The older he gets, the more Sandy Harper appreciates a day spent on the golf course.
At 51, the reigning Canadian Club Champions champion believes his two extended periods away from the game have kept his competitive juices flowing into his fifth decade.
That includes his time as a professional, playing on the Canadian Tour, Australia Tour, Asia Tour and what is now the U.S. Nationwide Tour.
He made some money and played with some of the best golfers in the history of the game.
Players like Greg Norman, Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer, Raymond Floyd, Gary Player and Payne Stewart.
“I remember playing with them, they certainly wouldn’t remember playing with me,” said Harper.
He won the B.C. Junior title in 1974 and the B.C. Amateur in 1980, one year after PGA great Fred Couples of Seattle won the title.
He turned professional at the end of 1980.
“The first couple of years were a little tougher then it started getting good. I had a lot of fun playing in Australia and Asia. My wife and I went to Australia and Asia on a five-month trip and it was great. I came back and went across Canada and played in different tournaments. The next fall I went back down by myself for about seven weeks. That’s when I thought maybe it’s time to move on.”
He retired from the pro scene in 1988 and got married.
He got his amateur status back in 1994 then proceeded to win $52,000 and other gifts by sinking a hole in one at the Pacific Open in Vancouver in 1995, forcing him to relinquish his amateur status again.
“Then I had kids and golf wasn’t a priority anymore,” said Harper.
Harper lost his wife, Sandra, to cancer in 2002.
At the time he wasn’t too keen on returning to competitive golf, but his passion for the game slowly returned after he reapplied for his amateur status two years ago.
“I’m quite invigorated about it, really,” said Harper.
“If I played golf for all of those years, competitively, there’s a burnout time. For not really playing anything but a couple of scrambles with friends through the course of each year, you kind of feel like a junior again. It’s kind of fun playing against the young guys.”
His summer dance card is full. He’ll play in the B.C. Amateur championship at Marine Drive in Vancouver July 22-25, represent B.C. at the Pacific Coast Amateur Championship, Aug. 5-8 at Royal Colwood Golf Course, the Canadian Men’s Amateur on Lethbridge, Alta. Aug. 10-14 (if he qualifies) and play for his province at the Canadian Men’s Mid-Amateur golf championships at Pheasant Glen Golf Resort in Qualicum Aug. 18-22.
All the success he’s had in qualifying for tournaments comes with a price, though.
For the second straight year, he’ll have to skip the Nanaimo Amateur due to conflicting events.