Gary Player has had plenty of success at Augusta National over the years.
The 87-year-old won the Masters three times during his Hall of Fame career, after all.
But trying to get a tee time at the exclusive private course in Georgia is still almost impossible even for someone as accomplished and connected as Player — and he’s not happy about it.
“After all I’ve contributed to the tournament and been an ambassador for them, I can’t go and have a practice round there with my three grandchildren without having to beg a member to play with us, and there’s always some excuse. It’s terribly, terribly sad,” Player told The Times this week, via Golfweek.
“I’ve played my role. I’ve won it three times, I was in the top ten 15 times, I made the most number of cuts in a row ever, yet here we are struggling to get a round. If it wasn’t for the players, [Augusta National] would just be another golf course in Georgia.
“It’s just sad — and I put great emphasis on the word ‘sad’ — that Augusta [doesn’t] make you feel welcome in that regard because I helped make this tournament what it is.”
Player will be at Augusta National this week, and will join fellow golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson as the tournament’s honorary starters. Nicklaus is a full member at Augusta National, so he can play there normally. Player, however, is just an honorary member — and that comes with restrictions.
While this isn’t much of a problem in the grand scheme of things, it still doesn’t sit right with Player.
“It makes you wonder, how welcome are we really as past Masters champions?” Player said, via Golf.com.
Player won 24 times on the PGA Tour, and 118 times internationally, in his career. The South African won nine majors, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. He won his first Masters in 1961, and then won again in 1974 and 1978.
Player, Watson and Nicklaus will officially open the first round of the Masters on Thursday morning.