My Road to Senior Golf - The First Step

Lying in the snow in Mammoth I had my Aha moment.

I knew that if I wanted to be successful on my return to competitive golf some things were going to have to change.

I really needed to get in better shape so I could swing well, but also so I could play 4-6 days in a row without my performance declining. 

But first, I had a trip to Memphis for a friend’s 50th birthday celebration.

Those of you who know me won’t be surprised to hear that I love BBQ and live music.

Memphis was like living a dream.

We went to a different BBQ joint each day; Central Barbecue was the consensus winner. We stayed up late enjoying live music, great drinks, and the company of friends. 

On the third day we toured Graceland, as we walked through the King’s home I was struck by how modest the place was.

As the tour progressed, we ended up in his trophy room.

The walls were lined with platinum records, movie posters, and memorabilia. I have never been a huge Elvis fan, but the things he did in his 42 years on this planet are truly astounding.

For a 20 year span, he dominated music and Hollywood like no one before or since.

Near the end of the tour I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror.

Red faced and sweating I was looking far too much like fat Elvis. The world was sending me another message; time to get busy.

When I got back to Santa Barbara, I called a neighbor and asked her if she’d take me to work out. She had asked me at a New Year’s Eve Party to start working out with her; I had told her absolutely not that evening. Now I was ready.

I emailed Bob Wilcher of Killer B Fitness to set up my initial session in February of 2015.

With the help of supportive neighbors who picked me up on their way, I began attending the 6AM class. 

Since 1st grade, when I got moved into a 3rd grade math class I have prided myself on being advanced. On my baseline fitness at Killer B, I found out that at the age of 47 I have the body and conditioning of an 80 year old. 

The first month, I went twice a week and was crippled the rest of the week.

In the second month, I progressed to 3 times a week and walked with a constant limp.

In the third month, I got sick and missed 2 weeks and had to start over.

The fourth and fifth month I started gaining steam, I increased to 4 days a week and was starting to see improvement. 

Even when I was young and active, exercise never gave me that flood of endorphins that made me feel great.

Working out was a means to an end, I did it to improve performance. Unfortunately, that is still the case.

I don’t feel great during or after workouts.

I do notice little things like being able to stand up without my back grabbing, being less tired during the day, and being able to pick things up without needing help. 

I have now nearly doubled my performance on the baseline test. Things are moving in the right direction.

My Road to Senior Golf - The Aha Moment

In April of 2014, I hatched the idea that I wanted to start playing golf again after a 15 year hiatus.

I saw that the 2016 US Senior Open was going to be held at Scioto CC where Jack Nicklaus had grown up. 

I thought to myself, “How hard can it be to go out and shoot 69 or 70 in a qualifier?”

After all, I used to be a good player and when I go out and play for fun I still shoot around par.

If a student had made that kind of statement to me, I’d have laughed (most likely out loud).

I am sure my good friend and long term student John Pate chuckled inside when I mentioned my plan.

I should have known better.

“The game of golf has a sneaky way of punching you in the nose with the fist of reality. Fortunately, I still had 2 years to get ready.”

In the spring of 2014, I got fitted for new clubs and started playing more… 2 or 3 times a month, rather than my once a month average of the prior 15 years.

Surely tripling the amount of golf I was playing would be enough to sharpen my skills and I’d have a Senior Tour Quality game in no time.

The game of golf has a sneaky way of punching you in the nose with the fist of reality.

Fortunately, I still had 2 years to get ready.

In August of 2014, I entered the Southern California PGA Section Championship which was held at Alisal Ranch and River Courses.

I missed the cut by 7 shots, missing numerous short putts during the first round and making an unceremonious quadruple bogey 7 on the demanding 124 yard 17th at Alisal River Course on my 35th hole.

I did a lot of things well.

Missing the cut by 7 and being 14 shots off the lead didn’t deter my (delusional) optimism.

It wasn’t until January 2015 on a “Boy’s Weekend” snowboarding in Mammoth that I was no longer able to ignore the 220 lb. elephant in the room.

Midday on the second day of the trip, I found that I couldn’t make it to the bottom of the mountain without stopping for a rest.

I wasn’t attempting to run down the mountain, no I was sliding over snow on a waxed board…this shouldn’t have been such a challenge.

As I lay in the snow at the top of Andy’s Double Gold with both of my legs shaking uncontrollably and my lungs feeling as if I was breathing napalm, I knew that if I were to have any chance at success things were going to have to change dramatically. 

The Road to Senior Golf - Destination Scioto Country Club

2016 Senior U.S. Open

On February 15, 2016, I will be 50 years old which allows me the opportunity to compete in Senior Events.

Not to be confused with the PGA Champions Tour, I will have the opportunity to play in Regional PGA Events for club pros and to qualify for select Senior Events like the US Senior Open.

Some of you may be aware that many years ago, I was a good player. In 1989, I was one of the top 50 ranked amateurs in the country. I won the 1988 California Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach and competed nationally in the top amateur events in the country.

Having taken up the game in 1981 at the age of 15, the success came quickly but not without a lot of work. It was without a doubt one of the most fulfilling times of my life seeing the hard work and effort I had put in result in tournament success.

“To be clear, I am not going to pursue a career on the PGA Champions Tour; Coaching players is too important to me to abandon.”

Tournament Golf is a time consuming process.

When my son was born 16 years ago, it became more important for me to focus on my career as a coach and to provide for my family.

Now, I am lucky enough to have a second chance at competitive golf. To be clear, I am not trying to pursue a career on the PGA Champions Tour; coaching players is too important to me to abandon.

I’d just like to commit myself to playing competitively again to experience some of the satisfaction I felt in my 20’s giving something my all and posting my score against the competition.

I am writing this Blog to share with you the things I am doing to accomplish my goals.

The process began in 2014 when I decided that I wanted to play again. I’ve set some goals and will be posting for those who are interested to keep track of my process and progress. 

My goals for 2016 are:

  • Qualify for and Compete in the 2016 US Senior Open at Scioto Country Club.
  • Qualify for and Compete in the 2016 British Senior Open at Carnoustie.
  • Play in the Senior National PGA Club Pro by Qualifying in the Southern California Section Senior Club Pro.

I’d love to hear your comments about my journey.