The ironic thing about my week in Augusta is that I don’t have a lot of time to watch the Masters because it is the busiest week of my year. We’re entertaining over 300 people this week. I never thought that at my age I’d be involved in so many different businesses.
I always prepared for my retirement from golf, but I thought I was going to be a farmer, that I’d study genetics and get involved in breeding thoroughbred racehorses. I had no idea in those days that my golf career would go on. There wasn’t any money in it back then. Most of my family never saw me play in America — it was too far (it used to be a 40-hour, 4-stop flight from South Africa) and too expensive. Later on, we used to travel to tournaments with six children. I had to win just to break even!
Now I’ve designed 300 golf courses around the world and represent companies as a PR man and running charity golf tournaments. I’m enjoying life now as much as I was when I was a world champion, and I don’t want slow down. I’m nearly 79, but I suppose my biological age — if you compare heart rate and blood pressure and cholesterol and consider the fact that I work out like a Trojan — I’m probably not even 40!
Yesterday afternoon, I had three hours of autograph-signing to do, so I got to watch Bubba Watson’s fantastic round. Jordan Spieth is right in there, too. He’s a wonderful young man with tremendous ability, thought I think his left wrist is still a little bit too shut for my liking.
Today is Moving Day, and the tournament is still wide open, Anybody 1 or 2 strokes over par can still win it. Fatigue can start to become a factor, depending on how you train and how fit you are. If you’re smart, you increase your treadmill work or your running in the two weeks before the tournament to increase your stamina. You don’t realize it on television, but there’s no question that walking on this golf course is definitely twice as difficult as walking on any other golf course, because it’s uphill, downhill, left and right. It’s a hike!
People must never forget that the strangest things can happen on this golf course. I was 7 strokes behind Tom Watson with one round to go in 1978, and I shot 30 on the back nine on Sunday and won it, so you never know on this golf course. It’s a sleeping giant.
Gary Player will be sharing his thoughts on the Masters and recounting his adventures at Augusta National for Golf.com throughout the week. You can follow him @garyplayer.