Age is only a number if your good habits add up

I hear the same things over and over from older golfers.

“I don’t play as well as I used to.”

“I get tired out too easily and fall apart on the last few holes.”

“I just can’t putt anymore.”

“I get psyched out by how far the younger guys hit the ball.”

And on it goes.

I have one basic response to those four basic grumbles:

Do something about it!

No matter how old I get, I refuse to give up on playing good golf long past my prime. Every time out, I’m convinced this will be a good day – well, any day on a golf course is a good day, so I’m already ahead of the game before I tee off.

I envision only good shots. I imagine 40-footers dropping. I picture a cascade of birdies. I refuse to give up on the notion that I’ll never have a hole-in-one (it’s just a matter of time, I figure).

I’m not hallucinating or foolishly optimistic. I’m doing something about it.

I keep working on my swing to create more tempo.

I try to stay in good shape.

I will never give up on the idea of being a great putter – not just a good one. I just changed putters for the first time in 20 years. Love the new one. Absolutely love it. I am positive it will bring good results.

And I just laugh when I see a guy one-third my age bomb a drive well past 300 yards. Yeah, I used to do that. I still can move the ball a little bit, but not like that. I play the white tees now. So what?

Even if I get off to a shaky start, I believe that I’ll hop on board the par train and start chugging toward a good score. Every hole – no, every shot – is a new opportunity to do something great.

You see, there is something magical about standing over a golf ball and trying to make it go where you want it to go. I find it amazing that, even after playing our great game for nearly 60 years, it’s still fascinating to me. Even if I have a bad lie, even if I have an awkward stance, even if I’m playing lousy, I’m just so doggone curious to see how this shot will end up.

It’s rare that I go an entire round without hitting at least a few shots that feel so good, I truly can’t believe how good they feel. The sweet spot is oh so sweet.

Sure, I have my moments when I moan about what might have been out there. I see the strokes that got away and wonder why certain parts of my game are missing in action on certain days.

But that will never take away from the wonder and the privilege of teeing it up. It never gets old. Ever.

Here’s a great example of how the positive approach works:

On Sunday, I played the local muni that has bedeviled me almost every time I’ve played it. It’s not that tough, I kept telling myself. Sure, it has some tricky little holes, but I’ve let the gremlins get in my head a few times out there and started hitting it sideways.

Undaunted, I went into the round with my usual can-do attitude, got it going and played my best round ever there. I hit 12 greens in regulation and was just off the putting surface on three others. I even parred the diabolical eighth hole for the first time in about 20 tries.

I encourage you to look at golf in the same way as the year careens into the cooler months and (unlike some people back east) we transition to fall and winter golf. Keep believing, keep trying to improve and keep enjoying the process.  

But I also urge you to watch what you say. After all, the golf gods are listening. And they don’t like two things – boasting about how you conquered the game (never happens) or negative talk. They can make you feel real old real fast.

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