by Jeff Skinner
For awhile now we have heard much rhetoric concerning how golf is truly an “international game.” If you look at any leaderboard you’re bound to see the flags of a dozen countries. The days of American dominance in the game are gone and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While many individual players have benefitted from the growth and spread of the game few men have benefitted as much as one, rotund, smiling, ex-European tour player who goes by the name of Chubby. He has to be the happiest guy in golf.
Chubby Chandler spent fifteen years travelling the European Tour and managed one win at The Brazilian Open. He spent plenty of time looking for deals on hotels and travel to try a save on expenses. A journeymen at best, he was refining a skill that would suit him well in his life off the course. After leaving the tour he started an agency to mange professional golfers. He would put to use all that knowledge he learned for himself. His first client was Darren Clarke and with only a handshake deal between them his business was started. And he looks to have made a great decision as his company; International Sports Management has grown to powerhouse in sports management.
Chandler’s stable of players looks like a Ryder/Presidents Cup team. Right now he represents world number one Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy (6), Masters Champ Charl Schwartzel (12), Ernie Els (16) and Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen (31). He also has plenty of good players like Ross McGowan, Jeev Milkha Singh and Simon Dyson. And for a change of pace he has one of the LPGA’s most recognizable players in Christina Kim. Many consider him the most powerful agent in golf and who could argue.
What makes Chandler a bit different from many of the agents seen following their players with cell phones attached to their ear is that Chandler has no written contracts with his big name clients. A handshake and a promise of doing his best are good enough for both sides. Chubby is more likely to meet his players at a pub then behind a desk and he’ll probably have a pint in his hand instead of a phone.
His players make headlines and not just when they win majors like Schwartzel and Oosthuizen. When Westwood and McIlroy announced they wouldn’t play in the PGA Tour’s Players Championship it was viewed as a slap at the PGA Tour. Bur Chandler defended his players saying that McIroy has said he will no longer play courses he doesn’t like and Chubby supports him with that. Westwood rather play in Europe, closer to home and his family and Chubby says that’s the right thing to do.
He is the leading defender of appearance fees on the foreign tours and says the same thing is done on the PGA Tour, although it is done under the guise of “endorsements” and “personal appearances” off the course. His take is: “Did Tiger play in Buick events because he had a deal to do so? Of course.”
Chandler isn’t perfect though and he admits a huge mistake in the handling of one of his players. He lost Graeme McDowell before his U.S. Open win because McDowell felt he was being neglected. Turns out Chubby says he was right and he wasn’t doing all he could for McDowell. He also says it will never happen again.
He spends his time with many of his players and he has forged more than a business relationship with them. His gregarious nature and back slapping manner has made him more than a manager, he is a good friend of all his clients and they recognize that Chubby has their best interests in mind.
Chubby as they say, is “living the life.” He’s has a successful firm with some of the hottest players in the world. He has to be one of the happiest guys in golf.