When Charlie Robson first became executive director of the Met PGA, he looked at his $8,000 salary and told his father, “I’ll do this for a few years and then I’ll get a real job.”
Instead, he stayed for 43 years until his retirement on Jan. 1, and changed the face of Long Island golf — including helping to bring the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup to Bethpage Black.
The Garden City resident, who played high school golf at Manhasset with future tour pro George Burns, had a constituency that officially included only the professionals in the Met Section. To be sure, he always cared for them and promoted their achievements. But he expanded his role to become an advocate and ambassador for all golfers, including people who haven’t taken up the game yet.
“Part of my philosophy was that if things were good for golf, they would be good for golf professionals. It kind of went hand in hand,” he said this week. “I was lucky because at a time when I was new to the job, I had a chance to do some different things. So it wasn’t like I was trying to follow what someone else had done and trying to keep it going. It was really more a matter of being creative.”
On his watch, the Met PGA launched a junior golf association and junior tour; attracted sponsors for its many tournaments and backed programs for women golfers and wounded veterans.
“He was Mr. Golf in the New York Metropolitan area,” said Leo McMahon, who came up through the local pro ranks and is now general manager of Lawrence Yacht & Country Club. “He led with his heart. He truly cared about the state of golf in the area.”
Ted Bishop, the former president of the PGA of America (of which the Met PGA is a member), said, “As I have gotten to know golf professionals in that section, I’ve heard them talk unsolicited about Charlie Robson and what he means to them professionally and personally. It’s incredible.”
Bishop said his daughter Ambry owes her career as a golf teacher and coach to Robson because he gave her a job when she first became the coach at St. John’s and wasn’t making enough money to get by.
Robson’s career is filled with behind-the-scenes accomplishments. None was greater than planting the seeds to have the 2019 PGA and 2024 Ryder Cup come to Bethpage. Realizing that the U.S. Golf Association was displeased after the 2009 U.S. Open at the Black Course, Robson set the wheels in motion for the PGA to come in, by setting up a lunch meeting between Bishop, then-Bethpage Park superintendent Dave Catalano and Ron Foley, the state parks regional director.
“Ted Bishop, who is a friend, picked up the ball and ran with it,” Robson said. Bishop added, “That was really one of my proudest moments as president of the PGA and Charlie can’t get enough credit for that.”
Robson will spend the first half of this year as a consultant to his successor, Jeff Voorheis, who was his assistant. What will he do after that? Play golf, of course. He figures he will revisit his days as a caddie at Plandome Country Club, going out with a carry bag in the evening to play six or nine holes and work on his 10 handicap.
He said, “I don’t think it’s going to get much lower.”
The 32nd Annual St. Jude’s Golf Outing, for the Outreach program at the Mastic Beach parish, will be May 3 at Great Rock Golf Club, Wading River. Call (631) 281-0800 . . . The 18th Annual Ann Liguori Foundation Golf Classic will be May 23 at Friars Head in Riverhead. Visit annliguori.com.
William Herrick, Maidstone Club, fourth hole, 154 yards, 5-iron
Lenore Lewis (of North Hills), Woodfield CC (Boca Raton, Fla.), 17th hole, 106 yards, 7-wood
Allan Herrmann, Pine Hills CC, 17th hole, 120 yards, 7-iron
John Tatti (of Lake Grove), Chenango Valley (N.Y.) State Park, 16th hole, 161 yards, 7-iron
Bill Conlin, Eisenhower Red, 13th hole, 190 yards, driver
Tom Loeb, Old Westbury G&CC Overlook, eighth hole, 165 yards, 5-hybrid
Erik Andersen, Hamlet Wind Watch, 12th hole, 153 yards, 9-iron
Kevin O’Mara, Lawrence Y&CC, fourth hole, 149 yards, 7-iron
Glenn Reeder, Stonebridge Golf Links &CC, seventh hole, 177 yards, 6-iron
Sal Rosina, Stonebridge GL&CC, ninth hole, 137 yards, 9-iron
Marty Walkuski, Indian Island CC, fifth hole, 122 yards, pitching wedge
Kenneth Wille, Dix Hills Golf Park, sixth hole, 140 yards, 5-iron