Gary Player could never have imagined the storm of protest that would arise in his native South Africa from his design work at Pun Hlaing… fully five years AFTER the course opened!
In 2002, Player’s company laid out the course on former paddy fields where the Hlaing and Pun Hlaing rivers meet the Yangon River, constructing a top-end golfing facility to attract a sizeable number of tourists visiting the country.
Five years later, with anti-government demonstrations in Myanmar attracting publicity around the world, the media in South Africa suddenly turned their attention to The Black Knight’s earlier business dealings in south east Asia, publishing quotes like “Pun Hlaing is a playground designed for Burma's generals” and “golf is the sport of the generals, who conduct much of their business on the links.”
Understandably, the 9-time Major winner was none too impressed at the implication of his complicity with a regime that many find repressive and he withdrew his sponsorship from several golfing events at that time. For someone who has raised millions for underprivileged children through the Gary Player Foundation, the great man has nothing to prove when it comes to helping others and it just goes to show that sport and politics really should never mix.