Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #32

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The U.S. Open is only 9 days away. It will be competed on Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California and we’ll talk more about that next week, but I wanted to devote my golf blog this week to the seniors. Not the seniors that just graduated from high school but golfers that are a little advanced in age.

The definition of a senior golfer according to the PGA is a person that is 50 years of age or older. I have trouble accepting the fact that I am a senior golfer although I should be able to tell from how limber I am on the first four holes. And that is not at all. This article is a case of do what I say not as I do.

How can a senior golfer compete with the young bucks? One way is course management. Playing the senior tees certainly does help. Having a good short game is essential and we’ve talked about that, but I’m going to quote the great Sam Snead who gave some simple advice and it starts first thing in the morning. Do some stretching when you first get out of bed, limit the amount of coffee to one cup. Water, milk or juice is better. When driving to the course take your time. Enjoy the scenery. Do more stretching at the course but don’t overdo the driving range. Practice putting. My golf coach in high school told us to work on parring the first four holes. Now I’m not a 3-handicapper anymore so a more realistic goal for me would be to avoid the big number on the first four holes. That means get your drive in play, get your approach shot if not on the green, around the green so that a good chip would give you a chance at par and at worst a bogie. You know your younger opponent is going to be swinging for the fences and if he hits the fairway and makes par or birdie on the first hole give him credit.

Fairways and greens are just a part of course management. Temperament and thinking optimistically is a recipe for success. I’ll give you a personal example. On the high school golf team I had some good matches with Pat. He hit the ball a little farther than me. He was a better iron player than me and a great putter, but I always beat him. He let one bad shot get the best of him. I think even more than a long straight drive, being consistent on the greens can psych an adversary out. I’ve had days when I couldn’t miss from inside 10 feet. Stringing together six or seven pars in a tow just kills a streaky player. They start feeling like they have to do something spectacular to beat you.

I ran into a guy at a high school reunion that asked if he could admit something to me. I said sure. He said I always dreaded to play against you because I didn’t think I could win. That guy learned to play. He is a club pro with a scratch handicap. My dad used to say, “Don’t get your dobber down.” I remembered that one year in the state tournament when I was making a mess of a par 3. I pulled my iron shot to the left of the green in some high grass. At that time I didn’t have confidence in a lob shot. I liked to chip and run everything. Well the ball wouldn’t roll through the rough after I tried twice and only managed to get the ball on the fringe. Laying three and remembering my dad’s advice I chipped in for a bogie. A bogie wasn’t great but it could’ve been much worse. That hole might’ve been the difference in breaking 80 since I limped in with a 79.

Hit ’em straight!