Gary Player Q&A
YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY EXPERIENCED A GREAT DEAL OF SUCCESS IN YOUR LIFE. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND WHY?
Really and truly, I have lived a blessed life. You probably expect me to answer this question with a golfing accomplishment. Maybe capturing the career Grand Slam on the Regular and Senior Tour as I am the only person who achieved both. Or becoming the first international player to win The Masters.
Perhaps it’s more important to focus on the $66 million of charitable funds raised by The Player Foundation, which was founded by my son, Marc, in 1983.
But above all, I have been married to my wife Vivienne for 62 years. Without her, my family and my faith, none of this would have been possible.
LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS SMOOTH. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A SETBACK OR TRAGEDY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED, HOW YOU DEALT WITH IT, AND THE IMPACT IT HAS HAD ON YOU?
Adversity hit me squarely in the face when I was just an 8-year-old boy with a big heart and bigger dreams. My mother died of cancer that year. It was the biggest tragedy in my life. My father worked late shifts in the gold mines so I rarely saw him. My brother went to fight in WWII alongside the Americans and British. And my older sister was away at boarding school.
I was very lonely. Often I sat alone in an empty house wishing I was dead. Why did the world do this to me? But in hindsight it was the greatest gift bestowed upon me because I learned how to handle adversity at an early age. It has served me well my entire life.
DO YOU SET ASIDE “ME-TIME” IN YOUR CALENDAR, AND WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME TO RELAX?
Rest is rust. To this day, I have always been an active person. Sitting around is not something I really enjoy. I still want to have special experiences because the sun is setting on my life. Of course I relax, spending time with my family, my farm and playing golf. The gym is like my sanctuary. And I always make sure to exercise several times per week. It keeps me physically fit and my mind sharp. Travel also is a big part of my life – raising money for charity, designing golf courses, etc.
WHAT’S THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE YOU’VE DISCOVERED WHERE YOU CAN GO TO CHILL OUT?
My thoroughbred racehorse stud farm in the Great Karoo of South Africa was my little slice of heaven on earth. Tranquility at its finest. The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.
DOES PHILANTHROPY PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR LIFE, TO WHAT EXTENT AND HOW?
Absolutely. As I said, my son, Marc, established The Player Foundation in 1983 and we have raised more than $66 million for various charities around the world. Our Gary Player Invitational Series of charity golf events play a vital role in helping us on our ultimate quest to reach $100 million.
WHO IS ON THE GUEST LIST FOR YOUR IDEAL DINNER PARTY, PRESENT OR PAST?
Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Winston Churchill and Mahatma Ghandi would join my wife Vivienne and me. I’d like to have Jack Nicklaus and his wife Barbara there too.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR READERS?
The harder you practice, the luckier you get. Not just in golf. But also in business and life.