The day is coming. Though it feels like I've already reached the summit, in truth I am more than two years away. I'm talking about senior citizenship, of course.
The age that one is officially considered a senior varies greatly. In many respects, I've been there for some time now. You know what I mean. When getting up after sitting for any period of time, you wait until the sea legs are ready before attempting to walk. When exiting the vehicle that you have been driving, you grab hold of something and hoist yourself
The magic age for a golfer - the one that allows him to change from a certain color tee to another - seems to be 65. No one likes to grow older, but moving to a set of tees that makes you feel like you are playing a different course - well, that has many of us eyeing that special birthday.
Senior golfers can be a whiny lot. Even when playing the game from a distance that can be as much as 1,000 yards shorter, you still get complaints. Apparently enough discordance was recorded that a new set of golf rules are being considered for the senior player. I have the list of proposed rule changes. Whether they will be adopted or not remains to be seen.
Here for your perusal are the potential "new" rules.
Rule 1.a.5 - A ball sliced or hooked into the rough shall be lifted and placed on the fairway at a point equal to the distance it carried or rolled into the rough with no penalty. The senior should not be penalized for tall grass which groundskeepers failed to mow.
Rule 2.g.15 (z) - There is no penalty for a ball in a water hazard, as golf balls should float. Senior golfers should not be penalized for manufacturers' shortcomings.
Rule 3.d.6 (b) - A ball hitting a tree shall be deemed not to have hit the tree. This is simply bad luck and luck has no place in a scientific game. The senior player must estimate the distance the ball would have traveled if it had not hit the tree and play the ball from there.
Rule 4.c.7 (h) - If a putt passes over a hole without dropping, it is deemed to have dropped. The law of gravity supersedes the Rules of Golf.
Rule 5.k.9 (s) - Advertisements claim that golf scores can be improved by purchasing new golf equipment. Since this is financially impracticable for many senior golfers, one-half stroke per hole may be subtracted for using old equipment.
Rule 6.a.9 (k) - There is no penalty for so-called "out of bounds." If penny-pinching golf course owners bought sufficient land, this would not occur. The senior golfer deserves an apology, not a penalty.
Rule 7.b.3 (g) - There shall be no such thing as a lost ball. The missing ball is on or near the course and will eventually be found and pocketed by someone else, making it a stolen ball. The player is not to compound the felony by charging himself or herself with a penalty.
Rule 8. - Putts that stop close enough to the cup that they could be blown in, may be blown in. This does not apply to balls more than three inches from the hole. No one wants to make a travesty of the game.
If I were a betting man, I would wager that these proposed changes will never become actual rules, though I like the one about the ball passing over the hole. It is a bit frustrating to have your ball go right over the cup and not even think about dropping in. Perhaps there is a speed factor that we do not take into consideration when we fall victim to this situation.
As for senior tees, they make sense - in a way. When a golfer becomes older they lose distance off the tee and deserve to play a shorter course. When, however, a course sets the tees for the seniors at or near the same distance as the "junior' tees, be prepared for some bellyaching. I mean, it's almost as bad as the juniors when they have to drive for what seems like an hour to get to the senior tee only to find their drive sitting just a few yards ahead!
Hey, we all complain. The game is tough enough and we hate to see someone get an unfair advantage. The problem is that using a particular age to determine whether the course should be shortened for a golfer is too arbitrary. Some seniors don't need the help. Many juniors do.
So here's my suggestion. Stop complaining about the "fairness" of what other golfers have to deal with. Just enjoy playing a wonderful game on a beautiful day. Put a smile on your face and consider how lucky you are to have friends to share the moment with you. We are indeed fortunate to be able to play golf and we should recognize that fact.
If that doesn't work, we can revisit the above rule change proposals.
Al Stephenson is the golf columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune
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