New Zealand Golf celebrates centenary in Wellington

New Zealand Golf celebrated its 100th year in Wellington this weekend [26-28 November] with a series of special events which culminated in the induction of two greats of the game, 1963 Open Champion Sir Bob Charles and the 2005 US Open Champion, Michael Campbell, into the national governing body’s newly created Hall of Fame.

“We believed that an ideal way to recognise 100 years as an organisation in this country would be to ensure that those that have played the major part in shaping the game are honoured and remembered, said New Zealand Golf Chairman, Philip Hassall. “In doing so, we will ensure that their traditions are not merely preserved, but, perhaps more importantly, they set the benchmark for future generations of golfers who dare to dream and who aspire to such greatness."

“New Zealanders have achieved great things in this game, and Sir Bob and Michael have made giant contributions both on and off the golf course. It’s that essence that we want to both honour and set as a challenge for those coming along in the future.”

Charles, who became the first left-hander to win a Major Championship when he lifted the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham and St Annes, struck the opening tee-shot at Royal Wellington Golf Club to get the centenary weekend underway, 56 years after winning the first of four New Zealand Opens over that same course as an 18-year-old.

“It’s special to be back here for it, and to be part of the New Zealand Golf centenary celebrations is an honour,” said the 74-year-old, who, in 2008, became the first New Zealander to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

The six-time PGA Tour winner’s Open victory came following a 36-hole play-off with the USA’s Phil Rodgers. Charles excelled, needing only 56 putts to complete rounds of 69 and 71. Rodgers, meanwhile, totalled 65 putts in rounds of 72 and 76, leaving him eight strokes behind the new Champion.

Campbell, the only other New Zealander to have won a Major, was inducted with Charles at the Centenary Dinner in Te Papa. The 41-year-old, whose best Open Championship result, tied-third, came at St Andrews in 2005, has, so far, accumulated 15 professional wins over a 17-year career.

Criteria for Hall of Fame induction included consistent performance over an extended period internationally as an amateur or a professional, and performance at the highest levels of the game. The Hall of Fame selection panel consists of three New Zealand Golf representatives, as well as two independent panellists.