On March 17, 2024, Philippe Heuzé, the organizer of the Pro-Am South Africa, had the honor of sharing an exceptional moment with golf legend, Gary Player, during the “Table Bay Invitational” in Cape Town, Africa from South. The fairways of the Steenberg golf club vibrated under the footsteps of enthusiasts. Discover the story of this memorable day, between technique, emotion and sharing.

Philippe Heuzé: An unforgettable day with Gary Player

Gary Player, Cindy and Vic de Vries and Philippe Heuzé at the Table Bay Invitational

On March 17, 2024, I played with Mr Player!!

In the middle of the afternoon of February 22, I went to the reception of Table Bay Hotel and I am preparing to leave South Africa where I have just spent a month, busy organizing the South Africa Pro-Am and then the Cape Cobra Road Trip. At no time did I imagine returning there three weeks later…

And yet this is the surprise that has in store for me Joanne Selby, the general manager of the Cape Town palace.

“Philippe, I would be very happy if you could come back to participate in the first Table Bay Invitational in the presence of Gary Player.”

Obviously, this verbal invitation immediately provokes my enthusiasm at the mention of the name of this hero who is Black Knight, the man with 9 major victories that I had the privilege of meeting on a few occasions at Sun City in Goose Valley and in its superb club of Johannesburg, Blair Atholl.

I decide to shed a few tens of thousands of miles accumulated on Air France and proceeds with my reservation to find Cape Town and its benevolent Table Mountain the 15 march.

As soon as I arrived at the hotel, I was welcomed with open arms by the public relations manager of Sun International and I am installed on the 8th floor in an incredible suite with a panoramic view of the marvelous landscapes of the Mother City of South Africa.

A few moments later, I receive the welcome gift package which I hasten to unwrap to discover a magnificent polo shirt bearing the image of the event, Pro VI, a cap Titleist, sunscreen and even a small pair of socks. It's Christmas before time! After having lived a Sunday without constraints and as I like them to Cape Town, it’s “D” day.

It's Monday March 17!

At dawn, I even find myself putting on the thick carpet in my room... My motivation surprises me, but I am totally conditioned to the idea of ​​playing the two most important holes of my life with Gary Player hoping to rediscover certain automatisms from a time when my swing was more fluid and natural…

At breakfast, in the company of Vic and Cindy, my historical partners in South Africa, we talk about our growing stress at the idea of ​​this day of golf at Steenberg.

All in uniform, the distinctive sign between the few guests at this day is only obvious.

A jovial South African with a bright smile walks towards us and we joke. It is fortunate that a Frenchie made the trip to Cape Town. I will learn a little later that this friendly and very humble Popo Molefe was close to Nelson Mandela and president of the North-West province…
Two hours later, at 10 a.m. sharp, I found myself at the reception of the competition at the clubhouse of the Steenberg Golf Club, in the very select district of Constantia.

Surprise ! At reception, he’s there!

Very elegant, obviously dressed in black, he wears a superb black blazer with a Mao collar (he will tell me later that he orders his jackets from a tailor in New Delhi); at 88 years old, he impresses with the power of his charisma. After the welcome and a coffee shared with Popo Molefe, the latter and I head to the driving range; warm-up, a few drives and a whole series of 9 irons to try to find the rhythm... We will start from hole number 1 in the first part...

Vic, Cindy and myself, we head to the start at 11:20 a.m. and discover that Gary Player will share our game at 1 and 2... Then, he will continue in this way to give pleasure to the 9 teams of guests coming from world of tourism, sport, politics and journalism.

Vic has the honor and that relieves me! Gary observes him, and, at the height of his emotion, Vic gets up far too quickly and propels his ball with a little flick of about fifteen meters into a clump of agapanthus... Gary reassures him and confirms that he had made the same start during his first participation in the South African Open at Durban Country Club and that he had nevertheless won the tournament!

Oops, it's now my turn, when Mr Player exclaims in front of the thirty club members and photographers who came to watch the start.

  •  Philippe, are you okay? I love Paris, France, wine, horses and La Boulie, Saint-Cloud and Saint-Nom-la Bretêche, very pretty!

  • Yes, it's going very, very well. I replied, a little embarrassed and particularly moved.

It's my turn to play, I position myself well, think about my pace and prepare to hit my drive, having only an approximate idea of ​​the potential result. Phew, I'm reassured, I cut the fairway in two, my ball has a high parabola and I think it's not bad! The spectators tell me “good shot” and Gary “very nice shot”!

In his turn, in a polo shirt and black pants, he does some small flexibility exercises and tells me that everything must come from the abdominals; he performs his back-swing and his legs cause an incredible rotation of the torso. The trajectory is incredibly pure, the ball leaves the club with good speed and practically meets mine about 230 meters from the tee.

philippe-heuze-an-unforgettable-day-with-gary-player at the Table Bay Invitational

Table Bay Invitational: The Swing of Cyndi de Vries under the watchful eyes of Gary Player and Philippe Heuzé

It's then Cindy's turn to start and we then meet again for the second shot. Gary takes a small 7 iron wonderfully contacted, I make a short scratch of 10 meters…
He makes par and I make bogey.

At two the scenario almost repeats itself, but if I make a bogey once again, the champion makes a magnificent birdie after planting the flag with his 9 iron.

What a lesson and what a moment!!

In the evening, I take advantage of a little one-on-one time with him to listen to him talk about his friends. Jack, Arnold and Severiano. He tells me about his golf projects under construction in Montenegro and Dubai. I ask him if Rory is going to win the Masters; he answers me :

  • Augusta is a course for him, he is the best player.

  • So what's the problem ?

  • He is too relaxed and too nice to everyone; he no longer has the knife between his teeth!

You understand, it was a unique day and I thank Table Bay and Sun International hotels for allowing me to experience such a moment and for eternity.

And above all, in addition to sharing these hours in the company of this golf legend, I learned an incredible life lesson from an 88-year-old gentleman.

From 09:00 a.m. to 23:00 p.m., Gary Player was so professional, attentive, communicative and totally available that no words would be able to express my admiration for “ Black Knight » and this whole extraordinary era that it represents.

Thank you Gary Player, thank you Table Bay, thank you South Africa and thank you golf.

By Philippe Heuzé

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