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Confessions of an Aging Golfer

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I am baring my soul about what happens to my golf game as I mature.  I want to warn you, it is not all good and if you want to read a little upbeat inspirational guide to senior golf, don’t read on.  That said, golf is still great fun if not quite as pretty as it once was.

 

My confessions are about my Playing Skills, my Equipment and finally my Course Management.

 

Playing Skills.

 

Plan and simple, at some point in our lives all of our golf games will decline.   For the most part I think the decline for me was rather gradual and consistent, but there is a lot of evidence from the PGA Champions (Senior) Tour that something rather abruptly happens to us in our late 50s.  It is a rare occurrence when someone in their late 50s wins on that tour.  I also noticed a rather big change in my golf skill about this age.  There maybe some other milestone years that someone else will have to comment on, and I would like to hear from readers about these other milestone years so I will know what to expect.

 

Why would this happen in our late 50s?  I personally think that my ball striking skills diminish mostly from reduced flexibility, but I am sure that eye hand coordination, strength, balance, eyesight, and loss of muscle speed take their toll on our golf games.  I am sure that working on strength, flexibility, and balance help but don’t expect that you will turn back the clock.  I have been on a running and fitness kick the last few years, but my handicap does not know this as it keeps inching up.

 

In talking with Brent Norton, our manager of club-fitting at Miles of Golf, here are his observations on golfers 55-65 that he has worked with.  The vast majority of golfers that age swing 85-95 mph with their drivers.  Carrying the ball over 210 yards is not common and a drive of 230 yards is about it.  There are exceptions of course.  Two of the better senior amateurs (55 yrs. and up) in the country are from Michigan and have been tested on the Miles of Golf TrackMan monitor. Greg Reynolds who has won the USGA Senior Amateur and finished second another year and is in his early 60s can carry a drive 250 yards. The other, John Lindholm, carries his drives 225-230 yards with monotonous consistency.

 

Because I am distance challenged, I have to resist doing counterproductive things in attempting to hit it further.  Things like gripping it too tightly, extending my back swing beyond what my body rotation will support, and just plain trying to swing harder.  It is a classic example of the phenomenon of “the harder I try the worser I gets.”

 

A lot of my confessions relate to the fact that I started playing as a youngster.  If you on the other hand started golf late, you have the joy of getting better and this can go on for a long time as your skills improve.  I am envious of you.



 

Equipment.

 

If only the game were driving.  Ah, let’s talk about driving.  Since I have played the same course a lot for about 20 years, I can with some certainly say that my driving distance has changed less than my irons distance.  Unfortunately, I cannot take the credit.  The ball and driver have improved so much that there is definite evidence where here, indeed, “you can buy a game.”  The trajectory on drives with new balls and new drivers is so much more efficient today than even 7 or 8 years ago it scary.  The correct launch and spin on drives can neutralize a pretty significant decline in ball speed.  I can still hear the hissing sound of a well hit wound golf ball spinning like crazy as it fought its way through the air.  I like today’s jet-like sound much better.

 

There is help on the way for my irons.  Unfortunately, even with improvements in irons, this is where I see the most significant drop off in distance.  To help me with this problem, I seem to be on a hybrid a year program, every year I take out a club and replace it with a hybrid.  First I shelved my #3 iron, than #4, than my #5 wood, and last year the #5 iron departed never to be seen again.   I am not quite sure why hybrids work so much better than long irons as club head speed, and therefore ball speed, decline but they clearly do for me.  The ball goes much higher and carries much further than the irons I am replacing with the only downside being a slight loss in accuracy.   By making these changes in equipment, I am having unbelievably better success with the 160-190 yard range that I was pitiful trying to hit irons.

 

As time passes, I seem to be going for more forgiving irons.  I have noticed that my ball striking is less consistent.   I am guessing this is from poorer eye hand co-ordination.  The other thing more forgiving irons do for me is get the ball up higher which I seem to need.  There are irons sets in our golf shop that bill themselves as totally hybrid sets which means that every iron head is hollow.  Maybe someday, but not quite yet for me because I still seem to do better with more traditional short irons than these clubs.

 

Give me light ones that do not hurt.  The theory calls for lighter more flexible shafts than we used in the past.  I do play with lighter more flexible shafts than I did in the past but all shafts have become lighter over the last few years.  We get into some really deep discussions about the importance of shafts versus heads at our golf shop.  I tend to be more of a head guy.  Give me a club head I like and I can find several shafts that all seem to suit me fine.  The reverse does not work if I do not like a head.  That said, there are clearly some shafts that work better for me than other and it is worth experimenting to find the right ones.  I do play with graphite shafted woods and irons, but although graphite shafted iron are better for me, they are not all that much better.

 

And why can’t I play with a juiced golf ball?  I am still blown away at how good all golf balls are.  I could play with just about any ball on the market now and still be relatively happy.  At this point in my golfing life, I play a ball with a moderate spin rate and good short game feel.  Even though I am distance starved, I think it is foolish to get a ball that may go slightly further if it means I do not do as well around the green.  As times passes, I will probably need a ball that spins more, and don’t give me a chance to play with a good juiced golf ball because I will take it.

 

Although equipment cannot completely counteract the effects of time, I am convinced equipment changes, especially hybrids, have made the game more fun for me.

 

Course Management.

 

I consider the null option.  The first rule is should I play this course at all.  Some courses are just not that enjoyable if you cannot consistently fly the ball over a bunch of forced carries.  For me, if the course demands carries of 180 yards, count me out.  Courses with elevated greens and bunkers that do not lend themselves to the occasional run up shot are not favorites of mine.

 

Design my own course.  I make my own course by the tees I pick.  On a short par four, I want to be able to hit a short iron; on a long par four I want to hit something other than a 3 wood.  If I am playing with some big hitters, I want to be able to drive the ball to the same position on the fairway which means I need a head start.  Actually to be fair about it, my tee shot should be ahead of long hitters so I can hit the same iron they hit for their second shot. I don’t hesitate playing tees different from the rest of the group.  It is more fun for everyone if I do.

 

Just as the universe expands so have distances on golf courses.  Something I have been able to avoid but many of my friends have not involves club selection.  Too many of my old buddies can still remember the day when they once connected with a 7 irons that flew 175 yards.  These guys will hit shot after shot after shot short because they have not adjusted to the facts of life that they cannot hit the ball as far as they once did.  I am a big believer in laser range finders for many reasons, but one big reason is to truly understand how far you can carry the ball with each club.  Once you know this, get real.

 

 

My need for fuel at the end of a round has become apparent.  I do notice some physical and mental changes that I need to consider.  Where once I seemed to never tire when playing golf, I notice now that late in the game sometimes I do tire.  Another thing that has affected my game is poor concentration.  I used to have no problem being fully focused on my game for an entire round.  Now I find that I make mental mistakes and suffer from lapses of concentration I never experienced before.  The only thing that seems to help me to some extent is to eat or drink a high carb bit of something late in the round that can perk me up mentally and physically.

 

Older bodies are not intended to work in certain weather.  When we were younger, my very best golfing buddy used to say he can play in two out of these three conditions: cold, wind, and rain.  If all three occur, forget it.  I have had to modify this as I age.  Cold trumps everything, and if it is cold, I do not play, period.  I still can enjoy a round if it is windy or rainy, but when it is cold, my body refuses to move enough to enjoy playing. 

 

 

My mature nerves are an improvement over the old ones.  One very nice little positive thing that has happened to me is that controlling nervousness when playing is less of an issue.  Playing and especially competing can be nerve racking, but I seem to have a better perspective on this than I once did.  Clearly my expectations are different and maybe that has something to do with it.  Unfortunately, I do not think this is a universal phenomenon because I know of other golfers my age that nervousness has become more of an issue.

 

Everyone who plays golf must come to grips with the fact that inevitable their skills will diminish.  How you deal with it will be different from how I deal with it, but somehow things like this work out.  For me, I would not miss out on an opportunity to be with some good buddies on a golf course even if I just busted one 225 (including roll).

 

 

 




 

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Morning 9: LPGA, LET partnership? | Ryder Cup ticket fiasco | Alfredsson: Senior women’s golf dynamo

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 17, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. “True partnership”
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell on an exciting development for women’s golf…
  • “The LPGA and Ladies European Tour have renewed talks that could lead to “a true partnership” between the two organizations.”
  • “LET Board Chair Marta Figueras-Dotti sent a letter to LET players this week informing them of the discussions. She told players that a dialogue was “in full swing” to create a “50-50 joint venture” between the tours.”
  • “LPGA and LET officials said in a joint statement Wednesday that while it’s too early to publicly discuss specifics, they are working to complete terms of a new agreement in time to present it to LET players at their annual meeting on Nov. 26 in Spain.”

Full piece.

2. Alfredsson!
AP report on the emerging dynamo in women’s senior golf with the 2019 double…
  • “Helen Alfredsson added the Senior LPGA Championship to her U.S. Senior Women’s Open title, rallying Wednesday at cold and windy French Lick Resort to sweep the two major championships of the season.”
  • “Three strokes behind Juli Inkster entering the day, Alfredsson closed with a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory. The 54-year-old Swede was the only player to break par on the final day at the Pete Dye Course and, at 2-under 214, the only one under par for the week.”

Full piece.

3. And on Jeju Island…
AP report…An was on!
  • “In the first event of a three-tournament PGA TOUR swing through Asia, Byeong Hun An was the first-round leader in his home country at THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES with an 8-under 64. Joaquin Niemann sits a stroke behind in second.”
  • “Jason Day’s attempt to impress International team captain Ernie Els for a spot at the Presidents Cup took a positive turn when the Australian shot a 6-under 66 to sit two strokes off the lead and in solo third after the opening round.”

Full piece.

4. Ticket fiasco
Oh boy. JR Radcliffe at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, syndicated in Golfweek…”Tickets for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, next year sold out in less than 50 minutes on Wednesday, and fans on social media were furious with the process.”
  • “Tickets for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler next year sold out in less than 50 minutes on Wednesday, and fans on social media were furious with the process.”
  • “The Ryder Cup website did indicate: “Due to high demand, having an access code does not guarantee you a chance to buy tickets. Available inventory may vary depending on when you’re able to access the sale.”
5. “Better options”
ESPN’s Bob Harig suggests Lefty doesn’t think he’s getting picked for captain Woods’ squads…”Mickelson said Wednesday that he doesn’t expect an at-large pick from U.S. Presidents Cup team captain Tiger Woods and that he does not believe he is deserving.”
  • “There are much better options of players that have played consistently at a high level that deserve to be on the team,” Mickelson, 49, said in South Korea at the CJ Cup, a PGA Tour event he is playing for the first time. “Even if I were to win, I have not done enough to warrant a pick.
  • “I’m not asking for one. I don’t expect one. I think there are a lot of better options for the U.S. side.”
6. 58 penalty strokes!
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers on a wildly penal occurrence…”Lee Ann Walker was assessed 58 penalty strokes after it was discovered she had violated Rule 10.2b several times over the course of the first two rounds at the senior major being played at the Pete Dye Course in French Lick, Ind. Implemented earlier this year, the rule prohibits caddies from lining up golfers on putting greens, among other spots on the course. And as Walker found out, there is no limit to the amount of penalty strokes a player can incur for breaking it.”
  • “In a statement released by the Senior LPGA Championship Rules Committee, the harsh decision came after Walker notified a rules official during the second round on Tuesday that she had been violating the rule. Obviously, Walker didn’t realize this until it was pointed out to her by a fellow caddie on her fifth hole. Walker then went through her round so far as well as the first round on Monday to determine just how many times she broke the rule. Considering the total, she was obviously being lined up by her caddie on most putts.”

Full piece.

7. BK vs. Rory
Our Gianni Magliocco…”The 29-year-old, who was speaking to the AFP ahead of this week’s CJ Cup, has been on the PGA Tour since 2015 and has won four major’s in that period, while McIlroy’s last success at a major championship came back in 2014.”
  • “I’ve been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour. So I just don’t view it as a rivalry.”
  • “The world number one then further reiterated his lack of belief that there is currently a serious rivalry in golf and laid out his intentions to remain at the top of the sport for the foreseeable future.”
  • “I’m not looking at anybody behind me. I’m number one in the world. I’ve got open road in front of me I’m not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry. You know if the fans do (call it a rivalry), then that’s on them and it could be fun. Look I love Rory he’s a great player and he’s fun to watch, but it’s just hard to believe there’s a rivalry in golf. I just don’t see it.”

Full piece.

8. Meanwhile, at Q-School…
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell with the report on the action in Florida…”Germany’s going for a wire-to-wire victory at the LPGA’s second stage of Q-School.”
  • “Esther Henseleit grabbed a share of the second-round lead with a 5-under 67 Tuesday at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Fla., a day after fellow countrywoman Olivia Cowan took the first-round lead.”
  • “At 9-under overall, Henseleit is tied at the top with China’s Yan Liu (67), one shot ahead of Cowan (72), Thailand’s Prima Thammaraks (68) and American amateur Sierra Brooks, whose 66 equaled the low round of the day.”

Full piece.

9. LPGA Shanghai update
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”Nasa Hataoka should be getting more worldwide attention.
With two Japan LPGA Tour major championship victories in her homeland over the last month, she arrived for the start of this week’s Buick LPGA Shanghai on fire.”
  • “And she didn’t cool off in Thursday’s first round.”
  • “A 5-under-par 67 at Qizhong Garden Golf Club gave Hataoka a share of the lead with South Korea’s Amy Yang.”

Full piece.

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Marcel Siem disqualifies himself at the Open de France after believing preferred lies were in place

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Marcel Siem disqualified himself from the Open de France after racking up several penalty strokes during Thursday’s opening round.

The 2012 champion was under the impression that preferred lies were in place during the first round, which was not the case, and the German amassed a total of 10 penalty strokes after moving his ball in the fairway five times.

With his European Tour card in danger, Siem was in need of a good week in France, but as he explained on his Facebook page after exiting the event, his attention will now turn to Q-School in November.

Siem was nine holes into the event when he decided to disqualify himself.

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Golfer given 58 penalty strokes at the Senior LPGA Championship after being unaware of one rule change

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Lee Ann Walker was assessed 58 penalty strokes at the Senior LPGA Championship on Tuesday after violating Rule 10.2b multiple times during her first two rounds at the event.

The rule prohibits caddies from lining up their golfers, and Walker was notified of her misdemeanour during her second round after a playing partner’s caddie informed her that the act is prohibited.

After displaying an incredible memory of her first round at the Pete Dye Course, 42 strokes were then added to Walker’s opening-round score which ended up being a total of 127, while 16 strokes were added to her round two total which resulted in a round of 90.

Speaking to Doug Ferguson of Associated Press, Walker explained how she was unaware of the new rule change which prevents caddies from lining up golfers on the green and other areas of the course.

“When I played my first round, my caddie lined me up and I did not reset. I did not realize I was violating any rules. What can you do at that point? It was my fault for not knowing the rules. I don’t have anyone to blame but myself. Big lesson learned.”

Ironically, the former LPGA player was not disqualified from the event thanks to another rule change which previously would have seen Walker DQ’d for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Despite the enormous amount of penalty strokes, Walker stated how she was happy to see out the tournament and left the event at French Lick Resort in a positive mood.

“Because it was a DQ and I wasn’t injured – I wasn’t going to withdraw with an injury – that was my score, and everyone gets to see it. I’m glad I went. I got to see a lot of great friends, it was a great golf course, great event. Everything was great except for my penalties.”

Without the penalties, Walker would have missed the cut by one stroke.

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