The game has changed out here on the Senior tour. All of a sudden
the pins are tucked, the greens are firm and fast, and the rough
is at least an inch higher than it was a year ago.
Why? At the end of last year three quarters of the Senior
players told the tour to put more teeth in our courses, and now
they're getting their wish. Week in and week out, our courses
have been set up like Ridgewood Country Club was last week--so
tough that many of us had to hit a three-iron on one of the
par-3 holes--and as a result our scores have been a lot higher.
Major championships are one thing, but regular tour stops are
another, and I think the courses at the regular stops have been
What's happened this year isn't good for the Senior tour. First,
no one out here wants to shoot 78s. I don't want to grind on
every hole. I want to have fun. More important, the fans don't
want to watch us shoot 78s. They want some excitement, and that
means birdies and eagles, not bogeys.
I know some of the guys love the changes. Jack Nicklaus, who was
tied for second after the opening round at Ridgewood, says that
good play is finally being rewarded on the Senior tour. Tom
Watson, last week's winner, even says that with the courses
playing so tough, he might enter more of our tournaments.
The theory, I guess, is that difficult setups favor the guys who
had a lot of success on the regular Tour. People think they're
the only ones who can cope with the tough conditions and that
guys who weren't big stars--guys like me, Allen Doyle and Dana
Quigley--are going to struggle. I don't think that's true. It's
more likely that everyone will be bunched around the same high
score, and, as usual, the man who's playing best that week will
win. No matter what, I'll win my share. I just won't have as much
Fleisher, 1999 Senior of the Year, was seventh at the Senior PGA.
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID BERGMAN