On the Lip – The Shining Black Knight

By: Elisa Gaudet

Gary Player is one of golf’s great humanitarians. Now celebrating its 10th year, the Gary Player Invitational charity tournament has raised over $5 million to support global educational initiatives for children. Traditionally, these events have helped fund programs for children in foreign countries affected by severe poverty.

At this year’s tournament, Gary realized there were children in need right down the street. Pleasant City Elementary in West Palm Beach, Fla., was the recipient, and principal Andrea Peppers gave a speech that earned a standing ovation by celebrities and guests alike.

It’s startling to think that in Palm Beach, one of the most affluent areas in the world, there exists a community of people lacking many basic necessities. When thinking of children living in poverty and drug-infested homes – with nowhere to go for a wholesome meal and basic education, many often think these conditions only exist in Third World countries. The reality is that these same conditions exist right here in Florida.

Under the leadership of the remarkable Principal Peppers, Pleasant City Elementary was built three years ago to unite and rejuvenate the community. Children are attending classes in their own neighborhood for the first time since 1965. The school provides each child with a quality education, a 24-hour safe haven, a sense of community, self-esteem, guidance, nutrition and most importantly, love. Ultimately, the goal is to provide a solid foundation for these children to grow.

The three-day charity event was done in uncompromising Gary Player style – black, sleek and stylish. The Setai in South Beach, perhaps Miami’s hippest hotel, hosted the event. The Setai Courtyard held an elegant cocktail reception on the first night and, on the second evening, the hotel outdid itself, erecting a giant white tent on the beach for a sit-down dinner and party.

The attendees were crooned to by Michael Bolton. Later on, former pro football player Marcus Allen took the mike, displaying talents that go far beyond his years in the NFL. Richard Dent and Julius “Dr. J” Erving also proved to be multitalented. Major achievers in their respective sports, these gentlemen can play golf and are no strangers to the dance floor. A number of celebrities played golf and attended the events in support of Gary Player’s great cause. Also there were Tim Brown, Jim Palmer, Jerry Bailey, Andy Pilgrim, Kevin Sorbo of TV’s “Hercules” fame, Alan Thicke, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Ed Mariano, Beverly Johnson and Lawrence Taylor, to name just a few.

Crowd-pleaser and 2-handicap Lawrence Taylor admitted he would have been a golfer had he not been a football player, and wishes he had taken up the game of golf earlier in life. “After all,” he asked, “what could be better than playing golf every day and getting paid to do it?” On most days Taylor plays 36 holes. If you’re fortunate enough to have him as your celebrity in a foursome, be assured you’ll have a great time and see some amazing golf – including tee shots that would put some PGA Tour pros to shame. Taylor is just one of the many amazing athletes and celebrities who came out in support of Gary Player and Pleasant City Elementary.

When posed the question: Had he not been a golfer, what would he be doing? – Player said, “I would be a farmer, breeding race horses. I already have thoroughbreds. My heart is on a farm in Africa.”

He considers charity work his greatest off-course achievement and is dedicated to education, proper nutrition and exercise. He notes that his brother, who served in the World War II, was an enormous influence on him to exercise. One thing is for sure, Gary Player has his heart in the right place, be it Africa, Palm Beach or London. His dedication to charity, education and children is an inspiration to all of us. He’s a Black Knight that truly shines as a beacon of light.

Elisa Gaudet brings a wealth of entertainment and golf experience to Cybergolf. Elisa has spent the past several years in the golf industry in the U.S., Latin America and Spain. She worked for the PGA Tour and the Tour de las Americas before founding Executive Golf International, a golf marketing company that works with clients to develop strategies using golf as the medium. Often referred to as the Maria Bartiromo (a business analyst for CNBC) of golf, Elisa says: “Golf, as a marketing tool, has been around for years. It’s amazing how many new ways companies can align their brand with the golf market to reach their target audience. Our goal is to create alliances and establish cross-border relations.” Elisa also worked in the entertainment industry for over 10 years, including five in Los Angeles as a model and actress. She can be seen at many celebrity golf events and often gets the inside scoop from PGA Tour players. For more information about Elisa, visit her websites at www.onthelip.com or Executive Golf International www.execgolfintl.