Bob Charles (golfer)

Sir Robert James Charles ONZ KNZM CBE (born 14 March 1936) is a New Zealand professional golfer. His achievements over five decades rank him among the most successful left-handed golfers of all time, being the first lefty to win a golf major, winning more than 70 titles, and beating his age twice during a tournament as a 71-year-old.

Sir Bob Charles
Bob Charles (cropped).jpg
Charles in 2011
Personal information
Full nameRobert James Charles
Born (1936-03-14) 14 March 1936 (age 84)
Carterton, New Zealand
Height1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight79 kg (174 lb; 12.4 st)
Nationality New Zealand
ResidenceFlorida, United States;
Canterbury, New Zealand
Turned professional1960
Current tour(s)Champions Tour
European Seniors Tour
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
European Tour
PGA Tour of Australasia
Professional wins79
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour6
European Tour4
PGA Tour of Australasia8
PGA Tour Champions23
European Senior Tour1
Other23 (regular)
14 (senior)
Best results in major championships
(wins: 1)
Masters TournamentT15: 1963
PGA ChampionshipT2: 1968
U.S. Open3rd/T3: 1964, 1970
The Open ChampionshipWon: 1963
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame2008 (member page)
New Zealand Order of Merit1999
Order of New Zealand2010

Although Charles plays golf left-handed, he is naturally right-handed.[1]

Early yearsEdit

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 won the New Zealand Open at Heretaunga on 8 November 1954, as an 18-year-old amateur.

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.

Professional careerEdit

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.[2] 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.[3]

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 Michael Hill New Zealand Open. Charles shot a 68 in the second round, beating his age by three strokes.[4] He would go on to finish in a tie for 23rd place.

Charles's move to the Senior PGA Tour (now called Champions 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.[5] 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, traveling 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."

Personal lifeEdit

Charles is a sporting hero in New Zealand, not only for his achievements but also for his demeanour and philanthropy regarding junior golfers. He was also a role model worldwide for left-handed golfers. Until Canadian Mike Weir won The Masters in 2003, Charles was the only golfer with a left-handed swing to have won a major.

In the 1971 Queen's Birthday Honours, Charles was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to sport.[6] In the 1992 New Year Honours, he was promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to golf.[7] In the 1999 New Year Honours, Charles was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to golf.[8] In the 2011 New Year Honours 2011, Charles was appointed as a Member of the Order of New Zealand, New Zealand's highest civilian honour, for services to New Zealand.[9][10]

Charles married his wife Verity in 1962 and they have two children, Beverly and David. David is a golf director in the United States. He is a successful golf course designer having had major input into the Formosa Country Club east of Auckland, Millbrook at the resort town of Queenstown, and 'The Dunes' course at Matarangi on the Coromandel Peninsula. He was also consultant to the Clearwater course, near Christchurch, designed by golf architect John Darby. He has four grandchildren, Beverly has two children Jacqui and James, who live in the UK. David also has two, Robert and Caroline who live in the US.

Charles has played in the Gary Player Invitational several times to assist Gary Player raise funds for various underprivileged children's causes.

Professional wins (79)Edit

PGA Tour wins (6)Edit

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 21 Apr 1963 Houston Classic −12 (67-66-66-69=268) 1 stroke   Fred Hawkins
2 13 Jul 1963 The Open Championship −3 (68-72-66-71=277) Playoff   Phil Rodgers
3 21 Feb 1965 Tucson Open Invitational −17 (65-69-67-70=271) 4 strokes   Al Geiberger
4 1 Oct 1967 Atlanta Classic −6 (72-71-69-70=282) 2 strokes   Tommy Bolt,   Dick Crawford,   Gardner Dickinson
5 23 Jun 1968 Canadian Open −6 (70-68-70-66=274) 2 strokes   Jack Nicklaus
6 7 Apr 1974 Greater Greensboro Open −14 (65-70-67-68=270) 1 stroke   Raymond Floyd,   Lee Trevino

PGA Tour playoff record (1–2)

No. Year Tournament Opponent(s) Result
1 1963 The Open Championship   Phil Rodgers Won 36-hole playoff (Charles:69-71=140, Rodgers:72-76=148)
2 1965 Lucky International Open   George Archer Lost to birdie on second extra hole
3 1970 Greater New Orleans Open   Miller Barber,   Howie Johnson Barber won with birdie on second extra hole

Major championship is shown in bold.

PGA Tour satellite win (1)Edit

European Tour wins (4)Edit

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 30 Sep 1972 John Player Classic +1 (69-69-71-76=285) 1 stroke   Gay Brewer,   Peter Oosterhuis
2 7 Oct 1972 Dunlop Masters −11 (70-68-71-68=277) 2 strokes   Tony Jacklin
3 22 Jul 1973 Scandinavian Enterprise Open −10 (69-69-70-70=278) 2 strokes   Vin Baker,   Tony Jacklin,
  Hedley Muscroft
4 27 Jul 1974 Swiss Open −5 (70-70-67-68=275) 1 stroke   Tony Jacklin

European Tour playoff record (0–1)

No. Year Tournament Opponents Result
1 1978 Greater Manchester Open   Brian Barnes,   Denis Durnian,
  Nick Job
Barnes won with birdie on first extra hole

European circuit wins (6)Edit

New Zealand circuit wins (24)Edit

South African Tour win (1)Edit

Senior PGA Tour wins (23)Edit

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 22 Mar 1987 Vintage Chrysler Invitational −3 (72-70-73-70=285) 4 strokes   Butch Baird,   Bruce Crampton,   Dale Douglass
  Howie Johnson,   Bobby Nichols
  Gary Player,   Chi-Chi Rodríguez
2 29 Mar 1987 GTE Classic −8 (67-67-74=208) 4 strokes   Bruce Crampton
3 3 May 1987 Sunwest Bank Charley Pride Senior Golf Classic −8 (70-70-68=208) 1 stroke   Dale Douglass
4 22 May 1988 NYNEX/Golf Digest Commemorative −14 (63-67-66=196) 4 strokes   Harold Henning,   Don Massengale
5 29 May 1988 Sunwest Bank Charley Pride Senior Golf Classic −10 (69-68-69=206) 2 strokes   Orville Moody
6 4 Jul 1988 Rancho Murieta Senior Gold Rush −9 (69-69-69=207) 2 strokes   Gary Player
7 28 Aug 1988 Vantage presents Bank One Senior Golf Classic −10 (63-66-71=200) 1 stroke   Dick Hendrickson
8 2 Oct 1988 Pepsi Senior Challenge −5 (70-69=139) 1 stroke   Dick Hendrickson,   Harold Henning,   Bert Yancey
9 19 Feb 1989 GTE Suncoast Classic −9 (68-70-69=207) Playoff   Jim Ferree,   Dave Hill,   Harold Henning
10 21 May 1989 NYNEX/Golf Digest Commemorative −17 (63-65-65=193) 5 strokes   Don Bies,   Bruce Crampton
11 9 Jul 1989 Digital Seniors Classic -16 (65-70-65=200) 3 strokes   Mike Hill
12 27 Aug 1989 Sunwest Bank Charley Pride Senior Golf Classic -13 (66-69-68=203) 1 stroke   Charles Coody
13 1 Oct 1989 Fairfield Barnett Space Coast Classic −13 (66-70-67=203) 6 strokes   Butch Baird
14 24 Jun 1990 Digital Seniors Classic −13 (69-67-67=203) 2 strokes   Lee Trevino
15 9 Dec 1990 GTE Kaanapali Classic −4 (65-71-70=206) 4 strokes   George Archer,   Lee Trevino
16 10 Feb 1991 GTE Suncoast Classic −6 (68-72-70=210) 4 strokes   George Archer,   Lee Trevino
17 11 Oct 1992 Raley's Senior Gold Rush −15 (71-65-65=201) 7 strokes   Gary Player,   Chi-Chi Rodríguez
18 18 Oct 1992 Transamerica Senior Golf Championship −16 (70-67-63=200) 1 stroke   Dave Stockton
19 28 Mar 1993 Doug Sanders Celebrity Classic −8 (69-70-69=208) 1 stroke   Jim Ferree
20 23 May 1993 Bell Atlantic Classic −6 (67-67-70=204) 1 stroke   Dave Stockton
21 5 Sep 1993 Quicksilver Classic −9 (74-65-68=207) 4 strokes   Dave Stockton
22 29 Oct 1995 Hyatt Regency Maui Kaanapali Classic −9 (69-67-68=204) Playoff   Dave Stockton
23 27 Oct 1996 Hyatt Regency Maui Kaanapali Classic −15 (64-65-69=198) 1 stroke   Hale Irwin

Senior PGA Tour playoff record (2–7)

No. Year Tournament Opponent(s) Result
1 1987 PaineWebber World Seniors Invitational   Gary Player Lost to birdie on first extra hole
2 1988 Senior Players Reunion Pro-Am   Don Massengale,   Orville Moody,
  Bobby Nichols
Moody won with birdie on first extra hole
3 1988 U.S. Senior Open   Gary Player Lost 18-hole playoff (Player:68, Charles:70)
4 1989 GTE Suncoast Classic   Jim Ferree,   Dave Hill,
  Harold Henning
Won with birdie on third extra hole
Ferree and Hill eliminated on first hole with birdie
5 1989 General Tire Las Vegas Classic   Charles Coody,   Chi-Chi Rodríguez Coody won with birdie on second extra hole
6 1995 Hyatt Regency Maui Kaanapali Classic   Dave Stockton Won with birdie on third extra hole
7 1996 Las Vegas Senior Classic   Jim Colbert,   Dave Stockton Colbert won with par on fourth extra hole
Charles eliminated with par on first hole
8 1998 Home Depot Invitational   Jim Dent Lost to par on third extra hole
9 1998 Kroger Senior Classic   Hugh Baiocchi,   Frank Conner,
  Larry Nelson,   Bruce Summerhays
Baiocchi won with birdie on second extra hole

European Seniors Tour wins (1)Edit

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 25 Jul 1993 Senior British Open +3 (73-73-71-74=291) 1 stroke   Tommy Horton,   Gary Player

Other senior wins (14)Edit

Major championshipsEdit

Wins (1)Edit

Year Championship 54 holes Winning score Margin Runner-up
1963 The Open Championship 1 shot lead −7 (68-72-66-71=277) Playoff1   Phil Rodgers

1Defeated Phil Rodgers in a 36-hole playoff (Charles 69-71=140, Rodgers 72-76=148).

Results timelineEdit


Tournament 1958 1959
Masters Tournament CUT
U.S. Open
The Open Championship CUT
The Amateur Championship QF


Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
Masters Tournament T25 T15 T40 T45 CUT CUT 19 T29
U.S. Open T19 3 CUT CUT CUT T7 CUT
The Open Championship CUT 5 1 T17 CUT T37 CUT T2 2
PGA Championship T13 T19 T41 T2 T35
Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
Masters Tournament 17 CUT T22 T29 CUT CUT
U.S. Open T3 T13 CUT 11 CUT
The Open Championship T13 T18 T15 T7 CUT T12 CUT T43 T48 T10
PGA Championship T26 T13 T58 T73
Tournament 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
Masters Tournament
U.S. Open
The Open Championship T60 T35 CUT T47 WD T19 T20
PGA Championship
Tournament 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Masters Tournament
U.S. Open
The Open Championship CUT CUT CUT 71 CUT
PGA Championship
Tournament 2000 2001
Masters Tournament
U.S. Open
The Open Championship CUT CUT
PGA Championship
  Top 10
  Did not play

CUT = missed the halfway cut (3rd round cut in 1976 Open Championship)
WD = withdrew
QF, SF = Round in which player lost in match play
"T" indicates a tie for a place.

Source for The Masters:

Source for U.S. Open: USGA Championship Database

Source for The British Open:

Source for PGA Championship: PGA Championship Media Guide

Source for 1958 Amateur Championship: The Glasgow Herald, 6 June 1958, pg. 4.


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 0 0 0 0 5 15 9
U.S. Open 0 0 2 2 3 6 12 6
The Open Championship 1 2 0 4 6 13 34 19
PGA Championship 0 1 0 1 2 5 10 10
Totals 1 3 2 7 11 29 71 44
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 11 (1962 Masters – 1965 Masters)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 3 (1968 U.S. Open – 1968 PGA)

Team appearancesEdit



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Sir Bob Charles". World Golf Hall of Fame. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Houston Classic 1963 Champion – Bob Charles". Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  3. ^ "1963 Bob Charles". The Open. Archived from the original on 16 October 2013. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  4. ^ Peters, Austin (1 December 2007). "Bob Charles a cut above at age of 71". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  5. ^ Charles to be inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame Archived 12 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "No. 45386". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 June 1971. p. 5998.
  7. ^ "No. 52768". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1991. p. 29.
  8. ^ "New Year honours list 1999". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 1998. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  9. ^ "New Year honours list 2011". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  10. ^ Pearce, Bob (31 December 2010). "Golfing legend greets honour with a plea". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 31 December 2010.

External linksEdit