I went out early on Independence Day for a quick nine holes at my local muni and was joined on the first tee by an elderly gentleman who was walking with a pull cart. It was clear from the start that this fellow was not in the best of shape but the great thing about golf is that you can play it despite your physical shortcomings, and play well into your old age. The thing I enjoy most about playing on this little executive course is the diverse group of players I get paired with. There are young families, elderly folks, and most are either beginners, novices or retirees and the time spent usually requires a little patience on my part. I learned that he was 83 and just had some sort of lumbar injection that allowed him to walk more pain free. He said by walking nine holes he was attempting to strengthen his legs. I contemplated that for awhile and thought that when I was his age (in 31 more years) I hoped to be able to walk nine holes and have some semblance of a game. Now he could barely hit the ball 125 yards, but I got a hearty laugh when he boasted how he was “rippin” it past his 90-year old buddies who he plays with in Florida 🙂
So we moved along slowly, and I helped him find his ball and pick up a few errant tee shots when he needed a do-over and we got to discussing the state of the professional game and how players today were so much better physical condition of those from my era (Nicklaus and Watson) and his era (Snead and Nelson) and that now they even work on their mental games. I mentioned that I studied the mental game and had read most of Dr. Bob Rotella’s books, and had enjoyed Putting Out of Your Mind the most. I told him that Rotella teaches that you play better when you putt like you don’t care if you make it. Now he had very little dexterity or fluidity with his short game because of his physical condition but gave it a try with three or four holes left and started rolling the long ones close and short ones in. He was absolutely thrilled with this tip and I was super pumped that this little mini-lesson helped him enjoy his round that much more.
When we finished, I told him I enjoyed his company and would play with him anytime. He thanked me again for the tip and it was a good reminder that it’s never too late to learn.