Golf and music have always had a great deal in common. In Los Angeles and New York, musicians who could play a decent round frequently found themselves steadily employed. Golf has an ability to create neutral, relaxed space that allows players to build comraderie and trust. When contractors who chose artists for recording sessions teamed with jazz musicians like Ray Brown, Dave Pell and many others in the 1950s, opportunities flourished. Mind you, the talent was always there, but golf had a way of increasing the possibiltiies and still does.
I've played golf a few times but I'm hardly in my brother's league. He plays all the time—and he's a musician and a contractor. I also spent the early '80s working in the sports department of The New York Times. So I was eager to interview Gary Player, 78, one of golf’s greatest players and one of only five winners of a career Grand Slam. In today's Wall Street Journal (go here or please buy the paper), I interview Gary on his sprawling home in the wilds of South Africa.
"My father was a poor man—he worked in a goldmine. When I was 16, I told him I intended to become a world-class golfer. He said he wished I’d become a doctor or lawyer but said if I was going to be a golfer, I should develop a brand, to stand out.
"I first came to America in the early ‘60s with that thought in mind. When I watched Have Gun Will Travel on TV and saw Richard Boone [above] all in black, I thought, “Man, he’s dressed nice.” So I began wearing black in tournaments. Because I wore black and often came from behind to win, the media in the early ‘60s started calling me the Black Knight.
"My son Marc runs our business and has developed and grown the brand through Black Knight International. But none of the rooms at my ranch are painted black—just the roof."
Here's Gary in action...