Height: 6 ft 1 in
Born: March 14, 1936
Turned Pro: 1960
Born in New Zealand, Bob Charles is perhaps best known as the first, and for a long time only, left-handed golf to winner a professional Major championship. Charles’ career is worthy of closer inspection but he was definitely a pioneer who paved the way for two other lefthanders – multiple major champions Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.
Charles’ professional career started slowly. He worked as a bank teller in Masterton, New Zealand for six years while he honed his skills as an amateur. He won the New Zealand Open and represented his country in international amateur play during this time.
Charles gave up banking and became a professional in 1960. In 1961, he captured the New Zealand PGA Championship. Seeking larger purses, he decided to try his hand at the European Tour and the PGA Tour.
1963 was a breakout season for Charles. He became the first lefthander to win a PGA Tour event, the Houston Classic. The momentum continued when Charles traveled to Royal Lytham and St. Annes and captured the Open Championship. Tied after regulation with Phil Rodgers, Charles prevailed by a comfortable eight shots in the 36-hole playoff.
Charles was not afraid of travel. He won more than 75 tournaments all over the world. He won six times on the PGA Tour, four times on the European Tour and eight times in Australia.
Charles arguably found his greatest success on the Senior PGA Tour (now referred to as the Champions Tour). Bob won 23 times after turning 50 years of age including five times in 1988 and 1989. Thirty years after winning the Open Championship, Charles captured the Senior British Open. He lost the 1988 U.S. Senior Open to Gary Player in an 18-hole playoff.
Bob became the oldest player to make the cut in a European Tour event at age 71. He finished tied for 23rd in the 2007 Michael Hill New Zealand Open.