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Feature: "I gave it everything I had"


Fayetteville's Chip Beck says he has no regrets from his competitive days on PGA tour

By Michael Futch

Photography by Tony Wooten

Chip Beck

For those who followed Chip Beck’s PGA career back in his prime along the 1980s and ‘90s, it may be hard to believe that the Fayetteville native is now seven times a grandfather.
Time scuttles forward, even for veteran golf pros who never had to play by the clock.

In Beck’s case, he remains fully immersed in the age-old game of golf at the age of 64. He still looks like the Chip Beck of old.

Beck’s legacy from his days on the PGA Tour is secure, having pulled out victories in four sanctioned tournaments and finishing in the runner-up position a total of 20 times over his career.

Chip Beck

In 1993, Beck finished second, four strokes behind winner Bernhard Langer at the 57th Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. As one of golf’s oldest events, the U.S. Open, tees up for the 121st time later this month at Torrey Pines in San Diego, Beck can reflect on his two second-place finishes in the venerated tournament. He finished in a tie for second to winner Hale Irwin at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York in 1986 and 1989 tied for second with Lanny Wadkins at Shinnecock Hills, also in New York. The winner was fellow Cumberland County native Raymond Floyd, giving the hometown folks plenty of excitement that year.
From 1988 through 1989, Beck would spend 40 weeks in the top 10 of the official World Golf rankings.

But perhaps his greatest achievement as a pro - and the one he will likely forever be remembered for - was the 59 that he carded in the third round of the Las Vegas Invitational on a par-72 Sunrise Golf Club course. It was one of three courses used that week for the tournament.

Beck tooled around the course in 13 under, using five pars and a PGA Tour-record 13 birdies to shoot his 59 and earn a deserving spot in the history book.
He finished tied for third in the tournament.

“What was nice about the 59 is, we put about 50 kids through college with that million dollars they gave me, which is really a good thing,” he said. “That’s one of the nicest things that’s ever happened to me. So the PGA of America and the PGA Tour started a scholarship in my honor. It’s been going since 1991. They made the decision to keep funding it.”
At the time, Beck was only the second player to post a 59 on the PGA Tour. He is now one of a half-dozen players in the history of the tour to pull off that extraordinary golfing feat.
Three times, he was a Ryder Cup participant. That included his stellar play at the 1991 Ryder Cup held at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort near Charleston, South Carolina.

“I tried for 50 years to be the best player I could possibly be. Turned over every stone,” he said. “I tried to do everything I could to be as good a player as I could be. So I have no regrets because I gave it everything I had.
“I still like playing golf,” he added, “and I like being around it.”

In March, Beck returned to his hometown as a special guest at the Fayetteville Academy Golf Cup held at Gates Four Golf & Country Club.

“I think for us, he has the hometown connection,” said Sonya Bruffey, the director of communications and alumni relations for Fayetteville Academy. “We’re thankful he said he would help us.”
The weather conditions were miserable on that early Friday morning. Ever the competitive golfer, Beck nevertheless teed up and played in the fundraising tournament over the par-72, 6,400-yard Gates Four course.
At this point in his life, Beck said, he might play every day and, then again, sometimes not for a couple of weeks.

“I beat most people I play with. That’s a good thing,” he replied with a laugh and without a hint of braggadocio when asked what he normally shoots 21 years after retiring from the PGA Tour. “Believe it or not,” he said in an interview from the main ballroom of the Gates Four Country
Chip Beck took part in the Fayetteville Academy Cup at Gates Four Golf and Country Club in March.

Club, “I play less golf and better golf than I’ve ever played. So, I really like that part.” Though he now makes his home in Florida, Beck has found himself returning to Fayetteville quite a bit over the last few years. “Hard to believe, I’ve been actually trying to get back to North Carolina, so we’ll see what happens,” he said between sips of a cup of hot coffee. “My mother and all my family’s up here.

But you know what? Driving in today, I could not believe how much this area has grown. “It’s just been 40 years, but so much has happened down here in 40 years. It’s hard to even comprehend,” Beck said. “All the schools. All the residential areas. Fayetteville has grown.” Beck graduated from Terry Sanford High School in 1974 before going on to become a
three-time All-American at the University of Georgia. He would play on the PGA Tour from 1979 through 2000 before joining the Champions Tour for another 10 years.
And while he’s still eligible to play on the senior tour, he noted, “I got tired of qualifying on that Champions Tour. I didn’t care about it that much. I didn’t have any status. I was ready to get out of there. I enjoyed Junior Golf more than I enjoyed Champions Golf. Isn’t that hard to believe?”

Currently, Beck said, he’s working as a golf instructor and in the field of corporate hospitality. Beck also has emerged as a spokesman and leading advocate for the Perfect Motion golf app.

“It’s a company out of Boston I’m working with,” he explained. “They’re starting to make some headway now. They’re the only one in golf that’s actually using artificial intelligence to diagnose your golf swing.”

And while his glory days playing on the PGA Tour are now beginning to be long behind him, Beck said he loved every minute of it. He relishes the fact that he got to compete against some of golf’s world-class players, including Sam Snead, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros and, of course, Floyd.

“I was fortunate because I got to play with all the great players,” he said. “I’m really excited about the future. I enjoy being involved in golf.
I like helping people.”