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Charles Yates, 92; British Amateur Champion

October 18, 2005|From Associated Press

Charles Yates, a former British Amateur champion who learned golf from Bobby Jones and played in the first Masters, died Monday at his home in Atlanta. He was 92.

Yates, a member of the Augusta National Golf Club since 1940, had Parkinson's disease.

He learned to play golf at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, and was mentored by Jones. Yates won the Georgia Amateur in 1931 and 1932, the NCAA title in 1934 at Georgia Tech and the Western Amateur in 1935. He played on Walker Cup teams in 1936 and 1938, and was captain of the U.S. team in 1953.

As a child, Yates would sneak under a fence at East Lake to get a peek at his idol, then a 17-year-old golf phenomenon. Jones befriended the boy, playing the par-3 course with him and taking him into the club to buy him sodas.

"He never talked down to anybody," Yates told the Atlanta Journal and Constitution in 1998. "He was a most gracious, warm person."

Yates played 11 times in the Masters, including the inaugural tournament in 1934.

"There wasn't any strict rule about who was eligible to play in the Masters then," Yates once told the Augusta Chronicle. "Bob invited some of his friends, such as myself."

He tied for 21st that year and twice was low amateur. His amateur career, except for playing the Masters, ended with World War II, when he was drafted into the Army. He transferred to the Navy and spent 30 months as a lieutenant on the destroyer Mayo, which was struck by enemy fire during the invasion of Italy.

Yates retired from business at age 60, when former Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. asked him to serve as president of the Atlanta Arts Alliance, and he raised $20 million to build the High Museum of Art.

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