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Another icon of golfing, Charlie Saunders, passes
Sports Scope
  • Charlie Saunders

FRED STURRUP
Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: Nov 21, 2012

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The golfing family was still coping with news of Roy Bowe’s death, when another icon of golfing, departed this life. Reference is to Charles Saunders. The lanky golfer from ‘The Valley’ was never the player that Bowe developed into, but he was indeed one of the huge contributors to a glorious era of the sport.

Charlie was a part of the second tier group of black golfers who defied society and solidified the ”balance” for minorities. He was right in the middle of the mix when the Bahamian links became transformed to include blacks in numbers larger that any other ethnic group. As an amateur player, he climbed into the top group of local golfers and sustained his performances at a respected level for quite a number of years. He was selected to regional teams and gave good efforts, while representing his country.

More so than his own playing ability and the role he played in changing the golf status quo in the 1960s, Charlie was one of those individuals who gave great encouragement and support to younger players. He delighted in seeing the more youthful players come on stream and revitalize the game.

He interacted with the Lockharts, the Maycocks, the Hepburns, the Gibsons, Mike Rolle, and others of that ilk who came along during the 1970s and took The Bahamas to a place in golf never visited before, and unfortunately never again. Charlie was instrumental in that close-knit support group that anchored the development of the young swingers and then nurtured the ‘Young Lions’ of Bahamian golf.

The ‘Young Lions’ are legendary. They will always be revered by Bahamians and appreciated by the wider golfing family throughout the Caribbean and Latin regions. Charlie was one of the father figures for that nucleus of rich, young talent. The later portion of his years in golf was more in organization.

He worked tirelessly for years with the national program and was one of the catalysts for continuity of a stable growth. One of his great disappointments was that no amount of work and dedication could recapture that special era of the ‘Young Lions’. While a few individuals rose to levels of excellence, the collective prowess of the ‘Young Lions’ was never again matched during the life of Charles Saunders. That is the reality.

In a conversation once, he referred to the rich period of golfing as “a once-in-a-lifetime happening, perhaps”. Hopefully that is not the case. If those in the golfing fraternity want to pay a true tribute to Charlie, they could determine to strengthen the focus on youth development. If that concentration bears fruit and the era of the ‘Young Lions’ is revisited, smiling down on the scenario, would certainly be Charlie.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com)

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