July 6, 2008

I hit the Big 5-0...Senior tour awaits if I learn to putt betterÖ

"Every time that I look in the mirror,
All these lines on my face gettiní clearer,
The past is gone,
It went by like dusk to dawn,
Isnít that the way,
Everybodyís got their dues in life to pay."

                                                               -- Dream On"   Aerosmith


Someone much wiser than me once said that life can be looked at like a round of golf, i.e., two separate nines. Well, if the week leading up to my 50th birthday is any indication, the second nine holes of my life are gonna really suck.

I wanted desperately to visit the US for the 4th of July, mostly because itís my 50th birthday and it has been 20 years since I last saw the Boston Pops perform at the Esplanade on the 4th.

Personally, I think nothing compares to the Boston Pops performing the 1812 Overture with a thirty minute fireworks display to bring out the child in anyone. You just stand there in awe and Iím not ashamed to admit that it brings tears to my eyes, but Iíve always been a sentimental old fool.

Unfortunately, the current economic crisis threw a huge monkey-wrench into my plans. So, the best I can hope for is the Independence Day party at the American Club and no fireworks, but it isnít all that bad because I usually see Al DeMatteis and some old friends whom I only see that the Independence Day parties.

I also bump into people who Iíve tried to avoid most of the year, but you cannot have everything. Every rose has its thorns.

Anyway, turning 50 does have a few benefits, such as besides getting Senior Citizen discounts at the movie theatres and selected restaurants. Younger people also offer me their seats on the bus (probably knowing Iíll end up in Lao Cai accidentally) and call me "Bac".

Being 50 also means I am eligible to play on the Asian Senior Tour if I was stupid enough to try, but that would mean learning to putt better and actually giving a damn.

Jeff Puchalski, Lars Holden and Gopala Krishnan will be the first to tell you that I have all the killer instincts of a puppy. Most times I could save myself a lot of aggravation by paying off the bets before I tee off and stay in the clubhouse sauna or go see a movie.

The problem is that I just donít bear down out there enough to win because Iím always more interested in having a good time, but I can post low numbers from time to time if the spirit moves me.

Unfortunately, the spirit would need a fork-lift or a bulldozer to move me now...one of the side-effects when you quit smoking.

During the last Mercedes Benz tournament at Van Tri, they stuck all the professionals on the back tees. While I was able to keep up with the younger kids in distance off the tee, it took more energy out of me than it should and I needed one club longer in the irons, so my favourite benefit of hitting the Big Five-O is that I can play the Blue Tees without anyone making snide comments.

Ok sure, I can still bust drives over 300 yards, but I have to take a nap after I do it. I usually fall asleep during the putt and wake up in time to see the ball roll 10-feet past the cup.

Iíve programmed my alarm clock to chime the words: "youíre still away."

If you watch the Champions Tour on TV, those guys are playing Blues and even Whites on some of the longer courses, so Iím not gonna complain. Hey, those guys even use buggies!

One thing that does worry me is that there have been only a few times in my youth when I have walked off the course after nine holes, usually because of illness or extreme heat, but as I get older, I find that I occasionally just lose all interest and donít want to play anymore.

Well, I have just finished the 1st nine holes of my life and face the same dilemma, so to speak.

I certainly hope I can stay interested enough to finish the round.

Now if youíll excuse me, I have to blow out the candles on the cake before the house burns down.


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