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Wednesday
Nov082017

R.I.P. Mr. Pebble Beach R.J. Harper

Terrible news out of Pebble Beach where R.J. Harper, executive vice president of golf and retail operations and the face of operations there since rising from the ranks of golf course marshal, died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer.

Tom Wright's Monterey County Herald obituary included this:

He rose through the ranks during his 32-year career at Pebble Beach Co., becoming the head professional, serving as championship director at the 2000 U.S. Open and general chairman of the 2010 and 2019 U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach before earning his executive position.

“All of us at Pebble Beach Co. and throughout the golf world are heartbroken by the news of RJ’s passing,” said Pebble Beach Co. CEO Bill Perocchi, who worked with RJ for 18 years, in a prepared statement. “RJ had a lasting impact on Pebble Beach, and his smile, vibrant personality and positive attitude and outlook on life will be missed by all and never forgotten. He was a kind, caring person; a consensus builder and true team player; and a dear friend to me personally and to countless employees, guests and people in the golf industry.”

Alan Shipnuck at Golf.com posted this profile of Harper in February this year that is worth a few minutes of your time if you did not read it then.

He is a classic American success story, having begun his career at Pebble as a $5-an-hour marshal before working his way up to head pro and now a senior executive position at the Pebble Beach Co. Oozing the Southern charm of a down-home Tennessee boy and possessing the swagger of the football star he once was, Harper has the rare ability to befriend everyone from resort guests to PGA Tour stars, greenskeepers to captains of industry. In his three decades at Pebble he has become one of the most-connected men on the planet.

Steve Hennessey at Golf World with a roundup of Tweets from across the golf world expressing sadness at his passing.

I'll add more remembrances as they are posted.

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Reader Comments (8)

I'm so very sorry to hear about the loss of my friend. He recently was kind enough to arrange for me, my son and son in law to play PB and stay in the PB lodge. I worked closely with him and Paul Spengler in the design of the new 5th hole almost twenty years ago now. RJ was a wonderful man and the golf world and all his many many friends will sorely miss him.
11.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJim Lipe
Rest In Peace R J. I was the head professional at Spyglass when you came on board at PBC in 1985. Your energy was palpable and it makes sense that you left your mark so indelibly on this sacred place. Prayers and reverence for you and your family.
11.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterDana Booth
Rest in Peace Pro
11.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterEvan Pur
RJ and I first met in 1983 when he came to to Southwest Sr. High School in Miami to teach and coach. We both coached football and taught Social Studies. As a rookie teacher, he was assigned to me for mentoring. He and I hit it off from the start and became fast friends.
After his move to California, we always stayed in touch by phone and visited. My last visit with him was in September, 2015. I and another Southwest coach (Tom Moore) spent 5 days out there. Wherever we went, EVERYONE was happy to see him. Regardless of position (car valet, waiter, restaurant owner) RJ knew their name, and something unique about them.
During our last conversation, he was about to start a new treatment. In an unusually weaker voice, he said, "I'm running out of bullets in my belt." I will miss my friend forever. Love you brother.
11.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterAngel Menendez
From Day-One ... when he was taken on by the corporation ... "we" locals knew he was a special person. As with Jim Langley and Steve Cohen, their spirits will never depart the hallowed grasses of the Monterey Peninsula. Peace and shalom.
11.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Hagen
Good posts there fellas. Didn't know the man but feel like I knew the man. #RIP
11.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterThanks
R.J. gave me a job as a caddy well over 30 years ago.
I will all ways b very gratefull in a time in my
LifecI wanted something differant. He was a very
Good man .. Enjoyed all 6 years I spent working
At Pebble Beach as a caddy. A day does not
Go by with out thinkingbof what a wounderfill
Experance it was to be a caddy at pebble.
Rest In Peace.. never forget you R.J.
respect allways Tom Carr
11.10.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom carr
I met RJ at the Rose Bowl in 2011. In March of that year my wife and I were back at Pebble Beach and he welcomed us with open arms. I have never been around any person who was more magnetic and outgoing than RJ! His ability to make everyone feel special was an incredible gift. He was a world changer. Yet he was one of the most down to earth people you will ever meet. My fondest memories are sitting in a boat with him and seeing that huge smile as he reeled in a big bass. My memories will last forever but I will always feel a void with him gone. Thanks for being such a great influence on your family, my family and everyone you have touched throughout the years.

We Love You RJ! Big Papa
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJay Bruner

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