Yes, I’m talking to those of you who have, at some point during the year, had a great round and said something along the lines of, “Wow, a 75! I think I’m ready for the Senior Tour!”
Well, you probably aren’t. Here is why.
In order to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open, which as you know is called “Open” for a reason, one must have a handicap index of 3.4 or less.
That means that you are in the mid 70’s to 80 almost without exception. And I know some guys that have a 3.4 index, or even less. But here is the thing: Almost all of those guys are doing it on the same two or three courses (I’m looking at you Oglebay Golf Club guys!) Shooting a 72 at Crispin is nothing like shooting a 72 at The Broadmoor, which was the site of the Senior Open in 2018.
Three amateurs made the cut. The low amateur, Jeff Wilson, shot 290. That’s ten OVER par.
We just don’t play on greens like the professionals do in a tour event. A green with a Stimpmeter speed of 13 is an experience most of us have simply never experienced. As I’ve read regarding how to prepare for The Masters, “Practice putting on your granite countertops–that should give you an idea.”
But even a normal event is going to be at speeds of 11-12, and we don’t really see those speeds on our local courses, either. There are times when professionals intentionally putt away from the hole in order to give themselves a reasonable chance of making their next putt. We don’t think like that, or play greens like that.
Length Part I
The U.S. Senior Open at the Broadmoor played at 7,149 yards. At it’s shortest. I do know a few guys that can play from the tips, but none of them are remotely close to 50 years old.
You may be saying, “Yeah, but The Broadmoor is in the Colorado mountains and the altitude makes the ball go further so of course they played it at a longer distance.”
Fine. The 2019 U.S. Senior Open will be held at The Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame. The championship yardage is 7020. Oh, and the rating/slope is 74.6/135. That means a scratch golfer, with a handicap of 0, would be expected to shoot 74.6 or thereabouts. A rating of 74.6 turns that 3.4 index into something like an 80 if you are playing up to snuff.
Length Part II
You may think because we are talking about the over-50 group, that at least you are probably going to be able to drive it out there in the general vicinity that they hit it.
If general vicinity is described as two zip codes away, then maybe.
Fifteen members of the Champions Tour averaged over 300 yards per drive (how far the pros hit a golf ball is another topic for another day. Watching every Tour Pro play a par-4 in driver-wedge, and every par-5 in two shots, is boring. But back to the subject…).
Kenny Perry, who many think of when they think of a long-hitter, was 17th in driving distance. John Daly was 28th. Bernhard Langer, the stud of the tour, was 88th. And 88th sounds pretty low, until you learn that 88th in driving distance was still kicking it out there for a 282 yard average per drive.
Can you average 282 yards per drive? I didn’t think so.
Most guys I know that are age-qualified to play on the PGA Tour Champions don’t walk very often. Some of us walk some of the time, but most of the time, the default round includes a golf cart.
As you know, carts aren’t an option at the U.S. Senior Open. But you do get to walk. A lot. Practice rounds on Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday. Walking.
The opening round on Thursday. Walking.
Second round on Friday. Walking.
By the time the cut happens, you’ve walked 35-40 miles. Not counting time on the range. Anyone not used to walking seven miles a day, every day, is going to start thinking about how their feet and legs and butt feels rather than how to carve a seven-iron into a sloping green.
Notwithstanding the fact that all of us should walk more, very few of us are in tournament walking shape.
The Lesson Learned? We all need to come up with another expression, because none of us is remotely ready for the Senior Tour.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy Shooting Your Age!