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Vince Papale to play in Las Vegas charity golf tournament

Vince Papale knows how to beat the odds.

In 1976, Papale was a 30-year-old bartender and substitute teacher who decided to attend open tryouts for the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite not playing football in college and only a little in high school, he led the Eagles in receptions in the preseason and made the NFL team’s roster.

In a recent phone call reminiscing about the moment he learned he had made the team, Papale said he immediately told coach Dick Vermeil “I will do you justice, and I won’t let you and the city of Philadelphia down.”

The 2006 movie “Invincible” was inspired by his story and starred Mark Wahlberg as Papale. The film wasn’t a documentary, but Papale said it did a good job of capturing his unlikely journey.

Papale is scheduled to be in Las Vegas on May 20 for the sixth annual A Level Playing Field charity golf tournament at Jack Nicklaus’ Bear’s Best Las Vegas. The event was created by Las Vegas resident Susan Spencer, the Eagles’ general manager when Papale played.

The tournament raises funds for disadvantaged high school athletes who can’t play sports because of the financial burden.

“It’s heartbreaking that there are kids out there who want to play sports, but sometimes don’t get that opportunity because of their personal situations,” Spencer said. “There are stories at schools all over Southern Nevada about kids we helped, and I want to make sure coaches know they can call me. We have never turned away any student who needs the help. Vince playing this year is a big deal for us because he beat the odds, and his story can serve as an inspiration for young athletes.”

Papale, now 71, understands how fortunate he was to be given a chance.

“All I was looking for was a shot, and the Eagles’ coaches, management and owners gave me that opportunity and it changed my life forever,” he said.

Other former players scheduled to play include Rod Martin, Johnny Rodgers and Mike Rozier. For more information, see alevelplayingfield.org.

UNLV golf center moves forward

During a recent speech at the Southwest Section, Southern Nevada Chapter, PGA of America annual meeting at Palm Valley Golf Club, UNLV Professional Golf Management program director Chris Cain said the new home of the PGM is scheduled to open in January. The hospitality hall will be part of the William F. Harrah Hotel College, and golf will play a major role in the building, which officials said “will create a new standard of excellence in hospitality education.”

Cain said the hall will be the center of golf at UNLV and feature areas open to all faculty and students, including an outdoor putting green and an indoor swing simulator. Also on site will be classrooms, a pro shop operated by PGM students and a state-of-the-art golf technology lab.

PGA Tour brothers’ first lessons

Tom Fischer, Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort head professional, was the first PGA of America pro to give lessons to future PGA Tour players Chase and Brooks Koepka. Fischer said the two were about 4 and 6 when he introduced them to the game while working at Sherbrooke Golf Club in Florida. The brothers finished tied for fifth last week in the Zurich Classic team event in New Orleans.

Deal of the week

In celebration of Mother’s Day, females can play Club at Sunrise for $25 with cart and range balls after 10 a.m. Monday through Thursday through May 31.

Stars on, off course

Former UNLV golfer Ryan Moore and longtime Rebels golf foundation member Dick Calvert will be inducted into the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame on Thursday.

The golf notebook appears each Thursday. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at bhurlburt5@gmail.com or @LVGolfInsider on Twitter.

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