While not Canterbury born, Sir Bob Charles has made Canterbury his home for nearly 60 years. Having won the New Zealand Golf Open as an 18-year-old amateur he turned professional in 1960. He soon established himself as the game's best left-hander and achieved several firsts as a left-hander winning on the PGA tour. His finest moment was winning the 1963 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes in a play-off with Phil Rodgers of the United States.
Another stellar performance was winning the 1969 World Match Play Championship defeating Gene Littler in the final over 37 holes. After moving to the Senior PGA tour he found more success, winning 23 titles. He won the Senior British Open 30 years after winning his title in 1963 – the first major win by a left-hander. And until he was joined by Phil Mickelson in 2011, he was the only left-hander in the World Golf Hall of Fame. He now lives in Christchurch at Clearwater, a golf course he helped design.
“Christchurch has a number of excellent golf courses,” Sir Bob said “. A feature of Christchurch’s courses is that they are all flat, there are no hilly golf courses so that means easy walking," he said.
“Golf to me is the game of a lifetime, my dad played until he was 90 years of age, my mother played well into her 80’s and the great thing about golf is that you don’t need an opponent. You make lifelong friends, it’s a great social game. You can go out and have a round of golf with your friends, or an opponent , and if you lose you buy the winner a drink. To be a member of the club, to meet up with all your friends whether at the weekend or whatever it’s a great social occasion “.
As the Golden Oldies World Golf Festival ambassador, Sir Bob Charles is sure that will be the case in Christchurch as well.
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