Golf For The Ages

I’m a member of Tom Watson’s generation. I started playing golf when Nicklaus was beginning to battle Palmer, and was beginning my first “real job” when Watson and Nicklaus had their Duel in the Sun. I was crushed as I watched Watson’s 8 iron shot go long at the 18th at Turnberry, and could hardly watch as he lost the playoff to Cink.


SOUTHPORT, UNITED KINGDOM – JULY 16: Tom Watson of the USA during the third practice round of the 137th Open Championship on July 16, 2008 at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, England. (Photo by Ian Tillbrook) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I cheered when Watson made the cut at this year’s Greenbrier. I knew it was just making the cut, not winning, but it was more than a pair of current top stars could do. And even though Watson finished near the bottom of the field his performance gives golfers my age a warm feeling deep inside.

I know comparing my game to Tom Watson’s is like comparing a drunk karaoke singer to “The Velvet Fog.” Both do vaguely similar things in similar places, but only Mel Torme is worth a second look. (Unless you like train wrecks, of course.) But Watson’s game at his (and my) age encourages me to keep at it.

Last week I played with a different group than I usually do. One person in my group was 78 years old and another was 93. (That’s not a typo. He was ninety three years old.) We made it around in under 4 hours, had a good time, and everyone played pretty well. As the young kid I was hitting it longer and fewer times, but both of them beat me on a few holes. I actually enjoyed those defeats as much as they enjoyed those wins.

I was once playing with a guy my age and we got behind a group of older fellows. We watched as they shuffled along the fairways and across the greens, and the guy I was with said something like “I only hope that when I get to that age I’ll have the good sense to quit.”

I feel just the opposite. Some would say I’m an old fart now, and I’ve got over 30 years of golf to go before I catch up to that 93 year old. I only hope that when I get there I’m doing what he’s doing now.


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