because his dad didn’t want him to grow up being called “Tommy.”
Born in Pittsburgh, Pa., Spitzer moved with his family to Atlanta, Ga.
when he was 4 years old. That’s where he grew up and went to high
school, along the way becoming a state champion debater.
Spitzer had his heart set on going to Dartmouth College but his dad
explained that with so many kids to educate, an Ivy League school was
not in the budget. He was lucky to land at his beloved University of
Virginia where he received a $250 DuPont Scholarship – his first link to
the Philadelphia area – which back then was one-quarter of the annual
tuition. When he set foot on campus his first year, it was his first visit to
the school. Spitzer graduated in 1971 and later went to graduate school
at the University of Georgia.
Immediately after college, he spent the summer working in the office
of then-Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter before teaching for two years at a
Catholic high school in Atlanta. There, Spitzer was also called upon to
coach the baseball and golf teams, igniting an interest in the game that
continues to serve him to this day.
“When he went into consulting, it was a good way to talk business with
people,” said John Spitzer. “He has used that effectively his whole life.”
After those years at St. Pius X Catholic High School, still only 23,
Spitzer returned to Georgia government, this time working in the ad-
ministration of the new governor, George Busbee.
Working for Busbee opened other doors in government, including a
stint as deputy director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, which
Spitzer said gave him a chance to actually run something, which too many
consultants never get to do. In due time, he settled into management
consulting, where he spent the bulk of his career. He has been married to
his wife Tina for 33 years; they have five children, ranging in age from 43 to
27 and with such diverse careers as pharmaceutical executive, restaurateur, lawyer, MBA candidate and fashion buyer in New York City. Tina is a
University of Wisconsin graduate and steadfast Badgers and Packers fan.
n n n
ALTHOUGH SPITZER WAS HARDLY AN AVID GOLFER as a boy,
he was introduced to the game early on by his dad, a doctor who, with
Spitzer’s uncle, a pharmacist, would take off Thursday afternoons to
play golf at a public nine-hole course north of Atlanta.
“My father was never any good and I was never any good,” said
Spitzer, a member of the Executive Committee since 2013. “I was a
public golfer. My father didn’t belong to a club.”
Spitzer’s claim of never being any good is a bit modest. GHIN records
show he is an 11.1 Handicap Index at Huntingdon Valley. By all accounts,
His saving graces are that he has managed to make himself a pretty
good golfer, despite his unconventional swing, that he has a near-ob-
sessive passion for the game and, most importantly, he plays fast.
“I am well known around [Huntingdon Valley] for playing fast,” he said.
Unlike some golfers of his means and connections, Spitzer has not accumulated a long list of to-die-for memberships. He is a member of three:
Huntington Valley as well as the Island Golf Club in Ireland, near Dublin;
and Machrihanish Golf Club in Scotland, both revered links courses.
n n n
Q. Why do you want to be President of the Golf Association
A. How many times do you get a chance to run an organization that
is best-in-class? It just doesn’t happen. So when presented with the
opportunity, who wouldn’t want to do that?
The other thing is, we have way more runway left than people think.
It would be very easy to become complacent and say, ‘OK, we’ve got
a fabulous set of clubs, we are relatively large, we are the oldest state
or regional golf association in the United States. Let’s just continue to
do what we are doing and it will be fine.’ But there is not one iota of
complacency in the GAP. Every time you turn around, there is something we want to do better.
Q. And why did they pick you?
A. I was not privy to the decision. When we look for the leaders of the
organization, we are looking for people with certain characteristics.
First, you have to have energy and be willing to invest the time.
Second, while you are on the Executive Committee, what sort of
contributions do you make? I had a lot to do with getting BMW to be
one of our major sponsors, so I think that helped.
The other thing is, as the GAP gets bigger and the financial requirements of the organization get bigger, we want to have some people
who know how to run an organization as a business. I have 40
years consulting major enterprises in almost every industry on five
continents. All of that said, any member of our Executive Committee
would have been an excellent choice.
Q. What is your agenda for your term as GAP President?
A. For the last decade or more, the Association has been on a terrific
trajectory. The dumbest thing I can do is come in and say, ‘OK, I am
going to put my mark on it by taking us in a different direction.’ We
just have to make sure we execute. Bob Morey was a superstar GAP
president. My first job is not to screw up what he left me. Beyond
that, there are many challenges remaining.
Q. For example?
A. Our mission is to grow the game and to try to serve the golfers and
clubs in our area. We have to do a better job with juniors. We have
to do a better job with women. We have to do a better job with
Spitzer has been a member
of the Golf Association
of Philadelphia Executive
Committee since 2013.