There has recently been an enormous movement in golf architecture around the world toward cutting down trees on golf courses. It is generally being done to help turf grow better, open up vistas and increase optionality. But golf legend Gary Player is furious about it.
Not only is Player (85), a husband, father, grandfather, a PGA Tour winner, a major champion and a World Golf Hall of Famer, he is a tree hugger too. The South African golf player has won nine majors and 160 tournaments worldwide during his playing career.
He has also designed more than 400 golf courses around the world, including the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa, the Edinburgh Course at Wentworth, Indian Open venue DLF Country Club and Thracian Cliffs in Bulgaria.
Player stepped into the broadcast booth during the Payne’s Valley Cup, the exhibition featuring Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose to celebrate the opening of Woods’ first public course design.
He was asked what he’s prouder of—his golf career or his career as a golf course architect. He took this opportunity to discuss the environmental concerns of building a golf course. Player started off mentioning the need to not overwater and use to much fertilizer.
And then he got right into it . . .
“The other thing that is driving me crazy, my brother went to war to fight for the Americans when he was 17 years of age,” said Player, who is South African. “And he became one of the world’s leading conservationists.
And he was a tree-hugger, the same way that I am. I am a tree-hugger. “And I’m seeing trees on golf courses today that were 80 years old and they’re slicing them down by some city slicker. They should be fined for doing this.
All the great golf courses of the world—Augusta, Pine Valley, Royal Melbourne, one of Jack’s courses at Muirfield [Village], one of Jack’s most beautiful courses—they’re treelined. “It’s nonsense to be cutting all these treelines.
It’s unfair. Worry about the Amazon cutting down the trees, and we’re contributing to the same effect. For goodness sakes, stop cutting them down and plant more. If you don’t know how to get a golf course with great shape, brush up on your knowledge.
Because I can tell you, all the great golf courses of the world were treelined, around the greens and around the fairways.” “For me it’s very important, having been a farmer and having raised a lot of different crops, etcetera.
We’ve got to watch water, we’re running out of water,” Player said. “I am a tree hugger. And I’m seeing trees on golf courses today that were 80 years old and they’re slicing them down by some city slicker, they should be fined for doing this”.
Player also noted that “all the great golf courses of the world,” such as Augusta National, Pine Valley and Royal Melbourne, are all tree-lined.