Gary Player: Difficult times but we can get through it

My travel plans have been turned upside down due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there are many millions of people around the world who are in a far worse position than we are. I should have been in India and Abu Dhabi last month but instead, I was in Philadelphia.

There’s really nothing we can do about the situation, except follow the advice of the authorities and take all the precautions necessary to stay safe and hope that the experts can find a solution sooner rather than later.

It was a huge disappointment to hear that The Masters is being postponed until, possibly October. So many huge sporting events have been postponed, cancelled altogether – or merged into 2021.

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The Ryder Cup, which dates back to 1927, could also be a victim of the pandemic, which would be a huge blow to Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, and the town of Sheboygan, not to mention the rest of the United States and Europe.

Masters Economy

The postponement of The Masters, which has always been close to my heart, will cause widespread devastation to the town of Augusta and the surrounding area. The town’s economy is built on the first of the four Majors, going back to the inaugural event back in 1934.

People have always rented out their homes during Masters’ week and beyond – and in many cases their mortgages depend on the business created by the huge number of spectators drawn to the area each April. Restaurants and hotels will, inevitably, be struggling to avoid having to close down and with that, will come job losses for people who can least afford it. In many cases the residents are totally reliant on The Masters taking place.

The postponement of virtually all the fixtures on the European Tour and PGA Tour for the next few months will cause colossal damage to charities throughout the year. Golf is one of the sporting world’s biggest charity fund-raisers and those charities will be hard-hit and will struggle to carry out the vital benefits and services they provide.

Emergency Schedule

Let’s hope that’s golf’s governing bodies can come together in the spirit of co-operation to agree an emergency ongoing schedule that works as well as possible in the current circumstances. There’s no perfect solution, but we must find a way of saving our sport both in the short-term and the long-term.

In the early years of my career I learned how to play competitive golf under great pressure. Because of the apartheid regime in my own country I learned how to accept spectators running onto the green with screaming babies when I was about to take a putt, shouting at the exact point when I was teeing off, and even suffer physical violence. It was a difficult time for me but it made me a stronger person and a stronger golfer in the process.

These are difficult times for the sport, but, hopefully, we can come together to find a solution globally. When we compare golf’s current hardship, we should make the comparison between the present golfing turmoil with the millions of homeless refugees around the world seeking to stay alive, and the ever-present terrorism that causes countless deaths of helpless women and children.

When the coronavirus pandemic is finally overcome and the world returns to some sort of normality the golfing world should be thankful for what they have to be grateful for.

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