Is Gary Player's Son Wayne Banned From The Masters?

Wayne Player was absent from the 2022 Masters, but why was that? And is he likely to appear with his father again?

Wayne Elder holds a sleeve of golf balls behind Lee Elder at the 2021 Masters
Lee Elder is banned from The Masters for Life after a publicity stunt at the 2021 tournament
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the build-up to the 2023 Masters, three-time winner Gary Player complained he feels unwelcome at the tournament and has to beg to play a round at Augusta National, but what about his son, Wayne?

As Gary appeared as an honorary starter in 2022, Player Jr was noted for his absence, and, weeks after Scottie Scheffler lifted the trophy, he revealed that he had received a lifetime ban from Augusta National. That decision stemmed from a publicity stunt Player Jr had embarked on during the opening ceremony of the 2021 tournament.

That was a particularly poignant affair because Lee Elder joined Player Sr and Jack Nicklaus as an honorary starter. Elder, who passed away later that year aged 87, broke down racial barriers in 1979 when he became the first African-American competitor in the Masters, and he was invited to be an honorary starter in recognition of that fact. 

A visibly frail Elder duly appeared at the ceremony. However, behind him was Player Jr, who held up a sleeve of OnCore golf balls in clear view of the cameras – a stunt seen as a blatant act of product placement.

After Player Jr didn’t appear last year, he finally broke his silence on his absence in an interview with Golf Digest, saying: “Well, they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity - I found out that that’s not quite true. I don’t mind letting people know. 

"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.”

Player Jr, who was serving as his dad’s caddie in 2021, also revealed that he had written a letter to Augusta National apologizing for his actions. However, if he was hoping to have the ban lifted, it fell on deaf ears. He continued: “It said thanks but no thanks. 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.”

It is possible the incident was the final straw after controversy involving Player Jr at a previous Masters. In 2018, he was arrested for fraud over an incident involving a house rental. Those charge were dropped, but at the same tournament, he was charged with battery – later reduced to disorderly conduct - after an altercation with a proposed purchaser of a package offering tickets, meals, drinks and a meet-and-greet with his father.

Despite Gary's recent complaints, there is no suggestion he will need to relinquish the honorary starter role he has held since 2012. Like 2022, though, he'll need to perform it without Wayne from now on. 

Mike Hall
Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 


He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 


Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 


Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.