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The greatest of The Sunshine Boys

5th November 2020

The greatest of The Sunshine Boys

By Dan Retief
By far the most profuse name in the extensive Index of my history of The Sunshine Tour, “The Sunshine Boys,” is “Player, Gary.”
This is unsurprising as not only is Gary Player South Africa’s greatest golfer he is also the country’s all-time greatest sportsman – both for the number of successes he achieved but also for his unquenchable positivity and superhuman longevity.
Player was born in 1935. He turned professional in 1953 at the age of 18 with no amateur record to speak of. He won his first tournament on foreign soil in 1955 and he went on to win 9 Majors, 9 Senior Majors in the course of registering 165 worldwide victories.
On Sunday, November 1, Gary Player turned 85.
And he was still going at it. Hitting balls, practising to outdrive his great rival and dear friend Jack Nicklaus in the ceremonial start of the Masters at Augusta, raising funds for cancer care, assisting youngsters and, perhaps his greatest attribute, simply being nice to people.
As a lifelong golf addict I first became aware of Gary when he won the British Open in 1959. I was eight years old. In 1965 he completed the Grand Slam (the unique achievement of having won all four Majors) and I saved up my pocket money to buy a Golf Digest magazine with him on the cover displayed in the window of a bookshop in Kimberley.
I matriculated in 1968 and was excited to go on holiday to Cape Town; especially because I would be able to see Gary in action against Billy Casper in a match staged at Mowbray GC (now King David Mowbray).
I took along binoculars and Gary’s book “Grand Slam Golf” in the hope of having it autographed. However, being a bit of a “plattelander” I held back in the crush around the two golfers and left without having the book signed to await my lift at the club’s entrance. As I stood there on the curb I started paging through the book and imagine my surprise when a big black car, I think it was an Austin Princess, pulled up at the stop sign, the back window wound down, and there was Gary Player.
“Do you want me to sign that for you?” he asked. I handed the book to him and stammered a thank you.
Player and Casper were in the backseat being ferried to the airport. (Sadly, I no longer have that copy of the book. It was borrowed from me and never returned).
My estimation of Gary went up even higher.
Later, thanks to my career, I was able to meet him many times and experience close up his burning desire to win, to never give up, to approach every shot as though his life depended on it. Sadly I did not see him win one of his foreign titles but I often saw him win in South Africa.
Now in 2020 I have completed “The Sunshine Boys” and I am proud that Gary contributed the foreword; a special cachet to a special project and that finally I can return the compliment and sign a book for him.
Happy birthday, Mr Player.
• The Sunshine Boys is available from specialist book marketing, sales and distribution company Blue Weaver (see link for details) based in Cape Town. [email protected] or Tel No: (021) 701-4477. Interested parties can ask for Michelle, Waleed or Mark.
Costs of Delivery/Courier services are for the account of the purchaser. (A courier charge of R75 within the borders of SA will apply).
Further information: Dan Retief on +27 (0) 82 853 4840. (Mobile and
WhatsApp) or e-mail [email protected]
Distribution is also underway to Exclusive stores, the ProShop and on-course golf shops.

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