I once thought that my body could handle unlimited travel, multiple airplane segments and long stretches of driving. I have now realized that I cannot if I want to play my best golf. This game is VERY tough on your body, especially as you age. And it doesn’t matter how much you work out, your body needs rest!!
Some more than others, as my good friend Chip Lutz has accomplished something in Senior Golf I am sure has never ever been done before, or ever will. Chip last year won the USGA Senior Amateur, and recently won the British Senior Amateur in an exciting playoff, and a week later was low amateur in the US Senior Open and finished a tidy 39th. Chip for a 60+ year old seems to be quite the exception, and has a lean and strong body. While the rest of us seem to run out of gas as these events wind down.
In the US Senior Open at Scioto, as usual I had a great practice round, hitting fairways and greens (a MUST out there with the rough so penal). But since I had just traveled across the pond, had my clubs lost for a day, and didn’t sleep well, I was not in a good place with my body once the event started, resulting in shots slung all over the yard. My goal was simple, make the cut, take the exemption into the USGA Senior Amateur, and bank 500 NCGA points and take the lead in the Player of the year race. Unfortunately that did now happen, but good things were ahead.
I arrived back in California on Aug 6th, and spent one night in my bed before driving down to Poppy Hills for the start of the NCGA Senior Match play championship, I was seated 2nd so I did not have to qualify for a spot in match play starting on Tuesday. Tuesday I had a match against a very tough competition Dan Bieber who has also played in three US Senior Opens. On the first hole I bombed a drive at Poppy Hills leaving only 125 yards to the pin, during this awkward swing, I short armed myself and shanked the ball dead right into the hazard, and heard a big crack as the ball came flying back out into play. Despite this luck, I made bogey and lost the first hole. I played solid golf the rest of the day until the 17th hole when I was two up in the match, and again I shanked a shot into the right hazard to my surprise and disgust. Fortunately I was able to birdie the 18th hole and prevail 2 up, and move onto Spyglass for the next 4 matches. My game held up over these days, with rest and ice on the back, but was spent after I was successful in the Final Match against tough competition Jim Williams.
I was excited about this win, but realized that I again needed to get in the car and drive to Cameron Park for a practice round on Saturday, as the course was not available for play on Sunday. So off I went, tired and in need of some rest. After my practice round decided to head to South Lake Tahoe for the evening, a mere two hour drive. I am not sure that was such a great idea, as Monday morning on the range I knew I was in serious trouble, as I could not hit anything long straight. And this is a very tight course. I ended up hitting 5 fairways, 12 greens and somehow made enough putts to shoot 71 and advance to this years USGA Senior Amateur. I must admit it was more of a relief than a feeling of excitement. I could go through my round, but it would be disgusting to describe all the bad places I hit it off the tee. My iron shots into the greens were not great, but good enough to keep me in the hunt for one of the four spots available for all of Northern California.
What I learned long ago was how to play with a body that is hurting, its not fun, but you need to manufacture shots that will stay in bounds, out of bunkers and lakes. It was a lucky day for me, and I am very happy to be going back to Old Warson in ST Louis where I once advanced to the quarterfinals in a US Mid Amateur in the 90’s.
So if am giving advice out to people about playing with pain and less rotation then usual, find a way to choke up on your clubs and take a VERY slow backswing. The normal tendency is to swing quick and short, which as we all know does not work!!
STAY TUNED MORE LATER TODAY ON FACE ON PUTTING