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.
RJ Harper has been a friend to Barbara and me, a friend to the game of golf, and a friend to #PebbleBeach for many years. He has been an institution on the Monterey Peninsula. We all knew that he wasn't well, but with a spirit typical of RJ, he fought long and hard in a very difficult battle with pancreatic cancer. Last time I saw him was in June at The Calling, Jim Nantz’s event at Pebble Beach, and RJ was doing well. While he knew that his time was limited, you would never know it by being with him. As always, RJ had a smile on his face the entire time. RJ was a great guy and we are going to miss him. It will be hard for all of his friends to walk into Pebble Beach and not see his smiling, friendly face. Barbara and I send our love and prayers to his family during this difficult time. We all lost a great friend.
Beloved figure at Pebble Beach GL R.J. Harper has lost his courageous battle w cancer. His loss so far beyond the game. As nice & caring a human being I’ve ever met. God bless his family.— Dan Hicks (@DanHicksNBC) November 9, 2017
There isn't a person that has visited Pebble Beach who wasn't somehow affected by the great R.J. Harper. Whether you knew him or not, something spectacular about your day there was because of him. If you knew him, you won't ever forget him, great piece by @AlanShipnuck #RIPRJ https://t.co/vR9OvxG86C— Brad Faxon (@BradFaxon) November 9, 2017