Born in Corvallis, Oregon, Gilder graduated from Corvallis High School and attended Arizona State University in Tempe. He walked on to the Sun Devils’ golf team and was the 1973 Western Athletic Conference individual golf champion.
Gilder turned pro later that year and found success soon thereafter. He won a tournament on the Australian Tour, New Zealand Open, a year after turning professional.
1974 New Zealand Open: The Shirley course at Christchurch provided this venue on November 21 to 24 and a three-way tie involving Bob Charles, Jack Newton and young American Bob Gilder was followed by a fascinating three-hole playoff to determine the winner.
It was Newton who led the event throughout the first three days but two poor holes gave him a final round 74. Gilder, who was required to qualify for the championship, had two excellent scores on the second and third days and a par round to finish. Charles was six underplaying the last hole on the final day and on a hole considered straight forward, he boogied.
The playoff began at 16 and at the next hole Newton bogeyed and dropped out. On 18, for the second time on the day, Gilder scored a birdie three to claim the title.
He won his first PGA Tour tournament a year and a half later at the 1976 Phoenix Open. He won six times during his career, including three in 1982. Gilder was a touring mainstay for many years and played on the Ryder Cup team in 1983.
Gilder may be best remembered for his double eagle in 1982 at the Manufacturers Hanover Westchester Classic. It took place during the third round, at the 509-yard (465 m) par-5 18th hole of the Westchester Country Club, just north of New York City. Gilder used a 3 wood from 251 yards (230 m) away; his second shot carried 230 yards (210 m), landed softly on the green, and rolled into the cup. A plaque on the 18th fairway commemorates the feat. It gave him a 192 (−18) for 54 holes, which tied a tour record. It also doubled his lead to a comfortable six strokes; he won the tournament by five strokes on Sunday with a 69 to finish at 261 (−19).
Gilder won one of the longest sudden-death playoffs in PGA Tour history at the Phoenix Open in January 1983. It took him eight holes to defeat Rex Caldwell, Johnny Miller, and Mark O’Meara. It was his second win in Phoenix and sixth and final victory on the PGA Tour.