Foreign-Born Golf Legend Gary Player Kicks Off Masters by Reminding Americans How Blessed We Are: ‘Kiss the Ground’

Foreign-Born Golf Legend Gary Player Kicks Off Masters by Reminding Americans How Blessed We Are: ‘Kiss the Ground’

Sometimes it takes a voice from another place and time to remind Americans of the unique blessings they must protect.

Before the ceremonial opening tee shot ahead of the 2024 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, on Thursday, and again later at a press conference, legendary South African golfer Gary Player, 88, spoke of his love for the United States of America.

“If you’re here, you are so blessed. And you should kiss the ground every day,” Player said in a clip posted to the social media platform X.

“And,” the retired legend added, pausing a few seconds and tightening his lips as if to choke back emotions, “just appreciate what this country’s done for the world.”

Player, who turned professional in 1953, finished his illustrious career with 24 PGA Tour wins. That included Masters Tournament victories in 1961, 1974 and 1978.

His love for America, therefore, came from the experiences of a man with memories of the World War II Era.

“Having come here the first time in ’57 and met one of my heroes, President Eisenhower — because, as we all know, he was a man who believed in freedom, and what he did for this great country, you can’t describe it,” Player recalled at the press conference shown below in a longer clip. “And so I had such admiration for him.”

What a striking contrast with the denigrating half-truths or outright falsehoods about American history that one often hears nowadays.

Then, while speaking of his Masters memories, Player twice used the word “gratitude.”

And that train of thought brought him back to the United States and all he has witnessed in his life.

“My eyes have seen things that are enjoyable,” he said, “but also very sad.”

“And so,” he added, “you come here to this great country of the United States — the greatest country that God ever made — and that’s a privilege and an honor, and to be part of this tournament is something that is much appreciated.”

Readers may view the entire press conference below. Player’s comments began around the three-minute mark and continued to the five-minute mark.

Golfers past and present have said inspirational things ahead of the 2024 Masters.

Earlier this week, for instance, Scottie Scheffler, the world’s top-ranked golfer, spoke openly of his Christian faith.

Player’s comments, both praising God and celebrating America, landed with a force that one finds difficult to describe.

Readers who grew up in the second half of the 20th century might understand the feeling of loss that often accompanies reflections on the World War II generation. Without deifying those heroes, one often felt that as long as that generation survived, American freedom would endure.

Indeed, one might even interpret America’s recent descent into authoritarian madness as partly a consequence of that generation’s passing.

Thus, Player’s words sounded like a voice from a different age, reminding us how far we have fallen.

On the other hand, the legendary golfer spoke in a tone, not of chastisement, but of thankfulness.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Player has a foreigner’s perspective on what makes the United States special among nations.

To native-born Americans’ great shame, one often finds the strongest love for America among people born elsewhere. And in many cases, those foreign-born patriots fled tyranny.

Earlier this week, for instance, Lily Tang Williams, a Chinese immigrant now running as a Republican for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District, went viral for challenging the young gun-control activist David Hogg to go to China and see how gun control works for a communist dictatorship.

Likewise, on a more personal level, a late former colleague in academia, whose family escaped Soviet-controlled Hungary in the 1950s, used to refer to himself as “born American, but in the wrong place.”

In other words, being American has nothing to do with ethnicity. It means believing in equality under God, natural rights, government by consent and the rest of the Declaration of Independence.

Thankfully, we have voices from elsewhere to remind us of all we must cherish and defend.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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