Gary Player: Loyalty should be the name of the game

With talk of a Premier Golf League we are looking at the possibility of huge amounts of money coming into golf and ruining the current infrastructure of the professional game.

I am proud to look back on a memorable career throughout which I have been able to help and support a multitude of worthy charities and people less fortunate than myself. 

I’m pleased to say that one of the rules that I learned as a young person was loyalty and gratitude. We are so blessed and so lucky in this world through the game of golf.

For instance, at the NedBank Golf Challenge in South Africa we had the biggest first prize in the world of golf at $2.5 million before that amount was surpassed by the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, yet we couldn’t get a big-name American to play in it. When I was a young man, I’d have taken a rowing boat to get to a tournament.

We never imagined that we would witness the day when athletes across the board would be making the kind of money they are making today. It was way beyond anyone’s comprehension. Now, with the talk of a Premier Golf League, we are looking at a possibility where huge amounts of money could come into golf and ruin the current infrastructure of a professional sport that has thrived for almost a century and where professional golfers have been so fortunate and so lucky.

Sadly, there is a great deal of greed in the sport these days. When someone comes along with a proposal to change the entire complexion of the greatest sport in the world do you discard an established lifestyle you have enjoyed all your life, just for the sake of money?

Are you merely going to sit back and accept it? It’s crazy for anyone to say they don’t like money, but it’s not as though there are many professional golfers in today’s game who are playing on the top Tours who are really struggling.

The leading players on the major Tours are taking home tens of millions of dollars, and there is a multitude of professional golfers who have become multi-millionaires without winning a single title – and that’s before you factor in any additional sponsorship contracts that they may have. How much money do you want as a golfer? Loyalty, to me, is an essential aspect of my life.

I hope that it will never happen, and I would certainly oppose a situation where the game of golf dwindles to precious few players where money is the major consideration: It’s certainly not for me.

If it were to happen, I don’t want to see a tour with just a handful of billionaire players. What would happen to the players down the leaderboard who are earning a decent living – would it compromise the integrity of the competition?

Hopefully, today’s top players will reject it, because if this initiative comes to fruition, one thing to consider is how today’s young players stack up their achievements against golf’s history – from myself, Jack Nicklaus, Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, through to Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka? This new format will rip up the way golfers build their careers.

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