Harper, Chandler (1986)

About Harper, Chandler (1986)

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1914-2004. Chandler Harper starred on the regional, national and international golf stage throughout four decades. A teenager when 1930 dawned, he had already captured the Portsmouth City crown twice. Chandler emerged as Virginia’s youngest golf prodigy when he won the Virginia State Amateur in 1930 as a sixteen-year-old.

He learned the game by studying magazine pictures of Bobby Jones, his boyhood idol, and by watching the Hollywood film series by Jones shot in the early 1930s entitled “How I Play Golf.” Chandler Harper crossed paths with Bobby Jones at Winged Foot in 1929, site of the US Open, and asked for chipping advice, which the young amateur star provided.

In 1932, Chandler won the first of six Virginia State Open titles while still an amateur. In 1933 and 1934, he captured back-to-back VSGA Amateur Championships and the Tidewater Opens in 1933-1935 and 1937. As a nineteen year old he played an exhibition at Norfolk CC, now Sewell’s Point, with Walter Hagen. He turned professional in 1934.

Chandler Harper played the Winter Tour starting in 1937 by picking up with either the Tucson or Phoenix Open and then playing across the Southern U.S. and finishing at the Masters or the North and South Open. When he finished the PGA Tour in 1955 he had won seven titles. His first paycheck came at the 1938 San Francisco Open, $50 dollars for tenth place. The Tour moved on to New Orleans the next week where a 5th place rewarded $500. At St. Petersburg, he tied for first with Johnny Revolta, but lost the playoff. The breakthrough to the winner’s circle came at the Miami Biltmore Four-Ball with Herman Keiser in 1942. He notched PGA Tour victories at Tucson, El Paso, Virginia Beach, the Texas Open and the Colonial and the PGA Championship at Scioto in 1950. He won the Texas Open in 1954 by shooting 70 (39-31), 63, 63 and 63.

Regionally, Chandler won the MAPGA Championship in 1954 at Cavalier in a playoff over Ralph Beach. As professional, he won his first, but second overall, Virginia State Open in 1938, and again with back-to-back wins in 1940 and 1941. Immediately after World War II he lost a playoff to Sam Snead in the 1946 VSGA Open, but won in 1952 and in 1968 in a playoff over Bill Calfee. In the years when the Virginia Association of Golf Professionals held the Virginia PGA Open, 1958-1984, Chandler won in 1960 and then four consecutive titles beginning in 1967.  Nationally, Chandler played in 11 US Opens between 1935 and 1955. A tie for 15th in 1946 highlighted his US Open career. Between 1941 and 1971, he qualified for 19 PGA Championships, fourteen at match play. For his championship title, he defeated Lloyd Mangrum and Jimmy Demaret in the run. His PGA credentials include the 1955 Ryder Cup Team membership. At Augusta, he appeared in two Masters prior to World War II, and then continuously from 1946 through 1955.

As a senior, he played in fifteen PGA Senior Championships, winning in 1968 by four over Sam Snead with a third round 64. That title allowed him to play the World Seniors Championship against England’s Max Faulkner during the summer. In what turned out to be a decisive hole near the end of the match he covered Faulkner’s birdie on a par five with an eagle. He also won the Los Angeles Senior Open.

The PGA Hall of Fame inducted him in 1969 and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1973.  (rev. 2005)