This past weekend, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11 & 12, the 1st Annual Fisher Mixer was held at my club, Kansas City CC. The tournament’s prime directive was simple: It would be an event that would bring the generations together for two days of fun, golf and friendship. I know that sounds very Kumbaya, but Andy Fisher, our head professional, offset that Woodstock vibe by offering a few opportunities to take home some cash. That “action” was intended to keep us older guys (I am a-dangerously-close-to-70 68.) from sleepwalking through the tournament.
Over the last four or five years, there has been an influx of new and younger members at our club. That is great of any club’s well-being, but it became apparent that a natural chasm between our older and younger members existed. In reality, there are probably three basic age segments at any club: 35 and younger, 36 to 59 and 60 plus. In order to bridge that chasm, our Green Committee created a tournament that our head pro would completely control. Andy’s rules were simple: He and his staff would determine the pairings and the pairings would be different each day. Special Partner Requests Will Be Ignored!
And while I applauded the committee’s thinking and good intentions, I was worried that many of our younger guys wouldn’t understand the responsibilities and nuances of playing with a Baby Boomer. That’s why I sent out An Open Letter To Our Younger Members before the tournament.
Yes, believe it or not, those of us in our 60s, 70s and 80s still enjoy competing, trying to go low. With that said, there are differences between us besides not knowing which sports bars have the best beer prices. This weekend should be great fun – if you remember …
The 7 Rules Of Engagement When Playing With Older Golfers
1. Hey, our swings are different. (See above.) The years do take their toll. Most of us don’t have Tom Watson’s timeless swing. We are less flexible, which means our swings are not be as long as yours. (Take a look at the two photos above.) Bottom line: Don’t expect 260 off the tee. When you are hitting 6-irons from 195, we are hitting 3-woods. If you are easily influenced by visual input, then turn away when an Older Partner is hitting. We fancy ourselves as ball strikers, not bombers.
2. Speak up! If you have a question or a comment, don’t mutter. We can’t help the fact that the shape of our inner ears change as we age. Also, our eyesight isn’t as keen as it used, so be a good teammate and watch our longer shots.
3. Be prepared to offer a hand or a club to an older golfer as he tries to exit a bunker. Don’t yank! A gentle pull is all we need.
4. No watch watching. We are keenly aware that playing at a good pace is important. However, the years have taught us that little things matter in golf. It may take us a few extra seconds to determine our flight plan or to decide between a choked down 7 iron and a 6. Processing all the information we have stored up over the years can take time.
5. The Older Golfer can adjust a bit on the fly. This is a team event, so if you notice that your more mature partner is swinging too fast or peeking on his putts, let him know. Reminders, yes. Overhauls, no.
6. Our putting strokes may not be as smooth and flowing as they once were, but we know our greens. Don’t be afraid to ask us to read a putt.
7. And finally, older guys appreciate a pat on the back, being on the receiving end of a smile and a kind word. Listening to political a monologue between holes, not so much.
Of course, many of my favorite golf memories happen after the round in the men’s grill when the day’s ups and downs are still fresh enough to be discussed and analyzed. Now that’s the time and a place where us older guys can still hold our own!