25 Jul 2016

CHUBBY CHANDLER – read how the former Tour professional set up one of games top management companies

ANDREW Chubby Chandler is one of golf’s ‘larger than life’ characters. After playing on the European Tour for 15 years he came to the conclusion that he didn’t have the focus and dedication to become a leading player.  So instead of being a player he decided to manage players and formed his own company, ISM. He enjoyed initial success but when he was introduced to Darren Clarke he said, “when I played golf with Darren for the first time, I knew we had a business.”  Subsequently, Lee Westwood joined ISM along with Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy, David Howell, Paul McGinley, Ernie Els and many more leading players. Now a new generation have  ‘taken our company back to where it was before’ says Chandler, with the success of Byeong-Hun An, Matt Fitzpatrick and current Masters Champion, Danny Willett. Here, Chubby tells it as it is in his own inimitable style

Worldwide Golf: You’re a Lancastrian born and bred and renowned for having a no-nonsense approach to life. Is that partly down to your upbringing or all down to your personality?

Chubby Chandler: I was born in Southport, close to Birkdale, and moved to Timperley near Manchester when I was about six months old and then moved to Horwich when I was 18 months old. I spent the next 25 and a half years there. I guess people from Bolton are probably fairly straight. Although Sam Allardyce is a Brummie he spent a lot of time in Bolton and I think I’m not too far away from what he’s like. I grew up thinking it was easier to be straight-talking than fluffy.

 

Worldwide Golf: Where did you play your first round of golf and what attracted you to the game?

Chubby Chandler: Bolton Municipal with my dad. I started playing when I was about 12, and had a four iron. I caddied for my dad to earn a bit of cash. I was happy to play golf on my own, whereas I needed a few pals to play cricket. I was a good cricketer but golf took over when I was about 15.

 

KILDARE, IRELAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Darren Clarke of Europe celebrates with Manager Andrew 'Chubby' Chandler outside the clubhouse after Europe win the Ryder Cup by a score of 18 1/2 - 9 1/2 on the final day of the 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club on September 24, 2006 in Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Chandler with darren clarke at the victorious 2006 ryder clup at the k club.

Worldwide Golf: You turned pro in 1974 to play on the European Tour and made your debut at the Italian Open, where you were to finish a career-best  3rd in 1986. You retired from tournament golf after 15 years to go into player management. Did you decide you had gone as far as possible as a player?

Chubby Chandler:  I figured that the young guys were improving quicker than I was and I never had the necessary focus and dedication to be a really top player, although I probably had the talent to be a top player. I got an opportunity in 1989 from a friend of mine who wanted to sponsor me and I decided he would be better off sponsoring somebody else, so I went and found that somebody else.

 

Worldwide Golf: You started your sports management company in 1989 with a small office at Mere Golf Club. How big a step was that and how did you get the company off the ground?

Chubby Chandler:  I got a lot of advice form the late Stephen Boler who owned Mere and sponsored me in the late 1970s and early 1980s. When he bought Mere in 1984 I became the tournament pro there and my idea was to sell 10 lots of five per cent of the company and keep 50 per cent myself because all I knew was sponsorship. He advised me to go to the NatWest Small Businesses people and get myself a £10,000 overdraf,t and that was enough to get us started – even though Mr Boler was charging me £5,000 a year rent for 100 square feet! We stayed at Mere until 1997 when we’d outgrown it.

 

Worldwide Golf: Among the first golfers you signed up were Derek Cooper, Denis Durnian, Phil Harrison and Carl Mason, who went on to become the most successful European Senior Tour golfer of all time. How did it work?

Chubby Chandler:  It was a little bit like managing my great mates who I played with on the European Tour but there weren’t many alternatives. When we sent two or three guys out with new logos we became flavour of the month quite quickly. But all that changed in August 1990 when I got a call from Dougie Heather, an Irish international golfer and lawyer. All the kids went to him for advice and he wanted me to go over and talk to a young guy about whether he should turn pro or not, not about managing him. That young guy happened to be Darren Clarke and he was the first golfer I managed who wasn’t someone I’d played golf with. The first day I did play with him, at Mere,  I knew we had a business.

 

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 22: Lee Westwood of England poses alongside his management team from International Sports Management Andrew "Chubby" Chandler, Stuart Cage and David Brookes with the trophies after winning the Dubai World Championship and the Race To Dubai on the Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 22, 2009 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Worldwide Golf: Your ISM took off in the 1990s. Westwood joined and has gone on to win 21 titles spending time as World No.1; South Africans Louis Oosthuizen won The 2010 Open, Charl Schwartzel won the 2011 Masters;  Rory McIlroy won the 2011 US Open, Ernie Els won four Majors. ISM was flying but how had you achieved such success? 

Chubby Chandler:  The business grew because the guys who signed with us became very good players, such as Andrew Coltart, Paul McGinley, Lee, Darren, David Howell, Simon Dyson and we became accustomed  to having a lot of guys winning tournaments and regularly playing in The Ryder Cup.

Worldwide Golf: You’ve sparked so many success stories but how did you come to unearth so many future champions and recognise their talent at an early stage of their careers – it wasn’t just luck?

Chubby Chandler:  We were very lucky with the players we signed. Not only were we fortunate to have a lot of very good golfers but they were all good people and the good people attracted more good people and success bred success. It’s a little bit like what’s happening right now.

 

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Danny Willett of England, the 2016 Masters champion, (second from left) poses with members of his management team ISM (L-R) Andrew Chubby Chandler, Louis Martin and Martin Hardy at his rented house on April 11, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Worldwide Golf: You’ve got some great young players making their mark on the world stage, such as Matthew Fitzpatrick and Ben An. How does it feel to have a new generation of champions in the ISM stable?

Chubby Chandler:  It’s a very exciting time for us. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years. People leave for their own reasons. Rory wanted to go in a different direction. Charl thought there were better things elsewhere, so did Branden Grace. When Stuart Cage left in early 2014 I decided I needed to focus on trying to help some of the talented young players in Europe become the next Lee and Darren. So I spent much more of my time during 2014 to 2016 back on the European Tour with the young players coming through. As bizarre as it sounds, we pinned our hopes on a young Danny Willett and a very young Matt Fitzpatrick. Ben was slightly quieter, playing on the Challenge Tour but last May he became part of that winning group and they have put our company back where it was before.

 

Worldwide Golf: Danny is the latest of your Major winners to burst through in winning The Masters. What did you see in him as a player in his late twenties?

Chubby Chandler:  His career was delayed by  having to take two years off with a bad back but when you talk to Danny you realise there’s a huge belief inside him and a huge natural confidence. As soon as I sat down and talked with him I realised we were dealing with someone slightly different, and I could say the same for Matt and Ben. The young players of today are hugely organised, driven and dedicated and, oh yes, talented.

 

Worldwide Golf: You’re launching your Class of 2016 youngsters into the international arena but how sure can you be that one day soon you’ll be celebrating five more success stories?

Chubby Chandler: You can’t be sure of anything in this business. Growing up on tour is a very difficult thing and some guys find the transition, not just from amateur to pro but from lad to young man, to man, quite a a tough time to adjust to. The Class of 2016 we’ve created is to help them mature, not just as players but as people as well.  There’s no guarantee that any of the five of them will become world-class players but we‘re going to give them the chance if they work hard and do the right things.

 

Worldwide Golf: You’ve had so many highs with magical Major wins and Ryder Cup heroics but which moments do you remember most?

Chubby Chandler:  Royal St George’s in 2011, obviously when Darren won The Open. Also the Indonesian Masters in 2011. Lee won the tournament on his birthday to go back to world number one and Bolton beat Arsenal in the FA Cup on the same day – so I certainly also remember that day. Danny’s Masters win was huge and probably the other big thing was Lee and Darren’s Ryder Cup debut in 1997.

 

Worldwide Golf: You and Lee have a leg or two in a few horses. Is this just a diversion from golf or a lifelong hobby?

Chubby Chandler:  It’s a hobby for both of us and it’s been a huge amount of fun over the years.

 

Worldwide Golf: You’ve also had great success in managing world-class cricket stars like Andrew Flintoff and Neil Fairbrother, who now works for ISM. How did you come to diversify the business?

Chubby Chandler:  In 1998 we went into cricket and were very fortunate that Andrew Flintoff was our first client so we started right at the top and with the help of Neil Fairbrother and former England Captain, Michael Vaughan, we’ve managed to stay there. Cricket is a great love of mine. To be involved in cricket at the highest level is brilliant and it’s given us so many proud moments.

 

Worldwide Golf: You’ve had numerous milestone highs in your career but were there any lows along the way?

Chubby Chandler: Certainly, but too many to mention!

 

Worldwide Golf: You have always championed and supported the European Tour cause but although the Tour and the US PGA Tour create a full schedule throughout the year is there still a danger that the Americans could achieve their own World Tour?

Chubby Chandler: In the future there will be a World Tour, but not with the Americans owning a World Tour. It may be under the guise of the European Tour and it will encompass tournaments all over the world.

 

Worldwide Golf: The clash of fixtures between the two Tours and the fact that Rickie Fowler declined to defend his title at the AAM Scottish Open shows that there is little co-operation between the two Tours –  will this relationship always be a problem?

Chubby Chandler:  It’s really interesting that the new European Tour Chief Executive, Keith Pelley, is a guy who’s got a lot of energy and is prepared to take on the US PGA Tour to a certain degree. It’s healthy for the game that the European Tour will be a viable alternative and give the European players more opportunities to play big tournaments outside America.

 

Worldwide Golf: Do you think the future of world golf is healthy with so many good youngsters coming through and will the closer relationships between the European Tour and the Asian Tour work out?

Chubby Chandler: The future of golf is looking really good at the moment because the young players give so much back to the fans and to the media. People like Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy all have something to say, as opposed to some of the earlier generations who didn’t. They’re tending to make the game look more fun and enjoyable again by having a chat on the course and there are a good few more smiles out there – and if they can play a bit quicker it will be cool.

 

Worldwide Golf: You’ve done so much to promote young talent so are you looking forward to a bright future for the five youngsters in your ‘Class of 2016’? 

Chubby Chandler: It’s a case of giving them the right advice and incentives, such as: Good habits, working hard, working on the right lines, treating sponsors correctly and understanding the media and PR part of golf. We can give them all the help and support they need – the rest is up to them.

 

CHUBBY’S CLASS OF 2016

 

ISM class of 2016
From left to right: Christen Lawrence, Haydn McCullen, Billy Spooner, Garrick Porteous and Jack McDonald.

Thriston Lawrence – The two-time SA Amateur champion made his professional debut at the Scottish Hydro Challenge in June 2014 and picked up his first win in the Ras Al Khaimah Classic on the MENA Tour in November 2015. Finishing sixth at the Tour Championship the following week, Thriston, 19, comfortably won the MENA Tour’s Order of Merit for 2015. He has played three European Tour tournaments so far this year, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

 

Haydn McCullen – The Manchester-based youngster secured his first win as a professional at September’s HotelPlanner.com Championship on the EuroPro Tour. Haydn won the prestigious McEvoy Trophy in 2014, having become the first player to win both Lancashire’s county and boys’ championships in the same season in 2013.

 

Billy Spooner – the 18-year-old from Lincolnshire turned professional at the start of the year, having represented his country throughout his teenage years. He played for England U16 against Spain, Wales and Scotland in 2012 and went on to play for England in the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters.

 

Garrick Porteous – At 26, Garrick is the most senior member of the Class of 2016. The 2013 British Amateur champion has established himself inside the top 500 in the world and finished second at the Red Sea Egyptian Challenge Presented by Hassan Allam Properties in April. He will focus on the Challenge Tour this year.

 

Jack McDonald – Having wrapped up his amateur career by winning two-and-a-half points from a possible three in Great Britain and Ireland’s Walker Cup win over the United States last year, Jack, 23, turned professional in March. As well as a host of individual titles, Jack helped Scotland win the European Nations Cup and Europe take the Palmer Cup in 2014. After his role in Scotland’s European Men’s Team Championship victory last year, he followed in the footsteps of his grandfather Gordon Cosh by playing in the successful Walker Cup team at Royal Lytham & St Annes last September.

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