(Author’s note: This is in honor of Phil Mickelson’s victory at the PGA championship. He is the oldest major champion in history.)
It is a physical law – the older one gets the tougher it is to be athletic, strong, coordinated and resilient. That same natural law also applies to stuff like hand-eye coordination, steady nerves (and hands) along with eye-sight and even the ability to walk without falling down. All these traits are necessary, at least to some degree, if one is to maintain the ability to hit a golf ball and get around the course without sustaining a serious injury.
Of course injuries to the old and infirm can come in at least two ways. One variety of injury is a pulled muscle after a particularly lusty swing or striding too quickly up a steep embankment. The other type of injury is to one’s dignity in the aftermath of taking another shellacking from one or more young, virile, limber-muscled whippersnappers who hit the ball much farther, swing their golf club with reckless abandon and stride up a steeply inclined fairway without even taking a labored breath.
That said old guys can still pull off an occasional miracle on the golf links if the stars get lined up just right and Lady Luck decides to smile on their slumped shoulders and worn out bodies. I know this to be true because it happened just this week and I can now offer some hope to all the old guys who are tired of getting run over, stomped and laughed at on and off the golf course by their young counterparts.
It all started with an innocent text message invitation to play and turned into some ugly name calling.
One of them said quote, “Don’t waste your words on Richardson, his flip phone can’t get group texts.” Another made some references to the fact that I should make sure to take my Metamucil and Ensure before coming to the golf course. Ha – I’ll have them know that my old flipper of a phone caught every one of their insults and besides that I use good old-fashioned prune juice thank you very much.
Anyway you get the idea. The youngsters were having a lot of fun belittling their elders.
To add injury to insult by the time the teams were divided up all us old guys wound up on the same team – “Team Social Security” and were pitted against two other squads composed of, shall we say, a bunch of young bucks. Incidentally and in the spirit of full disclosure all these youngsters work at a certain local high school and are on the coaching staff. No names and no other information will be released.
We gathered for an early morning tee time with no money on the line – just bragging rights and Team Social Security hitched up their baggy pants, took one more sip of Metamucil and hit away. Had the bookies in Las Vegas seen our team as compared to the others we would have been installed with odds similar to winning the Mega Millions lottery. It was that obvious.
I could go into a lot of detail on how the day played out but I’ll keep it simple. We birdied only two holes on the front nine and were in last place as we made the turn but I guess the Metamucil kicked in because we birdied the first six holes of the back nine, missed a 10-footer for a seventh straight birdie and wound up eight under for the 18 holes of play. The Boy Wonders wound up eight under as well and a sudden death playoff ensued.
On the first playoff hole the youngsters busted their normal 300 yard drive and we pounded one up the fairway our normal 200 puny yards. With the odds still stacked against us we then landed a gut punch – a soaring shot that wound up one foot away from the hole and a kick-in birdie. With the pressure on they could get no closer than 30 feet and their putts from that distance were but a futile effort at a miracle.
In the days since our victory I’ve received no more text messages with snooty references concerning flip phones, how best to stay regular or nutritional drinks for the aging. Those comments have been replaced with a humble attitude toward their elders and the faint hope that all this wouldn’t wind up in the newspaper. They should have known better to lose to a team of old guys one of which writes true stories for the local weekly.
It’s still a natural law that age takes its toll on physical skills but old guys can still rule occasionally – and it feels really good when that happens.