In 2000 he was voted “Sportsman of the Century” in South Africa.
Player has won 165 tournaments on six continents over six decades. During the course of his illustrious career, he won nine major championships on the regular tour and six Champion Tour major championship victories, as well as three Senior British Open Championships on the European Senior Tour.
One of only five to win a Career Grand Slam
At the age of 29, Player won the 1965 US Open becoming the only non-American to win all four majors, known as a Career Grand Slam.
He became only the third golfer in history to win the Career Grand Slam, after Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen, only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods achieved this since.
The Black Knight and his diverse interests
Nicknamed the Black Knight, Mr. Fitness, and the International Ambassador of Golf, Player is also a renowned golf course architect with more than 325 design projects on five continents throughout the world to his name. He has also authored or co-written 36 golf books.
His Player Foundation supports underprivileged education around the world. In 1983, the Player Foundation established the Blair Atholl Schools in Johannesburg which have educational facilities for more than 500 pupils from Grade R to Grade 8.
Gary Player the family man
Player was born in Johannesburg, the youngest of three children. His mother died of cancer when he was eight years old. His father was away from home often working on the gold mines. When Gary was 14, his father bought him a set of golf clubs and Gary began playing at the Virginia Park golf course in Johannesburg. He parred the first three holes of his first round of golf. At 16, he announced that he would become number one in the world. He became a professional golfer at 17.
Player married Vivienne Verwey (the sister of professional golfer Bobby Verwey) on 19 January 1957, four years after turning professional. They have six children and 21 grandchildren. In the early years of his career Player would travel from tournament to tournament with his wife, six children, a nanny and a tutor in tow.
Gary Player is the brother of Ian Player, a well-known South African environmental conservationist.