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From the Field

How to Make a Scary Mid-Life Career Change......AND LOVE IT!!
By Joe Buttitta

I don't know where to start except to say that for those who might still remember me from television, I am now a professional golfer! How's that??

Yes, after my "15 minutes" of fame in Los Angeles television (actually 5 years), I turned to my next greatest career I am teaching folks how to golf at Westlake Golf Course in Westlake Village. I've been there nearly a dozen years and amazingly still occasionally get recognized from my days at KTLA, Channel 5.

Of course I'm flattered by that, but now that I have my feet firmly planted on the ground I don't let the lure of bright lights and cameras sway me from my appointed rounds on the practice range. Mostly I'm not lured back to TV because of the people running the stations, namely news directors who never covered anything in their lives, and who wouldn't know an IFB from the FBI. But that's another story that I may get into someday.....maybe here.

Yes, I'm still sensitive when it comes to my firing from KTLA, and the manner in which it was done. Getting fired puts an onus on you, at least it did for me. In the days after my release I sat around waiting for the phone to ring. It never did. People I thought were friends in the business, and especially at KTLA, turned their backs. My calls were not returned. It was like I never existed in this town.

Thank goodness one friend actually came to my rescue. Bob Guerrero, who ran the sports dept. across the street at KTTV, Channel 11, offered me the weekend sports job at KTTV. I could have hugged him. We had become fast friends during my early days at KTLA. We both loved sports and had a lot in common. He never forgot, and wasn't afraid to buck to system.

I had a great three years at Channel 11 and I owe Big Bob a lot. But then still another news director came through the revolving newsroom doors at KTTV (can't even remember his name, just his portly face) and my resume changed again. Long story short, I needed something else to do.

Another friend, Clint Airey, runs the golf course in Westlake and allowed me to resume my teaching career there. Thank goodness for him, and 12 years later I am a Class-A PGA Professional with a nice career teaching golf. That's the long and the short of it.

I now work with and for nice people who treat you with respect. Do I miss being on television, doing Angels play-by-play, along with UCLA football and basketball and the News at Ten with real professionals like Hal Fishman and Larry McCormick? You bet your life I do!!

Would I exchange going back on TV for my career as a professional golfer? Only if you could eliminate news directors.

About the Author

Joe Buttitta is a former Los Angeles television/radio/newspaper personality who worked at KHJ, KTLA, KTLA, KCOP, and KADY (Oxnard) during his tenure in the business. He spent five years at KTLA, Channel 5, during which he did the "News at Ten", was the Angels TV play-by-play man, along with UCLA football and basketball. He calls his years at KTLA the most fun he had in television. "I had the best job in this town," he tells people. He was the sports director at KGIL radio in the San Fernando Valley for many years, and for 23 years wrote the golf column in the LA Daily News. These days he is a Class-A PGA Professional golfer who teaches the game at Westlake Golf Course in Westlake Village, just north of Los Angeles.