Saturday, February 13, 2016

Sepia Saturday: Golf Pro

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt features a foursome of golfers. For a time, my parents were golfers. I remember their clubs in the garage, in particular the red plaid bag of ladies’ golf clubs belonging to my mother.
SIMILAR to my
mother's golf bag

I never saw her play. She gave up the game around 1958 when she developed bursitis in her shoulder, a condition she blamed on golf. It’s too bad really because she was fortunate to have had a renowned instructor:  Chandler Harper.

Harper lived his entire life in Portsmouth (1914-2004). He played golf and baseball for Wilson High School, winning his first Virginia State Amateur at age 16. He turned pro at the age of 20. His accomplishments include 3 wins as a state amateur and 10 wins in the Virginia State Open. Harper’s competitive career lasted from 1938-1955, the most prestigious highlights being his PGA win in 1950 and membership on the Ryder Cup team of 1955. In 1965 he became the US seniors champion, and three years later the World seniors champion. He was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 1969 and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1973.

Chandler Harper
(no known copyright restrictions)

Honestly, if Chandler Harper had been from someplace other than Portsmouth, Virginia, where I grew up, I would not know of his fame even though he competed against the likes of Sam Snead and Ben Hogan and was a mentor to Curtis Strange. Now those are some names I know. Lucky for me, there is a street named for Chandler Harper in Elizabeth Manor, a neighborhood adjacent to Elizabeth Manor Golf Course, one of two local courses he helped build.

The other golf course he built in Portsmouth was Bide-a-Wee, a Scottish expression meaning “stay a little longer.” He managed the course from 1956-1993. In 1999 the course got a makeover with the assistance of Curtis Strange. Today it is a beautiful municipal golf course that still draws tournaments, charity events, and even weddings in the Pavilion.

In recent years, Bide-a-Wee has been my brother-in-law’s weekend and summertime home, of sorts. One of the perks of his part-time employment is that the high school golf team he coaches gets to practice there. He also gets to hobnob with some of the Old Guard of Portsmouth. One day he was handed a program from about 1958. In it was a picture of my dad – a member of the Social Committee for the Bide-a-Wee golf association.

I wonder if my parents were in awe to be around someone who was a big name in the golf world, someone who had his own line of golf clubs, or if he was just plain ol’ Chandler, a regular guy from sleepy ol’ Portsmouth.

Meet you at the 19th hole, Sepia Saturday!

Sources:
"Bide-A-Wee Golf Course." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 Oct. 2014. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.
"Chandler Harper." Inductee Details. Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, n.d. http://www.vshfm.com/ 12 Feb. 2016.
"Chandler Harper." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 Oct. 2015. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.
Litsky, Frank. "Chandler Harper Winner of 7 Professional Golf Tournaments Dies at 90." New York Times. N.p., 12 Nov. 2004. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.


© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

27 comments:

  1. Well I'd love to meet you at one of our holes, but it's a bit too snowy and COLD! But funny thing is there have been a few courses around here that opened up in this winter season! I enjoyed this a lot and I'm working on one for this week too, and hoping to post it later today!

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    1. It would have to be the 19th hole -- I'm not a golfer. Too cold here too!

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  2. Now in all the corners of the world new golf courses are build. It has become the sport of the man from next door. when I grew up I did not know golf existed, but skiing, ice skating and ice curling was popular. As a child I always thought it was a stupid game pushing around hot water bottles on the ice, boring it was.

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    1. I had never heard of curling until the Olympics. The hubster and I enjoyed watching curling more than most of the other sports, probably because it's so funny-looking. We kept trying to understand the rules.

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  3. What a nice story. I like the golf bag your mom used. Did she have covers for her woods?

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    1. That's not her actual bag -- just one I found online that reminds me of hers. I don't think she had covers for the woods.

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  4. Boy, that plaid bag certainly was "of an age," wasn't it? Would have matched a picnic basket and thermos MY parents had...

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    1. Now that you mention it, my little lunch box was plaid. Thinking about it, I can suddenly remember how it smelled too.

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  5. What a great story about a real golf pro who your parents obviously knew. Good question, as to how they would treat someone famous. I'm guessing just like a good friend.

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    1. Thanks. I wish I had thought to ask them.

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  6. How neat for your brother to have gotten that program from your dad's picture way back then!

    betty

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    1. I wish we had scanned the program. I guess I just thought it was his to keep, but he had to give it back. We are trying to borrow it one more time.

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  7. Can you play golf? I was the only female manager at work in the 90s and after meetings we played Golf. I hated it but they changed to Ambrose to make allowances for me!

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    1. No, I don't play. I can barely hold the club for a game of miniature golf!

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  8. I can't believe how many people have photos of gold playing but no kitchen photos.

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  9. Ah the golf bag in the garage/attic. My husband played for a while and when he gave it up, the bag sat there mouldering away.

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    1. My husband needed golf clubs because as a banker, he has to play in a lot of charity events sponsored or supported by the bank. But he's not committed to being good at it.

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  10. I think a lot of ailments have been blamed on golf. I know carrying around a sack of assorted clubs would give me a pain. Riding an electric cart or even pushing a bag cart seems like cheating on the aerobic benefits of the game.

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    1. Falling out of the golf cart is a potential hazard of the sport too!

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  11. I've got a set of clubs I left at a friend's house 3 years ago. We love to talk about getting together to play but we never do, so it's become a joke we share. I love that plaid golf bag like your mothers. Also finally learned what bide-a-wee means.

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    1. If Scottish Expressions is ever a category on Jeopardy, you'll be ready!

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  12. I have retired one set of clubs and an empty carry bag to our garage. I just wonder how long they will stay there. There are no famous golfers in our family and come to think of it the only one I 'knew' (Tony Jacklin) could have been a contemporary of Chandler Harper.

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    1. At least you have your own level of fame . . . .

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  13. My parents played golf from about the age of 35 until they were 70ish. Every Sunday was devoted to "couples" play and every Thursday was ladies day. My daughter had the nerve to make her entrance into the world on a Thursday and the first time grandmother couldn't make it to the hospital until her golf game was over!

    When we were cleaning out their house all those years later, there were many, many golf bags and sets of clubs gathering dust in the garage. My brother, who owns a golf shop at a country club, said the clubs were so old that they were of no use or value to anyone. So out they went with 1-800-GOT-JUNK. I wonder if they were able to repurpose them.

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    1. I'm sure there must be some sort of craft idea requiring old clubs. I've seen headboards and bookcases and shelves made of baseball bats, so why not golf clubs?

      I bought the hubster a set of clubs one Christmas because people made fun of the set he had been using which had belonged to my dad. A world of difference in appearance and weight!

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  14. My high school cured me of ever wanting to play golf by handing out wiffle balls instead of golf balls to hit. I was great at making divots in the field…on purpose.

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