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Senior Golfer - On The Green

Make golf a more enjoyable game

The Putting Green

In last month's column, I discussed one of the three main complaints that I've heard that weekend golfers have with the game of golf-it takes too long to play. This month, I would like to discuss the two that I didn't address: the courses are getting too long and seniors are not benefiting from the new technology.

It is fact of life that golf courses are getting longer. Take for example Dubsdread at Cog Hill, the course I played for 17 years between 1973 to1990. It has been renovated and can now play to more than 7,500 yards from the tips. This is a distance that the touring professionals who play the course for the BMW Championship can manage, but I believe it is far too long for most senior golfers. Why any senior golfer would like to play the course from this distance is beyond my comprehension!

The problem is that for some reason that remains unknown to me, senior golfers, specifically males, don't want to play the golf courses from the forward tees. Someone has told me that this is because they don't want to admit that they are not "man enough" to play from this distance. I have dismissed this explanation as being foolhardy, but it still does not stop seniors from playing a course from the tips and shooting high scores.

I have learned my lesson about length-play the course from the tees that allow you to hit a mid-iron to the green on an average par four. Like so many seniors, I have lost distance on my drives and my irons. Where I used to hit drives around 240 yards, I now hit them around 230 yards on a good day. The same thing applies to my irons. Instead of hitting an eight-iron from 150 yards, I am now hitting a seven-iron.

Most courses have different sets of tees, so play from the one that is most appropriate for you. There is no shame attached to playing a course that is 6,200 yards long. For most seniors, 6,200 yards is a long course. Golf is a lot more fun when you are hitting seven irons to the green instead of seven woods. Remember that golf is designed to be a fun game, so play from the distance that allows you to have the most fun.

As for technology, seniors can benefit from the new technology, but only if they are willing to spend the money. A survey of golfer in a recent national golf publication found that the serious golfers in their mid-50s or older believe that they gain the most benefits from paying for golf lessons as opposed to buying new clubs. This same survey pointed out that these same golfers are more likely to buy new clubs than pay for golf lessons.

New golf technology is available that allows golfers to hit the ball farther and more accurately, no matter how old or what maladies they may be suffering from in their advanced years. The key is to get clubs that are custom-fit for you and your golf game. Custom club fitting should include every club in your bag-drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, and even putters.

The problem with most senior golfers is that they do not have unlimited funds, so they want to get the most bang for the buck. They do not believe that investing $400 on a new driver or $700-900 or more on a new set or iron unless they firmly believe that this is going to significantly improve their driving accuracy and distance, their iron play, and result in lower scores. No matter how often their golfing buddies tell them that they are using "outdated" clubs, they still believe they can play a good game with their old clubs.

One other trait to remember about most senior golfers is that they are playing golf not to shoot a good score or play better, but rather for the companionship, the social interaction. Although there is nothing wrong with this attitude, I can tell you if I play a round of golf with my buddies and I don't want to beat them in a match, then it's not very much fun. So, ask yourselves this question: How much money am I willing to spend on custom club fitting without any guarantees that it will help me play better and score lower? Once you get that answer, next ask if you can make that investment

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