When Golf Monthly was invited to attend the Mercedes-Benz Patron’s Day at Royal Troon six weeks ahead of this year’s Open Championship, we were given time to not only speak with Gary Player about his career and life in golf, but also to witness the extremely entertaining and informative clinic he put on for the assembled Mercedes-Benz guests.
When you see Player close-up, it really is quite hard to believe that the man is now 80 years old, and it was also hard to dispute his firmly held belief that he was in better shape than many men half his age.
Of course, Player has been into his fitness and health for many years, long before it became part and parcel of the professional golfer’s lot, and for the first part of his clinic he emphasised just how important the core body muscles were for speed and power in the golf swing. If the core is strong, then the hands and arms have no option but to follow, he told us.
He then worked his way through a number of his fellow professionals and the idiosyncrasies of their swings before telling us that they all had one thing in common regardless of their backswings and styles – a powerful rotation through the ball.
He barely hit a ball offline, even when he moved up to the driver, as he worked through a routine packed with anecdotes, memories, opinion and sound swing instruction that the gathered guests just lapped up.
No doubt he could easily have gone on for twice the time if allowed to do so, but he had an important appointment on the 1st tee seeing everyone off as they set out to take on Royal Troon’s mighty test and fearsome back nine, before then playing the par-3 14th with every group as they approached the end of a memorable day.