Owens quit the main tour in 1977 to become head pro at Rogers Park in Tampa, 40 miles from his boyhood home. But in 1980, when cutbacks prompted city officials to offer him a lower-paying job at another course, he resigned. "At that point," says Owens, "my life was like a dishrag after you wring all the water out of it."
Fortunately, Owens had turned 50 and was eligible for the nascent Senior Tour. He also became devoutly religious. "Something had been missing in my life," he says. "The only conclusion I could come to was that I had kept God out of my life." In 1981 he married Judy Martin, who had worked at Rogers Park, and later adopted her son, Deshea. Early this year, Judy made Owens a father again, giving birth to a daughter, Charlene. His wife echoes what friends and fellow players say about Owens. "Charles is a good, kind man," she says. "The older he gets, the better."
Certainly that has been his pattern since joining the Senior Tour. As a non-exempt player, who once again had to qualify for tournaments on Mondays, Owens won less than $33,000 in prize money from 1981 to '84. And once again he was nearly broke. But in 1985, he qualified for 17 tournaments, finished in the Top 10 on nine occasions and won $78,158 to finish 18th on the money list. For the first time in his career, he was exempt. With a shot at the Senior Tour bonanza every week, Owens's worst finish this year has been a tie for 25th.
"The life I'm living today is as clear as a crystal ball," says Owens. "I'm bursting with joy. You know, I prayed for a win, and God gave me two. And more wins are going to come." He pauses to consider how far he has come. "I'm not really 'surprised, because I've always been different. But I guess how all this happened, it is kind of fascinating."