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Golf's Super Agent

Chubby Chandler’s clients include four major tournament winners and a solid cast of golf’s biggest stars
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
Havana—The Insider's Guide, November/December 2011

He strides through the golf world as a colossus, making calls at the practice ranges, the putting greens, the clubhouses, the media centers, the official hotels and the unofficial bars.With a smile of bleached white teeth, an aroma of Jo Malone cologne and a presence of a right good Bolton bloke, Andrew “Chubby” Chandler wheels and deals as golf’s agent extraordinaire.

Not since Mark McCormack made a handshake deal with Arnold Palmer in 1960 and used that relationship to build the International Management Group, has an agent been so front and center in the sport.

Chubby Chandler has gathered a stable of proven veterans and blossoming superstars with handshakes and turned it into International Sports Management, a company of global reach that nonetheless remains very much a close-knit family. Within that family are major tournament winners Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Ernie Els. Major contender Lee Westwood is part of the flock. So, too, Simon Dyson, a two-time winner in 2011 on the European PGA Tour and LPGA player Christina Kim.

During the summer of 2011 there was even talk of the “Chubby Slam” going into the PGA Championship with Schwartzel winning the Masters, McIlroy the U.S. Open and the 42-year-old Clarke winning the British Open. Since when were “Slam” and “agent” ever linked?

In a sport conducted with hushed and guarded voices, Chandler is somewhat of a loudmouth, only by virtue of his candidness. While others—agents, players and officials—deal with the media as a necessary evil, Chandler embraces his role as spokesman for his players, addressing their virtues and their shortcomings with equal sincerity.

Clarke was Chandler’s first big handshake in 1990, having started his business in 1989 after abandoning his own 14-year pro career with one tournament victory.

Clarke speaks to the heart of Chandler’s appeal.

“Chubby, he’s been my manager, he’s been like another father for me; he’s been a friend for a very long time. He’s looked after me through thick and thin and, as I’ve said, through the good times and the bad times, he’s always been there for me. I’ve annoyed him a few times and he’s annoyed me a few times, but not many. I think you could count it on one hand in 21 years. We have a special relationship with no contract, shake of a hand, and his word is good enough for me."

Chandler’s career as an agent began when he started selling himself as a golfer. The man from Bolton, England (near Manchester), was better at promoting himself than he was as a player. He was good, but just not good enough, and knew he would have to do something besides slash a ball around if he was to have anything like success. In his best Bolton accent, which turns major into “mayja,” Chandler, 59, says:

“I needed an alternative to selling tee pegs and giving lessons. I would have been a club pro. I suppose I would have wanted to be a director of golf. I knew I was good at PR, but I didn’t really know what PR was. I was good at talking with the media, with sponsors, that sort of thing. I got along well. I stopped playing and formed my company International Sports Management in 1989. I was making a living, barely a living.”

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