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,I was ‘Teasie’one of Five,unbeknown that our Family would grow expedentially over The Years.
Now Pen to Paper,i realize the Overwhelming attempt to Précis a ‘Plethora of Funny and Heartfelt Memories’,so perhaps i may be pardoned for likening Dad to ‘The Elements of Nature.,as he is ‘Really not Normal’hence The Indifference to Sheep Farming.’
The Rains came and i saw you as the’Perfect Pine Tree’-Strong,Upright and Evergreen.The Winds howled ,yet Danced with Laughter,Bolts of Lightening Flashed through Clouds,yet The Pine remained Steadfast.
Rains Retreated,and the Hot Sun Rose in the Early Hours,Relentless,Powerful,Determined to Empower the Chlorophyll into the Foliage and Sun Ripened Fruits of his Labour.
The Earth became Hard and the Soil Cracked.The Small Saplings Shrivelled and Cried for Moisture,yet The Tree remained Vibrant,Energised,Blessed with Youth and Vigour.
That is Dad,now 80 Years later,Knelt in Prayer,Head Bowed,never asking for anything but ‘Love and Adversity’ from God.
Humbled,you demonstrated with every ‘Fibre of your Being’ a Passion,Appreciation and Curiousity of Life,so ‘Thank You’ for being the Perfect Example to All Beings Great and Small,and for bringing an abundance of Joy into my Life and into ‘The World of Others’…..
British Open at Royal Troon, Scotland 1982. We won a trip to the Open by winning a danish youngsters tournament. I was, and I am a big fan of Mr. Gary Player and I meet him on the course during his wednesday practice round. Got his autograph/signature which I still keep in my secret box with other good memories.
This is not about meeting Gary player,I had done that a thousand times in my head,it was about first his unparalleled kindness.I visited South Africa in 1968 to play tournament golf what I did was never make a cut.An auspicious start to a golfing career!Gary heard about my efforts and experienced them early every morning on the practice ground where ,because I had no money would pick up my scattered shots holding up Garys practise.Thru his strength coach he gave me some money to go get a much needed steak and allow him to practise in peace!
He subsequently invited me to his house and gave me a full wardrobe of his clothes.This kindness was in the middle of taking phone calls from Mark McCormack in America telling Gary he would be shot if he played in the PGA.
To his unbelievable credit he competed and nearly won that tournament pushing him to say” that might be the most pressure I ever faced and the best I ever played!”
We met all over the world and I had the honor of leading the Australian Masters and being paired with him in the third round.Of course he won the tournament but he showed me how to really compete and be a gentleman at the same time.
In the early 70s he invited Billy Casper to play a series of matches in south Africa and we were both intrigued by his sliding right foot thru impact.Gary was having back problems at the time and as I was an avid golf theorist we discussed this technique which seemed to eliviate back strain.It was with much pleasure and pride I watched Gary implement this swing in winning both the 1974 masters and British open his “Walk-thru swing”.Again his kindness showed as he endorsed my book and video and thru his efforts allowed me to become a well known teacher!
So Gary player the second greatest person I have met in my life! A man who gave me a life,who showed me that patience linked with Positive thinking is the way to live.
Gary showed me not to be afraid of critics for critics normally want to be you! He showed me that “giving is living and living is giving” He taught me that kindness is the coin of the realm that no matter how small the goodness it always repaid as is the opposite.
it has been a blessing to know Gary and Viviane they have been shining lights in my life.
It may be his birthday and I am applauding it but he is ageless and his kindness has washed up on every shore in the world. Thank u Gary Player for being such a friend and for giving me so much of yourself! Thank u Peter Beames
I first met Gary at a very windy 1985 BBC Pro Celebrity Golf series at Turnberry (as the picture shows) where Gary and Arnold Palmer partnered many top show business personalities in a 9 hole team format (of course Gary’s team won !)
He chose to walk back to the clubhouse from the 9th green (no golf buggies for Mr Player !) and as is his way inspired everyone walking with him – no one more than me during this key time in my young life
Gary was about to turn 50 ( just as I am now) and was looking forward to achieving the same unparalleled success on the Senior Tour as he had on the main tour.He spoke of his parents,his deep faith, his lifelong commitment to fitness and of course some of his major tournament victories all in his endlessly positive enthusiastic and gifted way.
I’ve always said this 15 minutes in Gary’s company was the inspiration I needed to make me further strive to achieve all my goals in life – I started by exercising every day, eating properly and thinking positively in every aspect of my life. this led me to being able to win amateur golf competitions in four separate decades (I’m catching you Gary !) be a responsible citizen and a good family man (I instill these values in my daughter daily ) and ultimately helped me in my Election as Councillor in 2012 representing 18,000 people in my home town of Bathgate , Scotland.
Mr Player – thank you for being the man you are – inspirational, gifted and giving, the world is a better place because of your presence sir.
Councillor Harry Cartmill Bathgate Scotland
When I met Gary it was May 2015 and he was visiting one of Depaul UK’s homeless hostels in North London. He was visiting the hostel as The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at Wentworth had raised £45,000 for Depaul in 2014 and the event was set to take place again with Depaul as the main beneficiary a few months later – the 2015 event was subsequently a success raising a further $225,000 for charity.
I was invited to meet Gary at the hostel as Depaul is a charity which has made a huge difference in my life, helping me when I was homeless. I got thrown out of my house for an unjust reason when I was on an apprenticeship. I was like ‘I’m homeless’ and I slept rough in a busy park several times. Then I found Depaul who helped me to get back on my feet and gave me somewhere to stay. Mr Player’s generosity to Depaul therefore means a lot to me personally as it will help other young homeless people get the same support from Depaul that I had.
Meeting Gary and his recognition and support for Depaul and homelessness was truly an inspirational breathe of fresh air. Being in his presence and sharing his advice of what he put into his career made me realise it’s possible to achieve my goals, regardless of what life brings. It just made so much sense. To have felt like you’ve lost your family and world being homeless, then to have felt like you’ve gained a new family is a feeling I will never forget.
Gary shared his experience of being an international golfer and the main advice I took was, “focus and perception is the key to achieving”. To be in the same room, it just clicked and made the hairs on my arms stand! It brought a great connection and memory of the will power I felt I had lost when being homeless. In his speech that day Gary also said “You don’t have to be a world champion to be a champion of yourself” and this inspired all of the young homeless people who were at the hostel who had all faced very difficult times.
Gary Player inspired me to start my own business and because of this, I will always remember the footprint he left with me and I hope to cross paths again in the future.
In the mid-90’s I attended the then Million Dollar at Sun City and one early morning I was in the gym at the Gary Player Country Club, when Mr Player himself walked in and started with his daily workout. I was currently studying a Sport Science degree at Rhodes University with the prospect of working in the cricket industry. Well, by the time I left the gym that pivotal morning I decide to change my postgraduate thesis to looking into the game of golf. There was not much literature on golf fitness as pretty much no one was working on their athleticism for golf, indicative by the fact that no golfer competing at the Million Dollar joined us in the gym that morning.
Today I work as a golf fitness specialist working with amateur and professional golfers a like, building golfing athletes as the game has certainly evolved over the past 20 years.
It is due to Mr Player that I have been able to make my passion, my occupation. For that I am forever grateful to Mr Player. Thank you Gary!
My favorite memory amongst many relates to the time I was living with my brother in Gary’s original home on Blair Athol in Muldersdrift. After spending an hour that early morning with Gary , me chatting whilst he drove balls from off his home driving range, we were making our way back to Gary’s main house, a magnificent new home built alongside a beautiful pond that was the safe haven for an array of water birds. We were talking about the essence of life and what made champions true champions. I remember so well Gary telling me stories of greatness won not only on sports fields but just as vitally within one’s self. The need for disciplined training of the mind and body, but importantly the realization that we were in fact just fulfilling G-d’s purpose and because we were living G-d’s will we owed it to Him and to ourselves to be the best we could be, clean in mind , physical presence and deed.
A delivery truck pulled up outside Gary’s new home and proceeded to off load the longest and largest wooden bench I had ever seen carved from a solid piece of timber. Gary explained that he had purchased this church pew from a church I believe was in Scotland and was installing this in his home because of the inherent spiritual value it offered. It started to rain whist we were all helping to offload and a tarpaulin was quickly placed over this most valuable piece. It stormed one of those incredibly cleansing “Transvaal” storms , hard , intense and of only a short duration. As the rain stopped this brilliant sunlight came shining through the raindrops and a myriad of rainbow colors glistened from off blades of grass, through the wet branches and off the sparkling pond. As Gary would say “ Man isn’t this magnificent” and without a word to anyone , in front of laborers and any congregated under the umbrella of the huge Syaringa tree , Gary peeled off the canvas tarpaulin, got down on his knees and leaning against the wooden
pew he began a silent prayer….not for long but long enough to remain indelibly etched in my mind as a mark of genuine humility …a mark of the very greatness we were talking about all morning.
On rising his only comment was “ Marc can you imagine the prayers that thousands have asked G-d for at this bench …can you imagine the power of G-d to be able to answer each and every one !
Every time I look at Mr Player I am in awe of him. I have been blessed to meet many world leaders and many supposed great characters but the one trait that distinguishes true honor and deepest respect is attributed to those who take the time to be present regardless of who they are with or the number of fans singing praises. Gary looks at you when you speak. He listens to your words when you talk and for that moment he is completely present and you feel like you really do matter ! this is the mark of a truly great man and I am honored to know that I spent special moments , all too few, with him.
My prayer is that he should know great health and enjoy equally many special moments with those he treasures.
Happy birthday on this significant milestone in your life.
With love and deep respect
I met Gary Player back in 1976 through a mutual friend Johnny Dreyfus. Previous to my meeting Gary through Johnny I played in a golf tournament head to head against Johnny at Westchester Country Club.I came from 4 strokes back with 3 holes to play to tie him then beat him in a playoff. Dreyfus asked me that day what made me tick and I told him that I emulated Gary Player going back to 1965 when Gary won the Grand Slam beating Kel Nagle in an 18 hole playoff to win the U.S. Open. I always wanted to meet Gary, as I followed his career and became one of his most fervent fans. Thanks to Johnny he made that possible.
Thank you Gary for being a great ambassador to the game of golf, thank you for being a great role model to myself and many others not only as a golfer but as a husband, a father and a humanitarian to the world. May God continue to bless you and your family! Happy 80th birthday!!! Thank you for so many great memories. Ken Suchy
When I first met Gary my father, mother, brother, and I traveled to South Africa to visit the entire Player family in August of 1968. It was a trip of a lifetime for an 8 year old boy. I have one very clear memory of my first interaction with Gary. The Player home had a generous backyard and Uncle Gary challenged me, “Why don’t you go stand at the end of the yard and I’ll hit golf balls at you pretending you are the pin. Now, how many shots do you think it will take before I make you move?” What a fun game, I thought and off I ran about 80 yards away, thinking I could easily dodge the golf balls flying at me with his wedge. Let’s just say this was the first time I came to appreciate his masterful short game as I leaped out of the way out of his 3rd shot just before it hit my shins!”
From their family home they took us to their farm (I held my first pistol and rode my first horse) to the bush where we had an amazing safari at Mala Mala.
My father, Mark McCormack, was Gary’s first business partner who was lucky enough to launch IMG by representing the “Big 3” as golf began its international boom. While Gary still works hard as golf’s truly global ambassador (I think of my favorite Gary Player quote often: “The harder I work, the luckier I get”), he is someone that also knows how to enjoy life’s beauty and share a good laugh.
We have been blessed and privileged to have met both Ian and Gary Player. As the Founder of Shamwari Game Reserve, the success of the venture would not have happened if it was not for Ian. Ian changed my life, both by involving me in his Foundation (The Wilderness Foundation) and introducing me to Gary.
There cannot be two brothers who have had such an impact on our Country and so many individual lives. Luckily I can count myself as one of those.
We met Ian in 1991 and Gary a few years later. My love for golf gave us the privilege of being at all the golf majors and having Gary design a course for me in Alicedale. Attached is a picture of Ian, Gary and myself at the opening of the course.
Thank you for including Shirleyanne and I at your celebration. We would not miss it for anything.