We have two dogs and a rabbit with plans to buy a farm soon, to put more animals on… I have to practice longer on the golf course, we are vegetarians, my mom now has a vegan nail salon and I have to help clean it with all natural products, we only have vegetables/fruit and water in the house. OH, and how can I forget… Mom and Bobby make me drink these gross green smoothies. Thanks alot Uncle Gabs! 😉 You coined me as “Little Taylor” but I’m growing fast so you can’t call me that much longer. I’m taller than you now! 😉

Happy 80th Birthday!!! I am so sorry we can’t be there. We love you so much and are so thankful for you and what you do for others. See you in South Africa in July! Give Aunt Viv a kiss from us, too.

Love always and forever,
“Little Taylor” Morland
XOXO

When I met Gary Player

I was fortunate back in the mid nineties to assist my husband on a video shoot with Tom and Jaci Herron for “Gary Player Golf Vacations’. Gary was super- always upbeat and speaking to everyone we passed as we preceded through the Florida Golf Club. He never snubbed a fan while we were shooting, as he made sure each and everyone felt special.
I was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt cause it was rather chilly, and Gary kept calling me Little Red Riding Hood. He lectured all of us on good nutrition and exercise reminding us we only had one body and must take care of it, which he obviously did!
Yes, Gary might be short in stature, but big in every other way especially in charm and charisma!
Happy Birthday Gary!

When I met Gary Player

I first met Mr. Player at his home, Blair Atholl, just outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. It was in April, 1989. I had just started working for his golf design company in early 1989. It was my first time living and working outdide of America. It was like a dream coming true. I grew up playing golf and now I was going to work for one of the “big 3”.

I actually stayed at his guest house during my time in South Africa. I had only just arrived and stepped out of the guest house and when I looked over his horse ranch, I could not believe my fortune, there was Mr. Player wearing his khaki outfit and hat, leaning on the fence beside his wife, Vivienne. They were watching some of his horses and looking very relaxed. I hesitated wondering if I should disturb him, since I had only been working for him a short time I didn’t expect him to even know me…but my excitement got the better of me so I went over and introduced myself to him and his wife. I never felt more at home and comfortable, they are such down to earth, wonderful people. The next 45 minutes were a blur, he invited into their home, we sat in the study and just talked, it was like they had known me forever.

I said forty five minutes because at that time he looked at his watch and said it was time for his daily excercises! He told me he did them everyday! I think it was 500 push-ups and sit-ups, could have been more…

I will never forget my time in South Africa and the photo I share is my great pride in, again, building one of his golf courses in March of 2013. To be associated with Mr. Player has been a great experience for me and my family. Happy Birthday!

When I met Gary Player

“When I met Gary in 2008 it was prior to the BI-LO Charity Classic auction in Greenville, South Carolina. Mr Player was to make an appearance at the auction and I wanted to meet him prior to the event… it was a tremendous experience!

He was the most genuine man, so generous with his time. He spoke to my wife and I like we had known each other for years.

After the event we were selected to handle the Player Foundation auctions at the Cliffs in South Carolina. I can honestly say his staff at the Development Group, his staff at the Foundation, his son Marc and his right-hand Debbie all share the same characteristics.

What a man and what a legacy… congratulations and here’s to many more!”

Darron Meares
Bowtie Benefit Auctions
Greenville, SC

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