Now this part of the trip is going to be tough for me to describe to you all. The problem for me is doing justice to a truly "once in a lifetime" experience. Everyone has a different "once in a lifetime" but for all of us,especially our husbands, THIS WAS IT! A dream come true!
We all said goodbye to Louise at the airport and catch a flight to the center of South Africa, Bloemfontein. We rent a mini and drive south to Colesberg. Along the way I discover that Wayne and I have something in common....a love for Tom Jones music! So we stick in the tape and sing all the way! I am not sure that the rest of our gang appreciated the "entertainment" though.
We make a brief stop to purchase some small tokens of our appreciation for our soon-to-be hosts, which is not an easy thing to do for these two folks!
After a bit more driving, mostly through ranchland, we arrive at our destination.....The Gary Player Stud Farm! As we pull through the gate and up to the house,our hosts come out to greet us. We are very nervous!! Hugs all around, Gary and Vivienne are so excited to see their son and they make us feel so welcome. Even with some staff there to take our things and get us to our rooms, Gary insists on taking our bags himself. I tried to play tug-of-war with him.... It was so sweet!
The Players had recently moved into their new contemporary home and they were anxious to show us around. But first we wanted to give them our little tokens for having us. As some of you who follow golf may know, Gary is VERY much a healthy guy. Proper exercise, food and just living healthy. And yes, we knew this when we bought him a large box of Belgium Chocolates......just to say thanks...what can you buy for Gary Player??? When we presented the box, a great laugh came from him! And immediately we were whisked away to the inter-sanctum of the Master Bedroom and Gary's closet!!?? With a boyish little smile on his face, he opened a chest drawer to reveal his very large, private stash of candy bars! WOW! Who knew? Just goes to prove that there is a choc-o-holic in all of us!
The house was amazing! I wasn't quite expecting something so modern in the middle of South Africa. Modern, yet very inviting, comfortable and personal with a very South African flair.
It is my understanding that one of their daughters decorated it. She did an amazing job! They were so proud of their newest accomplishment and God knows we were THRILLED to be their first guests!
It is now late in the afternoon and we are getting settled into our rooms, getting a little rest before dinner when all of a sudden a horrendous blast of noise startled the entire house! AND RANCH! I am sure this could be heard for miles! Folks come running from everywhere. It takes a little time and a confession from Judy to get to the root of the problem. Judy got a little cold and attempted to adjust the thermostat in her room....WITHOUT HER GLASSES!! You got it...she set off the alarm system!
Problem was, being a brand new house, no one could remember the code! I believe the fire dept had to be called before it was disarmed. Judy was mortified to say the least and promised Viv and Gary if they let her stay, she would not touch any more buttons! Of course, there is always a silver lining to every incident....they learned the new code to the alarm.
Dinner that first night in their un-real Dining room, with the stars in the ceiling and local foods and wines was wonderful! The best parts were the conversations. – listening to Gary and Vivienne talk about the old days on tour with Palmer and Nicklaus. Stories of their life together and Wayne growing up in that life. Lots of laughs and fun. It just isn't everyday you get to sit with a true legend and hear the real deal. A lot of people wouldnot speak so openly to strangers. The cool part is...a true legend's goal usually isn't becoming a legend....it just happens on the journey. What a night!