Have you ever played a golf course and remembered where you used to hit the ball on certain holes? Have you ever gotten to a 360-yard par-4 and recalled when you used to lick your chops because you knew a little flip wedge for your second was ahead? Ever made shooting your age your next big goal? If you have, welcome to golf’s back nine, the time when you keep seeking improvement knowing full well it will never be what it once was.
Aging is another vivid example of the paradoxical beast that lies at the heart of our game. If we’re totally honest, we admit we can’t do anything as well as we did 25-30 years ago. Yet a little voice never far from our golf ears keeps whispering, “If you just move the ball in your stance and adjust your grip, you will hit it solid again.” That’s when we need to be honest and ask, “What does solid mean at 65-70-75 years old?” It certainly isn’t solid like it was at 35 years old, but it may be more solid than the last shot, or yesterday. And as we’ll see, it just might be solid enough for the home stretch. So we keep playing and practicing in a search for golf’s version of a fountain of youth.
If you are, like this author, closer to the 18th green than the first tee, here are 7 golden nuggets for the golden years:
1. Forget how you used to play
Stay present and take what the game gives you now, here, today. If that’s 210 off the tee, get your fairway woods and hybrids out and do the best you can with your inevitably longer approach.
2. Work on your scoring game
If aging has robbed you of flexibility and strength, it does not have to affect your game from 100 yards in. Seniors need to chip and putt more than any other age group.
3. Yoga and Pilates
If you think we’re old, we are a babe in the woods compared to these ancient disciplines. The mind/body connection is vital for seniors. And… the results speak for themselves! Staying as flexible and as strong as you can for as long as you can is vital for senior golf. Oh, and walk and carry whenever possible!
4. Get properly fitted
Not only do we play senior golf dreaming of yesteryear, male seniors often let testosterone affect their game. I get sooo many seniors coming to see me who are ill-fitted for their equipment, or more accurately, using equipment that once fit their game. 85-90 mph clubhead speed does not likely require a stiff shaft, 9 degrees of loft or 75 grams of weight to achieve proper launch and landing conditions. Good senior golf demands brutal honesty with yourself.
5. Consider swing “adjustments,” not “new swings”
I don’t want to be a bearer of bad tidings here, but as a teacher of many years, I know this much: The swing you’ve had for oh so many years is not going to change. At least not very much. The does not mean it can’t be made more effective. I “tweak” seniors, not break them down.
6. Play forward tees
I’m a club professional, and I was a fairly decent player once. At 70 years young, I am proud to say that I play white tees measuring no more than 6300 yards. And in a few years, I’ll likely move up again. It’s just a fact of life and denying it is futile.
7. Check your fundamentals
Just because a certain grip, posture or ball position was effective once, as we age, all these may need adjustments from time to time. Swings get shorter, slower, narrow, etc. And as they do, we have to allow for these things and find new ways to complement the “senior swing.”
The alternative to all of the above is a garage sale. And as long I can swing a golf club, I will be doing so. If I want to enjoy the game, I’ll do so with lighter clubs, from shorter tees, chipping and putting my way into the hole. We’d all like to turn back the clock, but the last time that happened was, uh, never.
Enjoy the back nine. I know I am.
To Mr. Whan: Make Walker Cup Trophy Club a one-and-done
I’ll be brief: the United States Golf Association should make the $500 Trophy Club ticket a one-and-done for the Walker Cup. Using the COVID-19 pandemic as a lead-in to its limited-spectator policy, the May 2021 edition will eliminate free access to the event. In lieu of the open-arms policy of every other playing of this team competition, the USGA has announced that only those with $500 to spare will pass through the gates of Seminole Golf Club, in Juno Beach, Florida.
I attended the 2009 playing at Merion, and the 2013 matches at National Golf Links of America. I wanted to be at Los Angeles Country Club in 2019, but the odds were not in my favor. Even though I was granted press credentials for both 2009 and 2013, I was gratified to see hundreds, if not thousands, of my fellow golf aficionados in attendance. These were lasses and lads without connections, without memberships, without any other means of access than the largesse of the governing body of golf in this country.
In 2025, the Walker Cup will return to our country, and will be held at storied Cypress Point Club, in Carmel, California. You see the trend here? These are the most historic (and most private) clubs in America. Access to the common man is unavailable, except for events like the Walker and Curtis Cups.
Mr. Whan, you and your association have pledged to expand the game of golf, to welcome people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, ages, and identities. Here is one small but important opportunity to put your mouth where your money isn’t. The USGA makes a lot of money at its annual Open championship. Leave the other kids alone, especially the amateur events. Free and easy access ensures that the game outlives us all, just as our foremothers and forefathers envisioned.
When Bryson lit up the Masters as an amateur (Masters 2016 WITB)
When a young amateur named Bryson DeChambeau turned up at Augusta National Golf Club in 2016, there was a magnetism of curiosity attached to the 22-year-old.
After all, this was not your typical amateur golfer.
He donned a Ben Hogan style cap, was known to test his golf balls in epsom salts to check whether their centre of gravity was off and played a unique set of clubs with every iron and wedge cut to the same length as his favoured 7 iron.
In a world with so much conformity, unusualness becomes a force of its own.
That was certainly the case with Bryson at the 2016 Masters, who even had notable names for his 37.5-inch wedges and irons, which were otherwise only distinguishable from their differing lofts.
- 60-degree wedge – ‘King’ after Arnold Palmer’s 1960 Masters win
- 55-degree wedge – ‘Mr. Ward’ after the Masters Low-Am 1995 winner
- 50-degree wedge – ‘Jimmy’ after the 1950 Masters champ Jimmy Demaret
- 46-degree wedge – ‘Keiser’ after the 1946 Masters winner Herman Keiser
- 9 iron (42 degrees) – ‘Jackie’ after Jackie Robinson’s famous number 42 (same loft)
- 8 iron (38 degrees) – ‘8 ball’
- 7 iron (34 degrees) – ‘Tin Cup’ in honor of the film: 3+4=7
- 6 iron – ‘Juniper’ after the 6th hole at Augusta
- 5 iron – ‘Azalea’ after his favorite par 5 (13th hole)
- 3 iron – ‘Gamma’, which is the third letter in the Greek alphabet
DeChambeau took the trip down Magnolia Lane having, just a year previously, become only the fifth man in history to win the US Amateur Championship and the NCAA Division 1 Championship in the same year.
He had joined Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Ryan Moore in doing so.
Inspired by Homer Kelly’s ‘The Golfing Machine’, DeChambeau also revealed on the week of the Masters in 2016 that he had a fascination with Bobby Jones. Jones, who had famously won the Grand Slam in 1930 and had, like Bryson, altered many of his clubs so that they were also the same length.
When DeChambeau spoke about Jones and his achievements in his pre-Masters press conference, the 22-year-old suggested the possibility of doing something special.
For the opening two rounds of the event, DeChambeau was grouped with defending champion Jordan Spieth and Paul Casey – and something special was certainly abound.
While Spieth stormed into the lead with a round of 66, DeChambeau held his own against the course, opening with a level par 72, which would keep him within sight of the lead. But it was in round two where Bryson showed not just his talent but how, even as an amateur, little could faze him.
On Friday, having flown the opening green at one, DeChambeau faced a delicate chip back down the green. He poured it into the back of the cup, and a magical day was underway.
A bogey at the third followed as the scoring became increasingly difficult in the windy conditions, but as his competitors stuttered, Bryson became inspired.
Using his one plane swing, the 22-year-old birdied the seventh before spinning a wedge back to a few feet on the ninth to move to 2-under par for the event.
He would give that birdie back on 10, but despite the poor weather conditions, he would tame Amen corner, beginning with an approach to 9-feet on 11 (which he later admitted to pulling) – a hole which saw just six birdies on that Friday.
At the 12th, DeChambeau fared even better, knocking his tee shot to 2-feet. He was one off the lead.
He stayed within one of the lead after 35 holes before it all came unstuck on the 18th hole. DeChambeau pulled his tee-shot on the last and found an unplayable lie off the tee – he ended up making a triple bogey 7.
It was a sour finish that left him T8 on the leaderboard, four strokes back.
Speaking on the drive on 18, and the subsequent one which followed, DeChambeau said
“No, I hit two pulled drives. I don’t like the left-to-right wind on that hole and ultimately with this closed gap, I thought seeing those flags out there on 1 right where the leaderboard is blowing to the right,
I thought it was going to move it right, and subconsciously I came a little bit over the top and had a closed clubface. It was only two degrees closed. That’s what does it.”
A third round 77 took DeChambeau out of contention, but the youngster showed his metal on Sunday, hitting back with a round of level par thanks to a birdie on the 72nd hole.
The T21 finish gave Bryson the low-amateur award that year as well as the best finish from an amateur at Augusta since Ryan Moore finished 15th back in 2005.
The 22-year-old was as candid back then as he is today and revealed following the tournament that he had “messed up” his preparation for the event by practicing too much earlier in the week.
“Again, going back to preparation, the only thing I would change is how I spent my time resting, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Unfortunately messed up and, you know what, I’m 22, I’m still young and learning how to manage my time. That’s the one thing that I think I’d change.
Ultimately my body took a toll this week and my hip. Really haven’t talked about it too much, but my hip gave out the second round, on 15, and ultimately led me to pull those two shots. I wouldn’t say that’s the full reason, but at the same time, it did affect me. It was unfortunate, but again, it’s a learning experience.”
It was the week Bryson introduced himself on the world stage and showed the massive amount of potential and determination he possessed, which would ultimately see him become a major champion.
In the next few days DeChambeau will return to Augusta National and will of course draw more attention than any other player in the field.
His introduction was one of intrigue and potential, but when he takes the trip down Magnolia Lane next week, the focus will be on whether Bryson can block out the noise, pressure and expectancy, and fulfil his destiny of becoming a Masters champion.
As a 22-year-old Bryson said after his first Masters experience:
“I think people talk about how every five years, you change as a human being, and that is absolutely true. I mean, I’ve totally changed and what I would tell younger Bryson is, be patient and keep learning every day. Those are the two things that I would tell him.”
You probably don’t need reminding. It’s been 5 years since Bryson first stole the show at Augusta National.
Bryson DeChambeau 2016 Masters WITB
Driver: Cobra King F6+ Pro (7 degrees)
Shaft: Oban Kiyoshi Tour Limited 70X
Length: 45 inches (tipped 2.5 inches)
Weight Setting: Sliding weight removed
3 wood: Cobra King F6 (14.2 degrees actual loft)
Shaft: Oban Kiyoshi Tour Limited 70X
Length: 43 inches (tipped 2 inches)
Lie Angle: 61.5 degrees
Utility: Cobra King Utility (18.5D)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Black Hybrid 6.5X (105 grams)
Irons: Cobra Fly-Z+ (3, 5), Edel Forged Prototype (6-9)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper Lite 115X
Length, Lie: 37.5 inches, 73 degrees
Head weight: 280 grams
Lofts: 20 (3), 25 (4), 30 (5), 34 (6), 38 (7), 42 (8), 46 (9)
Putter: Edel “The Brick” prototype
Grip: SuperStroke Slim 3.0 (Blue/White)
Ball: Bridgestone B330-S
Club Junkie: Wilson Staff wedge and Bushnell Wingman review
It’s a short one this week, but I’m reviewing the new-er Wilson Staff Model wedge and the Bushnell Wingman GPS and speaker. The Staff Model is a solid forged wedge that offers good feel, spin, and turf interaction for a slightly lower price. The Bushnell Wingman is a golf GPS and a bluetooth speaker in one. It has a TON of golf stuff built into it, but can also be used off the course to listen to your favorite tracks!
PGA Tour pro slammed on social media for not wearing Tiger red at WGC-Workday
Collin Morikawa’s winning WITB: 2021 WGC Workday Championship at The Concession
Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2021 Genesis Invitational
Best driver 2021: By club fitters for you!
Rickie Fowler makes dramatic iron change
The 555-yard par 5 that Bryson will try and DRIVE this week at Bay Hill
Tiger Woods recovering after surgery for multiple leg injuries following single-car accident (Updates)
Claude Harmon III explains why he was fired by Brooks Koepka
Lee Westwood WITB 2021 (The Players)
Sam Burns WITB 2021 (February)
Jordan Spieth WITB 2021 (April)
Jordan Spieth what’s in the bag accurate as of the Valero Texas Open. Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10.5 degrees) Shaft: Fujikura...
Abraham Ancer WITB 2021 (April)
Abraham Ancer’s what’s in the bag accurate as of the Valero Texas Open. Driver: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond LS...
Scottie Scheffler WITB 2021 (March)
Driver: Ping G400 LST (8.5 degrees @7.75) Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Black Tour Spec 7 X 3-wood: Callaway Mavrik 3+ (13.5...
WITB GolfWRX Members Edition: N_Rones
Recently we put out the call for our members to submit their WITBs in our forum to be featured on...
Equipment3 weeks ago
Best driver 2021: By club fitters for you!
Equipment2 weeks ago
Rickie Fowler makes dramatic iron change
Whats in the Bag3 weeks ago
Justin Thomas’ winning WITB: 2021 Players Championship
Equipment3 weeks ago
Best fairway woods of 2021: By club fitters for you!
19th Hole3 weeks ago
Lee Westwood won’t have ‘secret weapon’ caddie on the bag for 2021 Masters
19th Hole6 days ago
‘Shut it!’ – Paul Casey puts disrespectful spectator in his place
Whats in the Bag7 days ago
Billy Horschel’s winning WITB: 2021 WGC-Dell Match Play
Tour Photo Galleries2 weeks ago
WGC Match Play Tour Truck Report: New putters for Kuchar, McIlroy, Poulter