When I Met Gary

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When I met Gary…

South Africa’s most successful sportsman, Grand Slam Champion, Philanthropist.

Gary Player has touched the lives of so many, and we want to show him all the lives he’s changed.
Share your story and make a great man’s 80th birthday even more special.

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Gary and I met at Wentworth together with my wife when we were on our way to the pool and he was on the putting green. He took a shine to our new puppy Shakira and we talked about the song that she had recorded for the South Africa World Cup. He was practicing putting and also having a few promo photographs taken. Absolute Gentleman. Gracious, worldly, well mannered and not in the least patronizing. He let me have a go with his putter at the one he was trying to make; 25 footer, severely downhill, with about 8 feet of right to left break on it. I hit a good one, fortunately and it stopped 2 inches from the cup. He was kind enough to pretend we’d bet what was in his wallet for whomever was closest. That’s the story behind the photograph. A privilege.

- dermot briody

I had the distinct pleasure of providing SAP with all of their corporate golf photography for 10 years. During this time I was fortunate enough to work with Mr. Player at least 15 times across the country. I always looked forward to our time together as I always came away a better person from my contact with him. What stood out the most was his attitude towards life and his genuine love of all people, rich or poor! He treated everyone from the shoe shine person to the CEO exactly the same. He always made everyone around him feel very comfortable. He is a true gentlemen and I miss seeing him. I am a better person for knowing him and I wish him continued good health and prosperity. Till we meet again….

- Bob Huxtable

I was so very fortunate to meet Gary Player in Banff while I was the Head Golf Professional at the Fairmont Banff Springs. Being in the game of golf has had many rewards, but to meet such an icon was a moment never forgotten and thought of so very often.

While the truest of gentleman to all he touched at the event, it was the purity of the messages that resonated deep within me. He spoke about his love of family, then golf and always in that order. He captivated the staff and guests with the most magnetic of topics and delivery I have ever seen in person. Without doubt he truly deserves every fan vote, award and business success available to come his way for his class, dignity and effortless way with people. My biggest take away was he embodies the quote “Be the type of person you want to meet”! and does so in every way possible. While we can emulate ones best traits there is only one Gary Player and I am so fortunate to have met.

A few years later I was at another course in BC and through a industry photographer “Hux” I was called while they were on a Callaway shoot in California, and Gary himself personally congratulated me for my new post. Again, one of the classiest gestures I have ever experienced.

Years have gone on and I am proud to say I have finally embraced the most significant message being ones own health. While I have fluctuated over the years, I have recently lost 60lbs and while I am not doing abs at the pace of Gary, I am on my 30 day ab challenge, which I say every time…if Gary can, so can I.

Thank you Gary for the most memorable hand shake and conversation I have ever experienced. I am forever blessed to have experienced your kindness and grace.

Miles Mortensen

- Miles Mortensen

I had the pleasure of meeting Gary at the Seniors open mid 1980s at Lytham St Anne’s.
He spent a long time chatting he was a very pleasant man and we really enjoyed time spent with him

- Chris Sexton

My name is JUDY Angel, I was born in Durban , South Africa.
I was 17 years old when Mr Player came into my life – After playing golf since the age of 15 I was told I had the potential to become a good player – I met Uncle George Blumberg who was a great friend to all golfers – a wonderful human being. He was a very dear friend of Mr Players and must have said something to Mr Player about me – well one night while having dinner with my family there was a phone call from Mr Player – at first I thought it was a joke – Mr Player spoke to me and invited me to Durban Country Club’s golf range – he was playing in the S A Golf Open – Mr Player spent over an hour with me , helping me with my swing – our next meeting was when I played in the final of the South African Ladies Championship – he and Mrs Player walked with me in the final that I lost. It was THE GREATEST HONOR having him and Mrs Player walk with me.
I turned Professional and left my beloved South Africa to chase my dream – there are no words to describe this wonderful human being .
I since have been battling cancer and there has not been one time that Mr Player hasn’t responded to my request to help with donations to a tournament we hold at my place of work Addison Reserve C C benefiting cancer research . I have idolized him since that day on the range at Durban C C and he has NEVER let me down as a role model.
I can call him Gary but it seems more appropriate for me to give him the respect he deserves by addressing him as Mr Player in this dedication to him.
Many thanks for giving me this opportunity to say THANK YOU TO A FINE GENTLEMAN. CHEERS

- JUDY ANGEL

I’m sorry I missed Gary’s 80th Birthday. Please wish him a Happy Birthday from me here in Little Bookham Surrey England. I met Gary at The Grove GC near Watford in 2009. We got to play the 4th hole with him. This is a par three over water. I managed to hit it to eight feet and was so happy. Gary said ‘ what a shot, what a swing’ he asked me what my handicap was and on hearing it was 15 he laughed and asked if I was the Chairman of the handicap committee. Hilarious. He signed my Gary Player book Positive Golf. My father gave it to me when I was very young and in the book Gary taught me that to get anything out of life you have to work hard and have dedication. I am happily married to Louise for 33 years have a beautiful daughter Millie and a wonderful Son Robbie. I own my house , have no debt and I’m still passionate about golf. Not too bad when you consider I left Middlesbrough in North East of England in 1977 without a penny to my name. Middlesbrough has 50% unemployment. I’ve been blessed. Gary is my inspiration and I’m lucky enough to have watched him at The Open in 1977 and 1978 and saw his son Mark caddy for him. Magical man. Kindest and warm regards Robin K D Midgley

- Robin K D Midgley

Greetings Dear Gary………
Once again I apologise for not being at your 80th Birthday, as I broke my hip in Los Angeles and still recuperating. From what I have heard the celebration was a huge success.
In replying to the request for some reminiscences of our (over 60 year) great Friendship, I wish to relate the following:-
I was at King Edwards school in Houghton Johannesburg and recall Teacher Teddy Gordon reprimanding Gary (who was constantly ‘bunking out’ of his school obligations to play golf) stating, “Player where do you think golf will get you”?
I further recall when he was Assistant Pro to Jock Brews at Killarney Johannesburg he gave me golf lessons for 10 shillings and 6 pence—–my golf proved that was all I should have paid and he should refund me!!
When he was getting famous I gave him 250 Pounds a year to be a Director of my Company.
One day when Gary was about 30 he told me, “Now that I am getting old my nerves are giving away”————–
On the practice green at Houghton when a tournament was being played he asked me to lend him my 9 iron; which I promptly did and told him I always Shank with it……he promptly returned it to me and then recalled it and said, “I should not be so superstitious”
When Gary was the British Open Champion, Tommy Bolt was the U.S. Champion. I brought Tommy to SA to play a 12 match Challenge Series. He beat Gary and Gary went on to huge success and said that he learnt much from Tommy (besides the immense entertainment and laughter we all enjoyed).
I do not wish to hog the space, but I cherish my memories of Vivienne Gary over these many years as they area nd always will be treasured Friends.
Best to you Gary …….With my love and immense affection,
Maurice (Shawzin)

- Maurice Shawzin

I had the pleasure & privilege to play in a Pro Am 4 ball with the legendary Gary Player a few years back. I had not been on a golf course for 2 years as I had broken both my arms in a fall. Not long after we tee’d off Uncle Gary turned to me and asked when last I had played golf, I looked him in the eye and said: ”Uncle Gary this is going to be your longest day on a golf course”. He put his arm around me and replied: ”Well then let’s just have fun”. That epitomises who Gary Player is, a big man with a very big heart. Since then I have had the opportunity to interact with Uncle Gary on a few occasions and am always impressed by his immense capacity for people and his love for life. Uncle Gary’s Life Commandments are a great compass for us all: (1) Change is the price of survival. (2) Everything in business is negotiable, except quality. (3) A promise made is a debt incurred. (4) For all we take in life we must pay. (5) Persistence and common sense are more important than intelligence. (6) The fox fears not the man who boasts by night but the man who rises early in the morning. (7) Accept the advice of the man who loves you, though you like it not at present. (8) Trust instinct to the end, though you cannot render any reason. (9) The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but that while their companions slept were toiling upward in the night. (10) There is no substitute for personal contact. Uncle Gary happy 80th birthday, you are a man amongst men. Marco Coetzer

- Marco Coetzer

Dear Grandpa
Happy 80th Birthday, I hope that your special day can be filled with laughter and joy. May it be a day to reflect on the many years that you have given of yourself through your selfless acts and expeditions in order to help put smiles on peoples faces. You do not only give people the chance to laugh again but every time you step into a room you fill it with passion, love and kindness. If there ever was such thing as perfection you would be it. You are my hero not only because of how you decided to live your life in that you followed your passion and used every opportunity and embraced it. The biggest reason for you being my hero is because of the man that you are today. You are pure gold and you only bring happiness in this world. Your whole life is devoted to your family and loved ones. I have gained and learnt so much from you by your words of wisdom and the way you view life.
I look forward to many more years of learning and growing from your words and actions so thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the perfect grandpa and hero!
Love
Emmanuelle

- Emmanuelle Alexander

Gary has always been a role model and figure head for me. I met him through my friendship with Marc and the rest of the family. What stands out for me was his incredible memory of people and occasions and his ability to make each person feel important and special. When i tragically lost a son in 2004 and saw Gary a few months later at the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City. He immediately left a group of people and spend 15 minutes talking to me about life and tragedies. He gave me a lot of comfort at the time at this difficult time. I will never forget.

Gary have a wonderful 80th I am so sorry i will be travelling next week and will not be able to celebrate with you. My thoughts will be with you and the family and i will be there in spirit. You have achieved great things not only on the golf course but also as statesman, a model of health and as a compassionate person.

Best wishes

- Colin Rezek