RJ Harper Memorial Scholarship – Supporting Golf’s Greatest Lessons
By Cristina Medina Dirksen, Community Foundation for Monterey County Communications Coordinator
There is no game bigger than golf on the Monterey Peninsula. And there was no insider as connected and beloved as RJ Harper, the Executive Vice President of Golf and Retail at the Pebble Beach Company, who passed away in November, 2017 after a 14-month battle with pancreatic cancer. His real name, Robert Thomas Harper Jr., came to be “RJ” after a hometown newspaper misidentified him, the story goes.
RJ rose through the ranks of the Pebble Beach Company from golf course marshal to the head of golf operations. From the maintenance workers tending the iconic greens, to the captains of industry and celebrities he hosted at Pebble Beach, Harper was known as “Mr. Pebble Beach” – a spreader of goodwill for 32 years. He was widely recognized as one of the outstanding leaders in the golf industry and was named Honorary General Chairman of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach June 13-16, 2019.
Leaving a Lasting Legacy
Harper’s impact on local apprentices of the game will endure through the RJ Harper Memorial Scholarship Fund. The endowed fund was established at the Community Foundation for Monterey County by the AT&T Pebble Beach Junior Golf Association with support from the Jim and Linda Tunney Fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County, the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, and friends. It aims to provide scholarships to college-bound golfers who participate in the AT&T Pebble Beach Junior Golf Association.
Scholarship Fund Benefits Student Golfers
The fund is carrying on Harper’s legacy. In May 2019, Carmel High School senior George McNeely (left) was named the 2019 scholarship recipient. McNeely, who is headed to the University of North Carolina for college, will receive $5,000.
In total, there have been two awards.
In 2018 Palma High School graduate Joey Burlison (right) was awarded a $5,000 scholarship. Jim Nantz, long time CBS golf, football, and basketball commentator and local resident, presented Burlison with the award and took time for a sit-down interview with the young golfer. Burlison attends New York University, Stern School of Business and plays golf for the school.
I love the AT&T Pebble Beach Junior Golf Association. It has opened my world and I will be forever grateful. I will never forget how generous the organization has been and the time and effort that everyone gives. I would not be the golfer and person I am today without it,” – Joey Burlison, RJ Harper Memorial Scholarship Recipient, New York University Golf Team Member
RJ Harper Memorial Scholarship Fund
Contribute to the RJ Harper Memorial Scholarship Fund:
- online www.cfmco.org/rjharper
- or by sending a check to the “Community Foundation for Monterey County” with “RJ Harper” in the memo line
2354 Garden Road
Monterey, CA 93940
Photos: Top: RJ Harper/Provided by The Pebble Beach Company Middle: George McNeely, Bottom: (l-r) Jim Nantz, Joey Burlison, Tucker Harper
Updated June 4, 2019