South African golf legend Gary Player, one of the game’s most successful competitors, has hailed Golf Live the most fantastic and successful show he has ever seen in his record-breaking career.
The nine-time Major winner attended the opening day of the golfing extravaganza at The London Golf Club - a European Tour Destination - and spent his time meeting and chatting with fans, as well as demonstrating his undoubted skill, and the 76-year-old was clearly impressed with what he saw.
Player, the only player to with golf’s Grand Slam on the regular and senior Tours, said: “I have never seen a better promotion in my life. It’s so good it’s frightening. I have been a professional for just under 60 years and this is one of the most fantastic and successful shows I have seen.
“I had no idea what to expect when I arrived and wasn’t sure what I’d find but have been very impressed. It is so different than going to a golf tournament.
“There’s no substitute for personal contact. When you go to a golf tournament you cannot speak to the pros. Here at Golf Live, you have got the manufacturers, chipping, putting and celebrities. There truly is something for everyone and I have never seen anything like it. I’m amazed no one has done something like this before and I’m sure the format of the show can be a success all over the world.
“Shows like this are what golf needs. You have everybody who is important in golf attending and events like this have a great effect on developing the game and bringing new players in the sport.”
Player is just one of a number of world-class golfers attending the London Golf Club, Kent, for the three-day event, which runs until Sunday evening.
Ryder Cup-winning captain Colin Montgomerie, European Tour winners Pablo Larrazabal, Thomas Levet and Rhys Davies and ‘Voice of Golf’ Peter Alliss are also among those appearing as well as victorious Solheim Cup captain Alison Nicholas and Ladies European Tour stars Carly Booth and Melissa Reid.
And event ambassador Montgomerie was equally effusive as Player in his praise of the event. He said: “I am enjoying myself, so let’s hope that that comes over to the crowds because I really feel it. It’s a tremendous event and I think it’s bringing the golfing public into the game of golf.
“For golfers to come here and see the interaction between the pros and the general public is fantastic. It’s the only show that does this and we’re really looking forward to Saturday and Sunday.
“We’ve got bigger crowds this year, the stands and exhibition tents are all busier. The clothing the clubs, all the golf products and merchandise out there is fantastic, and the crowds are really enjoying themselves which is what it’s all about.”
It wasn’t just the professional golfers who enjoyed their visit, as some of the big-names were joined in a two-hole skills challenge by Strictly Come Dancing star Anton du Beke, former England rugby player Austin Healey and Formula One driver Heikki Kovalainen.
Six-handicapper du Beke was impressed with what he saw and hopeful he might find something to help develop his game further.
He said: “I’ve got a new putter and that’s lovely, but I’m wondering if there’s a hut here where I can buy a short game!
“It’s been a great day. I’ve been the last couple of years and it’s always enormous fun, The pros are good fun, you can give them a bit of banter and teasing.
“Anything like this is good to get people in to golf; it makes it light-hearted and fun. The problem is the only golf we see on TV is the top level. These guys are doing it for a lot of money so it’s very serious but days like this where it’s relaxed and loose really gets people having fun and that’s great.
Golf Live is taking place at the London Golf Club, Kent, and is open 10am-6pm Saturday and Sunday [May 19 and 20].
As well as meeting and learning from the big-name golfers, golf fans will have a host of interactive features to enjoy including free golf lessons; club-fitting; the opportunity for a Golf Monthly swing MOT; and stunning displays from the 2010 world long-drive champion Joe Miller and world-renowned trick-shot artists Jeremy Dale and Paul Barrington.
Visitors can also take advantage of autograph sessions with all the star golfers, including Montgomerie signing copies of his new autobiography which is being specially released for the show, while on-site catering is supplied by Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts team.
Virgin Atlantic flights are among the big prizes available to be won in daily competitions, including long-drive, nearest the pin, putting and events in association with the Seve Ballesteros Foundation and Scotland – the Home of Golf.
Lee Westwood’s coach, Pete Cowen, will share his swing methods and secrets, while consumers will have the chance to try out the latest in golf club technology from the game’s top brands including TaylorMade, Callaway, Wilson, Cleveland, Mizuno, Yonex, Cobra, Archer Golf, Lynx and PSP, who will all be demonstrating their latest equipment on the show’s 30-bay outdoor driving range.
In addition, the likes of Sub70, Sligo, Powerbug, Asbri, Loudmouth Golf, QOD and Snooper will also be among the impressive cast of companies involved.
Tickets cost just £20 for adults while under-18s can gain free entry by registering on Golf Live’s website. For more information visit www.golfliveevent.com.