One of the many longstanding traditions at The Masters is the honorary starter’s ceremony that annually kicks things off at Augusta National, a tradition that officially began in 1963. 24-time PGA Tour winner and three-time Masters champion Gary Player has been part of the ceremony for 10 years now and was joined on the first tee this past week by his youngest son, Wayne, who made a complete fool of himself as Augusta National was honoring Lee Elder, the first Black man to ever compete in the tournament, and has now apparently been banned from The Masters due to his actions.
Gary Player once made a mistake of his own following his first win at The Masters
As mentioned, The Masters has many longstanding traditions, one of which says that the winner at Augusta National can only keep his green jacket for one year following his victory, at which point it must be returned to the club. Gary Player, a native of South Africa and the tournament’s first-ever international champion, was unaware of this tradition.
Player won The Masters for the first time in 1961, defeating Arnold Palmer and amateur Charles Coe by one stroke. The following year, Player, Palmer, and 1958 PGA Championship winner Dow Finsterwald were all tied after 72 holes, which led to an 18-hole Monday playoff, which was won by Arnie.
Not knowing the rules, Player packed up the green jacket he’d won the previous year and flew back to South Africa, which led to a phone call from then-club Chairman Clifford Roberts, who told him he needed to return it, which he did. Obviously not a big deal but it’s just a fun Gary Player Masters story. Player went on to win The Masters two more times, earning a two-stroke win in 1974 and a one-shot victory in 1978.
The “Black Knight” became an honorary starter at Augusta National in 2012
Gary Player played The Masters for the final time in 2009, his 52nd appearance (a Masters record) and missed the cut after posting rounds of 78 and 83, which is still pretty impressive given the fact the “Black Knight” was 73 years old at the time.
Three years later, he was invited to become one of the honorary starters at Augusta National, joining Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, which made sense as the trio known as golf’s “Big Three” were the players mainly responsible for bringing mainstream popularity to the sport back in the day.
Since Palmer’s death in 2016, it’s been just Player and Nicklaus kicking off The Masters but it was announced last November that they would be joined in 2021 by Lee Elder, who became the first Black man to play the tournament in 1975.
Gary Player’s son, Wayne, who’s had trouble at Augusta National before, has been banned from The Masters
Despite the fact Lee Elder was unable to actually hit a tee shot this past Thursday morning at The Masters due to health reasons, the four-time PGA Tour winner was still honored on the first tee in what was quite the beautiful ceremony…outside of Gary Player’s son, Wayne, trying to promote golf balls anyway.
For those who missed it, as Elder was being honored, 58-year-old Wayne Player positioned himself right behind the golf pioneer (obviously knowing the cameras would be on him) and made sure to get a sleeve of OnCore golf balls in the shot. Player has been an ambassador for OnCore since 2019.
As it goes, Player was quickly criticized on social media and his older brother, Marc, has come out and said that Wayne has officially been banned from The Masters moving forward, calling his brother’s actions an “embarrassment.”
This wasn’t the first time Gary Player’s youngest son has found himself in hot water at Augusta National as he was arrested on charges of fraud back in 2019 stemming from a rental agreement during The Masters in 2018.