Gary Player: The Legend Turns 80

“The Black Knight.” “Mr. Fitness.” Gary Player.

Gary Player is one of the all-time greatest ambassadors to the game of golf, and much, much more.

In his professional golfing career, Player ranks third in all-time wins with 166 and is tied for fourth in major championship victories with nine. He is one of five players to win the career Grand Slam, and is one of four South Africans to win multiple majors during their career.

The Black Knight officially retired from competitive golf at the age of 74 in 2009, paired during his 52nd Masters tournament (most ever) with Luke Donald and Stephen Ames in a memorable farewell to the game he loves:

Gary Player’s Last Masters Tournament

To say Gary has stayed active during his retirement is an understatement! One needs only to see his ridiculous cover for the 2013 ESPN the Magazine Body Issue to see that Player has not “Settled” in to retirement – he does a minimum of 1,000 push-ups and sit-ups per day, stays active with varied daily workouts, has written and/or co-authored 36 golf books, and owns/operates a world-renowned thoroughbred studding operation.

ESPN the Magazine's 2013

ESPN the Magazine’s 2013 “Body Issue” cover of Gary Player

Player has also played a part in the design of 325 golf courses, including one of my favorites in the state of Wisconsin: The Player course at Geneva National.

Geneva National, Player course hole 6

Geneva National, Player course hole 6

Golf Course Review: Geneva National, Gary Player Course

Geneva National is honoring him on his 80th birthday this Sunday, November 1, with a celebratory brunch and all-black dress code.

I am hoping to make the trip to Southern Wisconsin this weekend, and if you are, too, then you will be interested in their press release for the event below:

GOLF GREAT GARY PLAYER SWINGS 80 YEARS

Celebrate the Black Knight November 1st at Geneva National Resort

Lake Geneva, WI – Career Grand Slam golfer Gary Player, who designed 18 signature holes at Geneva
National, celebrates 80 years November 1st! How best to honor the Black Knight’s birthday? Tee up the day with some of these celebratory ideas…

1. Take on the Master. Swing through his award-winning course design at Geneva National, Sunday, Nov. 1! Ranking highest in Wisconsin as #36 on Golf Digest’s “Top 50 Courses for Women in America,” the signature Player Course wields through natural wetlands, up and over the rolling Wisconsin countryside and alongside picturesque Lake Como. Call 262.245.7000 or reserve your tee time online.

2. Join the Party. You’re invited to the Hunt Club Steakhouse’s first birthday brunch, Sunday, November 1 from 11am-2pm! Seat yourself in our historic farmhouse with panoramic views of Player holes 6 and 10 while savoring a three-course, prix fixe champagne brunch with Cream of Sage, Bacon & Maple Sausage Soup, Bananas Foster French Toast, Spinach & Cheddar Cheese Strata and Prime Rib & Herb Omelette among the menu headliners. $25 per person. View the full menu and make reservations at 262-245-7200 or online via Open Table.

3. Bask in Black. Player’s nickname, The Black Knight, is a reference to the world golf hall of famer’s Johnny Cash-like dress code on the course. Black pants, jacket, belt and hat. Done and done.

4. Work it Out. You don’t grace the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s yearly Body Issue in the buff at age 77 unless you are fit and trim, and this nine-time major champion is a master at both. “I want to show the world how fit you can be at this age and not just accept being old,” said Player (aka Mr. Fitness) in a 2013 ESPN interview about his decision to model sans polo. So crunch up 1,200 sit-ups (Player’s daily quota) or a few other choice Player moves outlined in the Wall Street Journal and on the Golf Channel.

5. Rock an Accent. Born in Johannesburg, Player eloquently expresses himself with a sharp, solid South African accent. If you can’t master it, your best royal British will fare thee well.

6. Get Back in the Saddle. A long-time Thoroughbred owner and breeder, Player is a hands-on horseman who rises at 5am to tend to his 20,000-acre Gary Player Stud Farm in the Great Karoo in South Africa. So grab the reins and go for a ride … for Player!

7. Go Green. Slip on your green jacket, or if a Master’s victory eludes you, get your environmental green on! Player’s affinity for unprocessed, natural foods and care of the earth is greatly celebrated.

8. Plan a Play Date. Spend time with – and be inspired by — someone younger than yourself. “Doing activities with young, healthy people has had a way of making me rise to their level,” said Player in a 2011 Golf Digest interview. “The best traits of young people — their optimism, curiosity, alertness and energy — are contagious and will definitely make you feel younger.” And apparently look younger. Case in point, the ageless Mr. Player! Cheers and Happy 80th! Here’s to decades more!

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