Gary Player may be an all-time great who should be respected, but his sanctimonious, self-righteous, hyper-critical attitude will see him transform into a caricature of himself as an old-timer bashing everything and anything that happens in golf ‘nowadays’.
Whenever you read up on the things and people that Gary Player has criticised over the years, you will, invariably, find the word ‘scathing’ in there somewhere.
And he’s not been shy over the years in telling people what he thinks. The U.S Open course location, golf’s representation in the Olympics, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are among his criticisms recently and whenever he has been in the news to field his views, he tends to make sure that everyone remembers exactly how good he not only was, but how good he still is.
For example, in June of this year, Gary Player stated that if he had ‘half an hour’ with Jordan Spieth, he could fix his swing and turn him into ‘the greatest player the world has ever known.’
Whether it’s hyperbole or not, what the South African is basically saying is that if he had half an hour…half an hour…with Jordan Spieth, he could turn him into a player that is better than Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, hell even himself.
And he could do all this in half an hour. I can imagine that when a lot of people read the article in which his comments were mentioned, there was a collective internal response along the lines of “we get it Gary, you’re still great.”
“Jordan Spieth has got a big fault in his swing,” he said. “He’s not finding it and it’s so obvious to me what he’s doing.”
Gary Player may be an all time great, one that was featured in my recent Mount Rushmore of Golf article, but that doesn’t change the fact the statement above, all time great or no all time great, is an arrogant one.
There have been other examples of Player’s sanctimonious attitude in the news recently, most notably his criticism of the 2015 U.S Open’s choice of course: Chambers Bay.
Some of his comments on the course, which to some degree were warranted – it’s probably not the easiest course in the world – are nonetheless totally ridiculous and exaggerated if considered to the degree that he expressed them. I mean, calling it a ‘tragedy?’ no.
Someone getting shot in cold blood is a tragedy, a kid dying of cancer is a tragedy, playing the U.S Open at a somewhat difficult course is not a tragedy. I know people throw around these kinds of words for next to nothing (for example, if something is epic, technically that means it’s just really long) but come on, he should know better. And to me, it’s another example of his critical attitude to damn near everything.
And besides, some of the courses that the Black Knight has designed are pretty difficult.
And do we want to discuss Gary Player designs? Not many do. Which is another can of worms. Architects critiquing architects makes me cringe.
— Matt Ginella (@MattGinellaGC) 20 June 2015
I’m not going to sit here and list off everything and everyone that Gary Player has been critical towards, and I’ve listed just a couple of recent highlights, if you can call them that, but for a long time the former Grand Slam winner has had a reputation for being holier-than-thou. In fact, an Independent article back in 1996 stated that Gary Player once said ‘I am now quite convinced that I have played a significant role in trying to eradicate apartheid’.
I’m not saying that he didn’t have something to do with the fall of apartheid in his own way, but that’s a little far. In fact, it might just be me but I think that’s ridiculous and quite frankly a little delusional.
No one will ever argue about Gary Player’s accomplishments. We’re certainly not going to do that here. He is, without a shadow of doubt, one of the greatest golfers of all time and he deserves to have a platform from which to voice his opinions on golf. I’m not arguing that his opinions aren’t worth asking for and listening to. He certainly knows a lot more than I ever will by an enormous margin.
However, there is a lot of truth to the idea of there being too much of a good thing. And that may be the case with Gary Player, give him an inch, and he’ll take a mile.
His respect and reverence is more than deserved, and his opinions are valued, but don’t let that become a guard that prohibits him for being called out on his comments and opinions, and that’s basically what I’m saying.
He needs to be careful, because not only is his holier-than-thou attitude becoming a problem, he may end up morphing into Abe Simpson, the old man that yells at clouds.