Over the past six decades, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting thousands of CEOs during my much-traveled life in the professional golf world. CEOs, of course, are a colorful, diverse set of individuals, each with his or her own interests, passions and priorities. But while CEOs may differ from each other in many ways, there are two subjects that many seem to share a common interest in – a love of golf and a commitment to charity.
This should come as no surprise. CEOs’ appreciation of this wonderful game of golf is well chronicled.It’s a fact that The PGA Tour has raised over a billion dollars for charity and is well on the way toward its second billion, an amount that is more than any three other sports combined. A big reason for this is the energy corporate leaders bring to charitable giving.
Golf and philanthropy continue to be two of my favorite topics of conversation in any gathering. I love to hear peoples’ stories – about hitting a par 5 in two, playing the course of their dreams, sharing a round with peers they respect. I also enjoy sharing the successes of The Player Foundation, which has raised over $50 million for the education of underprivileged citizens around the world over the past 30 years.
If you are a CEO, and you count golf and philanthropy among your greatest passions, I have an event to share with you that I’m particularly excited about. My friends at iGATE, a global technology firm, are partnering with Forbes and the New York Stock Exchange to host a unique event later this week called the iGATE CEO Cup.
The tournament is for CEOs of global 2000 companies. It’s being held Jan. 12 and 13 at TPC Sawgrass, home of The PLAYERS Championship – truly one of the most unique golf layouts in the world. Who hasn’t dreamed of lofting an iron shot onto the famous island green on the 17th hole? The winners of a pair of competitions will receive a combined $100,000 to donate to the charity of their choice. I will be in attendance to play a little, give some golf instruction, and be a part of the celebrations afterward at the reception.
This promises to be a great event, bringing together some of the best minds in business to compete in the world’s greatest game on one of the world’s finest courses. I’m looking forward to the chance to share some stories about golf and giving – two of my favorite subjects, and, I’m sure, two of yours.
Who is Gary Player?
Gary Player is a legend in his own time. The most successful international golfer of all time, Player has achieved the kind of worldwide acclaim reserved for only a handful of sporting greats. He is, quite simply, world class. Gary Player is renowned as much for his dedication to the principles of excellence as he is for his golfing accomplishments. He is recognized worldwide as an uncompromising perfectionist who settles for nothing but the best. His impeccable set of values, stringent regimen of health and fitness, and insistence on quality, have earned him admiration the world over.
Recognized around the globe as the Black Knight, Mr. Fitness and the International Ambassador of Golf, Gary Player is also a renowned golf course architect with over 325 design projects throughout the world. Black Knight International, the company founded by his son Marc Player, includes Gary Player Design, Player Real Estate, Gary Player Enterprises and The Player Foundation.
The company has also been trademarked The World’s Most Traveled Athlete™, but when Player is not traveling on business or playing on the Champions Tour, he spends time on his ranch in South Africa. The Gary Player Stud Farm has received worldwide acclaim for breeding over 2,000 top thoroughbred race horses including 1994 English Derby winner Broadway Flyer.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013, The Player Foundation built the Blair Atholl Schools in Johannesburg, South Africa which has educational facilities for over 500 students from kindergarten through grade eight. The foundation has since expanded efforts in all corners of the globe, raising funds for impoverished children through four Gary Player Invitational events – in Europe, China, the USA and South Africa. Over $50 million has been raised in 29 years and counting…
• Named South African Sportsman of the Century in 2000
• Player is the only modern golfer to win The British Open in three different decades
• Oldest Player to make the cut at The Masters in 1998
• Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of St. Andrews in 1995
• Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award (2003) for dedication to charity
• Awarded the Order of Ikhamanga (in gold for exceptional achievement) by President Mbeki of South Africa for excellence in golf and contribution to non-racial sport in South Africa in 2003
• 2006 Payne Stewart Award from the PGA Tour in recognition of philanthropic achievements and the exemplary manner in which he has conducted himself on and off the golf course
• Three-time Presidents Cup Captain – 2003, 2005 and 2007
• First international recipient of the PGA Tour’s Lifetime Achievement Awards in 2012