Gary Player on clubhouse etiquette: ‘Things need to change’


He’s a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist, but even Gary Player says it’s time for golf accesories to be more accepting

If Arnold Palmer caught you breaking clubhouse etiquette rules, watch out. Even Gary Player wasn’t exempt from a tongue lashing from the King.

“He was really tough with those guys,” he recalls. “I wore a hat inside Jack Nicklaus’s club the other day, unaware that I was doing it. He said, ‘There’s no sun inside here, you know?’”

“I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You’ve got your hat on.’”

Player likes his traditions. Not wearing a cap during a meal, smartening up with a jacket and tie at Muirfield, he’s a self-confessed “old poop”.

“It’s something so nice and I go back and say, ‘This is how it used to be.’”

The times they are a-changin’, though, and Player, speaking as a Wentworth ambassador, believes golf has got to move along with them.

He may be the man who tells his grandchildren to leave their phones at home when they come to dinner.

But as he stresses that the growth of the sport depends on getting the young to start, and stick with it, Player senses some of the traditions that bonded his generation will need to be set aside.

“Today, you tell a guy he’s got to have a pair of socks and they have to be under his knee high. They’re not prepared to do that. They are not prepared to not have their [mobile] phone.

Gary Player

“They want to have their hat on back to front. I don’t know. I don’t like it. But if we want to keep them playing, we might have to say, ‘Yes guys, go ahead and do it.’”

He adds: “Thank god I don’t make the decisions on that. All I want people to do is to be happy and enjoy your game of golf, and have a good camaraderie in your club and encourage them to come out and keep playing and supporting the club.

“You can’t just have a closed mind and say, ‘I was brought up that way.’ Things will change dramatically. Things are changing in this world at a very rapid pace.

“One has got to realise this world is not going to stay the same. I can only repeat and say thank goodness I don’t have to make the rules.”

Is Gary Player right? Do clubs need to soften their stance on traditional clubhouse etiquette? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.





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