Gary Player Says Augusta National Would Be Just ‘Another Course’ Without Him And Other Champs

Gary Player at The Masters at Augusta National

Getty Image / Gregory Shamus

Gary Player, 3-time winner of the coveted green jacket, sure seems like he has an axe to grind lately when it comes to The Masters and Augusta National Golf Club.

Player recently threw Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters under the bus while ranking golf‘s major championships. Gary ranked The Masters fourth behind the other there. Saying “I rate the Open at one, the US Open two, PGA three and Augusta four.”

The 9-time Major Championship winner went on to explain that the other 3 Major Championships are older than The Masters (first played on March 22, 1934) and that somehow means The Masters is 4th of 4.

Now Gary Player is back and he’s griping about his champion’s privileges at Augusta National as a former champion and not a full-fledged member of the club. Player told Golf‘s Josh Sens how life is different at Augusta National for the former champions, saying:

“A lot of people assume that I have those privileges, but they’re wrong. If I want to play a practice round with friends, I can’t just call the pro shop and make those arrangements. Trying to find someone who can host is not easy.”

At Augusta, Gary Player is synonymous with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. The Golden Bear is a full-time member and so was Arnold Palmer, but Gary only has former champion’s privileges.

He went on to question “It makes you wonder, How welcome are we really as past Masters champions?”

From there, Player called The Masters ‘a magnificent tournament’ but then discussed how it’s Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson that make it magnificent. Saying “without them, Augusta would just be another course.

Ah, yes, the course that has bunkers filled with sand that cannot be found anywhere else on earth would be ‘just another course’ without Phil Mickelson.

Of course, a lot of this seems to stem from Gary Player’s son being banned from The Masters after he used the opening ceremony to as a stunt to promote golf balls. His son was widely panned on social media for the moment, and rightfully so. It’s a ceremony, not an infomercial.

On the one hand, I do get Gary Player’s point. The prestige of Augusta National GC has been buoyed up by every past champion. And the club could do a LOT more for former champions, like starting with allowing them to bring a guest.

But Gary Player’s recent criticism of The Masters and Augusta National seems like he just has an axe to grind because he can’t bring out guests whenever he wants.

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