Gary Player is golf’s global ambassador. He’s probably logged more miles playing golf around the world that any other player in the history of the game. So it makes sense, then, that Mr. Player would view his charitable endeavors with the view of a global citizen.
The Gary Player Invitational series, started in 1985 by Player’s son Marc, is a series of tournaments each year, held at varying places around the globe, that bring together professional golfers, celebrities and business leaders in the name of raising money to affect positive change in myriad ways around the world. The concept was born from an effort to provide education and health services to disadvantaged children in Johannesburg, in Player’s native South Africa. However, over the years, that cause has expanded dramatically, as has the efforts of The Player Foundation, which connects the Invitational series funds with charitable organizations.
To date, the series has raised $62 million, with a hope of cracking the $100 million figure by 2025.
In 2016, the series has five stops on the docket, with Abu Dhabi, Japan, Europe and the United States already hosting events. The final event, in South Africa, comes around Thanksgiving in the United States. While the geographic footprint of the series has expanded, the goals are fundamentally the same.
Proceeds from the Abu Dhabi event benefit the Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs, which aims to improve the lives of Emiratis with special needs through sport and wellness. This year’s event raised enough money to fund the equipment in a new gym the organization will build with Player’s name.
In Japan, the series supports the Support Our Kids group, which helps children affected by the 2011 Tohoku Great East Japan earthquake. The program enriches the lives of struggling children by giving them overseas homestay experiences, with the first trip to New Zealand. Almost 350 children have visited 10 countries with the help of the Player foundation.
The Depaul organization’s mission is to end homelessness in the United Kingdom, offering housing support, short- and long-term, for more than 3,500 at-risk youth with supported hostels.
The annual event in the U.S. supports a variety of charities, including the First Tee and delivering academic and athletic scholarship assistance to help kids get better schooling and access to local sports programs.
In Player’s home country, the series works to expand recycling projects in the Durban area of the country, helping those who are looking to turn conservancy into a business.
The series will continue again in 2017, with dates still to be announced as well the professional golfers and celebrities that will take part in each event. The tournaments typically have star-studded fields, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom, so they are a great opportunity for the able to have an incredible golf experience while helping thousands around the world.