19TH HOLE

Michael Glad­ing

The Cut - - CONTENTS -

Two fab­u­lous fel­lows named Bob wielded an enor­mous in­flu­ence on my ca­reer and, I guess, my per­son­al­ity.

The ob­vi­ous Bob is my fa­ther, who died last Au­gust aged 94 af­ter a dis­tin­guished ca­reer, both as a busi­ness­man and es­pe­cially as a golfer; in­deed, he won the New Zealand Open twice, in 1946 and 1947. He was still play­ing up to three months be­fore his death.

Dad was al­ways so in­cred­i­bly pos­i­tive. I’m sure that’s why he lived so long. He never ac­cepted he was grow­ing old. In his 80s he drove from Auck­land to Ar­row­town for the NZPGA Cham­pi­onship. Un­til the last year or two of his life, he spurned trundlers and carts, al­ways car­ry­ing his clubs.

The other Bob is Sir Bob Charles, who be­came a great fam­ily friend when we lived in South Africa about 40 years ago. I was there from the age of seven to 18. I be­gan cad­dy­ing for Sir Bob upon my re­turn and was his New Zealand caddy for about four decades, only oc­ca­sion­ally fill­ing the role over­seas, although I spent one full year in Europe, when I ac­tu­ally cad­died at the Ry­der Cup. That was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Fa­ther Bob dearly wanted me to ded­i­cate my­self to golf, as he had, and af­ter I achieved my com­merce de­gree he of­fered to sub­sidise me for a year as long as I com­mit­ted to prac­tis­ing ev­ery day.

I de­clined his gen­er­ous of­fer be­cause as a caddy I had seen all the strug­gling in­di­vid­u­als who didn’t get to be cham­pi­ons. I also ob­served those with­out the men­tal ca­pac­ity to sink six foot putts when the pres­sure was on. So I set­tled for cad­dy­ing in my spare time, and loved it.

Be­ing as­so­ci­ated with Sir Bob was fab­u­lous be­cause he was among the most ac­com­plished ex­po­nents of the game in the world. Some peo­ple branded Bob bor­ing. When I first cad­died for him, some­times I’d be the only per­son he would speak to dur­ing an en­tire round. That’s be­cause he was in the zone, which was how he dealt with tour­na­ment golf. Some mis­took that for rude­ness but as Jim Furyk re­cently ad­mit­ted, he’s not on the course to be Mr Per­son­al­ity, but to suc­ceed, be­cause it’s his job. That was Bob’s at­ti­tude.

Bob pos­sessed an in­cred­i­ble abil­ity to con­cen­trate dur­ing a round. But when he par­tic­i­pated in Pro-Ams, Bob was hugely per­son­able, freely dispensing ad­vice to as­pir­ing am­a­teurs.

Bob was a metic­u­lous golfer, world renowned as a put­ter. I cal­cu­lated yardages for him, which he al­ways dou­ble checked. Then he would in­vari­ably strike the ball that pre­cise dis­tance. If it was 170m, Bob would hit the ball ex­actly 170m.

I have no re­grets at not ded­i­cat­ing my ca­reer to golf. In­stead I spent 19 years as man­ag­ing direc­tor of Sony Mu­sic, then for a pe­riod was in­volved in live mu­sic, tour­ing with var­i­ous artists, the most fa­mous of whom was Lu­ciano Pavarotti.

I then had three years as chief ex­ec­u­tive of New Zealand Foot­ball, dur­ing which time the All Whites com­peted with distinc­tion at the World Cup, and the last four years have been as tour­na­ment direc­tor for the New Zealand Golf Open.

Dad won the Open, I cad­died in it (when Bob Charles won) and now I’m help­ing di­rect it. I’ve come full cir­cle. How lucky am I!

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