Gary Player is not only one of the greatest professional golfers of all-time, but the South African is a renowned course architect. Many of the courses Player helped design were inspired by his long playing career and they have been played by millions of golfers around the world.
Player turned professional in 1953 at the young age of 17. His longevity in the sport has helped make him one of the most successful golfers of all-time. Four years after turning professional, Player joined the PGA Tour.
In 1958, he won his first PGA Tour event, the Kentucky Derby Open. It was the first of 24 PGA Tour wins during his illustrious career. Just over a year later, Player won his first major tournament, the 1959 Open Championship. Player had regular success at the Open Championship, winning it three times during his career. Each win came in a different decade as Player secured Open Championship wins in a 15-year period.
The Masters was another tournament Player had large amounts of success in. He won the tournament three times in a 17-year timespan. Player achieve victories in the US Open and PGA Championship tournaments as well, making him one of a select few to win golf’s grand slam. Player moved on to the Senior PGA Tour in the 1980s. He won 19 senior level tournaments and six of those tournaments were Senior Tour majors.
The South African’s successfully course architecture career has seen him create over 300 golf courses. Player’s courses can be found on five continents and in over 35 countries. Now 82-years old, Player’s golf course design company continues to design courses every year. Player’s Gary Player Country Club at the Sun City Resort in South Africa is hosted by the golf great each year. The tournament gives out one of the highest cash prizes in the sport.
Player is one of the most famous sports celebrities in South Africa. In 2000, he was voted the country’s “Sports Man of the Century”.