Gary Player will always be considered one of golf’s greatest champions. Eloquent and well-spoken, Mr. Player is a man respected for his wisdom on issues pertaining to golf and life. A winner of 9 major championships and 156 other worldwide victories between 1955 and 2010, when he speaks, it pays to listen. Thankfully he has always been gracious enough to share his knowledge with those who ask. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from some of his most famous quotes.
10. “My goal was to break 80. When you get to 70, if I can break 80, I consider that a victory.” Golf is a game for every age, and victory is satisfying at every age. It may look a little different than it used to, but a victory is still a victory.
9. “If there's a golf course in heaven, I hope it's like Augusta National. I just don't want an early tee time.” Many would agree that Augusta National is golf’s Garden of Eden. Although it’s not a quote we can necessarily learn from, it is certainly one which many can appreciate.
8. “The best way to break out of a slump is to pretend you’re a player whose swing is rhythmic and beautiful.” Mr. Player has said that when slumping, he used to watch players with beautiful swings, and then try and imitate them. While in a slump it can be very easy to focus on all the negatives surrounding your game, but as this quote points out, focusing on something positive is the best way to bring about positive results.
7. “I used the same blade putter almost exclusively for more than 35 years. Won over 100 tournaments and the Grand Slam with it.” There is something to be said for sticking with what works. It would be great to hear what Mr. Player thinks about Tiger’s constant coach and swing changes.
6. “Golf is a puzzle without an answer. I've played the game for 40 years and I still haven't the slightest idea how to play.” It is refreshing to hear these words come from a man whom many would argue has in fact mastered the game of golf. Every golfer can always improve, and every golfer is constantly searching for the answers which will allow this to happen.
5. “We create success or failure on the course, primarily by our thoughts.” If you expect to play well, you need to think well. When your thoughts turn mediocre, expect mediocre results. It is for this reason that you see so many tour pros turning to mental coaches to ensure that they stay competitive. When Tiger Woods was at the top of his game back in 2000, there is no doubt that he could pull off some physically demanding golf shots, but this is not what allowed him to win as often as he did. It was his mental capabilities that were primarily responsible for his success on the golf course. His ability to think well allowed him to get the most out of his game.
4. “Arnold (Palmer) played 50 times. I'd like to play 51 times and then hang it up.” In a day full of conceited, arrogant athletes, it is refreshing to look to individuals like Mr. Player who were warriors in competition, but at the same time respected gentlemen. Mr. Player always had the utmost respect for his competition, including Arnold Palmer, but that didn’t mean he would pass on an opportunity to “one up” his competition.
3. “A good golfer has the determination to win and the patience to wait for the breaks.” Here is described one of the many qualities of a champion, and Mr. Player is one of the finest. In golf, it isn’t necessarily the competitor who wants it badly enough who will achieve victory. It’s the golfer who wants it, but is smart enough to wait for the appropriate time to make their move. A champion golfer also recognizes that they will not always get the breaks needed to defeat their competition, however; the one who is determined to patiently wait for such breaks will often be rewarded.
2. “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” Many don’t realize that it was Mr. Player who coined this phrase. He tells the story that he coined it after taking money off of a gentlemen who challenged him to hole a bunker shot. Mr. Player holed three in a row.
1. “You must work very hard to become a natural golfer.” In most sports, the premier athletes are often viewed as “naturally gifted”, but Mr. Player points out that to be a natural it requires significant time and effort. Playing the game of golf in a natural way requires complete trust in your mental and physical techniques. Developing each portion takes time, effort and experience. Implementing both simultaneously, in order to play naturally, requires exponentially more. The career of Gary Player teaches us that hard work can be rewarded when the effort is deliberate. It is important to have the physical tools necessary to compete, but combining them with mental strength is necessary for one’s potential to be manifested. Mr. Player personifies such qualities.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
This article was written by Jonathan Carr as part of our Eat Sleep Golf 'Top 10' series. Jonathan is a talented and passionate golfer surpassed only by his passion for his faith and his family. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter (@JonathanWCarr) or read some of his other articles here.