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January 3, 2013

Gary Player

TOBY ZWIKEL:  The inaugural iGATE CEO Cup will be played January 12 and 13 on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
iGate, as many of you know, is a Fremont, California‑based billion dollar company providing technology services globally on a unique outcomes‑based model.¬† iGate has invited CEOs of global 2000 companies based in North America to play in this first‑class championship‑style golf tournament on a world‑renowned golf course which plays host to a leading PGA TOUR event.
The participating CEOs will compete for a $100,000 purse entirely donated to the CEO's chosen charity.¬† It will be one of the largest corporate golf events in North America.¬† CEOs will compete in a two‑day tournament with trophies and prizes being awarded in different formats, including low individual scores.
One of the key things with the event is the event trophy for the inaugural tournament.  It's designed by renowned Indian sculptor Amit Pabuwal.  It be the world's largest gold sports trophy.  It will be larger than the iconic FIFA World Cup trophy.
The iGATE CEO Cup trophy is 21 inches tall and weighs 8.6 kilograms of gold.  It will be the heaviest and also will be emblazoned with diamonds and rubies.  The FIFA World Cup trophy is 14.4 inches tall and weighs five kilograms of gold only.  The Guinness Book of World Records is expected to adjudicate the trophy as the world's heaviest gold trophy.
Gary, I wanted to begin a little bit by just asking about this trophy.  Obviously you've won many trophies throughout the years, and all of the different events you've participated in and competing in.  I wondered if you could talk about maybe what may be the most unique trophy you've ever won.
GARY PLAYER:  I think without a question or a doubt, when you win any of the Grand Slam events, both senior and regular tour, when you win those trophies, those are the most important trophies of your life without a question.
TOBY ZWIKEL:  You've been involved in many golf/business related events throughout the years.  This event brings together CEOs from leading Global 2000 companies based in North America.  How do you think golf unites these CEOs?
GARY PLAYER:¬† Well, first of all, golf is a friend‑making machine, and it's just great for camaraderie, getting together businessmen discussing business, as well, in the evenings.¬† I know that's never avoided.
But for me it's one of the most exciting things I've ever been involved in.  I'm going to get a great kick out of watched these guys.  They have watched us all our lives putting for a $100,000 or so, and we miss a short putt, and they say:  Well, how did he miss that?  I can hole that.
Well, now, I've got to sit back and watch them choke a bit.  And I can tell you, a lot of them are going to choke like junkyard dogs.  It's such a great concept.  It's such a great concept. 
And obviously the money, the prize money, goes to the charity of their choice.¬† It's played on a wonderful golf course.¬† I hope they set the golf course up‑‑ in fact, I would like to say, you should get a hold of whoever is getting the course up and set it up a lot easier than they think, because that's a very, very difficult golf course, and you do want them to enjoy themselves and score as well as possible, because that course will bring you to your knees if you have it too tough.

Q.  I know one of your duties at the event will be to do a clinic for the CEOs.  When you're doing a clinic of that nature, what kind of things do you emphasize?
GARY PLAYER:¬† Well, we hit a lot of different kind of shots for them and show them how to practice when they get on the practice tee, just not standing like a robot and beat balls all the time; a variety of shots, because that's what you're out on the practice tee doing.¬† It's self‑explanatory, 'the practice tee.'
So you have to practice a lot of variety of shots.  And we will show them, we basically break it down to one or two moves; two of the most important moves in the swing, and you don't give them paralysis of analysis.  And we spend time with them making them realize that the short game is what wins tournaments.
A very interesting thing, if you look at Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who are not particularly straight drivers of the golf ball, have been No. 1 and No.2 in the world.  And so there's no greater emphasis put on or a greater example for young people and the average golfer to realize that you drive for show and putt for dough.
That's an old saying but it really applies to the extreme extent.  If you putt well and your short game is good, that's what enables you to win tournaments; and this is the way we put emphasis, making it simple and making them realize that the short game is important.
We have a lot of fun with them and Paula Creamer will be with me, a very beautiful girl, which improves the scenery and all in all, it's going to be a very unique, exciting event.

Q.¬† Obviously there was a recently‑announced change in the putter rule for the professional game.¬† Can you comment a little bit about your thoughts about that rule?
GARY PLAYER:  For years, I've been advocating that they not allow the belly putter or the long putter.  I've seen people hold the putter against their nose, against their chin, against their chest, and I think they should leave it for the weekend golfer.  The weekend golfer needs all the technology and anything to improve their game, because they don't play a lot and when they go out, they want to enjoy it.  So I don't think this belly putter/long putter should apply to the weekend golfer.  Now I know they will tell me that I'm wrong, but that's my opinion.
Now the reason why I think this should be stopped, many, many years ago, Orville Moody, who had the yips so badly, he couldn't hole a two‑foot putt.¬† And all of a sudden, Orville Moody became the best putter on the Tour going to the long putter.¬† His nerves were so bad, and the minute he put the long putter in his hand, it took the nerves right out of the game.
I practiced as a young man, mind control, and it's been a long story how I trained myself, knowing that I was smaller than all of these big guys and I had to play against them in their respective countries and beat them.  And the thing is that I worked on my mind to such extent to teach myself how to play well coming down the line under pressure.
Well, today, you don't have to worry about that, because the long putter and the belly putter just take the nerves right out of it.  So what we've done, and I know that the USGA and the R&A, they must regret it terribly, coming down the line now, you don't have that little tremble.  If you have a slight tremble with putting, you can never be a superstar or win majors.
Straightaway, when you anchor it, it takes away the tremor.  And golf in, my opinion, I don't know exactly, I would say at least 50 percent of the game is nerves coming down the last nine holes of a tournament, and what it's done, it's just eliminated 30percent of nerves, which to me, is a tragedy, because that is such an integral part of the game, an historic part of the game, and they have just eliminated it.
Why the R&A and the USGA said they were going to give them three years' grace, I don't understand.  Why didn't they just start on January 1; get it done.  You're going to make the rule; get it done.

Q.  Wondering your thoughts, I'm sure you've heard about Jack Nicklaus's initiative to get more people playing the golf and making the game easier for getting involved.  Wondering if you were to make an effort to get more people involved in the game, especially young people, what suggestions would you have to get them interested in golf?
GARY PLAYER:  Well, first of all, I would go to the schools, and there are a lot of young people that go to school and suffer from complexes because they are not good enough to play football or baseball or the really tough sports.
I would start getting professionals, who I think we all owe something to the game to a great extent, and we should be having professionals across the board, each one of us on the Tour, visiting a school in the United States, and talking about the game and trying to get a lot of young people interested, No. 1.
No.2, I think in every state, we should be having a Pro‑Am and we should all be asked to participate, a Pro‑Am in every single state, to play with leading juniors.¬† It would get a tremendous amount of media, and afterwards, the only way you get people playing the game is by promoting it.
So by going to these states, and even if we had let's say ten players going to each state‑‑ I mean, there are a lot of pros, seniors that are retired who would love to do it; a lot of active senior players; a lot regular players.¬† And we owe it to the public.¬† So we should be going along to these schools and doing these clinics, introducing them, explaining about the longevity of golf.
I mean, if you look at other sport, they are finished when they are 30 years of age.  I think my income at 70 and 77 is larger than when I was in my prime.  Golf has so many advantages; it can help you in business.  Even if you're not a champion, it's a great tool to help you in your life with business.  So I think that we have got to get programs going and try to get pros to go and participate with young people.
Or, another idea, I think Tim Finchem should be at all Pro‑Ams in every single state having a tournament in their particular state and the ten leading guys, the ten leading juniors, get to play in the Pro‑Am that week in that tournament.¬† Can you imagine how I would have felt as a young guy at 14 or 15 if I could have qualified to play with a Rory McIlroy, a Tiger Woods or any of these guys?¬† Man, what a big thing in your life that is.¬† And again, the media, we would be promoting the game to the hit.
Plus, I think, why have we got to build 18‑hole golf courses all the time?¬† Why can't we build a 10‑ or a 12‑hole golf course so it doesn't take as much time?¬† Time is the thing that's hurting golf.
And then the other thing is, that everybody's trying to make their golf courses so long now; and their water bill goes up, the fertilizer goes up and the machinery and then the levy.  And golf courses are finding themselves in a lot of trouble.  We gave the wrong routes; we have got to go the opposite way we are going.
And then if you make the golf courses too undulating and these golf architects build the greens too undulating, the people hate it.  The ladies don't want to live on a golf course that's too tough.  They put bunkers in front of the greens.  We have to make the golf courses more easy, and don't spend all this enormous amount of money changing your golf course when all you've got to do is cut the ball back 50 yards, and it's the same effect, without being expensive.

Q.  Following up on the last question, the suggestions you had about getting more people involved in the game, you've always been probably one of the game's greatest ambassadors going back more than 50 years.  What are you doing right now?  What kind of projects are you working on right now, and is part of the projects you're working on, continuing your role as golf's ambassador?
GARY PLAYER:  Well, first of all, it's evening here and I'd just like to say good afternoon to anybody who is tuned in and thank you very much for all being part of this iGATE CEO Cup.
At the moment I play some tournaments.¬† I played a tournament in Switzerland last year and I beat my age by 15 shots in the pre‑tournament and the three rounds.¬† I've been averaging 70, so I've been averaging way below my age and I shot 66 in a small tournament the other day.
So I will be playing some tournaments.  Jack Nicklaus and I are playing the Legends together this year, which I'm excited about.
And secondly I'm raising a lot of money for underprivileged children in China, in South Africa, in America, and in Europe, and wherever we are, the money that's raised goes to that respective country to help under‑privileged children, and our theme is mainly education.
So I'm heavily involved in that.  Although that's getting very difficult for me to do now at 77, trying to conserve my energy as much as I can.  I've been a pro for 60 years now, and, in fact, two days ago, I was a pro for 60 years.
And I do a lot of corporate days for Humana and Coca‑Cola and Callaway and a whole lot of different companies, and SAP and Rolex, around the world, and playing with their business associates.¬† I'm doing my ranching in South Africa which I'm just¬† crazy about.¬† And I do a lot of after dinners' talking and talking at schools on because obesity, because obesity to me is destroying the free world.¬† The greatest country in the world, the United States 30percent of the youth are already obese and growing, and growing at a rapid rate.¬† How is the healthcare system going to be able to afford it the way people are getting so sick and out of shape?
So my life is very full.  I still travel a lot and enjoy it.  And so I'm very, very busy.

Q.  You mentioned about health, and it just brought to mind that Nelson Mandela has been in the news lately because of his health, and obviously with you being in South Africa, what's been your interaction with Mr.Mandela through the years?
GARY PLAYER:¬† Our president, Nelson Mandela is one of my five great heros, a man who can go to jail for basically doing the right thing and come out of jail‑‑ it's very much like Mahatma Gandhi, who had a lot of suffering and had an extreme amount of love for people and forgiveness and was never judgemental, and never, ever thought they had‑‑ what's the word, entitlement.¬† They are humble, wonderful people.
I spent many years playing‑‑ we had a Nelson Mandela golf tournament here where we played, plus, minus, 20 million Rand for underprivileged children in South Africa, and he was such a dear, dear man.¬† Everybody just loves the man.

Q.  I'd like to just return to the anchoring ban for a moment if we could.  Wondering what you say to players like Carl Pettersson who have been anchoring their long putters for their entire careers and say that if it offers such competitive advantage, that everyone would be doing it.
GARY PLAYER:¬† Well, first of all, Sam Snead, when Sam Snead putted between his legs, the USGA stopped it immediately.¬† So I don't see why they can't stop it now, because golf is not part of anchoring‑‑ when you anchor the club against your body, they know that they don't want to have that, and they let it go too long.
So this is something they have got to set out.  It's just too bad if a man's been doing that all his life; well, I don't know if he's done it all his life.  But you can't have rules for a few people.  If they make a rule, it applies to everybody.

Q.  With the TOUR schedule to start the points race in October this year, the events that formerly were named the Fall Series events will now be the beginning of the schedule starting with six events in October rather than starting January 1; do you have any thoughts on the new setup and maybe how it will affect players?
GARY PLAYER:  No, I really haven't put a lot of thought into that.
You know, it's very hard to compete when you have golf all year and then football being so popular, and then to compete with that.  The ratings have got to go down I would imagine.
This is something that Tim Finchem has done a wonderful job and the players have got together and thought about.  I really am not a position not playing the regular tour.  I'm not really involved in that and it would be wrong for me to pass comment.
TOBY ZWIKEL:  We've reached the end of our first time with Gary.  I want to again thank you very much for taking time out of your schedule, especially being home in South Africa and taking the time to be with us today.
I want to thank the media members who joined us, and again wish everyone a happy new year and we'll look forward to working with you all for the inaugural iGATE CEO Cup.

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