83-year-old famous golfer shares golf, fitness tips in UAE

 

The South African held the fourth Gary Player Invitational, a charity golf series, in Abu Dhabi.- Photo by Ryan Lim/Khaleej Times
The South African held the fourth Gary Player Invitational, a charity golf series, in Abu Dhabi.- Photo by Ryan Lim/Khaleej Times

Abu Dhabi - Gary Player is one of the world's greatest golfers and one of only five in the modern era to have won the Career Grand Slam.

By Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Mon 14 Jan 2019, 6:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Feb 2023, 4:16 PM

At the ripe old age of 83, Gary Player swings his golf club as good as any other pro at the Saadiyat Golf Beach Club in Abu Dhabi. Player is one of the world's greatest golfers and one of only five in the modern era to have won the Career Grand Slam - apart from Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

The South African held the fourth Gary Player Invitational, a charity golf series, in Abu Dhabi with the proceeds going to the Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs.


'Mr. Fitness' of golf held an informative and lively clinic for the children of determination from the Zayed Higher Organisation.

"I have seen you last time," the octogenarian said, pointing to a child. He stunned everyone by balancing two clubs between his two fingers.


Player told kids that, in most sports events, the strength comes from the abdomen, hips and thighs.

"Where do you see more muscles, in your forearm or thighs? People think power comes from having a strong forearm but they are wrong."

Apart from giving tips on golf, Player's main aim is to spread awareness about the need for exercise and its health benefits.

"I was a very poor boy. I suffered a lot as a young kid. So I have a great sense of appreciation and gratitude," he told Khaleej Times in an exclusive chat.

Fitness tips for UAE schools

Player travels a lot and has a great insight into culture, tradition, religion and, importantly, people of places he visits.

"People take health for granted. There's probably three per cent of the world that's worried about exercise and eating properly. You take Dubai and here, the young people are riddled with diabetes. They play on smartphones and don't work out. Every school should make children walk around the school twice as they come in the morning. At break, walk around the school again, and before they go home, walk around the school twice. It should be compulsory."

Player reveals health secret

"I work out four times a week. I do thousands of sit-ups. I run on the treadmill. I do all weight-training exercises. But the big secret is to undereat and exercise. The less you eat, the longer you live. People think the more you eat the better you are. Look at this country alone, diabetes is prolific. It is one of the most serious diseases today."

'UAE is best place to live'

The South African is in love with the UAE - and Abu Dhabi is one of his favourite places in the world.

"You have rules, law and order, and safety. You don't have that in the West and places around the world. The world is not safe anymore. Here you feel safe and it's just unbelievable. People respect each other, which is very important. You see the architecture of mosques, the Louvre and Guggenheim coming along, magnificent hotels, stylish buildings and beautiful beaches and climate. This is the place to live for any young man or if you got family. The safety aspect is a worrying thing for the West and the rest of the world," he added before setting off to knock balls at his self-designed golf course.

One-eyed Dubai golfer still packs a punch at 63

Ashok Kumar C.A. is a 63-year-old amateur golfer from Dubai who continues his passion for the sport despite losing an eye to cataract.

"I came here in 1983. I am into supplies of building material but have passion for tennis and golf. I started playing as an amateur from 1990s. I have won championships at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club and the Honour of Merit," he said on the sidelines of Gary Player Invitational in Abu Dhabi.

His passion for the sport was such that he sent his only daughter Rhea Nair to train in the US.

"She was only 11 then. She won the Future Collegians World Tour. She has started her own golf clothing firm Strike & Cuff last year there. I also played once in Augusta Invitational."

His life turned upside down three years back when a cataract operation done in India went wrong.

"It was a simple operation but then an infection developed due to wrong procedures. I went to another hospital and my face is still intact. But I continue my passion for sport with one eye. For me there is no greater joy than being at a golf course."

ashwani@khaleejtimes.com



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