I WAS EXEC. AT AMERICAN QUARTER HORSE ASSN IN AMARILLO TX IN 60’s AND 70’s. MR PLAYER CALLED AROUND 1970 AND WE TALKED ABOUT HORSES AND WHAT IS BEST WAY TO BUY HORSES.HE TOLD ME TO MEET HIM AT A TOURNEY SOMEDAY. 1971 I HAD A MEETING ON MON AT A RACE TRACK IN FLA. SO I CALLED GARY . THIS WAS THE NATIONAL AIRLINE TOURNEY, HIALEAH FLA. SAT MORN GARY AND HIS WIFE AND I WENT TO COURSE IN MY RENT CAR. HE PLAYED VERY WELL AND LED AFTER SAT. SUN WE LOADED ALL THEIR LUGGAGE AND WEIGHT EQUIP INTO MY RENT CAR AND WENT TO COURSE. HE PLAYED VERY WELL AND WON TOURNEY.HE WON MANY PRIZES AND MONEY. JACK NICKLAUS SENT HIS CAR TO GET THEM SO WE LOADED ALL LUGGAGE AND WEIGHT IN JACKS CAR FOR WEST PALM BEACH. I WENT TO A MOTEL, DIDNOT LOCK CAR AND NEXT MORNING WENT TO RACE TRACK. OWNER GAVE ME A PHONE NO. TO CALL. JACK ANSWERED AND THEN GARY. HE WANTED TO KNOW HAD I SEEN HIS PASSPORT AND $40,000 CHECK HE WON AT TOURNEY. I SAID NO BUT WOULD LOOK INBACK SEAT OF CAR. I CALLED HIM BACK AFTER LOOKING AND TOLD HIM YES I HAVE YOUR CHECK AND PASSPORT. THEY WERE ON THE FLOOR IN THE BACK OF CAR. HE THANKED ME AND JACK SENT HIS CAR TO PICK THEM UP.GARY IS ONE OF THE FINEST MEN IN THE WORLD. HAPPY BIRTHDAY. DON JONES
In the mid 60’s Gary Player contracted with the Shakespeare Co. in Kalamazoo MI *USA) to use the “BLACK KNIGHT” equipment. He and W. Harry Rapley became friends because of that relationship and maintained contact over the many years……
Harry and Jane enjoyed following Gary at many tournaments including the Masters and at golf courses around Michigan including Kalamazoo Country Club where Harry was instrumental in some of Gary’s golf demonstrations and outings.
They corresponded several times and Harry never forgot Gary’s birthday. Harry’s daughter, Bobbi, recalls vividly flying in the Shakespeare corporate jet with Gary and his brother Ian when they were flown to Kalamazoo from what was the Memphis Open at the time.
Harry saved all of the many anecdotes of this nice friendship and these are especially cherished and saved now that Harry has recently passed.
When I met Gary is quite different to most stories I am sure, as I met his through working for his brother Ian.
I had the privilege of being Private Secretary to Gary’s brother Ian Player for 18 years. I never heard “Dr Player” as I called him speak much about his brother, but I knew he was immensely proud of his achievements because he always made me cut out newspaper articles about him for the scrap book. There was a fair amount of competition between the two of them, and I remember one conversation Dr Player had with Gary where he said, my name appears in the star today which has listed 100 people who made South Africa, by accident or design, with good intent or evil. Although Gary’s name was not in the list of 100 people the article did go on to say that for weeks there were two sets of brother’s nominated one being the Players.
My first contact with Gary was on the occasion of Ian’s 80th birthday. He asked whether I would get him a gift. I had the honour of actually meeting him and his lovely wife Vivienne at the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Leadership School in Johannesburg in 2007. It was the first time that the two brothers had shared a podium. Gary mentioned how nervous he was feeling knowing that his brother was by far the better speaker, and hoped that the programme would run according to schedule because his plane was leaving at a certain time. Their speeches were by far the highlight of the evening. Gary spoke about the two of them growing up and what an influence Ian had on his life. Ian’s motto to Gary was “never give up” which I am sure Gary can attribute much of his success to.
I really got to know Gary better when Dr Player became frail; Gary and Vivienne would pop in to visit him at every opportunity, and were in constant contact for updates on his condition. Gary made sure too that his beloved brother was cared for, he was extremely generous. His generosity started when Gary bought the farm in the Karkloof and then donated money to help start the Wilderness Leadership School. It was Gary who made sure that all his brother’s papers were archived ensuring the Ian Player Heritage. It was a shock for Gary when his brother passed away, and he made sure his family attended the small family and close friend gathering at the littlel church in the Karkloof where he bid farewell to an incredible brother. He made a speech at the funeral which could not have been easy, but looking back he could take comfort in the fact that he had done his best for his brother.
What an incredible family, how proud the Player parents would have been of their children’s achievements.
PA to Ian Player 1996 – 2014
Have a wonderful memorable 80th birthday Gary.
Our whole family met Gary thro our donation to Help for Heroes held at St Andrews which allowed us to play a round of golf and stay at Leopard Creek in South Africa.
Not only did we play 2 rounds of golf with him but he very generously allowed us to stay in his wonderful lodge in Leopard Creek,overlooking the game park.
He changed my grip transformed my putting and inspired my wife and 3 children to live our lives at a higher level of health. Both religiously from the prayers said at the table to an ultimate example of fitness and dietary control.
He took the trouble to tape a video congratulating our family company on 80 yrs in business and has been a great inspiration to us all on positive thinking “I’m 80 years young”and giving back to the community.in such a powerful way.
I also want to break my age with my golf score as Gary has done for several years
but I may need to wait on that telegram from the Queen!
Keep it going Gary we appreciate the care you’ve taken to enrich so many lives.
I became a fan of Gary in the early 60’s when I was a teenager. In the early 70’s I began attending the Greater Greensboro Open in Greensboro, NC, first at Sedgefield Country Club and then at Forest Oaks Country Club. My wife accompanied me and we walked all four rounds watching him play. After a while he noticed us following him each day and began to talk to us some during the round and after his round. Then one day he invited us to lunch in the clubhouse. We followed him every year he played in Greensboro. Then when he started playing on the Senior Tour he came to Winston-Salem, NC to play in the tournament at Tanglewood and we picked up following him there. The good thing about that was Vivienne accompanied him so we got to meet her. We spent a lot of time off the course with Gary and Vivienne and our friendship really grew. We have been very fortunate to keep in touch all these years and have been many places to see him, Vivienne, and all of his children. It has been a very blessed friendship and one we cherish. I can say one important thing about Gary Player and that is as great a golf legend as he is, he is an even greater human being.
Tony Laws, Burlington, NC
i was 12 years old and gary had been my favorite golfer for 3 years when i had started following and playing golf.
my bible was gary player’s golf secrets
my father(an arnie fan) took me to the 1964 new orleans open and i brought my bible/book with me hoping i could get an autograph. from my idol
we walked into the gate towards the clubhouse and he was the first person i saw. i timidly handed him my book and a pencil but could not speak. my father had to ask if he would sign my book.
of course he said. the book was signed he patted me on the head and said good luck son.and off he went to play.
i still have the book and pencil
we followed all 18 holes. around the greens all my father had to do was show the people in front of me the book and i was always allowed to get to the first row
that story was told for years between my father and i and he became a gary fan also–along with arnie
years later when the company was managing golf lessons at the disney institute at disneyworld, i signed myself and my 2 young daughters up for lessons with wayne player and brought the book with me
wayne signed right under gary’s name and the book is still proudly displayed in my den
thanks gary for that memory and all the thrills you have provided to all golf fans over the years
kevin mocklin m.d.
As a young man in the early 1960s, I took up golf at the encouragement of my father and uncle. I fell love with the sport and became a dedicated fan of The Big Three, especially Gary Player whom I idolized for his remarkable story, on-course intensity and incredible class. Some 30 years later, my wife Jaci (pronounced Jackie) and I had developed a golf travel business featuring informative videotapes about the top golf travel destinations. In 1993, we developed a formula that embraced, involved and showcased the world’s most traveled athlete as the host of each video, introducing golfers to the finest golf destinations in America – Gary Player Golf Vacations! Mr. Player was, as always, a perfect gentleman, associate and fabulous video host throughout the next few years – but two stories speak to the quality of the man than the golfer.
After the 2nd round of the Senior Tour Championship at Myrtle Beach’s famous Dunes Club in 1995, Mr. Player was near the top of the leaderboard and became instantly surrounded by adoring fans. Gary had promised Jaci he would take extra time to meet our minister (an avid Player fan) … but he was now late for an overseas phone call. Seeing the disappointment on her face, he took the time to meet Reverend Wilkes who then gushed something about what an honor it was to meet Gary. In a typical graceful and humble response, Gary put his arm around Jaci, shook hands with the minister and said, “No, sir, Jaci has told me about the wonderful things you do every day. You are a man of God and it is MY honor to meet you!”
Gary asked Jaci to make reservations that night for “about 20 people” at his favorite Myrtle Beach restaurant, Sea Captain’s House. To her knowledge, the only people in town on the “Gary Player team” were Mr. Player and his son & then caddie Wayne, and Jaci and I. After all were seated, Jaci leaned over to Gary and whispered “who are all these people?” With that genuine smile and half a wink, he calmly replied, “Why, Blondie, these are just a few the fans I’ve met through the years – I invited them to dinner when I saw them during the practice round.”
Tragically, we lost “Blondie” to Lupus in 2009 at only 47 – but our lives were forever enriched by our relationship with Gary Player and his wonderful family. He remains today the ultimate role model for young athletes around the world. Happy Birthday, Gary – and thank you!
I have many chances to meet Mr. Player and am excited every time I chat with him. The best when he joined me for dinner at this Italian restaurant while at the Vantage tournament in North Carolina. Gary loves pasta and asked me if I had been to this restaurant before and I just told him that I had herd that it was good. Gary then glanced at the pictures on the wall of the vestibule of the place and he saw my picture on the wall with the actor Dennis Franz.Then the jig was up and I told him that this place is the very best.
We sat down to eat and I ordered some angel hair pasta with pesto sauce and her asked me for a taste. He loved it and ordered himself some. We had a great conversation and enjoyed the evening. The funny part is next…
I brought a friend back to eat two nights later and Gary was sitting in the dining room eating angel hair pasta with pesto sauce. We laughed together but the funny part was the Mater D told me that her was there three nights in a row.
Happy Birthday Black Knight and thanks for all your contributions to humanity. Joe Panko
I first met Mr Player when I was a schoolboy in Johannesburg in the 60’s, when I watched him perform a clinic, at the Royal Johannesburg Golf Club I think. To a young boy, his clinic was inspirational and I started playing the game at the age of 9 thanks to that event.
In the 50 years that have passed since then, I have had the privilege and honour of spending some time with Gary at various events and places around the world – like at Royal Lytham & St Annes at The Open in 1988, when I just happened to be in the Secretary’s office on the final day when Mr Player came in to thank the Club Secretary and all the club’s staff for preparing an excellent venue for The Open – like the true gent he is. We chatted a while and I said that we had last met 25 years earlier in Johannesburg – and was very interested to learn of my career development, as golf was now the industry that I worked in as well as the game that I loved.
Fourteen years later I was working in Dubai and I get a call from Mike Gallemore, editor of a golf magazine, who wanted a venue to hold a lunch for advertisers at which Mr Player was to be the guest of honour. Of course, I offered the club where I was the GM (Nad Al Sheba Club) as that venue, we had a great lunch after which I had the pleasure of guiding Gary around the stables and horse racing facilities at Nad Al Sheba.
A few more years passed, and we met again in St Andrews, at The Open, when he invited me to be his guest at a private dinner, and what a treat that was. To share a wonderful evening of memories and stories from the world of golf was something I will cherish all my life – he continues to be a great inspiration for me, and for many thousands of others, of that I am sure. Have a wonderful 80th birthday Mr Player, and thank you very much.
I never met Gary in person but I did reach out to Gary via email and ask for an autograph for my kids. I was very surprised in a few weeks when I received a large envelope with pictures for each of my children. These pictures were personalized with an autograph from the great Gary Player on each photo.
Gary is not only a great golfer but an AMAZING ambassador for the game of golf.
Happy Birthday Mr. Player.