Player warns that Old Course is set to become ‘obsolete’
Three-time Open champion Gary Player reckons the Old Course at St Andrews will be shown up as “obsolete” when it stages the 2022 Claret Jug event.
Speaking in his new role as a Wentworth ambassador, the South African said he feared big-hitters like bulked-up American Bryson DeChambeau are going to tear the historic Fife course apart in the future.
“Isn’t it sad? The great home of golf, St Andrews, a place we all love and adore, that is so obsolete,” declared Player.
“Bryson has put on 40 yards and it is going to ruin it. They are going to drive nine greens at St Andrews.”
“I don’t think the average golfer wants to see that at all. They don’t want to see a slogging match, though maybe I am wrong.
“And it is a Mickey Mouse at the moment compared to what is coming along. The game is changing so rapidly and it really is quite frightening.”
Martin Slumbers, the R&A chief executive, admitted in an interview earlier this week to being “fascinated” by DeChambeau overpowering courses on the PGA Tour since beefing up in lockdown.
But he also reiterated that the governing bodies still aim to do something about the length issue in the game once the industry starts to regain stability from the impact of Covid-19.
“I’ve never chatted to Martin Slumbers about this, but why are they starting to worry about DeChambeau,” added Player, who claimed one of his Open wins at Muirfield.
“We have been talking about this for a long time, myself, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer for years and years.
“It is both the club and
the ball. But, once the ball is done, we are 80 per cent there.”
Player turns 85 in November, but is still going strong and continuing to strenghten ties from his distinguised career whenever the opportunity arises.
He won the World Match Play on five occasions at Wentworth and is now delighted to be flying the flag for the Surrey club, home of the BMW PGA Championship.
“I am delighted to be representing Wentworth, a club that I have a longstanding relationship with,” he said.
“I first arrived at Wentworth in 1955 and it is a place that holds a special place in both mine and my wife’s heart.
“Of particular fondness are the memories of the Matchplay. I consider my five wins to be some of the finest of my career.
“Furthermore, I have always had a close relationship with the members and I look forward to seeing them all soon. The courses are always in immaculate condition and the club continues to try find ways to improve and is a brand that I am very proud to be associated with.”
Neil Coulson, the Wentworth Club manager, described Player as a “true golfing legend”, adding: “Gary’s relationship with the club has now spanned more than 60 years.
“We are honoured to extend our relationship further and are excited by the opportunities this will provide our members. They will be able to listen to stories and learn from the great man.”