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!