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Gary Player and Rolex: because there’s only one dad

The story of the golfing Gary Player began in the 1950s and leaves us without any doubt as to the excellence and precision he brought to a sport that was, until then, little-known. Over his seven decades in the sport, the South African has won 165 tournaments in six continents, which has earned him the title of World’s Most Traveled Athlete® and, it goes without saying, a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. The true story behind Gary Player and Rolex goes even further.

The story of Gary Player and Rolex

Together with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Gary formed part of the “The Big Three”, iconic golfers of their time who revolutionized the sport of precision, dedication and concentration. And as the story of Rolex (link to previous post: The passage of time makes history) has been associated with the support of talent and excellence, this legendary phenomenon was never going to go unnoticed by the Swiss brand, whose shared values of strength, rigor and the pioneering spirit rang true.  

Even though Rolex had previously accompanied and supported the development of talent such as these three musketeers from the golf club, the true story of Gary Player won the heart of the Swiss watch brand. Gary came from a humble South African family. His mother died when he was 9 years old and he had to learn to be independent quickly as his father worked many hours in order to provide for his family. However, it was precisely this that encouraged him to play golf. He believed that if he trained hard enough and became good at the sport, he could travel the world and even get the chance to own his own Rolex, in those days a true status symbol. 

An anecdote that still endures in Gary’s memory and which summarizes his journey with Rolex, is one he tells himself, “Naturally, after winning my first Grand Slam I bought myself my first Rolex. It’s difficult to look back over a 60-year career and remember everything clearly, but I do remember saying: “Dad, I have that Rolex””. 

According to this golfing legend, his first Rolex represented more than just material gain, but rather an emotional possession that related to the way it came into his life and the things you associate yourself with. It’s not just a watch, it’s a story. The story behind his rise to become an elite sportsman, of how he overcame his fears, how he found the strength during training, of every defeat, the story in which he never gave up and came to proudly return to his father with his dream come true, even under such adverse circumstances. 

That’s why when Gary Player looks at his wrist, he inevitably thinks of his father. His father played an important role in his life, especially during his first steps in the world of golf.
“He was a very strong man, he was 1.90 meters tall, but when I won tournaments, he would hug me and weep. And that’s something he passed down to me. I am also very emotional. Sometimes, I look down at the watch and say: “Dad, it’s been a long journey”.

The story of Gary Player and Rolex is just one of thousands that hide behind each watch. What’s yours?