Born in 1935, Gary Player is – without a doubt – one of the greatest professional golfers of all time. Gary is the youngest of three children with his parents being Harry and Muriel Player. Harry was a captain in a gold mine. Muriel was a well-educated woman who, unfortunately, died of cancer when Gary was 8.
While retired now, throughout the course of his career, Gary won a total of nine major championships during the regular tour. In addition, he won nine major championships on the Champions Tour. In addition, Gary has won 167 professional golfing tournaments across the globe. A notable achievement is that he is only one of five men to have captured golf’s coveted Grand Slam.
When Did Gary Player Fall In Love With Golf?
Gary’s love affair with golf began at the Virginia Park Golf Course in Johannesburg, South Africa. Started in 1947, it is now known as the South Downs Country Club. At the tender age of 14, he played his first round of golf during which match he parred the first three holes.
At the age of 16, Gary made the announcement that he would become world number one (a feat that he achieved) and when he turned 17 he became a professional golfer.
When Gary played in tournaments, he was always dressed in black, something which was inspired by his love for Westerns. He was known for a trim body and well-defined muscles which were gained from a diet that was high in fibre in addition to a strict weight-lifting programme.
The first major which he won was the 1959 British Open at Muirfield. As well as this, 1961 was his second major victor and the 1962 PGA at Aronimink was his third major victory. By the time that he was 29, he had won the 1965 US Open at Bellerive. Gary was the youngest ever to win this title.
Gary’s other accomplishments include:
- Completing the Grand Slam on both the Regular and Senior tours;
- Winning the 1972 PGA Championship,
- The 1968 and the 1978 British Opens, as well as the
- 1974 and 1978 Masters.
Designing Golf Courses
Since the early 1980s, Gary has been a leader in golf course design, and counts this as one of the fun bonuses of his career. He has designed multiple courses in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Europe as well as North and South America. Notable courses, which he has designed, in Europe are:
- Almerimar Resort,
- Astoria Gold Resort,
- Club Zaudin Golf, and
- Cortona Golf and Spa Resort.
In 1957, Gary Player married Vivienne Verwey. Near the beginning of 2020, Vivienne was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, however – according to the latest reports – she is doing well. She is being treated in the United States, where she and Gary now live.
The couple has six children: Jennifer, Marc, Wayne, Michele, Theresa and Amanda. In addition, they have 22 grandchildren as well as one great-grandchild. In 1983, Marc Player established the Player Foundation. The aim of this foundation is to provide quality education, nutrition, medical care and extra-curricular activities for those less fortunate in South Africa.