Early in my golfing career, it seemed that I was destined to further my family’s name in the game of golf. In 1979, at the age of 17, I made the 36-hole cut at the British Open held at Royal Lytham. In 1982, when I qualified for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, my dad and I became the first father/son duo to qualify and play in both a U.S. Open and British Open at the same time. In all, I won several amateur and professional titles, competed in two British Opens, a U.S. Open, four British Amateurs and three U.S. Amateurs.
However, it was the life lessons learned from my dad, rather than the swing lessons, that would shape my career and personal life. I am excited at the opportunity in sharing my dad’s and my passionate beliefs about the game of golf and life. Today, I have decided to dedicate my life in helping and motivating people to achieve their full potential both on and off the course.
I have always loved to watch my dad play golf and interact with other players, friends, fans, and business associates. His ability to strike a perfect one iron may have made him famous, but it is his ability to engage others in meaningful conversation and inspire them with his stories that endears him to millions.
In 2000, I was on the bag caddying for Dad during a practice round at one of the Senior events on the PGA Tour. As we walked off the first tee, a fan crying out to my Dad caught our attention, “Gary, Gary, over here.” We glanced over to see a beautiful woman accompanied by a rather large man (as in North of 300 pounds and I do mean large). Dad, known for spending as much time talking with the gallery as practicing 4-footers, looked at me and said, “Let’s go over and meet those folks”. I was sure that we were heading over to get a closer look at the Mrs., but after a brief introduction, Dad squared up to Mr. Large, who we now knew as John, and opened the conversation in the following way:
John, I noticed that you have the most beautiful wife, Mary, and I am very worried about the weight you are carrying around with you. John, how would you feel if suddenly you were to have a massive heart attack and die and your stunning partner in life remarries and heads off into the sunset on a cruise with a younger man spending your retirement and life insurance? John replies how that picture would certainly be displeasing at the pearly gates.
Dad continued, “Now listen to me John. I’m very concerned about you. You’re overweight, out of shape and heading for trouble. I can tell by your dress and your manners that you are a well-off and intelligent man, so I don’t understand why you are letting yourself go like this. You have a beautiful wife and a wonderful life but I know that you are not going to be here much longer if you don’t make some changes. Now I want you to give what I said some serious thought so that I might be able to see you out here again next year.”
With that Dad tipped his hat and headed off down the fairway. Needless to say I was quite embarrassed, so I politely said good-bye and scurried off after him.
A year later we returned, and much to my surprise, there on the first tee was John and his wife, Mary. Mary looked as lovely as the year before, but it was John who held my stare. He had lost a good 70 pounds and looked as fit as a fiddle. John went on to tell my dad that after their previous encounter, along with a lot of pressure from Mary, he went to see his doctor for a complete check-up. The doctor discovered a massively clogged artery and operated almost immediately. John was convinced that Dad’s stern talk saved his life.
I shared this story recently while discussing with a friend the woes of the world and the low spirits we all seem to be collectively wallowing in. I then realized that perhaps what we all need is a swift kick in the behind; much like my dad did for John.
That desire to help others better their lives and share in the knowledge that I have gained as the son of Gary Player lead me to the create my new site, The Wayne Player Experience. I invite you to take a look around and visit us often for more insight into The Player Approach to life, in which I hope to introduce you to my method of balanced living.
Each month, in this space, I will share my views on golf, health, fitness, and the world we live in, as well as many more stories from the son of a legend.
I welcome and encourage you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback you may have, so that we can continue to do our very best in providing not only fantastic entertainment, but an unparalleled experience as well.