Regarded by many as “Mr. Golf” in South Carolina, Happ Lathrop has presided over the game as executive director of the South Carolina Golf Association across four decades. In 1976, he became the first full-time employee of the South Carolina Golf Association when membership involved 99 clubs (about 11,500 golfers) and assets stood at $50,000. Today, 32 years later, the association commands more than $1-million in assets and represents the interests of more than 70,000 golfers across nearly 300 clubs.
A fine player in his own right, Lathrop won the state amateur championship in 1968 as an 18-year-old, becoming the youngest to do so at that time. He was South Carolina Inter-Collegiate Champion in the same year. Yet it is his service as an administrator that he is best known for.
Lathrop also helped create one of the most successful and respected junior development programs in the country, through the South Carolina Junior Golf Association (1989) and the South Carolina Junior Golf Foundation (1995). In addition to producing numerous PGA Tour players, those organizations have fostered strong and healthy competition for juniors and awarded more than $300,000 in education scholarships and well over $100,000 to organizations for minority and disadvantaged youth.
For all of the events and organizations Lathrop has had a hand in creating or running, his efforts brokering relationships, sponsorships, and general goodwill for golf in the state are just as far-reaching. He was inducted into the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame in 1997 and has also been recognized as Father-of-the-Year by the National Father and Son Team Classic tournament in Myrtle Beach .
Happ Lathrop was inducted into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame in 2008.