The Champions Tour is largely a closed shop to those who don't arrive at their milestone 50th birthday with playing privileges already secured, which renders as exceptional the efforts of Gene Jones and Mike Geddes.
Each of their otherwise obscure names keep turning up on Champions Tour leader boards, including that of the Jeld-Wen Tradition at the Crosswater Club in Sunriver, Ore. Entering Sunday's final round, Goodes is tied for fourth while Jones is tied for 10th.
Jones tied for first and Geddes tied for 22nd in the Champions Tour Qualifying Tournament last year, providing them only the opportunity to Monday qualify for events. It promised nothing, if not frustration, yet each of them kept playing their way into tournaments and turning up on enough leader boards that full-time employment in 2009 has become a reasonable expectation.
Goodes said that they're feeding off one another, a friendly competition, but that they also share a role model, Bruce Vaughn, who followed a similar route the year before and won the Senior British Open last month.
"You get in these things and the only thing that matters is what you shoot," Goodes said. "It doesn't matter who you're playing against. You never know if and when that will happen. Vaughn's victory gives you more hope."
Goodes, who owns a plastics recycling business, was a formidable amateur in North Carolina, who turned pro only after surviving his Qualifying Tournament experience. He has earned $316,179 in 12 starts, three of them top 10s, and ranks 42nd on the money list.
Jones, a former teaching pro, has earned $506,445 in 13 starts, six of them top-10s, and ranks 25th on the money list.
By finishing in the top 30 on the money list, they could earn a full exemption for 2009. They would likely need to earn in excess of $650,000 to do so, a number now well within reach.