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.