By Robert Bicknell

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August 6, 2006

You don't have to feel as old as you are…

Every time I find solace in the excuse of getting older, someone has to come along and screw it up. This time is was Corey Pavin winning again on the PGA Tour for the first time in 10 years at the ripe old age of 46. It seems almost Nicklaus-ish and we might have to change his nickname to "the gritty little grey bruin."

Ok, granted, none of the "names" were on hand in the event and to be honest, the players who did participate were kind of "B-list" like an old Ronald Reagan movie, but a win is a win and you gotta give him credit for doing it, especially at his age.

Much has been written about the impetuous of youth versus the wisdom of advanced age, my favourite being the "old buffalo and young buffalo" comparison, but does this work in sports as well as life?

Golfers peak at a later age than most other athletes, in fact, when most football, basketball, tennis and baseball stars are looking to retire, golfers are just hitting their prime. Sadly, this also causes problems for the golfer because by that time they have families and are forced to spend long periods of time away from home.

This is the conundrum of golf. When young, you have the tools but not the head. When older, you have the head, but the tools have begun to rust. Thus, there is a very small window of opportunity where everything comes together at the right time.

Tiger Woods and more of the upcoming players have been able to enlarge this window of opportunity by starting to play competitive golf at a much younger age and, thus, gaining vital experience early. Increased junior golf programs and a better understanding of the psychological aspects of the game are also helping younger players.

There is no way to stop getting older and believe me many people have tried, but there are ways to ensure your game doesn’t suffer as the years creep quietly by.

First of all, before engaging in any physical activity get checked out by your doctor of choice and, no, massage girls do not qualify as "physical therapists." See a real doctor. Chances are they’re remind you that "you are what you eat and drink" and this is true. If you eat unhealthy meals at ungodly hours, drink to the point of falling down, you’re not going to age gracefully and there’s no way around it.

My wife is constantly nagging me about my diet. Eat more vegetables, stop eating junk food, stop smoking…etc. She’s right, of course, but I refuse to give her satisfaction of being right and so I happily chomp away on another piece of KFC while ignoring the little voice in my head telling me "you’re gonna suffer for this…!"

Sign up for a health club, a real one that has a full-time professional sadist, er…"trainer" on staff. These are the people who scream, "10 more! I want 10 more sit-ups from you, you weak snivelling maggot!" and punch you in the face for even THINKING about having a cigarette.

Naturally, to add insult to injury, you pay them for this abuse.

One friend in Thailand actually used to take great pride in how many times his "personal trainer" could make him cry "Ralph" during each session. Obviously, he’s taking this very seriously and should seek mental help as well.

Even if you’re an experienced player, have your club professional check your swing to make sure nothing unusual has crept in accidentally. You should also ask him to check your clubs to make sure they’re helping you and not hurting you.

Look, I’m either 48 or 49 depending on which calendar you use and still have stiff shafts in my irons and an extra-stiff shaft in my driver. This tells me that I’m either still in half-decent shape, or that I’m a lunatic. Probably the latter.

Yet, I no longer tremble in fear when thinking about graphite-shafted irons made especially for "seniors", and I no longer think buggies are Satan-spawned.

You can make sure that your "golden years" are truly enjoyable, but you need to prepare now.

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