Maybe it is time to quit the game...
The way I played golf this summer, I’m about ready to quit.
Yeah, yeah, everybody says they are going to quit at some point.
And some do.
In fact, the National Golf Foundation says more than a million golfers give up the game every year.
The NGF doesn’t say why. But since it is a game loaded with old people (include me, look at my photo above, I look like I belong in a coffin), I think many quit to play in the Big Course in the Sky.
Others quit because they physically can’t play anymore.
And a good number quit because they are newbies. They go out a couple of times and are overwhelmed and humiliated.
These folks have the good sense to find something else to do.
I always thought I would be able to play golf until the day I died.
I had dreams of retiring to some sunny clime, playing a championship golf course every morning, fishing every afternoon and watching the Red Sox every night. It would be a perfect world.
But now that I’m in my 60s, I realize I have the body of an 80-year-old.
These days after a round of golf, I’m ready for a nap.
And if the Sox are playing that night, if I make it through four or five innings before dozing off, that’s a long day for me.
It’s not that I’m old. There are plenty of older folks teeing it up five and seven days a week. No problem. Some, in their 80s, can still walk the course, too. They amaze me and God love ‘em.
But me, I’m haunted by the exploits of my youth and I’m paying for it now.
As a youngster, I was a catcher so my fingers were continually bent back, broken or dislocated and I’m reminded of that every day now when I try to open a jar. They just hurt. Can’t even make a fist.
My knees are junk, blown out while playing high school basketball.
Surgeons put pins and wires in one knee when I was 16 and it has never been the same.
In a way, it was a good thing. When I tried to enlist in the Marines during the Tet Offensive, they wouldn’t take me and I couldn’t go to Vietnam.
Instead, I went to college and became a sports writer.
But now both knees have been replaced and it won’t be long before I have them replaced again.
And walking on bad knees all my life gave me a bad back.
My back is so bad; it can go into spasm if I sneeze too hard.
Hey, I’m not complaining.
It’s been a wonderful ride
And thanks to three 800mg Ibuprofen every day, I can play some golf.
But 20 years ago, I can remember playing 106 consecutive days, now, if I play three days in a row, I’m beat up.
Worse, my handicap is soaring.
At one point it was down to 7. I used to walk 18 in the morning with the guys and 18 more in the afternoon with my wife. No problem. But time catches up to everyone and my game is paying the price.
Now I’m a threat to be a 17 handicap and that stinks.
Sure, I could lose some weight. I could exercise more. Simply stretching every day could help.
I realize if you don’t use it, you are going to lose it.
I know that and I’m going to try to turn it around.
What else would I do if I didn’t golf?
Play with the grandchildren?
I love ‘em, but after a few hours, that’s enough. Send them home.
I raised a family once. I don’t want to do it again.
Sit on a park bench and watch people go by?
Take up shuffleboard?
If I ever start watching soap operas, I told my wife she has the right to put the pillow over my face and put me out of my misery.
Too much work, but I love the antagonism between sail boaters and power boaters. Love to be between them at a yacht club bar.
Nah, I guess I’m stuck with golf.
Even if it hurts to swing a club, even if I go an entire round without making a par, even if it feels like I went 15 rounds with Rocky Marciano when I walk off the 18th green, I can’t give it up.
It’s what I do. It’s who I have become.
Sure, I’ll quit a thousand times, but after thinking about it for a few minutes, I realize how stupid that is.
Of course, when I shank another chip shot, I’m ready to quit again.
But I have to make an attempt to make things right again.
Earlier this summer after a horrible series of rounds, I stopped drinking, I quit eating sweets and stopped eating bread.
I did that for more than two months and my game did not get any better.
So what I need to do is dedicate this winter to getting in better shape for the 2011 golf season.
And I have to keep hitting golf balls.
That’s my mission.
I’ll give you updates throughout the winter in my blog at The Clubhouse at www.wickedlocalgolf.com.
If you have any advice, or you just want to talk golf, join me for my weekly updates.
Caging a Tiger
You can bet it was a long weekend for TPC Boston tournament officials in Norton.
The poor folks (well, I don’t think they have to buy used Pinnacle X’d outs) had one thing on their mind:
Is he coming?
He, of course, is Tiger Woods.
Last Thursday, after taking the first-round lead, you figured he was a cinch. But poor putting on Friday and a disastrous start on Saturday put him on the back of the bus.
The only thing Woods could smile about was would he be the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer for another week because Phil Mickelson missed the cut.
Woods, despite his “amorous disposition,” is a draw.
And you can bet the thousands of golf fans who make the pilgrimage to Norton this weekend will all want to get a glimpse of Tiger in the flesh, so to speak.
Say what you will about Mickelson or any of the other stars of the PGA Tour, they do not have “it.”
Furthermore, do you think Corey Pavin has the guts not to select him to the Ryder Cup team?
I don’t think so!
Tiger’s game certainly isn’t on right now and he shouldn’t be selected on merit.
However, television executives want him there to boost ratings and corporate sponsors are going to demand his inclusion because without him in the field, the Ryder Cup will not be the Ryder Cup.
Everyone, not just golf fans, wants to see him succeed and fail at the same time.
And after his Escapade in the Escalade last November, his notoriety has become otherworldly.
If there is a good guy of the year award, it goes to Abi Darvish of Weymouth, who holds a tournament at Rockland Golf Club every year and last Friday afternoon it was for his friends and fellow workers. It’s all about fun and the prizes aren’t – and shouldn’t be – important. It’s the camaraderie that really counts.
He holds it at Rockland because a lot of his fellow workers aren’t accomplished golfers, but he would do better to have the tournament somewhere else.
That’s because you have to have game to play Rockland, which is looking better and better and has to be rated among the top par-3 courses in the nation. It’s a bear and you will use every club in your bag.
Rockland is a heck of a golf course, though.
Making birdies there isn’t easy. And every tee shot is a challenge.
It will be a challenge next month for Lasell College’s baseball team when it holds its fundraiser there.
Bob Mahoney is organizing the tournament to raise funds to help defray the cost of the baseball team’s spring trip to Florida.
Why? His two sons, Mike and Mark, along with Josh Sullivan of Rockland, are significant starters in the Lasell lineup.
Hester’s second Tarlow
Former State Amateur champ Brendan Hester of Pleasant Valley came to a course that has produced the most State Amateur champions in the Bay State and won the prestigious Tarlow Invitational last Tuesday in awful conditions: a wet course and steady rain.
Hester fashioned an even-par 70 for a two-stroke victory over reigning State Amateur champion John Hadges, a Thorny Lea member and Easton resident.
It was Hester’s second Tarlow victory.
Hester’s got game, although he only tees it up a couple of times a year because of business commitments. However, he did gain national attention in 2005 when he advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
When he concentrated on golf, he did well.
For instance, the year he won the State Amateur in 2001, he also won the Tarlow and the Hornblower Memorial at Plymouth CC.
John Nolan of Easton was third at the Tarlow with a 3-over 73.
After finishing third on Tuesday, Nolan won the Easton Open five days later in the final glimmer of sunlight.
He and his partner, Henry Alves of Brockton, shot 66-69-135 for a four-stroke victory over Rich McKenna and Chuck Gomes in the men’s division.
“The key was we putted real well on our home course,” Nolan told Bob DiCesare of the Brockton Enterprise after winning the title.
Said the 25-year-old landscaper: “We dinged and donged out there in general, but we didn’t screw anything up. We set five-or-six under (par) as a goal, but it was getting dark when we were coming in. As a matter of fact, it was dark on the last hole, but we made it. We teed off at 2 o’clock and finished around 7:30. I think we broke the record for longest round here.”
Bobby O’Donnell won the ages 16-18 bracket by 21 strokes with a 76-80-156 total. Mike Edwards was second at 177. Sam Minsky won the ages 12-14 division with 51 total points in a modified stableford format. Nick Carter was second with 42 points.
Joanne Catlin of Oak Hill won the women’s division with a 79, a shot better than Kristen MacDonald of the Thomson Club.
Uihlein wins US Amateur
New Bedford native Peter Uihlein, who now resides in Orlando, Fla., captured the 104th U.S. Amateur Championship on Sunday at Chambers Bay (Wash.) Golf Course outside Seattle.
Uihlein, who grew up on the fairways of the Country Club of New Bedford and played all over southeastern Massachusetts, defeated Stanford’s David Chung by a score of 4 and 2.
It marks the first major championship victory for the Oklahoma State junior who – as a result of his victory on Sunday – earned a berth into next year’s U.S. Open and British Open and an invitation to the Masters.
It also came on his 21st birthday.
“Yeah, it’s definitely the best birthday present I’ve ever had in my life,” Uihlein told reporters after his victory. “I’m looking forward to going back home tonight and seeing the boys and hopefully having a good time.”
Seven years ago Uihlein won his third straight Mass Golf Association boys division title (2001, 2002 and 2003) at the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship.
Not long after that record-setting win, the New Bedford native moved to Bradenton (Fla.) to attend the David Leadbetter Golf Academy.
When Uihlein eventually turns professional, there is no question who will sponsor him: Titleist. His father, Wally Uilhein is the CEO of the golf club manufacturing company in Acushnet
Call them champions
A round of applause to Maureen Cawley who won the women’s championship and Dave Pomarico who won the men’s championship through four rounds of grueling match play at South Shore Country Club. James Robinson bested a tournament-tested field to capture the 2010 Marshfield Country Club net championship in his first ever club championship effort.