By Dorothy Mauk, Denver Post (retired)
His advice sounds simple. “You don’t have to be a long hitter. The most important thing is to keep the ball in play and putt well,” says Charles “Babe” Lind, the man generally regarded as the finest amateur golfer this state has produced.
With 25 major trophies and seven voluminous scrapbooks underscoring his formula for success, the only Colorado-born amateur player ever invited to compete in the famed Masters Tournament is lauded in Colorado golf annals as a player, coach and administrator. President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked to play with a “kid named Babe.” Celebrities Bob Hope, Rocky Marciano, Mildred “Babe” Zaharias and General Omar N. Bradley also teed off with Denver’s 5’10” golf giant.
Lind discovered golf at age 8 and was encouraged by his father, a bakery owner who occasionally played the game. In the mid-30’s, a $10 annual ticket permitted play on any of four Denver courses daily. Babe played so much with his 12 mismatched, hickory-shafted clubs; the cost “probably was a penny per round.”
Although he didn’t acquire a full set of matching clubs until he was 17, the 1940 Denver West graduate was undefeated in three years of prep play and won three Colorado Junior Championships (1936-38). At 16, he was the low regional qualifier and youngest participant in the National Public Links event. At 18, he was an NPL quarterfinalist.
Lind annexed the first of three Denver City Titles (1941, 1942, 1948) after his freshman year at the University of Denver. He never lost a regular-season match at DU and donned four individual conference crowns. During his 1941-1945 U.S. Army hitch, he captured the National Servicemen’s and Austin (TX) City Championships. Returning to DU, he advanced three times to both the NCAA East-West matches and NCAA Championships and led the 1946 national tournament at Princeton all the way to the finals.
Actually, 1946 was a banner year in which Lind won the State Stroke Play and Match Play titles, was Trans-Mississippi runner-up and a quarterfinalist in the National Amateur Championships at Baltusrol (NJ). Low regional qualifier for the NAC, he defeated his earlier NCAA nemesis 5-and-4 in the second round and upset defending champion Marvin H. “Bud” Ward, the premier U.S. Champion, in the third round. The double triumph led to Lind’s berth in the 1947 Masters at Augusta (GA), where he was the second-low amateur. He also earned the 1946 Rocky Mountain AAA Robert Russell Outstanding Amateur Athlete Award and placement on Golf Guide magazine’s “1947 All-America Top 10 Team.”
Over the years, Lind carded six holes-in-one and set six scoring records, including a 59 at Overland with two three-putted greens! His other milestone tallies were logged at Evergreen (60-on sand greens), Green Gables (62), Lakewood (63), Greeley and Denver Country Clubs (both 64). Fittingly, he was one of the three Colorado Golf Hall of Fame inaugural inductees in 1973.
Graduating from DU in 1948, Lind spent six years teaching social studies and physical education at Smiley Junior High, but made his mark career-wise as the Denver Parks and Recreation Department’s first Director of Golf and Maintenance. During his innovative 1955-1987 tenure, Denver’s course total grew from five to seven, player count climbed from 300,000 to a half-million and a pioneering, widely-praised “Speed Up” rules program reducing playing time that was heralded by eight national magazines.
Recognizing Mr. Golf’s lasting legacy is the nine-hole Babe Lind Course at Kennedy. “Golf has been very, very good to me. It’s awfully nice to have a vocation that coincides with your hobby, your special interest…your passion,” said Lind.
Babe passed away in 2004.
Golf has been very, very good to me. It’s awfully nice to have a vocation that coincides with your hobby, your special interest…your passion.