Brothers Charles and Randyn Barenaba pulled off a feat in 1974 and 1975, respectively, which had never been achieved in USGA amateur championship history by winning consecutive U.S. Amateur Public Links titles. Charles, then a 20-year-old college player, edged Frank Mazion, a 33-year-old airlines maintenance worker from San Francisco, by two strokes at Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena, Calif., while Randyn, who tied for fifth in 1974, became the APL’s second-youngest champion (one day older than 1963 winner Robert Lunn) at 18 years, 2 months, 19 days when he defeated fellow Hawaiian Alan Yamamoto in 37 holes at Wailua Golf Course in Lihue, Hawaii, on the island of Kauai. The APL returned to a match-play format in 1975 after eight years of stroke play. In 1979, Charles’ golf career sadly ended when he was struck by a car while waiting for a bus near Oahu Country Club, where he worked. Randyn, 57, played briefly as a professional in his 30s before giving it up due to financial reasons. Today, Randyn is a supervisor for Matson in the Oahu shipyards. Charles, meanwhile, was inducted into the Hawaii Golf Hall of Fame in 2012, with Randyn making his induction speech.
How much did Charles’ win in 1974 motivate you for the 1975 APL?
Charlie was always an idol of mine. I always looked up to my brother. He was always a perfectionist in the game of golf. Of course people see it that Charlie made it possible for Randyn to have won these tournaments, too, but I also tell them that Charlie wasn’t a very easy person to follow. People in Hawaii always thought he was a natural and I was always just a gifted player. I didn’t spend as much time as Charlie on the golf course, shagging balls and all that.
How big a deal was it to have two Hawaiians in the 1975 championship match?
We had a pretty big crowd out there. Of course, they were all for Alan (who would later be inducted into the Hawaii Hall of Fame). He was of mature age and I was like the young kid with no experience. I remember a reporter came up to me about an hour before we teed off and asked me about playing against a veteran because I was only 18 facing a 40-year-old. I told him, As of today, I am 40 years old.
My parents brought us up with high standards in golf. If we were there to only play for second, there was no sense being there.
What kind of celebration took place?
I know my dad and mom were very proud of us. From what I remember, winning the Public Links was a really big deal. Hawaii made it a big deal at the time. They put us on a pedestal. We’re Hawaiian ancestry, too, so it was a big thing for Hawaii and Hawaii’s golf association.
Was Charlie there when you won?
If I am not mistaken, I think he was a chaperone for the Junior Worlds in San Diego. I know he wasn’t at the tournament.
How did the family handle hearing the news that Charlie had been hit by a car?
It was a big tragedy. We were all traumatized, the whole family. He lives with my sister now. Physically, he’s hanging in there. Mentally, there is more damage to him, because that’s all he knew how to do was play golf. Charlie took it really hard. His legs, arms, everything was all gone. He still walks around. He’s OK. I don’t go around explaining it to people too much, because I want them to remember Charlie from when he was playing golf and not the Charlie he is now.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.