A ball manufacturer has been forced to distance themselves by a stunt played by Gary Player's son on the opening day of The Masters.
The South African, along with Jack Nicklaus and Lee Elder - the first person of colour to play The Masters in 1975 - took part in the ceremonial opening drive at Augusta on Thursday morning.
Player's son Wayne, however, appeared to take the tone down a notch or two by seemingly engaging in some guerilla marketing.
Acting as his father's caddy, Wayne held up a box of OnCore balls to make them clearly visible on camera during Elder's introduction to the crowd.
This did not go unnoticed by eagle-eyed viewers on social media.
How many of you spotted Gary Player’s son deliberately promote OnCore Vero X balls? Gary Player is without doubt the greediest, most self-centred, manipulative man I’ve ever encountered..who now represents Saudi Golf! Ching Ching $$$ pic.twitter.com/wfx8jENh4z
— GaryEvans (@garyevanspro) April 8, 2021
Wayne is a shareholder in the OnCore business, via a firm who invested in them.
Clearly embarrassed, the ball manufacturers released a statement on Thursday evening distancing themselves from Wayne Player's actions, saying, "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 offence or was a distraction from the wonderful recognition being paid to Mr. Elder."
It's not the first time Wayne Player has courted controversy.
In 2018, he was charged with deposit account fraud/bad cheque after renting a house for clients during that year's Masters.
Gary Player, meanwhile, gave his support to then South African prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd in the 1966 book Grand Slam Golf. Verwoerd was considered one of the architects of South African apartheid. It took player 21-years to disavow himself of those comments.
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.
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.
Throughout its history, OnCore has been an ardent supporter of diversity and inclusion in golf and was the first corporate ball sponsor of the Nomads - an organization of African American golfers that, like Mr. Elder, have advanced the awareness and recognition of the challenges faced by persons of color.
In December, OnCore sponsored the inaugural United Golfers Association tournament in Orlando, Florida. UGA is a 501c3 non-profit organization that is committed to increasing the introduction, development and advancement of African American youth being introduced to the sport of golf.
The company is proud of its products, its community involvement, and its support of golfers of all ages, ethnicity, gender, and skill level. We congratulate Mr. Elder on this wonderful recognition alongside golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player and wish everyone a successful Masters tournament.
•OnCore CEO Keith Blakely