Darrell Craft. Courtesy of Craft.
Darrell Craft. Courtesy of Craft.

Sportswriter Doug Doughty writes regularly for Cardinal News. Keep up by signing up for one of our free email newsletters.

The achievements of two of the most prominent Roanoke golfers of their generation were recognized May 2, when they were unanimous choices to enter the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame.

The newcomers to be introduced at a banquet later in the year are Darrell Craft and Matt Chandler.

Considerations include tournament performance as well as contributions to golf in general.

Craft played on the golf team at Patrick Henry High School and later was a first-team All-ODAC selection at Roanoke College after transferring from Virginia Commonwealth.

Craft, a 1999 graduate of the Western New England College School of Law, has won tournaments at several golf clubs in the Roanoke Valley and purchased the Waterfront Golf and Country Club in 2021.

He won the annual Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame championship in 2010 and has had four top five finishes and six top 10’s. More recently, he has been one of the top senior golfers in the valley.

“As time went on, I found myself getting in [the hall of fame] this year,” he said. ” Now I wonder, how did I get here?

“I think, or hope, that I got there equally due to my playing record as well as my contribution to the RVGHOF and what I am doing at the Waterfront with the turnaround there. I think that both, to me, are equally important.”

Craft currently serves as the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame tournament chairman, a position he has held since 2018. He also has been a rules official at the Scott Robertson Memorial, a tournament that has attracted junior players from throughout the country, since 2010.

Matt Chandler. Courtesy of Chandler.
Matt Chandler. Courtesy of Chandler.

Chandler is a four-time winner of the most prominent local event, the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame championship, and a two-time winner of the Valley Match Play, making him one of four players to win the area’s top two men’s championships in the same year.

Chandler is a little younger than Craft, having made a splash in 1999, when he won a state championship as a member of the Franklin County High School team. He doesn’t play as much nowadays, not that he has ruled out a return to competitive golf.

“If I’m being truthful about it, I had a feeling I’d probably go into the hall of fame at some point,” Chandler said this week. “I didn’t know if it would be this quick.”

He doesn’t know what golf has in his future. 

“I would never say never,” he said. “I’ve hardly played at all in the past two or three years. It’s not something I think about a lot.”

Chandler played professionally for about eight years and it was some time before his amateur status was restored, but he was hard to beat on the mid-amateur circuit.

“A couple of weeks after I got my status back, I signed up for the mid-am — actually, somebody signed me up because I wasn’t going to do it,” he said, “and then I ended up winning. I got to thinking that ‘maybe I should play a little bit more.’ “

He won the VSGA Mid-Amateur in 2012, where he shot a 61 in the first round, as well as 2015 and 2016, scoring in the 60s on all three rounds.

He’ll turn 41 later this year and could pose a threat for former rivals now closing in on 50.

“I’d definitely have to start practicing,” Chandler said, “and that’s something I don’t do any more.

“I’ve won numerous tournaments throughout the junior years and played professional for a while and won a few times. The mid-amateurs stick out to me because those are really talented fields in statewide events. To win three of them in four years, that’s kind of impressive.

“I don’t know anybody who has done that.” 

Doug Doughty has been writing for more than 50 years starting as a high school student in Washington,...