Sir Bob Charles


Past Champion

1954, 1966, 1970 & 1973


Age: 88 years old
Place of Birth: Carterton, New Zealand
Turned Professional: 1960

Notable Achievements

  • 1954 New Zealand Open
  • 1961 New Zealand PGA Championship
  • 1963 Houston Classic
  • 1963 The Open Championship
  • 1965 Tucson Open Invitational
  • 1966 New Zealand Open
  • 1967 Atlanta Classic
  • 1968 Canadian Open
  • 1969 World Matchplay Championship
  • 1970 New Zealand Open
  • 1971 Officer of the Order of the British Empire
  • 1972 John Player Classic
  • 1972 Dunlop Masters
  • 1973 New Zealand Open
  • 1973 South African Open
  • 1973 Scandinavian Enterprise Open
  • 1974 Swiss Open
  • 1974 Greater Greensboro Open
  • 1978 Air New Zealand Shell Open
  • 1979 New Zealand PGA Championship
  • 1980 New Zealand PGA Championship
  • 1992 Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • 1999 Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit
  • 2008 World Golf Hall Inductee
  • 2011 Member of the Order of New Zealand

Sir Bob Charles is not only a sporting icon in New Zealand, but he is also recognised as one of the best players of his generation and arguably of all time.

Born in Carterton, a small town in the Wairarapa district in New Zealand’s North Island, Charles lived in Masterton where he worked as a bank teller.

He first came to the forefront when he won the 1954 New Zealand Open at Heretaunga, as an 18-year-old amateur, overcoming Peter Thomson and Bruce Crampton.

After his victory, Charles decided to hone his skills as an amateur first and remained in his bank employment for a further six years. He represented New Zealand several times in international amateur tournaments during this period. Charles turned professional in 1960 and the next year won the New Zealand PGA Championship and soon after ventured overseas to the European and North American circuits.

In 1963, Charles won his first PGA Tour event in the United States, the Houston Classic, the first PGA Tour event won by a left-handed golfer. Later that year he won The Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes. After four rounds (68-72-66-71) his 277 was level with American Phil Rodgers. Charles won the 36-hole playoff by eight shots.

Charles has won about 80 tournaments around the world. As well as his PGA Tour victories, his win in the 1969 World Matchplay Championship was considered one of his best. He won the Senior British Open 30 years after winning his British Open title. He remains, along with Michael Campbell, one of only two New Zealanders to win a men’s major golf championship.

In 2007 Charles became the oldest golfer to make a cut on the European Tour at the New Zealand Open. Charles shot a 68 in the second round, beating his age by three strokes. He would go on to finish in a tie for 23rd place.

Charles’s move to the Senior PGA Tour was very lucrative and successful with 23 titles; and in three years 1988, 1989 and 1993, he recorded lowest scoring average. He finished second on the European Seniors Tour’s 2007 Wentworth Senior Masters at the age of 71. He was the first left-hander to win a major, but also the first lefty to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, in the veterans category. He was inducted in 2008. He would remain the only lefty inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame until Phil Mickelson was elected in 2011.

At the Senior British Open Championship in 2010, Charles announced in an ESPN interview that he would retire from golf, stating that he was “74 years old, travelling this world for 50 years, and it’s time to slow down and spend more time on my farm in New Zealand with my family.”

Last updated 6 August, 2020

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