GET INTO GOLF: They still got it
Is 50 the new 40? It might be even 60 this week.
As our knowledge of health, exercise and nutrition is put into practice, not only are people living longer, many of us are staying active later in life. Granted, “later in life” is a relative term, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we may feel older before the intended time.
In the world of golf, the age of 40 years had been a tipping point. Jack Nicklaus won 70 tour events through the age of 40 years. After that he won just three times. Arnold Palmer had 61 wins through 41 years of age. He would only get one more win at the age of 43.
Now, we may be seeing a new trend. A number of guys who could be in the recliner, reading a book, are now competing on the Champions (Senior) Tour and playing as well as ever. The names are very familiar.
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Vijay Singh, after reaching 40, won 22 times. Kenny Perry won 11 times. Tiger Woods has now won twice (Yes, Tiger Woods is over 40).
After a month of watching the Web.com graduates earn their way into PGA Tour events, this week we’ve got two events with a host of those past this golden age. First, we have the Champions Tour’s PGA Championship. You will see a lot of familiar names, even those from across the pond, teeing it up in the year’s first major.
They may not be at their prime, but it’s great fun as we tune in to Singh and Perry joined by fellow youngsters Retief Goosen and Darren Clarke.
Also, and depending on performance perhaps more remarkable, is the number of our “over the hill” gang playing in the regular Tour event.
Starting with the oldest, Keith Clearwater, age 59 is in the field for the Charles Schwab Challenge. In addition, David Toms, 52, Jim Furyk, 49, Tim Herron, 49, and Mike Weir, 49, are giving it a go.
Interesting that events preceding the PGA Championship allowed the Web.com graduates to play. This week, however, the new Charles Schwab Challenge is at the old Colonial Country Club.
You see, there is a type of event hyerarchy on Tour. Different Tour events carry a different weight or clout. The majors, of course, come first (although for many, there is a ranking of those as well). Then, events have more importance among the veterans, primarily based on the tradition of the event and the historical strength of the field.
Colonial has been played for decades and was the home club to arguably the best ball striker ever, Ben Hogan. Hogan, Sam Snead, Nicklaus, Palmer, Trevino, Watson, Mickelson and more recently Jordan Spieth, have all won here.
So, the aforementioned veterans are using their place on the all-time money list to enter.
How do our over 40 players keep their game in shape?
Whether you play a lot and you feel your game is slipping or just taking up the game, if you’re over 40, here is what you need to do.
1. Eat well. No explanation necessary. We all know.
2. Exercise. This doesn’t have to mean a gym membership. You should at least walk…a lot. In fact, you could knock out two birds with one stone on this one. Walk the golf course. It’s about 6 miles (or if you’re struggling with your swing, let’s call it 7 miles).
3. Stretch. Often. The old phrase “use it or lose it” is very applicable here. As we near (or pass) the Senior Tour age our muscles tend to lose elasticity. This can cause discomfort in the swing and is bound to cost you some distance.
4. Get some lessons. Everybody needs a watchful eye. I don’t know of a skilled golfer who has not received a good amount of instruction. Shoot, you’ll make up the lesson fees in found golf balls.
5. Make sure your clubs are custom fit and have 21st century technology. Otherwise, you may be playing tennis with a ping-pong paddle (sorry about the non-golf analogy). You can visit your local golf shop and talk to the Staff. They will be more than happy to help you. I know that I am not as strong or agile as I was twenty years ago, but, with today’s technology (clubs and balls) I hit the ball just as far as I did in 1989. You gotta love that.
Is 50 the new 40? That’s up to you. But, I’m confident, if we follow these five steps we can play our best no matter how many miles we’ve logged.
John Renslow is a PGA Professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.
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