FOR GARY PLAYER’S 80TH BIRTHDAY ON
November 1, friends and family will gather to deliver cards, gifts, a book of memories, 80 birthday spanks and a pinch to grow an inch. Which is only fair, seeing how in his 62 years as a pro, it was Player who did most of the spanking. He won 165 tournaments worldwide, 24 of them on the PGA Tour and nine of them major championships. He’s one of ve players to capture the career Grand Slam.After he turned 50, he won 19 times on the Champions Tour, six of them senior majors. He has also raised more than $50 million for charity through The Player Foundation. As a golfer, course designer and philanthropist, Player has iced a lot of cakes.Along the way, he has run up some curious numbers, real Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! stu , much of which Player himself is quick to point out.Among the feats: 24 000 000 KILOMETRES FLOWN Since 1953, Player has own an estimated 24 million kilometres.“Certainly more than any golfer, and I think it’s more than any human being in history, including pilots and astronauts,” he told Golf Digest in 2002.We’re not so sure about the astronaut part, but we know the busiest commercial airline pilots log about 725 000 kilometres a year, so he outstrips them easily.The 24 million kilometres works out to about 2 700 Johannesburg-to-London trips. 325 COURSES DESIGNED Player has designed 325 courses worldwide, according to GaryPlayer.com, which is 75 percent of the total number of courses in South Africa today. If the layouts average 50 hectares, that comes to about 162 square kilometres – about half the size of the Vaal Dam. If you had built each hole along the N1, they would stretch from Cape Town past the Beit Bridge border post into Zimbabwe. STOMACH CRUNCHES A DAY Player does 1 000 stomach crunches daily. Over 55 years (we’ll give him seven years’ worth of days o ) that’s more than 20 million crunches. Men’s Health estimates it takes 48 000 crunches to shed one kilogram of body fat. So Player has lost 412 kilograms, or roughly six full versions of himself.