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WEST NEWTON, Massachusetts – Ben Spitz has gotten into a groove before. It was 15 years ago when Spitz, then a standout at the University of Rhode Island, ended up capturing the Massachusetts Amateur title at Worcester Country Club.
Though his college golf days are well behind him, Spitz, 37, is still performing at a high level. A plus-3 handicap competing out of Boston’s George Wright Golf Course, Spitz made it to the quarterfinals of match play at last year’s Mass Amateur and has been riding a solid stretch of golf into this year’s championship at Brae Burn Country Club.
During the Mass Open last month at Oak Hill Country Club in Fitchburg, Spitz was only one of two players to shoot a tournament-low round of 5-under 65 and wound up in the final pairing. Though he came up short of the title by one stroke, he earned low amateur honors for the third time in his career.
Before that, Spitz made it to Final Qualifying for the U.S. Open and was paired with Korn Ferry Tour player Cameron Young. Spitz has been playing some quality golf in 2021, and he credits it to the approach he has taken to the course with him and staying consistent with each round he plays.
“I think where I’ve done well this year is just managing my expectations,” Spitz said. “I’ve been keeping the mental game sharp and not mentioning expectations. It’s just hitting the golf shots that need to be hit at that time. You kind of just put your best foot forward and add it up at the end to see how you do.”
While the run of success to start the season for Spitz has been impressive, it’s no surprise given the steps he took in the offseason to work on his game. Spitz purchased a new Titleist Tsi3 driver and has been fine-tuning his shots off the tee.
Spitz has also been taking advantage of Scott Fawcett’s website called DECADE. Fawcett, who used to play golf, created DECADE as a course management system that combines shot distribution patterns with PGA scoring statistics to create an analytic edge for golfers. While he hasn’t gotten deeply involved with DECADE, Spitz still sees the benefit in the information that is provided from it.
“It kind of simplified the game and simplified my approach to playing,” Spitz said. “I’m trying not to make it so complicated. Golf is complicated enough, and your mental side will make it even more complicated, so I’m just trying to calm it down and keep it more simple.”
Since his collegiate days, the game of golf has evolved, as has Spitz’s own life and outlook on the game. Spitz works at an Asset Management Firm called Mundy where he’s a relationship manager for institutional clients that invest in mutual funds. Between work and raising his family, his time to play golf has decreased significantly.
“When I was in college, everything was always about golf,” Spitz said. “There was going out and being social, but for the most part, it was just about golf. Now you have a family, raising kids, getting married, all the things just kind of put golf more in perspective. That helps manage your expectations and actually enjoy the time out on the course, rather than stressing out about always trying to play well and what that means.”
One thing that’s remained consistent is solid performances on the course. Now, Spitz finds himself in a talented group at the Mass Amateur. He’ll be teeing off at 1:10 p.m. Tuesday with Stanford University’s Michael Thorbjornsen (Wellesley Country Club) and Chris Francoeur (Amesbury Golf & Country Club), who’s transferring from Spitz’s alma-mater to the University of Louisville.
Spitz has crossed paths with Francoeur, who was the 2020 New England Golfers of the year while attending URI. However, this is his first time playing with Thorbjornsen the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion.
“Those guys tear it up,” Spitz said. “I’m surprised they put the old man with those guys. Usually, they keep the young guns together. It’ll be a fun experience.”
It may have been 15 years ago now, but the success at the Amateur in 2006 is a memory that Spitz will never forget. For as well as he’s been playing, he’ll hope to recapture some of that same success this week at Brae Burn.
“I think about it a fair amount,” Spitz said of the 2006 victory. “It was a special week, and I beat some really good players. I just felt a little bit more comfortable in the final match knowing that I’ve been there before and I could probably get it done.”
Mass Golf is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to advancing golf in Massachusetts by building an engaged community around the sport. Made up of 90,000 golfers statewide, Mass Golf is one of the largest state golf associations in the country. Presently, more than two-thirds of the 360-member clubs are public-access facilities, while nearly one-half of member golfers are enrolled at public facilities. Mass Golf offers its member’s services including handicapping, event access, youth programming and exciting golf content.