by Jeff Skinner
Gary Player isn’t afraid to let loose with his opinions. We’ve heard the Hall of Famer and career grand slam winner vent about everything from Tiger Woods to course length to his obsession with diet and exercise. And it’s always entertaining.
In my opinion, Player is an “Old School Progressive” as he values the traditions of the “old” game but certainly enjoys the benefits of the modern game.
The Black Knight teed it up with PGA youngster Billy Horschell for Forbes Magazine at the Slammer & Squire Course at the World Golf Village.
Player is very attached to the World Golf Hall of Fame which is in the World golf Village and Horschel loves the history of the game, “I’m a big fan of the history of the game of golf and seeing the way it has been played by different generations.” And Gary Player is well, Gary Player.
In an effort to recreate the game gone by they played three different sets of clubs and dressed in different clothes to signify each different period in golf.
First they used a set of hickory shafted clubs to re-create the 1920’s feel, a la Bobby Jones. Then they moved into the 60’s with a replica set of steel shafted Pings that honored Player in his prime.
Finally they used a current set of Callaway clubs, Player’s brand of course, to show the difference between the eras.
As much a traditionalist as Player is he would never want to give up his graphite shafted, big headed driver. “For me to stand here and to be able to drive the ball within 25 yards of this young man, when I’m getting close to 80, is such an enjoyment,” he says. “I wouldn’t play golf if I had to play with hickory sticks.”
And Player says any comparison across generations is futile, “It’s impossible to make comparisons across eras. You can’t do it. It’s not even on the table,” he continues. “If you want to choose Tiger Woods as the best ever, let Ben Hogan come here, let Nicklaus come here, with the same equipment, the same ball, the same beautiful course conditions. Let them have a jet at their disposal, have a $1 million first prize. All those things make you play better. Ben Hogan got in a car and drove a couple days to get to a tournament. I went by Greyhound bus to some.”
As usual, Player is right. Different eras with different equipment make it difficult to compare golfers but one thing is for sure: regardless of the era, Gary Player never fails to entertain.