Bio

Biography

Brian James (B.J.) Pitzen, a tour/teaching professional and tour caddie, began the game in 1988 and played junior golf in the Toledo Junior Golf Association (TJGA) and first started competing in tournaments at the age of 11. Pitzen played high school golf for St. John's Jesuit and Coach Larry Duvall, was a member of the 1994 Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) State Championship team, and participated in the OHSAA State Championship tournament three times while helping the Titans to a Division I runner-up finish in 1996 where teammate Jamie Spencer won the overall individual title. Pitzen was named City League Player of the Year in '97 after winning the City League tournament in a playoff over teammate and rival Kevin Kornowa. Pitzen was given the Paul Hahn Sportsmanship award by the TJGA after the completion of the '98 season and later had the priviledge to be the guest speaker and clinic giver at the '06 TJGA awards banquet at Toledo C.C. Pitzen also won two Toledo Amateur Championship titles in '00 and '02.

Pitzen went on to become a three-time NCAA All-American in college. After transferring from Otterbein College (Westerville, OH) in 2000 where he won eight individual tournaments and helped lead the Cardinals to back-to-back fourth-place finishes at the Division III National Championship, Pitzen played at Florida Southern College (Lakeland) and helped the Moccasins to a second and third place finish in the NCAA Division II National Championships in '01 and '02. Pitzen's best finish as a Moccasin was a solo second in the Valdosta State tournament at Valdosta CC in the Spring of '01.

Pitzen turned pro during the winter of '02 and has competed at the PGA Tour's Q-School Tournament during the fall seven times and has caddied in the event every season since 2009. Pitzen, who currently resides in Lakeland with his wife and four children, competed and Monday qualified into three events on the PGA Tour's Nationwide Tour (former Web.com Tour) in 2008 in Mitchelville, MD (CC of Woodmore), Rochester (Irondequoit CC) and Boise (Hillcrest CC).

Pitzen's best high-level mini-tour finish was a tie for fourth-place earning him $8,054 in the 2009 Amelia Island Plantation Tournament on the NGA Tour; the former Moccasin's low tournament round is a 63 at the 2005 Buffalo Run Classic NGA Tour event at Peoria Ridge Golf Club in Miami, OK. Pitzen has recorded two holes-in-one in professional competition and has also competed in numerous professional events in at least 28 states and four different countries, which included events such as PGA Tour qualifiers and Web.com Tour qualifiers and tours like the Canadian Tour, the eGolf (former Tarheel) Tour, Florida Professional Golf Tour (former North Florida PGA Tour), Moonlightgolf.com (OGA) Tour and Maverick Tour.

Pitzen's various teaching experiences working with youth golfers began as a touring pro helping with junior clinics while competing on the NGA Tour from '04-'09. While on the NGA Tour in '05, Pitzen helped teach at an FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) camp conducted in Myrtle Beach, which was hosted by Coastal Carolina University, alongside fellow tour pros such as Josh Teater. Also, Pitzen worked at the First Tee as a coach from 2009-2011, has helped coach the Florida Southern College summer golf camp and other local junior camps and clinics in the Lakeland area. Pitzen has personally run annual summer golf camps and seasonal junior and adult clinics in the Lakeland area since 2012.
Pitzen is currently the owner/operator of B.J.'s Golf & Turf, Inc. (a Florida licensed corporation since January '14). B.J.'s Golf & Turf, Inc.'s dual role of competing and caddying in professional tour events on the LPGA, PGA Tour sanctioned events, and various mini-tour events along with conducting individual/group lessons and clinics composes the "Golf" role. Most recently, B.J.'s Golf & Turf has helped contribute to attaining cards for two Web.com Tour players, Ben Silverman (PGA Tour card) & David Skinns (Web.com Tour full status), during the 2017 season (see 2017 results). B.J.’s Golf & Turf has also helped provide two players with their LPGA & Web.com Tour cards in Perrine Delacour (see 2014 LPGA Q-School results) and Charles Wang (see 2015 Web.com Tour Q-School results). Wang was the youngest player at age 18 to earn his Web.com Tour card from the 2015 Q-School class and Pitzen was the only caddie to get two players through q-school while attaining cards on both tours in 2014-2015. In the fall of 2015, Pitzen helped Jiayi Zhou of China advance to the final stage of LPGA Tour School. In the summer of 2016, Pitzen looped for Omar Tejeira in both professionals’ first win on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica's first summer Q-School. In the fall of 2016, Pitzen helped Braxton Wynns adavance to Second Stage of q-school. The "Turf" aspect of Pitzen's corporation specializes in any and all landscape needs including but not just limited to turf removal and new residential and commercial sod installation, tree trimming & removal, mulch, landscape paper, hedge trimming, mowing, pavers, high brush bush-whacking & weed eating, various stones, drainage pipes & more.

 

Autobiography

B.J. (Brian James) Pitzen & the Game of Golf

I was born in Toledo, OH on July 25, 1980. My parents devoted much of their adult lives to working hard by providing for my three siblings and me.

My grandfathers both spent a lot of quality time with me when I was younger and I even learned many golf tips from my mother's father. My dad, mom and grandparents first took me out to play golf when I was eight years old on a chilly, Easter morning by the Ohio/Michigan border at Cherrywood Golf Course in Ottawa Lake, Michigan. We had a great time and I really enjoyed the game that I would grow to love. 

I learned hard work and dedication from all of my family members, and I mostly learned honesty, integrity and sticking to my word from my father and mother. Both my brothers and my sister are all older than me, so I was an uncle at the age of 10. My oldest brother's son was born shortly after my grandfather Charles W. Pitzen died in 1990. I'm very fortunate to have a number of nieces and nephews (I have six on my side of the family and ten on my wife's side).   I was very blessed when my wife and I recently added our second boy and fourth child to our complete family. 

Golf Dreams Rooted From Athletic Endeavors

A large portion of my golfing experiences growing up were because of my aunt. Aunt "Sis" and I used to play golf frequently together during the spring, summer and fall months in and around the Greater Toledo area. She encouraged me to play from her set of tees and learn how to score before I moved back to the men's tees.

Aunt Sis and I shared many rounds together on the golf course and she even taught me various lessons on how to show my manners and to act like a gentleman. I distinctly remember being very embarrassed at Tamaron Country Club when a group of men were cussing up a storm in the group either in front or behind us. I wasn't embarrassed for them; I was ashamed because my Aunt spoke up and told them that she was trying to "raise a gentleman" and would they please stop cursing. At the time, I was embarrassed that she had made a scene. Now I completely understand why she said what she did, and I'm extremely grateful for that lesson she taught me. Eventually after Aunt Sis and I no longer shot similar scores, she started driving me to golf tournaments around the county and even Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. If it wasn't for the support and encouragement from my Aunt and other family members, I may not have ever pursued golf as a career.

Growing up in the wintery months in Ohio leaves a boy with little choice but to pick an indoor sport. I fell in love with basketball at an early age. Watching Larry Bird and Magic Johnson battle it out on the court left me dreaming of playing one day for the Celtics, driving the lane and hitting a buzzer beater to win the championship. Springtime came and indoor practices in the gym ensued for baseball. Coaches hit grounders on the wood floor to get a jump on the competition. Catchers crouched behind a makeshift plate hoping the pitcher wouldn't throw short and make the ball skip too fast off the gym floor. Going to Tiger Stadium with my Dad in the summer to run the bases with the players and participate in the clinics helped me dream of filling the stadium one day with adoring fans by pitching a no hitter in the World Series. I soon learned that falling in love with the process of how to achieve those dreams is most important. Achieving one's dreams, I believe, requires a person to be in love with the process of day to day activities involved in one's profession. If one doesn't love improving his/her craft through long hours of practice and consistent effort without any let up, unrelenting talent must be present. 

I was blessed at a young age with a pitching arm that surpassed most if not all of my peers. At the age of 11 or so, I was clocked by one of the parents at 55 mph+. It seemed as if nobody could catch up to my pitches; however, I pitched too much. I was selected to be on the "B" team in seventh grade for St. Joan of Arc in order to offset the balanced talent on the "A" team. Unfortunately, I was one of our only pitchers and the coach started me at the mound too frequently. One game during our seventh grade year, I threw my elbow out of the socket and never really pitched again. This traumatic experience felt like the end of the world at the time, but God meant it for good. I continued to play baseball through high school but I never quite grasped the idea of not every player on the team putting forth the same effort day in and day out. I believe that's part of the main reason why I started to devote my summers to playing tournament golf while in high school instead of participating in summer baseball. In the game of golf, the player usually gets what he puts into the game. Also, golfers have to rely totally on themselves and have nobody else to answer to, blame or pat on the back than themselves.

Duvall's Student

Larry Duvall, my first real swing coach and eventual high school golf coach, had a positive impact on me from the start. Larry's wise words and encouraging attitude first gave me an insight into the game that opened up avenues in my mind about how to play the game in the least amount of strokes. Larry preached to me one infamous quote from Dr. Bob Rotella's books, "It's not what happens to golfers that distinguishes champions. It's how they choose to respond to what happens - that distinguishes champions." Larry's ideas transformed my thinking on the golf course and he is still, to this day, the best coach I've ever had. In fact, I still call him "coach" when we talk on the phone or see each other. 

College Golf Pursuits

After attending St. Joan of Arc grade school in Maumee, Ohio and St. John's Jesuit High School in Toledo, I felt like I was prepared academically and athletically to perform sholastically at the college level. Even though Division I programs did not recruit me out of high school like some of my fellow competitors and teammates, I did get to play right away by winning my first college golf tournament while attending Otterbein College (Westerville, OH). As a team, we (the Cardinals) finished up in fourth place at the NCAA Division III National Championships respectively in the spring of 1999 and 2000. However, I knew that I needed to get to a place that would enable me to play golf year around, and I knew staying in Ohio would not suffice. Coach Jim Brown at The Ohio State University said he had a bag waiting for me, but something in my spirit told me God had something better in store for me.

Cardinals coach Dave McLauglin pulled me into his office and basically threatened me with various cuss words and nonsense talk about staying at Otterbein instead of transferring to another school. I recall him being enraged by the fact that I was talking to Buckeyes' coach Brown about moving on to another school to play college golf. McLaughlin's football mentality and idle threats did not disuade me from pursuing my passion of getting to a more competitive environment. I was grateful for the opportunity that McLaughlin gave me by recruiting me when only Ohio Wesleyan did as well, but it was time to move on and Division III did not offer athletic scholarships.

A Florida Southern Moccasin

Coach Doug Gordin's father Dick Gordin, who was the head golf coach at Ohio Wesleyan from 1955-'93, spoke to me after I had won a tournament while playing as a Cardinal during my sophomore year. I had expressed interest to Jon Whithaus, the Bishops coach from 1998-2009 who had also recruited me heavily out of St. John's, at the 2000 Division III National Championship in Michigan that I was looking to transfer to a more competitive environment. Whithaus apparently put a word in for me to Dick Gordin because he was anxious to get me out of his conference since Otterbein had been beating up on Ohio Wesleyan. Gordin met me after an event to speak about the possiblility of transferring to Florida Southern College to play under the tutelage of Doug Gordin, his son.

I went on to become a three-time NCAA All-American in college. After transferring from Otterbein (Westerville, OH) in 2000 where I helped lead the Cardinals to back-to-back fourth-place finishes at the Division III National Championship, I played at Florida Southern College (Lakeland) and helped the Moccasins to a second and third place finish in the NCAA Division II National Championships in '01 and '02.

 

A Touring Pro

Pitzen turned pro during the winter of '02 and has competed at the PGA Tour's Q-School Tournament during the fall seven times and has caddied in the event since 2009. Pitzen, who currently resides in Lakeland with his wife and three kids, competed and Monday qualified into three events on the PGA Tour's Nationwide Tour (former Web.com Tour) in 2008 and is presently on path to continuing the pursuit of his tour card. Pitzen's best high-level mini-tour finish was a tie for fourth-place earning him $8,054 in the 2009 Amelia Island Plantation Tournament on the NGA Tour; the 33-year old's low tournament round is a 63 at the 2005 Buffalo Run Classic NGA Tour event at Peoria Ridge Golf Club in Miami, OK. Pitzen has recorded two holes-in-one in professional competition and has also competed in numerous professional events in at least 28 states and four different countries, which included events such as PGA Tour qualifiers and Web.com Tour qualifiers and tours like the Canadian Tour, the eGolf (former Tarheel) Tour, Florida Professional Golf Tour (former North Florida PGA Tour), Moonlightgolf.com (OGA) Tour and Maverick Tour.

I plan to do my best to fulfill God's purposes and His Son Jesus Christ in advancing the gospel around the world.

 

Teaching to Pass the Game Along to Others - Especially the Younger Generation

My various teaching experiences working with youth golfers began as a touring pro helping with junior clinics while competing on the NGA Tour from '04-'09. I've also worked at the First Tee as a coach from 2009-2011, helped coach the Florida Southern College summer golf camp and other local junior camps and clinics in the Lakeland area. I've personally run annual summer golf camps and seasonal junior and adult clinics in the Lakeland area since 2012. I'm currently the owner/operator of B.J.'s Golf & Turf, Inc. (a Florida licensed corporation since January '14) and have been officially giving individual/group lessons since 2009 while on tour and in the Central Florida and Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio areas. I've found that a person doesn't need a title to be able to teach skills that can be found through experience in real tournament play and intuition granted by God.

After being blessed with four kids who are athletically gifted, I've found through experience that most golf courses in the Florida region do not want kids on their course for liablity reasons. Since when did we as a country become so afraid that something bad is going to happen that it stifles our ability to pass along skills to a younger generation that needs our mentorship? I think since we started letting God out of our lifestyles and foreign ways impede upon our growth, fear began to take over. It's time to let fear subside and trust in the Lord...not our insurance policy. He's all the insurance we need. 

 

...(to be continued)...

Copyright © 2018 B.J. Pitzen, All rights reserved.