82 Years Young: Gary Player Celebrates Excellence Both On And Off The Course

Today we celebrate the 82nd birthday of one of golf’s most beloved figures, Gary Player. People from all over the golf world -including names like Jack Nicklaus and Rory McIlroy – paid tribute to Player on Wednesday by….planking(?).

Yes, Planking. Player was quite the fitness fanatic…but we’ll get to that in a little bit.

In 2000, Player was named ‘Sportsman of the Century” in his native country of South Africa. And for good measure. Player was a staple to the game of golf since he turned professional in 1953.

He came up in a time where Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus ruled the golf world and he was still able to capture 24 PGA Tour victories and nine major championships during his tenure. He is also in an elite class of five golfers who have captured the career Grand Slam on the PGA Tour (Jordan Spieth may be next on that short list in the coming years).

Player also captured nine major victories on the Champion’s Tour along with the career Grand Slam. Making him the only golfer in history to complete the Grand Slam on both Tours.

His black-on-black outfits separated himself from the pack and earned him the nickname the ‘Black Knight’. In fact, that black-on-black combo is just as iconic as Tiger Woods’ signature Sunday red shirt and black pants.

Now Player may have excluded himself from the pack with his signature outfit, but his legacy and character runs so much deeper than that. He is one of the first golfers to embrace the world of physical fitness. Long before Tiger, Rory McIlroy, and others that follow workout regimens today.

This sort of broke the stereotype that golfers are just a bunch of fat and/or unathletic guys who couldn’t play ‘real sports’. To be fair there is an abundance of those golfers still at large. But in the last decade, we have seen more athletes emerge in the sport, which we can trace all the way back to Player.

Aside from being an advocate of keeping your body in peak condition, Player believes a person must keep their mind and soul in check also. On his website he provides his 10 rules to live by, which are the following:

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.

Player’s life is a testament of these rules so there’s no wonder why he is so beloved both on and off the course.