POTOMAC FALLS, Va. – Harold Varner III is working on his legacy – and it’s not about golf.
Sure, he wants to maximize his competitive opportunities. Sure, he likes to win. After all, success matters; as a professional athlete, it comes with the territory.
But victories and trophies and the financial benefits attached to it are a means to an end for the 32-year-old North Carolina resident. Success matters mostly to serve his primary objectives, and in framing Sunday's victory at LIV Golf DC, Varner welcomed the opportunity to place it in its proper perspective.
“Twenty years from now, no one is going to remember who won this tournament, who won any tournament,” Varner said. “They are going to remember how you helped them. I’ve always said that. I feel like I get to help a lot of people now, even more people … It costs a lot of money to help a lot of people.”
Varner has never shied away from his reasons for becoming a LIV Golf member. He wanted to offer generational financial stability for his family, and he wants to empower the next generation for other families by giving children affordable access to golf through his HV3 Foundation.
It’s about being a mentor. Varner recalls those who helped him as a youth. They remain inspirations for him, and he’s determined to take the baton and positively impact others. Programs in his birthplace of Akron, Ohio, as well as Charlotte, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina are in place.
“I had two incredible mentors,” Varner said. “I had more but two that were awesome. They are 91 and 86 [years old] now. I went to breakfast with them a couple of weeks ago. I’m getting to the age where I have to enjoy every moment. …
“It’s just a bigger picture.”
Winning allows him to broaden his reach and make more of an impact. But while a win of any kind is nice, the ones he enjoys the most are those he can share with teammates.
That’s why his celebration on Sunday seemed a bit subdued. His RangeGoats GC finished third on the team leaderboard, so even though teammate Talor Gooch sprayed him with champagne on the 18th green, there was no team celebration on the podium like there was after last month’s team victory in Singapore.
“I really want the RangeGoats up there,” Varner said. “It’s important to me. … I smell like doo-doo right now, but it would be cool to have three other guys up here to enjoy success.”
He did have one person inside the ropes who could share Sunday’s success – his caddie Chris Rice. When the final putt dropped, Varner gave him a wink of appreciation.
“Success with another person is something that’s undefeated,” Varner said. “He’s like an older brother. He has gone through some stuff in his life that I haven’t yet, but I just like being there for him. …
“There’s things in life and you need those people in your life. Like I said, mentorship.”
Not even winning for the first time in the United States caused Varner to respond with anything more than a shrug. His previous professional victories had come in Australia and Saudi Arabia, and the RangeGoats’ team win was also overseas. Asked about his two U.S. wins during his collegiate days at East Carolina, Varner said he couldn’t recall them.
“That’s my whole point about what I just said,” Varner explained. “No one is going to remember. I remember the team wins; those are fun. Anytime you get to share success, that’s when it lasts a long time. Just always have that bond.
“It’s why I like the military, any type of police academy. They have this bond for the rest of their lives because they’ve done something that’s been traumatic together, and they just stick it out.”
With captain Bubba Watson back in action for 2023 after missing last season while recovering from knee surgery, and with Gooch – Varner’s close friend – transferring to the team and Thomas Pieters added to the lineup, the RangeGoats entered this year with high expectations.
It took a few tournaments to find their form, but the RangeGoats have now four consecutive podium finishes, including the third place in DC despite Pieters having to WD with an injury prior to the final round (reserve Wade Ormsby filled his spot).
Gooch has been the key, winning in consecutive weeks in Adelaide and Singapore. But Varner has been trending well; he’s improved his result in each of the last four tournaments. In his previous start in Tulsa, he shot a final-round 61 to finish fourth. – and now followed by the win in D.C.
“It’s long overdue,” Gooch said. “It’s awesome to see him win it. He’s one of my best buddies out here and he’s been working his butt off, so it’s good to have the hard work pay off.”
Plenty of hard work remains. Not all of it involves hitting a golf ball.
Varner has big plans for his foundations. And now he has a platform that can make them happen.
“The greatest thing you can do is just go do what’s right,” he said. “I know those two people had such an impact on my life and I want to keep doing that for other people.”