|— Golfer —|
Player in 2008
|Full name||Gary Player|
|Nickname||The Black Knight,
1 November 1935 |
Johannesburg, South Africa
|Height||5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)|
|Weight||150 lb (68 kg; 11 st)|
|Residence||Jupiter Island, Florida, U.S.
Colesberg, South Africa
|Spouse||Vivienne Verwey (m. 1957)|
|Children||Jennifer, Marc, Wayne, Michele, Theresa, Amanda|
|Current tour(s)||PGA Tour (joined 1957)
Champions Tour (joined 1985)
|Number of wins by tour|
|PGA Tour||24 (25th all time)|
|Sunshine Tour||73 (1st all time)|
|Best results in major championships
|Masters Tournament||Won: 1961, 1974, 1978|
|U.S. Open||Won: 1965|
|The Open Championship||Won: 1959, 1968, 1974|
|PGA Championship||Won: 1962, 1972|
|Achievements and awards|
|World Golf Hall of Fame||1974 (member page)|
leading money winner
|Southern Africa Tour
Order of Merit winner
|PGA Tour Lifetime
|(For a full list of awards, see here)|
Gary Player DMS; OIG (born 1 November 1935) is a South African professional golfer, widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of golf. Over his career, Player accumulated nine major championships on the regular tour and six Champions Tour major championship victories, as well as three Senior British Open Championships on the European Senior Tour. At the age of 29, Player won the 1965 U.S. Open and became the only non-American to win all four majors, known as the career Grand Slam. Player became only the third golfer in history to win the Career Grand Slam, following Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen. Since then, only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have won the Career Grand Slam. Player has won 165 tournaments on six continents over six decades and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
Born in Johannesburg, Player has logged more than 25 million kilometres (15 million miles) in travel, which is more than any other athlete. Nicknamed the Black Knight, Mr. Fitness, and the International Ambassador of Golf, Player is also a renowned golf course architect with more than 325 design projects on five continents throughout the world. He has also authored or co-written 36 golf books.
His business interests are represented by Black Knight International, which includes Gary Player Design, Player Real Estate, The Player Foundation, Gary Player Academies, and Black Knight Enterprises, aspects of which include licensing, events, publishing, wine, apparel and memorabilia.
He operates The Player Foundation, which has a primary objective of promoting underprivileged education around the world. In 1983, The Player Foundation established the Blair Atholl Schools in Johannesburg, South Africa, which has educational facilities for more than 500 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. In 2013 it celebrated its 30th Anniversary with charity golf events in London, Palm Beach, Shanghai and Cape Town, bringing its total of funds raised to over US $50 million.
In 2014 the Gary Player Invitational charity series of events will be staged in Augusta, Georgia after the Masters; in London after The Open Championship; in Shanghai after to the HSBC Championship and at Sun City, South Africa just before the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club.
- 1 Background and family
- 2 Regular PGA Tour career
- 3 Legacy
- 4 Professional wins
- 5 Major championships
- 6 Champions Tour major championships
- 7 Equipment
- 8 Golf course designing
- 9 The Player Foundation
- 10 Controversy
- 11 Distinctions and honours
- 12 Team appearances
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Background and family
Gary Player was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, the youngest of Harry and Muriel Player's three children. When he was eight years old his mother died from cancer. Although his father was often away from home working in the gold mines, he did manage to take a loan in order to buy a set of clubs for his son Gary to begin playing golf. The Virginia Park golf course in Johannesburg is where Player first began his love affair with golf. At the age of 14, Player played his first round of golf and parred the first three holes. At age 16, he announced that he would become number one in the world. At age 17, he became a professional golfer.
Player married wife Vivienne Verwey (sister of professional golfer Bobby Verwey) on 19 January 1957, four years after turning professional. Together they have six children: Jennifer, Marc, Wayne, Michele, Theresa and Amanda. He is also a grandfather to 21 grandchildren. During the early days of his career Player would travel from tournament to tournament with wife, six children, nanny and a tutor in tow.
Eldest son, Marc Player, owns and operates Black Knight International, which exclusively represents Player in all his commercial activities, including all endorsements, merchandising, golf course design, and real estate development.
Regular PGA Tour career
Player is one of the most successful golfers in the history of the sport, ranking third (behind Roberto de Vicenzo and Sam Snead) in total professional wins, with at least 166, and tied for fourth in major championship victories with nine. Along with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus he is often referred to as one of "The Big Three" golfers of his era – from the late 1950s through the late 1970s – when golf boomed in the United States and around the world, greatly encouraged by expanded television coverage. Along with Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods, he is one of only five players to win golf’s "career Grand Slam". He completed the Grand Slam in 1965 at the age of twenty-nine. Player was the second multi-time majors winner from South Africa, following Bobby Locke, then was followed by Ernie Els, and Retief Goosen.
Player played regularly on the U.S. based PGA Tour from the late 1950s. He led the money list in 1961, and went on to accumulate 24 career titles. He also played an exceptionally busy schedule all over the world, and he has been called the world's most traveled athlete, clocking up more than 15 million miles. He has more victories than anyone else in the South African Open (13) and the Australian Open (7). He held the record for most victories in the World Match Play Championship, with five wins, from 1973 until 1991 when this feat was equalled by Seve Ballesteros, finally losing his share of the record in 2004, when Ernie Els won the event for a sixth time. Player was ever-present in the top ten of Mark McCormack's world golf rankings from their inception in 1968 until 1981; he was ranked first or second on those rankings in 1969, 1970 and 1972, each time to Jack Nicklaus.
He was the only player in the 20th century to win the British Open in three different decades. His first win, as a 23-year-old in 1959 at Muirfield, came after he double-bogeyed the last hole. In 1974, he became one of the few golfers in history to win two major championships in the same season. Player last won the U.S. Masters in 1978, when he started seven strokes behind 54-hole leader Hubert Green entering the final round, and won by one shot with birdies at seven of the last 10 holes for a back nine 30 and a final round 64. One week later, Player came from seven strokes back in the final round to win the Tournament of Champions. In 1984, at the age of 48, Player nearly became the oldest ever major champion, finishing just behind Lee Trevino at the PGA Championship. And in gusty winds at the 1998 Masters, he became the oldest golfer ever to make to the cut, breaking the 25-year-old record set by Sam Snead. Player credited this feat to his dedication to the concept of diet, health, practise and golf fitness.
Being South African, Player never played in the Ryder Cup in which American and European golfers compete against each other. Regarding the event, Player remarked, "The things I have seen in the Ryder Cup have disappointed me. You are hearing about hatred and war." He was no longer an eligible player when the Presidents Cup was established to give international players the opportunity to compete in a similar event, but he was non-playing captain of the International Team for the Presidents Cup in 2003, which was held on a course he designed, The Links at Fancourt, in George, South Africa. After 2003 ended in a tie, he was reappointed as captain for the 2005 Presidents Cup, and his team lost to the Americans 15.5 to 18.5. Both Player and Jack Nicklaus were appointed to captain their respective teams again in 2007 in Canada; the United States won.
In 2000 he was voted "Sportsman of the Century" in South Africa. In 1966, Gary Player was awarded the Bob Jones Award, the highest honour given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. The "Gary Player – A Global Journey" exhibition was launched by the Hall of Fame as of March 2006.
In 2002, Player was voted as the second greatest global golfer of all time by a panel of international media, golf magazines and fellow professionals conducted by the leading Golf Asia Magazine.
On 10 April 2009, he played for the last time in the Masters, where he was playing for his record 52nd time – every year since 1957 except for 1973, when he was ill. After Nicklaus and Palmer, he was the last of the Big Three to retire from this tournament, a testament to his longevity.
On 23 July 2009, at the age of 73, Player competed in the Senior British Open Championship at Sunningdale Golf Club, 53 years after capturing his maiden European Tour victory at the Berkshire venue.
Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters announced on 5 July 2011 that Player had been invited to join Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as an honorary starter. The Big Three were reunited in this capacity starting with the 2012 tournament.
In July 2013, he became the oldest athlete ever to pose nude in ESPN The Magazine's annual Body Issue to inspire people to keep looking after themselves throughout their lives whatever your age.
PGA Tour wins (24)
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of
|1||20 Apr 1958||Kentucky Derby Open||−14(68-68-69-69=274)||3 strokes||Chick Harbert, Ernie Vossler|
|2||3 Jul 1959||The Open Championship||E (75-71-70-68=284)||2 strokes||Fred Bullock, Flory Van Donck|
|3||29 Jan 1961||Lucky International Open||−12 (70-69-68-65=272)||2 strokes||George Bayer, Don Whitt|
|4||26 Mar 1961||Sunshine Open Invitational||−15 (69-68-67-69=273)||1 stroke||Arnold Palmer|
|5||10 Apr 1961||Masters Tournament||−8 (69-68-69-74=280)||1 stroke||Charles Coe, Arnold Palmer|
|6||22 Jul 1962||PGA Championship||−2 (72-67-69-70=278)||1 stroke||Bob Goalby|
|7||13 Jan 1963||San Diego Open Invitational||−14 (65-65-70-70=270)||1 stroke||Tony Lema|
|8||8 Mar 1964||Pensacola Open||−14 (71-68-66-69=274)||Playoff||Miller Barber, Arnold Palmer|
|9||31 May 1964||500 Festival Open Invitation||−11 (70-66-70-67=273)||3 strokes||Doug Sanders, Art Wall, Jr.|
|10||21 Jun 1965||U.S. Open||+2 (70-70-71-71=282)||Playoff||Kel Nagle|
|11||13 Jul 1968||The Open Championship||+1 (74-71-71-73=289)||2 stroke||Bob Charles, Jack Nicklaus|
|12||20 Apr 1969||Tournament of Champions||−4 (69-74-69-72=284)||2 strokes||Lee Trevino|
|13||5 Apr 1970||Greater Greensboro Open||−13 (70-63-73-65=271)||2 strokes||Miller Barber|
|14||21 Mar 1971||Greater Jacksonville Open||−7 (70-70-72-69=281)||Playoff||Hal Underwood|
|15||28 Mar 1971||National Airlines Open Invitational||−14 (69-67-70-68=274)||2 strokes||Lee Trevino|
|16||26 Mar 1972||Greater New Orleans Open||−9 (73-69-68-69=279)||1 stroke||Dave Eichelberger, Jack Nicklaus|
|17||6 Aug 1972||PGA Championship||+1 (71-71-67-72=281)||2 strokes||Tommy Aaron, Jim Jamieson|
|18||9 Sep 1973||Southern Open||−10 (69-65-67-69=270)||1 stroke||Forrest Fezler|
|19||14 Apr 1974||Masters Tournament||−10 (71-71-66-70=278)||2 strokes||Dave Stockton, Tom Weiskopf|
|20||26 May 1974||Danny Thomas Memphis Classic||−15 (65-72-69-67=273)||3 strokes||Lou Graham, Hubert Green|
|21||13 Jul 1974||The Open Championship||−2 (69-68-75-70=282)||4 strokes||Peter Oosterhuis|
|22||9 Apr 1978||Masters Tournament||−11 (72-72-69-64=277)||1 stroke||Rod Funseth, Hubert Green, Tom Watson|
|23||16 Apr 1978||MONY Tournament of Champions||−7 (70-68-76-67=281)||2 strokes||Andy North, Lee Trevino|
|24||23 Apr 1978||Houston Open||−18 (64-67-70-69=270)||1 stroke||Andy Bean|
PGA Tour playoff record (3–10)
|1||1958||Dallas Open Invitational||Julius Boros, John McMullin, Sam Snead||Snead won with birdie on first extra hole|
|2||1959||Memphis Open||Al Balding, Don Whitt||Lost to par on second extra hole
Balding eliminated on first hole with birdie
|3||1961||American Golf Classic||Jay Hebert||Lost to birdie on the second extra hole|
|4||1962||Masters Tournament||Dow Finsterwald, Arnold Palmer||Lost 18-hole playoff (Palmer:68, Player:71, Finsterwald:77)|
|5||1962||Memphis Open Invitational||Lionel Hebert, Gene Littler||Hebert won with birdie on first extra hole|
|6||1963||Palm Springs Golf Classic||Jack Nicklaus||Lost 18-hole playoff (Nicklaus:65, Player:73)|
|7||1964||Pensacola Open||Miller Barber, Arnold Palmer||Won 18-hole playoff (Player:71, Palmer:72, Barber:74)|
|8||1965||U.S. Open||Kel Nagle||Won 18-hole playoff (Player:71, Nagle:74)|
|9||1967||Oklahoma City Open Invitational||Miller Barber||Lost to birdie on third extra hole|
|10||1968||Azalea Open Invitational||Steve Reid||Lost to birdie on second extra hole|
|11||1971||Greater Jacksonville Open||Hal Underwood||Won with par on second extra hole|
|12||1971||Kemper Open||Dale Douglass, Lee Trevino, Tom Weiskopf||Weiskopf won with birdie on first extra hole|
|13||1975||MONY Tournament of Champions||Al Geiberger||Lost to birdie on first extra hole|
Major championships are shown in bold.
European Tour and other international wins
In addition to his wins on the PGA Tour, Player won more than 120 other tournaments in "regular", that is non-senior golf.
- East Rand Open: 1955, 1956
- General Motors Open: 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976
- ICL International: 1977
- Liquid Air Tournament: 1963
- Natal Open: 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1966, 1968
- Nissan Skins Game: 1986, 1988, 1991
- Rand International Open: 1974
- Richelieu Grand Prix, Cape Town: 1963
- Richelieu Grand Prix, Johannesburg: 1963
- South African Masters: 11 times (1960, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979(x2))
- South African Open: 13 times (1956, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981)
- South African PGA Championship: 1959, 1969, 1979, 1982
- Sponsored 5000: 1963
- Sun City Classic: 1979
- Trophee Boigny: 1980
- Transvaal Open: 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966
- Western Province Open: 1957, 1959, 1960, 1968, 1971, 1972
- Ampol Tournament: 1956, 1958, 1961
- Australian Open: A record 7 times (1958, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1969, 1970, 1974). Jack Nicklaus won 6 and Greg Norman 5 times.
- Australian Masters: 1968, 1969
- Australian PGA Championship: 1957
- Coffs Harbour Tournament (North Coast Open): 1957, 1958
- Dunlop International: 1970
- Gold Coast Classic: 1981
- Victorian Open: 1959
At least 25 other wins between 1955 and 1995, including:
- Alfred Dunhill Challenge: 1995
- Brazil Open: 1972, 1974
- Chile Open: 1980
- Chrysler Cup: 1987
- Dunlop Tournament (England): 1956
- Egyptian Match Play: 1955
- Fred Meyer Challenge: 1986 (team with Greg Norman, tied with Peter Jacobsen and Curtis Strange)
- Ibergolf Tournament (Spain): 1974
- Japan Air Lines Open (Japan): 1972
- Johnnie Walker Trophy (Spain): 1984
- La Manga Tournament (Spain): 1974
- NTL Challenge Cup (Canada): 1965
- Piccadilly World Match Play Championship: 5 times between 1965 and 1974 (The event was played in England, but not an official European Tour event at that time)
- Skins Game: 1983
- Sprite Tournament: 1960
- Trophée Lancôme: 1975
- Western Australia Open: 1956
- World Cup: individual title in 1965 and 1977
- World Series of Golf: 1965, 1968 and 1972 (U.S. – not a PGA Tour event at that time)
- Yomiuri Open (Japan): 1961
Champions Tour wins (19)
Champions Tour playoff record (4–2)
|1||1986||Denver Post Champions of Golf||Roberto DeVicenzo||Won with par on fourth extra hole|
|2||1987||PaineWebber World Seniors Invitational||Bob Charles||Won with birdie on first extra hole|
|3||1988||Southwestern Bell Classic||Harold Henning||Won with birdie on first extra hole|
|4||1988||U.S. Senior Open||Bob Charles||Won 18-hole playoff (Player:68, Charles:70)|
|5||1990||Bell Atlantic Classic||Dale Douglass||Lost to par on second extra hole|
|6||1996||FHP Health Care Classic||Walter Morgan||Lost to birdie on first extra hole|
Senior majors are shown in bold. See "Other senior wins" below for Player's wins in the Senior British Open.
European Senior Tour and other wins (15)
- 1986 Senior Skins Game (South Africa)
- 1987 Northville Invitational (United States), German PGA Team Championship
- 1988 Senior British Open (European Seniors Tour), Nissan Senior Skins (South Africa)
- 1990 Senior British Open (European Seniors Tour)
- 1991 Nissan Senior Skins (South Africa)
- 1993 Irish Senior Masters (European Seniors Tour)
- 1997 Dai-ichi Seimei Cup (Japan), Senior British Open (European Seniors Tour), Shell Wentworth Senior Masters (European Seniors Tour),
- 2000 Senior Skins Game (U.S. – unofficial event)
- 2005 Nelson Mandela Invitational (Sunshine Tour – unofficial event)
- 2009 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf – Demaret Division (with Bob Charles)
- 2010 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf – Demaret Division (with Bob Charles)
The Senior British Open is shown in bold as it is generally recognised as a major and it is now an official Champions Tour event and major. However, it was not an official Champions Tour event when Player achieved his wins, and in contrast to early wins in regular British Opens by PGA Tour members, which are now included in their official PGA Tour win tallies, wins in early Senior British Opens by Champions Tour members have not been retrospectively designated as Champions Tour wins by the PGA Tour at this time. The Senior British Open is however recognised as a major by all other international bodies, such as the European Tour, Sunshine Tour, Japanese Tour and Asian Tour.
|Year||Championship||54 holes||Winning score||Margin||Runner(s)-up|
|1959||The Open Championship||4 shot deficit||E (75-71-70-68=284)||2 strokes||Fred Bullock, Flory Van Donck|
|1961||Masters Tournament||3 shot lead||−8 (69-68-69-74=280)||1 stroke||Charles Coe, Arnold Palmer|
|1962||PGA Championship||2 shot lead||−2 (72-67-69-70=278)||1 stroke||Bob Goalby|
|1965||U.S. Open||2 shot lead||+2 (70-70-71-71=282)||Playoff 1||Kel Nagle|
|1968||The Open Championship (2)||2 shot deficit||+1 (74-71-71-73=289)||2 strokes||Bob Charles, Jack Nicklaus|
|1972||PGA Championship (2)||1 shot lead||+1 (71-71-67-72=281)||2 strokes||Tommy Aaron, Jim Jamieson|
|1974||Masters Tournament (2)||1 shot deficit||−10 (71-71-66-70=278)||2 strokes||Dave Stockton, Tom Weiskopf|
|1974||The Open Championship (3)||3 shot lead||−2 (69-68-75-70=282)||4 strokes||Peter Oosterhuis|
|1978||Masters Tournament (3)||7 shot deficit||−11 (72-72-69-64=277)||1 stroke|| Rod Funseth, Hubert Green,
1 Defeated Kel Nagle in 18-hole playoff – Player 71 (+1), Nagle 74 (+4).
|The Open Championship||4||T24||7||1|
|The Open Championship||7||WD||CUT||T7||T8||WD||T4||T3||1||T23|
|The Open Championship||CUT||7||6||T14||1||T32||T28||T22||T34||T19|
|The Open Championship||CUT||CUT||T42||CUT||CUT||CUT||T35||T66||T60||CUT|
|The Open Championship||CUT||T57||CUT||CUT||CUT||T68||CUT||CUT||CUT||CUT|
|The Open Championship||CUT||CUT||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP|
DNP = Did not play
WD = Withdrew
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10
|The Open Championship||3||0||1||6||12||17||46||26|
- Most consecutive cuts made – 37 (1970 PGA – 1980 Masters)
- Longest streak of top-10s – 6 (1962 PGA – 1964 Masters)
Champions Tour major championships
|1986||General Foods PGA Seniors' Championship||−7 (68-68-73-72=281)||2 strokes||Lee Elder|
|1987||U.S. Senior Open||−14 (69-68-67-66=270)||6 strokes||Doug Sanders|
|1987||Mazda Senior Tournament Players Championship||−8 (69-73-69-69=280)||1 stroke||Bruce Crampton Chi-Chi Rodríguez|
|1988||General Foods PGA Seniors' Championship (2)||−4 (69-73-72-70=284)||3 strokes||Chi-Chi Rodríguez|
|1988||U.S. Senior Open (2)||E (74-70-71-73=288)||Playoff1||Bob Charles|
|1990||PGA Seniors' Championship (3)||−7 (74-69-65-73=281)||2 strokes||Chi-Chi Rodríguez|
1 Won in an 18-hole playoff, Player (68) to Charles (70).
|Senior PGA Championship||1||T8||1||T8|
|U.S. Senior Open||2||1||1||T9|
|Senior Players Championship||T14||1||T3||3|
|Senior PGA Championship||1||T8||5||T16||T19||T60||T31||T20||T39||T43|
|U.S. Senior Open||T3||T8||T3||T17||T13||T19||T60||T21||DNP||DNP|
|Senior Players Championship||T18||T43||T18||T33||T42||DNP||T49||T49||DNP||T29|
|Senior PGA Championship||T46||T8||T45||CUT||CUT||CUT||CUT||CUT||DNP||DNP|
|The Senior Open Championship||-1||-1||-1||T51||CUT||T61||T65||DNP||CUT||CUT|
|U.S. Senior Open||CUT||57||CUT||T54||CUT||DNP||CUT||DNP||DNP||DNP|
|Senior Players Championship||T57||T56||DNP||DNP||T58||DNP||T74||DNP||DNP||DNP|
1The Senior Open Championship was not a Champions Tour major until 2003, though it was on the European Seniors Tour. Player won the event three times prior to this recognition.
DNP = Did not play
CUT = Missed the half-way cut
NYF = Tournament not yet founded
"T" = tied
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.
||This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. (October 2009)|
- Driver: Callaway RAZR Fit
- Fairway woods: Strong 4, 5 and 9 Callaway Steelhead Woods
- Hybrid: Callaway Heavenwood 4H
- Irons: 5-PW X-Tour Callaway
- Sand wedges: 56 Degree and 64 Degree X-Tour Callaway
- Putter: Odyssey Whitehot #1
- Ball: Callaway HX Tour
Golf course designing
||This section appears to be written like an advertisement. (September 2014)|
Gary Player and Gary Player Design have executed over 300 projects in 35 countries on five continents. They try to build long-term mutually rewarding relationships with clients and display integrity and credibility in business settings. The group proactively provides experienced solutions throughout the intricate development process of a project.
The company offers three different design brands: Gary Player Design, Player Design, and Black Knight Design. The marketing advantages of each of these brands vary according to the personal participation of Player, as well as the access to different levels of intellectual property.
Gary Player Design also upholds a strict environmental policy, which includes minimizing site disturbance, promoting organic applications, and specifying environmentally-sensitive building materials in their golf course design approaches; they are refining efforts in these areas and are using state-of-the-art industry methods.
Their primary focus, however, is on water, which is one of Gary Player's greatest concerns. According to Player, "Water conservation techniques are not only our fundamental responsibility, but are important to the industry of golf and the global growth of the wonderful game of golf, as real water-savings also mean real cost-savings."
The Player Foundation
The Player Foundation was established in 1983 and 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. The Player Foundation has since blossomed into an organisation that circles the globe bringing aid to underprivileged children and impoverished communities. Since its establishment,The Player Foundation has donated over $50 million to the support of children's charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.
The Foundation is primarily funded by four Gary Player Invitational events presented through Black Knight International and staged in the United States, China, Europe and South Africa annually. The Gary Player Invitational is a pro-am tournament that pairs celebrities and professional golfers from the PGA and Champions Tours with businessmen and other local participants. The proceeds of these tournaments and other special events provide funding for an ever-expanding number of institutions around the world, including the Blair Atholl Schools in South Africa, the Pleasant City Elementary School in Palm Beach, the Masizame Children’s Shelter in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, and AIDS infected children in Baoshan, a drug-infested city located on the China-Burma border.
Proceeds from the Gary Player Invitational have also been donated to The Lord’s Taverners in the UK and the following organisations in South Africa; Wildlands Conservation Trust, Twilight Children, and Bana Development Centre.
||This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. (October 2009)|
In July 2007, a media controversy emerged over his statements at The Open Championship golf tournament about the use of performance enhancing drugs in golf. Subsequently, the PGA Tour introduced a formal policy.
Player has almost always "spoken his mind" and been considered a controversial albeit frank and forthright professional golfer. He has been a pioneer of diet, health and fitness although he upset the Atkins Diet organisation by disagreeing with their "all protein" approach. He was branded a "traitor" by South African Nationalist Government supporters for inviting and bringing both black tennis pro Arthur Ashe and golfer Lee Elder to play in South Africa. He was the first golfer to call for mandatory drug testing on all tours around the world.
In 1966, Player was quoted in a book entitled Grand Slam Golf in which was written, "I am a South African, a nation which is the result of an African graft on European stock and which is the product of its instinct and ability to maintain civilized values and standards amongst the aliens".
Player apologised profusely about this statement, saying he was a young man who never proof read the book's manuscript prior to going to print and that the quote was never made by him but rather the writer of the book. It is believed that Player's attitude towards the apartheid regime was always negative and he has so far raised over $100 million through his foundation to support under-privileged education in South Africa during apartheid.
In 2002, Player designed a golf course in Burma, named by the developers, The Pride of Myanmar, currently frequented by tourists as well as generals of the army. There are unsubstantiated accusations that the land for the courses was seized from poor farmers without compensation. Regardless, as a designer Player had nothing to do with how the land was acquired.
Player has hosted the Nelson Mandela Invitational golf tournament since 2000. In October 2007, further media controversy arose about his involvement in the 2002 design of a golf course in Burma. As a result of the political uprisings in Burma, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund withdrew from the fundraising golf tournament because of Player's unsubstantiated business links with the country. Both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu however accepted Player's position and statements on Burma. Player refused to withdraw as he personally built the golf event from scratch and issued a statement rebutting these claims via his website. The event is now annually staged at the Fancourt Resort as the Gary Player Invitational and is South Africa's largest and most successful charity event, having raised a record amount of over R500 million for various children's charities.
Distinctions and honours
- On 8 June 1961, Player was the guest on NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford. In a comedy skit, he gives Tennessee Ernie Ford a golf lesson.
- Received the 1966 Bob Jones Award from the United States Golf Association.
- Named Honorary Member of the R&A in 1994.
- Received Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from St. Andrews in 1995.
- Received Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland in 1997
- The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational trophy is named the Gary Player Cup.
- Named Honorary Member of Carnoustie in 1999
- Received Honorary Doctorate in Law, University of Dundee, Scotland in 1999
- South African Sportsman of the Century award in 2000
- Received the 2003 Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Monte Carlo.
- Awarded the Order of Ikhamanga (in gold for exceptional achievement) in 2003 by President Mbeki of South Africa for excellence in golf and contribution to non-racial sport in South Africa.
- He was the world's first golfer to be featured on any country's postal stamp in South Africa.
- Has designed over 325 golf courses on six continents around the world.
- He currently plays on the U.S. Champions Tour and European Seniors Tour occasionally.
- He received the 2006 Payne Stewart Award from the PGA Tour.
- Played in his 52nd Masters Tournament at Augusta National in April 2009, extending his record of for most Masters appearances
- Inducted into the African American Sports Hall of Fame in May 2007, with Lifetime Achievement Award
- Has played in a record 46 consecutive British Open Championships, winning 3 times over 3 decades.
- Stars with Camilo Villegas in a MasterCard "priceless foursome" television commercial launched during the U.S. Open in June 2009
- In November 2009 he was awarded the inaugural Breeders Cup "Sports and Racing Excellence Award" at Santa Anita Park in California which honours owners and breeders of thoroughbred race horses.
- Was inducted into the Asian Pacific Golf Hall of Fame with Jack Nicklaus in 2011 at a ceremony in Pattaya, Thailand.
- In December 2011, Gary Player Design was selected amongst the finalists to design the golf course for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro
- He received the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award at The Players Championship in May 2012. The first international person to receive this accolade.
- World Cup (representing South Africa): 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965 (winners, individual winner), 1966, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977 (individual winner)
- Dunhill Cup (representing South Africa): 1991
- Career Grand Slam champions
- List of golfers with most Champions Tour major championship wins
- List of golfers with most Champions Tour wins
- List of golfers with most PGA Tour of Australasia wins
- List of golfers with most PGA Tour wins
- List of golfers with most Sunshine Tour wins
- List of longest PGA Tour win streaks
- List of men's major championships winning golfers
- Kim, Jae-Ha (2 October 2013). "Go Away With Gary Player". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
- Gary Player the most traveled athlete on the planet
- "PGA Tour Media Guide – Gary Player". PGA Tour. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- Sangani, Priyanka (27 September 2013). "Remain positive and confident to perform under pressure: Gary Player". The Economic Times. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
- "Gary Player Invitational". garyplayerinvitational.com. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- "Golf legend Player in drugs claim". BBC News. 18 July 2007. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- Roberts, Daniel (30 June 2014). "Cowboy on the Green". Fortune 169 (9): 18–19.
- Ian Player Official Web Site, About Ian Player. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
- Golf: Gary Player – SouthAfrica.info
- "1959 Gary Player". The Open. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
- Hill, Susan: "Fit For Golf", page 34. Resort Living
- Apfelbaum, Jim, ed. (2007). The Gigantic Book of Golf Quotations. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 978-1602390140.
- Yocom, Guy (July 2000). "50 Greatest Golfers of All Time: And What They Taught Us". Golf Digest. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
- "Who Played the Most Masters Tournaments?". Retrieved 14 April 2013.
- "The Masters: Gary Player's 50th appearance". Retrieved 14 April 2013.
- "Gary Player takes a trip down memory lane at Sunningdale".
- "Player to Join Palmer, Nicklaus as Honorary Starter at 2012 Masters".
- "All Tournament Victories". Black Knight International. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Lenobel, Hal (21 April 2012). "Who had the longest drive?". Longboat Key News. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- Gary Player. "Our History". garyplayer.com. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
- Golf Course Management Magazine Article: The Black Knight Talks Water
- Gary Player. "Foundation Overview". garyplayer.com. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
- "The Gary Player Invitational UK Continues Its Success". www.garyplayer.com. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- "Beneficiaries". www.garyplayerinvitational.com. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- Playing in the Rough Monbiot.com 16 October 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2007
- Burmese diplomat quits London Embassy Telegraph 10 October 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2007
- June 1961 "The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford". ernieford.com. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
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- Official website
- Gary Player at the PGA Tour official site
- Gary Player at the European Tour official site
- Gary Player at the Sunshine Tour official site
- Gary Player Profile at Golf Legends
- Gary Player Golf Course Design
- Gary Player Foundation