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When amateurs and socialites dueled

Harvie Ward, a good-looking, happy-go-lucky, exquisitely talented son of Tarboro was the best amateur golfer this state ever produced.

He had a flair about him, a sureness, a bring-it-on attitude wrapped in a smile. He won two U.S. Amateurs, the British Amateur, the North & South Amateur and the NCAA Championship and finished fourth in the Masters.

He could play.

For pure glamour, though, Dick Chapman took the prize. He was like a character out of "The Great Gatsby," handsome, charming, wealthy, a man who liked to give impromptu singing performances in nightclubs and a man who knew his away around a golf course or a cruise ship or a cocktail party on the lawn of a mansion.

Chapman was a Connecticut native but spent part of each year in Pinehurst.

He was member of New York’s famed Winged Foot Golf Club and it was there that he won the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1940, after which Time Magazine dubbed him “the Ben Hogan of amateur golf.”

Time also described Chapman as a “playboy” and a “New York and Pinehurst socialite” and a “man who has majored in golf most of his life.”

The Time writer wrote, “Last week, with his estranged wife glaring at him from the fringe of the crowd, Chapman played the best golf of his career. With a dazzling display of shot-making seldom seen among amateurs, he made his opponents look like duffers. In the final Chapman faced Warrington Bannerman McCullough Jr, another socialite who had been playing dream golf all week.”

Warrington Bannerman McCullough Jr., another socialite. How perfect is that?

Chapman dispatched him 11 & 9.

Pinehurst was a second home for Chapman, a fitting one for a man so devoutly in love with golf. He tried every spring to win the prestigious North & South Amateur there, but ran up a long losing streak before finally winning it.

A tireless international player, he won the British, French, Canadian and Italian amateurs and played on three Walker Cup teams. His successes earned him invitations to play in 19 Augusta Masters.

His last significant win came in 1967 when he took the International Senior Amateur.

A stroke in 1970 hampered his career and in 1978, he died in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

Dick Chapman was from another time, a time when the best amateurs didn’t necessarily turn pro, when amateur golf enjoyed more prestige than it does today. He was one of its brightest stars, and one of its most interesting, with a hint of Hollywood about him, a tinge of F. Scott Fitzgerald, a taste for champagne, and the life of a socialite.

You don’t often hear that word in golf anymore.

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