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and securing that extra round at Pebble Beach is the goal of every junior, the week is never measured by winning. “Truly, they are going to remem-


ber it forever,” said Spittle, 59. That goes for the pros, too. “The best part of the week is


remembering what we were all like, when we were 15, 16, 17,” said the 6-foot-5 Spittle, who grew up playing golf in the summer and hockey in the winter. “I can’t even imagine the chance to come to Pebble and Poppy and play with a pro.” Added 2011 U.S. Senior Open


champion Olin Browne, “Ask anyone. It is our favorite tournament of the year. These kids have so much enthusiasm, and their enthusi- asm is infectious.” And two-time First


Tee Open Champion Kirk Triplett, “We met pros and we knew how much it meant to us back then. All of the players on the Champions Tour take special care in answering their ques- tions, talking to them, and explaining the path we took to become professionals.” Spittle’s path is one of the most


remarkable and inspiring that you will hear. It’s a script even more outra- geous than one of his favorite movies, “The Rookie.” The Ontario native was the cap- tain of an Ohio State golf team that also featured future PGA Tour pros John Cook and Joey Sindelar. “I actually beat Rod once, and I thought I accomplished something major,” recalled Cook, this year’s First Tee Open winner. But Spittle decided against turn-


ing pro after college. “There is so much sacrifice,”


Spittle said. “I just wasn’t willing to be away from my wife and kids that long.” So Spittle became a successful


executive in sales and marketing, playing amateur golf on the side in the


48 / NCGA.ORG / FALL 2014


state of Ohio. By the age of 45, Spittle calculated that his kids would be out of the house by 49, and maybe he could make a rare run at the Champi- ons Tour. (See Alan Shipnuck’s story on page 32 to understand what a pipe dream this notion really is.) “We approached it like a business,”


Spittle said. “We formed a partner- ship, and I had some financing. We had a five-year plan. I thought that was long enough to give this a viable chance.” After grinding through nearly four


years of Monday Qualifying, Spittle had never played more than 13 events in a season. And with one tournament left in his fifth year, Spittle had made just $38k in 2010. “I was four


years and 10 months into


our five-month plan,” Spittle said. “We were truly figuring out that our plan was done. “And then there was lightning in


a bottle.” Spittle Monday Qualified for the


AT&T Championship in San Anto- nio—just the fifth tournament he got into all year—before magically beat- ing Jeff Sluman in a playoff to change his life. “As I tell people, I made a 4-foot putt when I was 55 years old after playing golf for 40 years to win a tournament on a Champions Tour,” Spittle said. “This is without a doubt the best


job I’ve ever had. To hang out with the best players in the world, and guys who I grew up watching and idol- izing, has been a blast. We’re going to do it as long as we can. “That’s why I smile most of the time.”


Jack Jaffe started his own business called Recycled Golf Gear by Jack. He has donated more than 50 sets of clubs in the last two years.


Jack Jaffe birdied the ninth hole to help his team reach 7 under, but they missed the cut by one stroke.


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