Gary Player's Son, Wayne, Confirms He's Banned from Masters for Life Following Promo Stunt

·3 min read
Honorary Starter Lee Elder of the United States (L), honorary starter and Masters champion Gary Player of South Africa and honorary starter and Masters champion Jack Nicklaus
Honorary Starter Lee Elder of the United States (L), honorary starter and Masters champion Gary Player of South Africa and honorary starter and Masters champion Jack Nicklaus

Jared C. Tilton/Getty

Wayne Player, the son of nine-time major champion Gary Player, opened up to Golf Digest about receiving a lifetime ban from the Masters after a guerrilla marketing move last year.

It was during the 2021 Masters that Wayne, 58, sparked criticism when he held up a box of OnCore golf balls during a photo opportunity with Lee Elder, a Black golfer who broke the tournament's color barrier in 1975. In an interview with Golf Digest, Wayne admitted it was an ill-timed promotional stunt.

"I had probably 50 texts after that, 40 of them said I'm a marketing genius, 10 were like, 'What the hell were you thinking?' " he told the outlet. "It wasn't premeditated, but it was a tacky thing."

Subsequently, Wayne said Augusta National Golf Club, where the Masters is held, banned him from the course. Augusta National did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

"I don't mind letting people know," Wayne told Golf Digest. "To be completely transparent I think it is a cool story because you know, the National never really came out formally and said, 'Oh, we're, you know, not allowing Wayne Player to come back to the Masters.' They never ever said that to the media. That's just the way they do it. They don't say much."

RELATED: Lee Elder, the First Black Golfer to Play at the Masters, Dies at 87: 'A Pioneer'

Wayne Player
Wayne Player

Jared C. Tilton/Getty

In a statement to Golf Digest, an OnCore representative said they "had no knowledge of, nor did we encourage or endorse, Wayne's attempt to bring attention to the OnCore golf balls" and have since expressed their "displeasure" with him. (OnCore did not immediately return PEOPLE's comment request.)

Wayne told the outlet that following the controversy, he called Elder to apologize.

"I said I was sorry, and I didn't mean to take up his special time," Wayne recalled. "And he said, 'Wayne, you know how much I love you. Right?' It didn't cross his mind. That's important for people to know."

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Wayne also said he has tried to apologize to Augusta National, but the organization has not been as receptive as Elder.

"[A response from them] said thanks but no thanks," he said. "It said, you know, we appreciate you reaching out and apologizing, we accept your apology, but we are not changing our position, we are not going to allow you back. You ruined a special moment in the history of the game of golf."

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Despite the ban, Wayne hopes to see a day when he is allowed back for the famed event.

"It's one of their traditions to give champions' families badges to the tournament," he told Golf Digest. "I was there for my dad's wins. The place means a lot to me. Hopefully, this will all pass."

Elder died at age 87 last November, just months after that year's tournament.

Gary, now 86, won the Masters three times and was an honorary starter this year.

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