Golf great Gary Player talks process of making it in the game

An incredibly accomplished golfer who defied the odds of anyone, including himself, reaching a professional ranking in the top 50 at any time in his life, Gary Player recently turned 80 and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in Carnoustie, Scotland. “There’s no legitimate way a boy with no formal education and no instruction could have become the specialist golfer I was,” Player, who was born in South Africa, said in his acceptance speech. “And so I was doubly happy to join golf’s greatest ever man, Jack Nicklaus, in this hallowed organization.”

As Michael Oates at notes, for the first 43 years of his career Player, who was third in the world at the time of his induction, had only one goal:

First to make the Champions Tour and only then to become one of the very best players ever. So yes, if golf has a Rain Man in all of us, Player was it. He’s not just the greatest player of his generation and time, but one of the best players of all time, period. It’s the “beginner’s” mentality that enabled Player to go on to professional success. Put simply, his formula was simple. “Don’t work. Play,” Player says, “Warm up slowly, and then do the hard work when it starts to rain. I’ve never taken more than three or four strokes off my handicap in one tournament.” The expectations of others, and not having the discipline to just play, haven’t mattered. It’s all due to what one does. Just drive the ball.

Player’s by now familiar methods, memorized and practiced in every corner of his home country, allowed him to consistently drive the ball further than his rivals, whose mechanics and physiology invariably led to a more statistically speaking efficient performance on the greens.

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