Vancouver golfer Spencer Tibbits was considering turning professional when the end of his junior season at Oregon State was abruptly halted by the coronavirus.
With an uncertain summer on the links looming, Tibbits’ choice was made for him: he would complete his career at Oregon State. He now plans to turn pro in fall 2021.
“I just felt like I was ready,” Tibbits said. “Mentally I was there. I had all the skill. I just needed the opportunity.”
Since missing the cut by one stroke at the 2019 U.S. Open, Tibbits’ desire to turn his lifelong ambition into reality burned stronger. He played against the best golfers in the world at one of the most prestigious courses in the world — Pebble Beach — and played well.
“Getting a taste of what you dreamt of your whole life and at such a young age, it was like ‘Wow, I can really do this,'” Tibbits said.
Tibbits, 21, practiced up to eight hours a day this summer and fall while living with his parents in Vancouver. He takes online classes with OSU, something he’s done since he was a freshman, in between his practice around the greens and 18-hole rounds at Royal Oaks Country Club.
He also has focused on his fitness as he prepares for an exciting final season with the Beavers. The former three-time state champion for Fort Vancouver High School is 6-foot-4, 208 pounds and averages a 315-yard drive.
During a recent weekday round on a blustery day at Royal Oaks, he cleared a fairway bunker that sits 300 yards from the tee box, something he said he wouldn’t have been able to do two months ago.
“I go in phases with working out,” Tibbits said. “I like doing it not just for golf, but it makes me feel better doing something productive and bettering myself.”
He knows the professional game trending toward long bombers like U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, but despite his length off the tee, Tibbits’ strong suit is his short game.
Regular playing partners Graham Moody, a Mountain View senior, and Cade Bringhurst, a Ridgefield senior, expect his chips to find the hole more often than not.
Moody said the experience playing daily with Tibbits is an invaluable learning opportunity. Tibbits noted that he hopes to be an inspiration for Moody and other young Vancouver golfers.
“I just want to show how much work I put into this game,” Tibbits said.
With the Pac-12 spring golf season set to go as scheduled, Tibbits will anchor the Beavers’ talented group in his senior season. He led the team in scoring average each of his first three years.
Next summer, he will take another run on the amateur circuit — which included five tournaments in five states this year — and make his third try at the U.S. Amateur, scheduled for Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. He qualified for the match play portion of the event on his first two attempts.
Following the U.S. Amateur, Tibbits plans to take on Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school.
“In five years, I hope to be on (the PGA) Tour,” Tibbits said. “It’s a long road but it’s possible.”