Sign up for our daily newsletter

Latest news, reviews, analysis and opinion, plus unmissable deals for bunkered subscriptions, events, and our commercial partners.

Gary Player’s son has been condemned by social media users – including his own brother – for “ambushing” the Masters honorary starter’s ceremony with a piece of guerilla marketing.

Wayne Player, 58, was spotted displaying a sleeve of golf balls in the background of the shot as television cameras focused on Lee Elder during this morning’s honorary starter’s ceremony at Augusta National. 

Elder, 86, was the first black golfer to play in The Masters and, as the US continues to wrestle with race relations, he was invited to join regular starters Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus this year. 

• The Masters: How to play Amen Corner

• The Masters: The trouble with 13

Ill health prevented the four-time PGA Tour winner from joining Player and Nicklaus hitting a shot but, as the cameras trained their lenses on him, eagle-eyed viewers were quick to spot Player Jnr’s opportunism. 

He was seen holding a sleeve of balls made by OnCore, a New York-based ball company that Player has been an ambassador of since 2019. 

Here’s the moment…

Social media users were quick to blast Player Jnr for seizing upon what should have been a poignant moment for Elder, amongst Player’s estranged son, and Wayne’s brother, Marc.

In response to the controversy, OnCore’s CEO released a statement distancing the company from the controversy.

“We are aware of the criticisms that have been raised as a result of our product being displayed by Wayne Player at this morning’s ceremonial tee shot at the Masters, most specifically during the introduction of Lee Elder, one of golf’s trailblazers,” wrote Keith Blakely. 

• The Masters: Mixed weather forecast

• The Masters: Where & when to watch it on TV

“We did not ask or instruct Mr Player to have our ball sleeve visible during the ceremony and are sorry if his actions caused any offense or was a distraction from the wonderful recognition being paid to Mr Elder.”

This is not Wayne Player’s first brush with controversy in Augusta. In 2019, he was arrested on fraud charges stemming from a rental agreement he made for housing during the 2018 Masters.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

More Reads

Image Turnberry green

The bunkered Golf Course Guide - Scotland

Now, with bunkered, you can discover the golf courses Scotland has to offer. Trust us, you will not be disappointed.

Find Courses