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Senior golf blog: From the forward tees

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Something both strange and wonderful has happened to me in the last few years. I became a “super senior” golfer. This “super” thing has nothing to do with my golf game. I am decidedly and permanently average at best. “Super senior” reflects my age – somewhere past “almost old” and somewhere before “really old”.

I never really had an issue with being an almost old, senior golfer. After all, most of the tour players I identify with, Tom Kite, Hale Irwin, and Tom Watson, were either already “Seniors” when I became a senior or followed along shortly. I loved watching them play on the Senior Tour. Heck, if it wasn’t for Tiger, I would probably rather have watched those guys play than the regular tour guys.

And as a senior golfer, I had an official reason for watching the fairer sex play. We all know that the LPGA tour is a better teaching clinic for seniors than the PGA Tour. The women’s game is more like ours (or like ours should be). No senior I know hits the ball 300 yards consistently in real life. We all ought to concentrate on our short games like the women do. Those are the money shots, aren’t they? And that the women are much more attractive than any of the PGA Tour types was pure coincidence.

There were also very practical reasons I liked becoming a senior golfer. Seniors qualified for senior discounts. It was a great feeling to play golf with guys who were “only” 54. They got this disgusted look when they saw me, a senior, paying 25 percent less than they did for the same round of golf.

But being a “super senior” is an entirely different story. Most of the perks of being a senior are used up before we become super seniors. The guys we followed on the Champions Tour aren’t much of a presence. When they do play a tournament, they are talked about in the same way that a Model T in the State Fair parade would be accorded. Everyone seems to think it’s amazing that Hale and the Toms can even chew their food much less play a competitive round of golf. And what’s worse, all the guys I play with now qualify for senior discounts.

So, is there nothing super about being a “super senior”? Or is it possible that the benefits or are the benefits of “super-seniorhood” there but are just not obvious. Maybe its time to ask the question, “If I have to be an old golfer, why not find the silver lining to “super-seniorhood?” And if there are not many “silver-linings”, maybe we can work on creating a few.

That’s what my blog is about – this state of golf life I am calling “super-seniorhood” how about just SSH for short?). Personally, I need to think and talk through this stage in my personal movement. I need to turn all of my “other world” skill set, being a multidisciplinary researcher, on the opportunities of SSH.

I also need to admit my limitations. If you are looking for help with your golf swing this is probably not the place for you.  I don’t know anything about swing theory except that if you have been playing golf for as long as I have, changing your swing is probably a bigger project than we can take on in a forum like this.

Well, what kinds of things will I be researching and discussing with you? For starters:

  • Is there golf equipment designed for “mature golfers” that I can make a day on the course more enjoyable?
  • What can I do to physically recover from a round of golf after I get home?
  • How do I deal with the mental side of SSH?
  • How do I play the betting games we have always played with guys who haven’t seen the physical drop off I experience? I hate continually begging strokes from the younger guys I regularly play with. Are there alternatives?
  • I was a walker all my golf life, partially because of the contact I felt with the natural world I found on the course. Now that I have to ride in a cart, how can I feel a part of the natural environment from the seat of a golf cart?

Unfortunately, these are the soft topics. To continue to enjoy the game, we will have to talk about some uncomfortable issues, as well. I imagine we will spend much more talking about arthritis, memory issues, and personal losses (read: death) than the “normal” golf blog.

SSH can be the most exciting stage in our golf lives. For most of us, we will have more time to enjoy golf as a SSH than we have ever had. We have more money. We have fewer distractions. There are wonderful developments in technology and healthcare that will keep us in the game for years to come. Let’s use these pages to share these wonderful years ahead of us.

Our golf life can look great from the forward tees but only if we face the challenges. Let’s talk about this interesting journey we have begun. I am looking forward to sharing the ride with you. Hit away!

Click here for more discussion in the “Golf Talk” forum. 

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Besides being married to the same wonderful woman for more than 40 years, father to two great kids and grandfather to 2.5-plus more, I am a dedicated, life-long golfer. My life's work is being an associate professor of accountancy at a fine midwestern, Catholic university, Newman University in Wichita, Kan. In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I am the academic mentor for the Newman Jet's men's basketball and women's golf teams. Some of most joyful activities also involve writing and reading. GolfWRX has given me incredible opportunities to live out a fantasy that I could never have dreamed of. Because of GolfWRX, I am able to do both about golf, my favorite subject. For that, I give my thanks to Richard, Ryan, Zak and all my teammates at GolfWRX.

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On Spec

On Spec: Saying goodbye to the build shop | Mailbag!

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Host Ryan Barath says a final goodbye to his build shop and explains the reason why shop number two is going to be a big upgrade. Also a fan favorite, answering audience question in the club builder’s mailbag.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

Explaining PXG: The supercar analogy

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Every idea has to start somewhere.

Whether it be in a garage, basement, or in a conference room with a blank piece of paper, it’s how the idea is executed that will ultimately determine its success. When you’re Bob Parsons, execution is your specialty. When you have an idea to build some of the most technologically advanced clubs on the planet—you bring in some of the world’s best mad club scientists to help you bring them to life.

Product design is a difficult space, regardless of industry, and certainly in golf. With almost any consumer product you have to work within a lot of different constraints

  • Technology: Not every company can afford to innovate to create real breakthroughs
  • Materials: Just like with technology, some materials become too expensive to use in the consumer marketplace
  • Time: Time is money, especially when you have smart people on board that deserve proper compensation. You need to see a return to justify products and design, and that often leads to forced product cycles.

All of these factors add up to products being designed into price categories. For example: economy car vs. luxury vehicle. No chance an economy car is going to have the horsepower or options of the luxury version because of what the inherent cost to produce is.

Where you don’t see this model is in supercars—they design what they design, use whatever materials and technology they can, then worry about price.

PXG is building supercars!

What started with a phone call and a piece of paper has become one of the golf industry’s most talked-about brands. Designers Mike Nicolette and Brad Schweigert have been given the opportunity to create products as they see fit, and with input from Bob, a self-professed golf club nut, these mad scientists are changing the industry.

Watch the fourth installment of our video series with PXG, The Disruptors, to find out how.

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Opinion & Analysis

The coveted FedEx Cup Top 30: Why making it to the Tour Championship really matters

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This week at the BMW Championship held at Medinah Golf Club in Chicago, the top 70 players left in the FedEx Cup Playoffs are looking to seal their spot in the top 30 and get to East Lake for the Tour Championship.

Not only does getting into the top 30 mean a chance at winning the FedEx Cup and a cool $15 million bonus for winning the event, but heading into the 2020 season, being in the top 30 comes with some big perks. This top 30 threshold allows players the opportunity to build their schedules around the biggest event in golf.

Let’s take a look at what punching a ticket to East Lake really gets you

  •  An automatic invitation into every major in 2020: The Masters, PGA Championship, US Open, and The Open Championship. For many players qualifying for these events, especially The Masters in a lifelong dream.
  • Invitation to all the WGC Events: There are only a few event on tour that get you an automatic paycheck and FedEx Cup points. Being eligible for the WGCs shows that you are a world-class player, and with these events on the schedule, you don’t have to worry about qualifying through world rankings.
  • Invitation to all limited field events: This includes the Genesis Invitational (formerly Genesis Open / LA Open), The Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Memorial, and The Players Championship.

If a player was to play every one of the qualified events that would put them at 12 events for the season—to maintain a card for the next year a player has to play in at least 15 events. If you conclude that many of these are also winners and will play in the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii that would put the players at 13 events.

This is why being in the top 30 is such a vital line in the proverbial sand—it gives these top players the ability to pick and choose their schedules for the 2019/2020 season without the stress of worrying about what events they are in. Although not to the same extent, this is also why every cutoff is so crucial for each player, whether it be the PGA Tour top 125, PGA Tour 125-150, or those players that gained their cards through the Korn Ferry Tour. Every dollar and every point earned accumulates towards playing opportunities for the next season!

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