gary player

South African sports legend Gary Player has accumulated a mountain of international golfing championships, but his biggest win has perhaps been asking his childhood sweetheart to marry him, and staying loyal to her ever since.

gary player
Gary Player with his childhood sweetheart, and now wife of 61 years, Viv. Source: Gary Player

The couple celebrated their anniversary on Friday 19 January.

Gary wrote on Facebook: “Celebrating 61 years of marriage today with my special sweetheart. I asked her to marry me when I was 15, and we never looked back. Six children, 22 grandchildren and one great-grandchild on the way. Love you Viv, Gabs”

gary player

Congratulatory messages have poured in from around the world. Here’s just a handful:

Sharon Pringle McClelland: “Wonderful. You have always been an inspiration in SA and your honor and integrity have always made people look up to you. Congratulations Mr and Mrs Player. Your love for each other and your faith in this country shines through in your faces.”

Pete Veysie: “Congratulations to an amazing couple who are a blessing and role model to Debbie and myself. We continue to pray for you and share our love with you. We are just 30 years behind you at 31 years this year.”

Claude Centner: “Congrats Mr Player. As a fellow S African living abroad in California, you have always set such a wonderful example and made me proud, you have been an ambassador of note and to do all you have done you need a strong loving and caring person by your side. Happy Anniversary.”

George Megit: “Congratulations uncle Gary and aunt Viv on celebrating a milestone. Truly a great gift from God. May He always take care of you remarkable couple. (My parents celebrated their 62nd on the 14th January) – George Megit jr. Go well great people.”

Sue Clothier: “Congratulations. What a wonderful achievement. I thought you might be interested to know that I cared for [English professional golfer] John Jacobs for about 18 months before he died and he always spoke very highly of you as he regaled a few stories of competitions against you and your first, somewhat cheeky meeting with him at, I think, St. Andrews.”

But the best comment came from Steven Begich: “Congratulations. My wife is from South Africa. I’ve discovered your secret! We just enjoyed our 4th anniversary. Thank you for having this post. It’s inspiring.”