Sir Bob Charles was elected to the position of New Zealand Golf patron at the organisation’s latest annual meeting.
Sir Bob, always the consummate professional, has been a significant part of the golfing landscape in this country and New Zealand Golf said it was with great honour that it announced Sir Bob’s acceptance of this distinguished role.
The position was left vacant after the late Sir Thomas Gault died last year. Justice Gault had been a life member of New Zealand Golf for more than 20 years and held the position of New Zealand Golf patron for 22 years.
Sir Bob is one of the world’s most renowned and popular golfers, earning the title of golfer of the year after winning The Open in a play-off at Royal Lytham & St Annes in England in 1963.
He won nearly 80 titles around the world and in New Zealand’s new year honours of 1999, Charles was appointed a knight companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit for services to golf. Charles was also admitted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2008 and recently became the newest honorary member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club showing his class and world-wide recognition for what he has given to the game.
Sir Bob has always taken a keen interest in the development of the game of golf at home. As he continued his golfing success into his senior years, winning over 20 times on the senior tour, he donated a significant part of his earnings to New Zealand Golf and the country’s professional golf tour is named after him.
Since 2008, the Charles Tour in New Zealand has grown to become an important tournament series that prepares our best amateurs and young professionals for a successful life as a golfer. Sir Bob continues to have a significant impact and influence in a number of areas across the golfing industry.
Sir Bob attended the recent New Zealand Golf annual meeting where he talked about his involvement in golf along with his recently voiced passion for speeding up the pace of play and simplifying the rules of golf.
... and honorary member of Royal and Ancient Golf Club
He started his working career as a bank teller. He later became one of New Zealand’s most famous golfers with his win in The Open Championship in England in a 36-hole playoff. Now he is an honorary member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
“I am extremely proud and gratified to be invited to become an honorary member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club,” said Sir Bob.
“Winning The Open was a tremendous part of my career and I have always had a huge affinity for the championship and the wonderful links courses on which it is played. The club is at the heart of golf in St Andrews and it is a privilege to follow so many other great champions in becoming part of its history.”
Gavin Caldwell, captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, said: “I am delighted to welcome Sir Bob Charles as an honorary member of the club.
“He has graced the sport for many years as one of its outstanding champions and has given back so much to golf by supporting development initiatives in his native New Zealand. Sir Bob has made a substantial contribution to the growth of golf throughout a long and successful career and thoroughly deserves this recognition.”
Born in the Wairarapa town of Carterton in 1936, Sir Bob discovered a love for golf at an early age and began work as a bankteller.
He went on to win the New Zealand Open as an amateur in 1954 and enjoyed an extensive amateur career before turning professional in 1960. Sir Bob became the first left-handed golfer to win on the PGA Tour at the Houston Classic three years later. In that same year, he finished tied with American Phil Rodgers at The Open at Royal Lytham and went on to win the 36-hole play-off by eight shots with a memorable display of putting.
In 1969, Sir Bob won the World Matchplay Championship and, as well as achieving numerous victories around the world, he amassed a string of top five finishes in major championships, including finishing tied second in The Open in 1968 and second the following year. He then embarked on a successful senior career, winning the Senior Open on two occasions, at Turnberry in 1989 and at Royal Lytham, 30 years on from his victory there in The Open. Sir Bob announced his retirement from competitive golf after the Senior Open in 2010 at the age of 74.
Sir Bob received a CBE for services to golf in 1992, a knighthood in 1999 and was appointed to The Order of New Zealand for services to his home country in 2011.