CHARLES, Robert James
Robert James Charles was born on 14 March 1936 at Carterton, where his father was a school teacher. He was educated at Wairarapa College and joined the staff of the National Bank of New Zealand at Masterton, being later transferred to the Christchurch branch. In 1954 Charles won the New Zealand open championship and was runner-up in the New Zealand amateur championship. He was again runner-up in the latter in 1956 and leading amateur in the 1957 New Zealand open championship. Between 1956 and 1960 he represented New Zealand as an amateur both at home and overseas, and in 1958 was leading amateur in the St. Petersburg Florida open championship. He turned professional in 1960 and was runner-up to K. Nagle in the New Zealand professional championship, which he won in the following year. He won the Caltex Tournament in 1961 and 1962. The year 1963 proved Charles' most successful to date: he represented New Zealand as professional in the Canada Cup at Paris; won the British open championship at St. Annes; won Wattie's £1,500 Tournament at Hastings, New Zealand; and was elected New Zealand's sportsman of the year. Up until 9 June 1963 he had played in 16 events in the American Professional Golfer's Association circuit and was then eleventh on the list. His biggest success of the year came when he won first prize in the Houston Classic Texas $50,000 Tournament. This was the first victory by a left handed player in a tournament of this class.