Golf: A Game for the Ages — or the AgedBy Jack Madigan — AKA The Golf Guy

When a person is young they generally think they are immortal. They believe that youth and physical fitness will last forever. The unadulterated fact, however, is that youth is a fleeting thing and the middle years overtake you before you know it. Then suddenly you cross the big five-O and are eligible to join AARP. Then you start thinking about how underfunded your 401K is and those aches and pains start creeping into your joints after playing volleyball or catch with your kids. Whether you played baseball, hockey, soccer, football or field hockey, those days are suddenly gone.

You have your annual physical and the doctor says the blood pressure, cholesterol and weight are all high and you need a lifestyle change. Besides the prescriptions you are suddenly having filled, the doctor tells you it is imperative that you get off the couch and start exercising. You never were much of a gym rat so you look around and realize that all those old contact sports you use to play are not options. So, the only physical activities left are jogging, tennis and golf.

You never were much of a runner and the orthopedic surgeon has told you that jogging can be tough on the knees and hips so that narrows the field down to golf and tennis. I am not a tennis writer, so outside of some observations a little later we are going to talk about golf.

First of all, let’s talk about what most golfers are not, and that’s fat. I know that’s not a politically correct word and overweight, stout or heavy is much more acceptable, but that is just sugar-coating modern American’s biggest killer and that’s fat. Fat causes diabetes, heart attacks, hypertension, strokes, joint deterioration and death. Fat is the enemy.

The next thing you should do is turn on the television to any golf tournament and just look at the golfers. Ninety-nine percent of them will be minus the stomach pouch. Sure there is the occasional fatso like Craig Stadler, but he was so rare he got the nickname “The Walrus.” Then take a look at the golf courses in your neighborhood and you will see men and women who, for the most part, look physically fit. Not only do they look physically fit, but a tremendous number of them look old. Yep, they look old and that is the exact state we all hope to eventually reach. And that is the beauty of the game of golf — it has no past-due date.

For example, here at the Lake you can find 87-year-old Ray Duncan driving the ball straight down the center of the fairway every Thursday night at Bear Creek Men’s League.

Then there is Bob Uthoff who will be entering his 93rd year this season and who still plays in two men’s leagues as well as the weekly intercity matches. He amazingly still consistently shoots a score below his age.

And finally, the granddaddy of them all is Tan-Tar-A’s pride and joy, Howard Carlson, who at 99 years of age has really stretched the golf healthmeter to a new height.

Golf: A Game for the Ages — or the AgedIn addition to their obvious individual longevity, all of these men are WWII vets. Carlson was one of those lucky Marines who survived those Pacific invasions. Uthoff was shot three times in the stomach while charging a German machine-gun position. Duncan was actually one of the sentries on duty for the execution of Hideki Tojo, the wartime leader of Japan’s government. So if you ever get the opportunity to be paired up with any of these gentlemen you will not only be impressed with their age and golf prowess, but also will be regaled with their exceptional life experiences. These are but three examples of how the game of golf truly can be played your entire lifetime.

Florida is often jokingly called “Heaven’s Waiting Room,” and in the winter months that’s a fairly accurate statement. The Golf Gal and I are spending more and more of the winter months hitting the ball around the Florida links and never cease to be amazed at the vast number of everyday golfers in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Almost all appear to be physically fit and much younger than their stated years.

OK, this is the part where we get back to tennis. In our community there are 16 separate tennis courts, and all of them are busy from morning till night. But it is the age of the players that is really astounding. Our neighbor Ron Stevens is 78 years young and still holds the men’s senior club championship trophy. The guys and gals who are pounding that green ball back and forth are truly the kings and queens of the flat abs.

I should further point out that if you are serious about this longevity thing, then no excuses will be accepted. If that shoulder, back or knee is a problem or you have just had surgery then all you need to do is contact Courtney Hulett in the Physical Therapy department at Lake Regional Hospital, and sign up for the “Back to Golf” program that will adjust your swing to accommodate any limitation. And the beauty of this is it’s covered by Medicare and most insurance plans.

So, no matter what your age, get off that couch and get active. Once you get hooked on the game you will see those pounds falling off your midsection like autumn leaves off a spreading oak.

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