Gary Player: Golf’s global ambassador
Born in Johannesburg, Gary Player was raised by his father, a widowed husband, who was often away working a low paying job as gold miner. However, at a young age his father took out a loan to buy Gary golf clubs; at the age of 14 Gary played his first round of golf, at 16 he announced he would one day become the best golfer in the world, and at the ripe age of 17, Gary turned professional.1 Since then, Gary player has become one of the greatest golfers that has ever lived. Following the success of Gary Player, South Africa has since become a golf powerhouse. In addition, racial tension has been eased on and off the golf courses of South Africa, leading many to ask the question; to what extent has Gary Player caused or contributed to the diminishing racial tension in South Africa and the rise of South African golf around the world? Through charity, world travels, hard work, and an immense amount of tour success, Gary Player has made a huge impact on and off the course of South Africa and around the world by greatly contributing to the diminishing racial tension, and inspiring a nation to pick up the game of golf.
Prior to Gary Player becoming a member of the big three, a trio of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player, that dominated the world of golf in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, South Africa had never produced any great golfer’s aside from Bobby Locke. Bobby Locke won four British Opens in the 40’s and 50’s, is widely considered the greatest putter of all time and was banned from the PGA tour in 1948 for being “too good.”2 However, aside from Bobby Locke, there had never been any great South African golfers throughout the entire history of golf. This was very understandable as golf was not very popular in South Africa. Then, along came Gary Player. Over his career, Gary Player won a very impressive nine major championships, twenty four PGA (The American Golf Tour) tour events, seventy three South African tour...
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