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Gary Player’s Favorite Golf Gambling Story: Arnold Palmer and a South African Goldmine

Jan 23, 2019 1:10 PM EST
Credit:

Michael Madrid, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Gary Player

The Action Network spoke with several of golf’s biggest legends find out their favorite personal golf betting stories. In a previous series, we spoke with several of today’s biggest stars about their favorite betting stories. You can find those here.

  • Who: Gary Player
  • When: Decades ago
  • Where: A goldmine in South Africa

Player’s favorite bet with a golfer didn’t happen on the golf course. Instead, it took place in a goldmine, where he made a bet on the strength of a friend – a friend named Arnold Palmer.

“The Big Three gambled together quite a bit. Throw Lee [Trevino] in there as well. But my favorite gambling story came off the golf course with Arnold Palmer.

“Arnie was in South Africa with me for a couple of exhibition tournaments, doing our part to grow the game globally. Really, we both came from humble beginnings. He knew that I grew up poor. My father was a goldminer, only making enough to feed his children and to make sure we had a proper education.

“Well, I took him down deep underground, about 8,000 feet, in the goldmine where my father worked. They had a nice little tour for people to see the mine, and the captain gathered us around this huge gold vault. He said it was impossible to pick up a single gold bar with the human hand and that nobody had ever done so.

“But Arnie, he had these strong, massive hands like Tarzan.

“I called out Arnie to the captain and said I thought he could do it. Everyone in the room chuckled, but Arnie and I were confident, so we asked to make a bet.

“The captain said no one had ever lifted it with their bare hands, and if Palmer did, we could keep it as a prize.

“Well, Arnie wrapped those gorilla hands around, and as he did you could feel the despair coming over the captain. I’ll never forget the look on his face when Arnie raised the gold bar over his head.

“The mine captain was shocked. Almost in tears, he said, ‘Please. No. I will get fired.’ We both jokingly said, ‘Well, sorry. You’re fired!’

“It was all in good fun. We didn’t actually keep the gold bar, but joked and teased the captain until we left.

“Memories are the cushions of life.”

Other golf gambling stories from legends of the game

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