Golf's Super Agent
Chubby Chandler’s clients include four major tournament winners and a solid cast of golf’s biggest stars
From the Print Edition:
Havana—The Insider's Guide, November/December 2011
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He started out with four lesser-known players—Carl Mason, Derek Cooper, Phil Harrison and Dennis Durnian—friends of his from the Tour.
“If I could get sponsorships for myself, I could do it for others,” says Chandler, sitting in the media center of the Irish Open in Killarney, doing his usual rounds. “I could do it because it was me, it was who I was. I could sell myself. I had been doing deals for myself since 1977. There was a kitchen company I did a deal with for 8,000 pounds for the logo and a few company outing days. That was 1981. 8,000 pounds doesn’t sound like much, but 30 years ago that was a pretty good deal.”
What Chandler was good at doing was camaraderie. He could connect his friends in the game with his friends in the executive offices. It was just what he was doing for himself and there really was no line for him between the locker room, the board room and the bar room. His gift for gab, even though he didn’t know he had it, and his desire to be part of the game and the lives of those that played it, drove him to do what came naturally.
He got a few contracts for his original cadre of players. Then he got a phone call that would change everything.
“In May of 1990 an Irish lawyer I knew called and said there was a really good young player in the Irish Amateur, that he was going to win the thing and he wanted someone to talk to about whether he should turn pro,” says Chandler. “That was Darren Clarke. So he won the Amateur and I went over to meet him. Because he was talented, and playing golf was what he wanted to do, turning pro was the logical thing.”
The 20-year-old Clarke and Chandler shared a gregarious quality that led to an instant connection. Clarke asked about a contract and Chandler responded with an explanation of the Palmer-McCormack handshake agreement.
“Then we’ll do that,” Clarke responded.
“He said, ‘I just want to play golf and you do everything else,’ ” says Chandler. “It meant doing absolutely everything else and it still means doing absolutely everything else. The chat with Darren became the template for the whole company. He was a gregarious, handsome, overspending young man. He is very straight and honest.”
Based on Clarke’s success as a pro (though he did not win a “mayja” until his stirring British Open triumph in July), Chandler was able to add talent, like Westwood, Graeme McDowell (who left him before his U.S. Open title), the superstar in the making Rory McIlroy, the brilliant young South African Charl Schwartzel and his countryman Louis Oosthuizen, and the veteran “mayja” winner Ernie Els.
For the record, Els announced in September that he was leaving Chandler, who he signed with in 2005, to consolidate all his business in Florida where he lives. Els hooked up with a new agency, Pros Inc, headed by Vinny Giles and Buddy Marucci.
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