Gary Player, who turned 87 this month, says he hopes his efforts to improve the lives of the underprivileged through his foundation will far outlive any success he achieved as one of golf’s greatest competitors.
The winner of nine Majors on the regular tour, nine Majors on the senior tour and 165 tournaments worldwide will continue his work raising funds for the underprivileged when he hosts The Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational at Sun City this weekend.
“Legacy is an interesting concept for me. I’m often asked about legacy, and it’s always written that I’ve won 18 Majors, 165 tournaments, am the only player to win the Grand Slam on both tours. But that’s not my legacy,” says Player.
“My legacy is that I struggled. I started life with an empty stomach and a pocket full of dreams. The only person behind me was my shadow on the ground. But that means I know what it’s like to struggle. It has given me empathy for people who struggle in life. I’d like to go to my grave knowing that our Gary and Vivienne Player Foundation has raised over $100 million to change the lives of people around the world. That’s my legacy.”
This weekend’s Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational will continue the work Player and his late wife started when they first opened the Blair Atholl Pre-Primary School on their farm over three decades ago. What started as a school for just a handful of the local farmworkers’ children has now grown to educating 125 children between the ages of three and six.
The 36-hole tournament at the Lost City Golf Course from 19-20 November will bring together a selection of sporting greats and business leaders to help raise funds for the foundation and specifically to secure a sustainable future for the school.
Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, boxing great Brian Mitchell, South African rugby stars Victor Matfield, Butch James, Akona and Odwa Ndungane, Patrick Lambie, Stefan Terblanche, Owen Nkumane and Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Proteas cricketers Herschelle Gibbs and Vernon Philander, former Bafana Bafana footballers Mark Fish, Shaun Bartlett, Jimmy Tau, Aaron Mokoena and Mark Williams, and renowned South African women’s golfer Sally Little will join a collection of Sunshine Tour stars in the field, including five professionals from the Tour’s Papwa Sewgolum Class for historically disadvantaged golfers.
“People talk about a legacy to the game of golf. Forget about being a great golfer, I’d like to be remembered as a man who loved people, who loved life and who tried to contribute to society,” says Player.