Nothing to Prove

Recently we had friends over for dinner. The husband, an excellent golfer, was our club champion over ten years ago. He plays with a group of low-handicap golfers that includes several other former club champions.

All of these golfers, former single-digit handicappers, have found that their handicaps have increased significantly in recent years. There’s a simple reason: they are now ten or more years older than they were when they were winning tournaments. They’ve moved in age from their lows 60s to their low 70s, or higher.

While regular exercise, particularly interval training and strength training, will reduce the loss of speed and muscle mass, some progression is inexorable. No matter what we do, age takes its toll. These golfers, who used to hit drives 250 yards or more, now have to deal with drives of 220 yards or even less. This is a tough pill to swallow for some.

My friend has suggested to his group that they move to a forward tee so that they can enjoy their rounds more. Instead of finding that they need three shots to hit greens on par fours, they will have a good shot at reaching them in two. His suggestion has been met with considerable resistance. It appears that his friends are reluctant to admit the reality of their abilities.

This story reminded me of what I used to do in strength training ten years ago. Back then I was working with very heavy dumbbells when doing a chest press. Today I use lighter weights and focus on doing more repetitions at a slower pace, using proper form. I’ve reduced the likelihood of injury and achieved similar results.

My son and I plus a dozen friends are planning a bike ride to celebrate my 78th birthday in October. This year we’re going to cycle in Sonoma County, California, a beautiful ride with rolling hills. In past years we’ve cycled my age in miles in one day. My son suggested that we revise that and do 50 miles on day one, enjoy a massage and a nice dinner and then do another 30 or more miles the next day. As one friend who will be there said, “Harry, you have nothing to prove.” I agree. While I can do 78 miles in one day, I’ll be less tired and will enjoy the evening with my friends more if we cycle a shorter distance.

My view of my golfer friend and his partners is that they also have nothing to prove. They have been excellent golfers for many years and still are, but their skill is just not at the same level as it was when they were younger. The goal should be, in my opinion, to maximize the enjoyment rather than the difficulty.

This entry was posted in Fitness Beyond 50, Motivation. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Nothing to Prove

  1. Robin Bartlett says:

    Good one, Harry!

  2. Sandy says:

    Good advice Harry! I have a 70 mile Spring Preview Ride and then the 70 mile Grand Fondo for the Tour of the Battenkill coming up April 4th and then April 24th. I have over a thousand miles so far on the trainer/spin classes, but only 50 miles on the road. I am 70 and have had a cold for a week! Will I follow your advice? Most certainly for April 4th, but for the Big One…….? Do we get smarter as we age? I’ll let you know (if I can remember)!

  3. Susan Diamond says:

    Loved reading your article this morning, Harry! Putting one’s ego aside is a very difficult thing to do no matter what sex you are! Nothing wrong with the forward tees … can be fun to do just to see how your game can change … also love your advice about the exercise routine! Wishing you a beautiful ride with your son in California … what could be better and your son hit the nail on the head with the change up … especially with the massage at the end of the ride!! Great for body and mind!

  4. Mark Langenhan says:

    I have read that many senior players (such as Fred Couples now 59 years old) continue to enjoy the game of golf as they age. Many such players have even maintained distance well into their 60’s. It is interesting to note that flexibility contributes more towards maintaining that distance than strength. Unfortunately, swing speed drops as one gets older, consequently, the ball naturally travels a shorter distance. So, play if forward and enjoy the game.

  5. George Cino says:

    I totally agree maximize the enjoyment that is the way I like to live my life. We must remember golf is a game as many things in life seem to be. Enjoy the place and the people you are with.
    I’m sure we will be playing golf this summer and maybe a bike ride.

  6. gabriel hounsom says:

    Good for you Harry I enjoy your advice and common sense.
    Gabriel H.

  7. Linda says:

    Well said. Too often our own competitiveness and pressure ruins the enjoyment of physical activity. It’s good to slow down, take a deep breath and be thankful for our extraordinary human bodies!

  8. Terry says:

    I recall riding the Death Ride in Northern California many years ago. It was my big objective for the year and I was anxious that I be able to finish all 5 passes. I was doing the ride with a friend who was an older, more seasoned rider and his goal was to ride 3 passes. He said that he had already completed the ride (and all 5 passes) 3 times before and had nothing left to prove. He was at peace with his choice and had a great time doing it.

Comments are closed.