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Golf: A game for the young & old?
The Back Forty
By Roger Pond

Most folks think golf is a low-impact sport, a game for the old codgers as well as the young. A news feature from the LA Times Post Service said this isn’t necessarily true. Older golfers need to pay attention or they are going to hurt themselves.

The news feature states there are six million golfers over 50 years old in the U.S. This represents one fourth of this country’s golfers; but while older golfers make up one quarter of the total, they play one half of the total annual rounds.

That doesn’t surprise me any. If you drive down the road past the golf course, you’ll see the same people, day after day. They’re retired for gosh sakes. That’s all they do is play golf.

The LA Times story said that’s fine as long as we take some precautions. Golf experts estimate that seven in 10 senior golfers will experience injuries, such as “hand tenderness or numbness, shoulder, back and knee pain, golfer’s elbow, and wrist injuries, including tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.”

They suggest we should warm up before a round of golf, and that older golfers should take some lessons to learn how to swing a club without wrenching our backs.

They have got to be kidding. I’ve spent 40 years learning how to swing a club in my own unique fashion, and now they want me to take lessons and mess it all up? Besides, if I didn’t have shoulder, back and knee pain, golfer’s elbow, carpel tunnel, and hand numbness, I’d think I was unconscious.

And how are we supposed to warm up before a round of golf? Most older golfers have to make a choice: We can warm up, or we can play golf. We can’t do both.

The plight of older golfers is best illustrated by the 90-year-old man who made a hole-in-one at a Toronto course several years ago. This fellow was in excellent shape for his age and knew how to swing a golf club well enough to stroke the ball 140 yards - directly into the cup.

Unfortunately this fellow’s eyesight wasn’t what it used to be, so he couldn’t see a golf ball at 140 yards. He could hit the ball wonderfully, but he couldn’t see where it went. Luckily, this man’s playing partner was a young whippersnapper of about 85, and he saw the ball go down.

“It’s a hole in one, Max! It’s a hole in one!” the partner shouted. As luck would have it, Max didn’t hear very well, either. So he couldn’t hear his partner shouting. Finally, Max turned his hearing aid up, and his partner said, “Max, it’s a hole in one.” “Nah, it couldn’t be,” Max said.

I think we can see the problem here. This is a 90-year-old man with the strength and flexibility to make a hole in one; but his eyes couldn’t see it, his ears didn’t hear the cheering, and his mind wouldn’t let him believe it.

I can’t speak for other golfers, but when I can’t see it, hear it, or believe it, I think I’ll just go fishing.

This farm news was published in the Sept. 13, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.