The surprised looks on the faces of golfers and supporters around the first tee at the Tauranga Golf Club gave it away that a celebrity was in their midst.
In New Zealand golfing parlance they do not come any more famous than Sir Bob Charles, who was the first Kiwi, and first left-hander, to win a major championship when he won the British Open in 1963.
The 76-year-old delighted the gallery yesterday before hitting off, by remarking in his famous deadpan style that he would have to find a broken tee because he could not afford a new one.
Charles played in the pro-am event leading into the Carrus Tauranga Open beginning today.
The event is one of five professional tournaments on the Charles Tour, aptly named after the man who first put New Zealand on the golfing map.
Charles has been at the top of his game since he won the NZ Open back in 1954 as an 18-year-old amateur. He won four times on the PGA Tour and 68 times in all, including winning the Spalding Masters at the Tauranga course in 1969.
He is proud to have his name associated with the tour and says he jumped at the chance to be involved.
"I think it is very exciting and I have only played in one of them," he said. "I wish I had time to prepare myself to play more than just the pro-am but I am still resolving issues on my farm. Once that is done hopefully I can get out there and play more golf."
Despite his lack of play, Charles stunned the golfing world by shooting 66 at a European Seniors Tour in Switzerland in July- 10 stokes under his age.
He has faint memories of winning at the Tauranga course, including his famous hole-in-one at the 5th hole, but he remembers well the intensity of the two golf tournaments played back-to-back at Tauranga and at Mt Maunganui, host of the NZPGA tournament.
"We played the event around Christmas and New Year time when the weather was generally pretty kind to us. We played in shirt sleeves and the courses had plenty of roll on them.
"It was a great time and everybody brought their families here. I definitely had all my family here and it was a terrific two weeks of golf.
"Tauranga was not a long course back then but the challenge was the par-5 [13th hole] around the racetrack," he said
"Some of the guys took on the railings to get on in two. I don't think I ever did as I was a more conservative player.
"I remember the eucalyptus trees down the 11th fairway, which are the worst possible trees to put on a golf course because they shed their bark. After a wind storm I have seen the 11th strewn with bark."
Those were unquestionably halcyon days for New Zealand golf.
Great players like multiple British Open winners in Australians Kel Nagle and Peter Thompson came to play and were joined by other top golfers, including Kiwi John Lister and a host of international stars.
"The best players were over here playing," Charles said.
"There was a period when we had probably more professional tournaments to play in than they had in Australia. In the mid-60s on we had probably nine tournaments, so it was the thing to do to come and play on the New Zealand tournament circuit if you were a professional golfer.
"The money was compatible in those days but today it has gone out of sight in Australia."
The presence of this country's greatest player has given the Tauranga Open a huge boost and given top young players further incentive to do well this week.
Their admiring glances as Charles strolled past the practice green on his way to hit off said it all.
Student caddies for true legend
The person who got closest to Sir Bob Charles during his round of golf was 17-year-old Jack Tisch.
The Otumoetai College student, who plays off a four handicap at the Tauranga Golf Club and is a Bay of Plenty Under-19 rep, could hardly believe his luck when he was asked to caddy for the great man.
"I was watching the shoot-out yesterday when (BOP Golf CEO) Chris McAlpine asked me if I wanted to caddy for Sir Bob, and I said yes, wow, it is a great opportunity, so I took it," Tisch said.
"I definitely want to pick up just the way he goes about playing the course and any tips he gives me."
Charles was playing in a typically mixed pro-am field, ranging from the highly competent Tony Reynish to some corporate guys struggling to play for the first time in front of cameras and a crowd.
But Tisch was pleased the round took longer than normal to complete.
"It doesn't worry me.
"It gives me more time with Sir Bob."