Local Legend: Bob Roll

Bob Roll

Local Legend: Bob Roll

Amateur

Local Legend: Bob Roll

Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the May 9 issue of Golfweek.

Bob Roll

AGE: 87

CLUB AFFILIATION: Forest Oaks Country Club, Greensboro, N.C.

OCCUPATION: Retired commercial artist

HANDICAP INDEX: 11.6

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 11-time Greenville (Ohio) City winner (1945-51, ’55, ’57, ’58, ’65); seven-time Inter-City Golf Association champion (1947, ’48, ’50, ’53, ’55, ’56, ’59); won 1948 Ohio Junior; won Green Hills Open in Muncie, Ind. (1959); won 1974 Ohio Pre-Senior; 19-time club champion combined at Greenville Country Club (Ohio), White Springs Golf Club (Ohio) and Forest Oaks Country Club (N.C.)

A QUICK STUDY

Growing up in Greenville, Ohio, Roll developed into a local golf celebrity, despite not having picked up the game until age 11 or 12. Within two years, he had made a hole-in-one, and within five had won the city amateur. With White Springs Golf Club next door to his boyhood home, Roll found the game to be a convenient diversion.

“My dad would give me chores to do, and instead of doing them, I would jump over the fence and go knock a golf ball around White Springs,” Roll said.

One year as a teen, Roll won the city title while wearing a cast less than a month after breaking his left leg while jumping into a pile of hay.

Seventy years later, Roll has retired to Greensboro, N.C., where he catalogs his rounds: date, playing competitor and score. Why? Roll describes himself as a senior golfer: “a guy walking down the first fairway trying to remember the names of the guys he just got introduced to,” he said with a laugh.

MINGLING WITH GAME’S BIG NAMES

Roll enjoyed his prime as a player in the 1940s and ’50s, when he competed against the likes of Arnold Palmer, Dow Finsterwald and Tom Strange (Curtis’ father) on the Ohio amateur circuit and played random rounds with Billy Joe Patton and Joe Campbell.

Ahead of the 1953 Ohio Amateur, Roll played a practice round with Palmer, the eventual champion.

“I didn’t really know of him,” conceded Roll, who lost in the semifinals that year, “but other people had. There was kind of a buzz that Palmer’s here.”

AN EYE FOR ART

Roll discovered his artistic side as a teen and, after high school, studied for two years at the Dayton Art Institute. He launched his own company, Graphic Studios, and his career as a commercial artist blossomed. Several of his illustrations were featured in national sports magazines. One project stands out: The Golf World Hall of Fame, a series of four paintings with each depicting 10 golf legends.

“No golfer’s got time to pose for you to make a drawing,” Roll said, “so you’ve got to work pretty much from photographs, different angles and figure out what you want to paint. And with the older golfers in those paintings, the reference was just old black-and-white photographs, which I had to then interpret in color, of course.”

Roll, who has been retired for about 15 years but still paints on occasion, appreciates the contrast between art and golf.

“With golf, you’re meeting people, you’re outside, you’re moving around,” Roll said. “Painting is very sedentary and boring, really.”

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