Old folks playgolf differently from the rest of us. Some play it well, and some play itpoorly, but you can lower your score and deepen the game's pleasures by payingattention when the elders amble to the tee. My own education began in a recentfoursome that included three artificial joints (two hips and a knee) that werebolted to the bones of three men in their 80s, and the lessons unfolded onevery fairway.
LESSON 1: ArtAppreciation
Old golfersfrequently have an encyclopedic knowledge of the natural world. After all,they've spent seven or eight decades walking around in it. Learning that theplant your ball has come to rest under is a bougainvillea may be smallconsolation, but it will better connect you to the golf course and, as thedetails accumulate, sharpen your appreciation of its design. Stop countingstrokes, and give more thought to the canvas you're playing on.
LESSON 2:Fascinating Rhythm
Their swingsaren't always pretty, but they're often consistent and give new meaning to theterm muscle memory--they've been tutoring their neuromuscular junctions sinceFranklin Roosevelt was in the White House. Because their testosterone is takingflight, they worship at the altar of timing and tempo. Genuflect with them, andwatch your score improve.
LESSON 3: GreenKeeping
Because they grewup during America's first exodus to the suburbs, these golfers love tolandscape. They minister to ball marks as if they were scrapes on agranddaughter's knee. They know, from the hard-won experience of guarding theirown health, that living things need looking after.
LESSON 4: LongView
You're in thepresence of people who have stopped working and can still afford a tee time,which means they've more or less successfully retired. Your playing partnersmay not lead you to the next Google, but any elderly foursome can be full ofsage advice on money, marriage and generally managing your life. Takenotes.
LESSON 5: ShortTake
The short game istheir wheelhouse, where they swallow the indignity of being outdriven by 70yards, offer a sly wink and go 1 up in the match. They know that how you startmatters less than how you finish. Inside 20 yards, this wisdom is decisive. Ifyou're lucky enough to meet one of these short-game Svengalis, buy him a beerafter the round and pick up a pointer or two.
LESSON 6: Enjoythe Ride
When you tee it upwith a man in his 80s, you might well be witness to his final round. Simpleprobability insists that next week's foursome may be one person short, andeveryone knows it. This must explain the joy they take in the journey. Theyplay without anger or angst, and in an age of ball caps worn backward andbrawling basketball teams, they'll connect you to a gentler time.
That golf remainssuch a grand old game is largely thanks to the grand old men and women who keepplaying it
by JIM GORANT
The Old Course is now a better venue for the women thanthe men.
Andrés Romero of Argentina bounces back to win DeutscheBank
VAQUERO SPIRIT + BIRDIE MACHINE - JUDGMENT +INSPIRATION * HEART = NICE REBOUND
ERICK W. RASCO (SENIORS)
SUPER SENIORS For older players, muscle memory is a well-honed compensation.
MOMATIUK-EASTCOTT/CORBIS (COW); ANURUDDHA LOKUHAPUARACHCHI/REUTERS/CORBIS (BIRDS); FRED VUICH (ROMERO SWINGING); SIMON BRUTY (ANGEL CABRERA); DANIEL JIMENEZ (HEART); STUART FRANKLIN/GETTY IMAGES (ROMERO)