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Senior Golfer - On The Green

Playing golf in your 70s

The Putting Green

August marked another milestone in my life as I reached the ripe old age of 71 on Aug. 28. Depending on whom you talk to about this age, you're either an old man or reaching the new 60! As with all great milestones in my life, I paused to reflect on the past year, and what it's like to be playing golf in my 70s. I'll share a few of my thoughts in this column and hope to receive yours via email for future columns.

As one might expect, nothing really momentous happened when I celebrated my 71st birthday. As far as my golf game is concerned, I am a 7.8 handicap, while I was 7.7 this time last year. I have not lost any distance over the past year with my driver and irons, but my wedges are a different story. The only significant deterioration in my golf game is my chipping and putting.

I play a little bit less golf than in previous years due to health concerns-my wife's not mine. I still enjoy the game of golf, although I probably get less concerned with poor shots than I used to in previous years. Since I'm now 70, as are my golfing buddies, we choose to play courses that are between 6,100 and 6,400 yards long.

My ability to focus on the shot at hand has not improved, but then I've never been very good at this aspect of golf. If there has been any major difference between playing golf in the 70s and in my younger days, such as the 40s and 50s, its consistency and putting.

I worked really hard in my younger days at being consistent; particularly in the distances I hit my irons. These days, I can hit a 7 iron 150 yards, but then I can hit it 145 yards. I can hit my pitching wedge 120 yards, except when I want to hit it that far to reach a pin tucked closely behind a bunker.

As for the most obvious difference between golf game today and that of 15-20 years ago, it all goes back to the old saying, "You drive for show, but you putt for dough." In this case, the dough is a lower score, and my chipping and putting have shown the most regressions since my earlier years. I didn't keep exceptionally accurate statistics in terms of putting, but I averaged 12 greens in regulation on a typical semi-private, par 72 course, along with 30 putts. Today, I average 10-11 greens in regulation and 32-34 putts per round.

Has golf turned into a social gathering as I get older? Yes and no! I still love to compete against my regular foursome at Cog Hill, who are in their 60s and are single digit handicaps. I still play in a few CDGA events, but only for seniors. I have played in a couple senior scrambles at Silver Lake and Cog Hill and won them. So, the game is still a challenge and the competition motivates me to work harder at improving my game.

The "No" part refers to enjoying the 19th hole more than I used to in my younger days. I'm finding people more interesting as I get older, and I am more interested in hearing about their thoughts and opinions than in reflecting on my golf game and how I can improve it. This really shows up in shot making from 100 yards and in, the area where improvements can lead to lower scores and more enjoyment.

So, let me leave you this advice: golf is a great game because of the challenges it poses mentally, physically and psychologically. Work hard at it, and always strive to be better. And from one senior golfer to another, please send me an email letting me know how the passage of time has affected your golf games: jkgolf67 AT

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