Sir Bob Charles: Life, 'rockets' and Christchurch Golf Club

Sir Bob Charles meets with Christchurch Golf Club general manager Mike Hadley.

Christchurch Golf Club, the second oldest club in New Zealand, will celebrate its 150th anniversary this weekend with tournaments to mark the milestone.

The club, based in Shirley, has more than 600 members with the oldest playing member being 94-year-old Michael Buckenham and the youngest is Layla Pearson, who is 10.

Club patron, Sir Bob Charles, who has just turned 87, has been playing at the club since he was just a teenager in 1956.

"I'm a ball-game freak, I'm at my happiest when playing ping-pong, snooker, tennis and golf really is the love of my life," Sir Bob said.

"Well, next to my wife," he then quickly added.

Sir Bob continues to play at least once a week in the summertime and still competes occasionally too.

Sir Bob Charles.

"I try hit a bucket of balls a day which is about 35-50 I suppose and it takes less than half an hour and gives me time for other things," he said.

"The modern game takes so much time, four to four and a half hours, and the game of golf was never supposed to be played that way - it should be three to three and a half hours which is a bit of a put-off for me."

The length of the game is not Sir Bob's only criticism; he also believes technology is 'destroying the game' he knows and loves.

"For one thing the ball is going huge distances. I don't call them golf balls no more - I call them rockets cause they're going into orbit," he joked.

"In my day no-one hit the ball more than 270 yards so the ball, the equipment.. and the worst part is the golf courses try to defend themselves by lengthening the courses."

Which is why he loves Christchurch Golf Club, which has always stayed true to its links.

Christchurch Golf Club.

"Links golf, you're out there in the fresh air and the sunshine and rain occasionally, but it's the purist form of golf and the simplest form of golf," said Sir Bob.

"And I just love the absence of trees, trees they get in the way of the golf ball and I don't like hazards."


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