By Dave Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org | 757-247-4649
4:39 PM EDT, June 18, 2013
Like any youngster should, Josh Speight set the highest of goals. Golf was his passion, and it served him well at Gloucester High and Methodist University. So after graduating college, Speight wanted to play on the PGA Tour.
But reality intervened. Funds were short, sponsors weren't lining up and he wanted to have a family. The Tour wasn't going to happen, at least not right away, but Speight found a way to stay in the game by becoming a club pro — first at Hell's Point in Virginia Beach, and now at Viniterra in New Kent.
"I love teaching the game of golf," said Speight, who lives in Urbanna. "And having a family, someone to spend time with, was more important to me than the dream of playing on the PGA Tour."
Call it Plan B if you want, but life has worked out pretty well. Speight, 25, is engaged to "the love of my life." And beginning Sunday, he will play in the PGA Professional National Championship at Sunriver Resort in Oregon.
The field consists of 312 PGA club professionals who qualified in their sectional events. It will be televised by the Golf Channel.
The winner gets a $75,000 check, his name on the Walter Hagen Cup, and exemptions into six PGA events over the next 12 months. The top 20 finishers qualify for the PGA Championship in August.
"This is a big opportunity for my golfing career and a pretty big accomplishment," said Speight, who tied for third in the Middle Atlantic sectional last August. "I'm pretty excited, and I'm looking forward to going out there to see what I can do and how I stack up against other pros in the nation.
"I've never been that far away from home before, so this will be a new experience for me. I hear where it's played is almost 4,000 feet above sea level, so the golf ball goes pretty far. It will be an adjustment as to how far I'm hitting everything. My goal is to go out there and play well. If I play well, I'll meet my goals."
Speight expressed his thanks to friends, family and Viniterra members who have raised about $2,000 to help with travel expenses.
Speight was one of the Peninsula District's top players back in his days at Gloucester. He qualified for the Group AAA tournament as a junior and senior and tied for fifth in the 2005 event. At Methodist, he was the USA South's Rookie of the Year in 2007 and a second-team All-American in '10.
After committing himself to a more stable job as a club pro, Speight found love. He'd known Sydney Harris, the daughter of his mother's best friend from high school, practically all his life. But they were "reintroduced," as Speight put it, and their wedding is scheduled for January.
Would that have happened if Speight was out trying to make a living on the Tour?
"Probably not," he said.
Speight also likes his job, which has several components to it.
"You teach, you check people into the golf shop, you merchandise … basically, you're a manager," he said. "You have to wear a lot of hats."
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