Old Dogs, New Tricks
At the recent United States Golf Teachers Cup at Carter Plantation Resort in Louisiana, three of the first four qualifiers to represent Team USA in the upcoming World Golf Teachers Cup in Brazil were seniors. Mike Stevens from Tampa, Florida, and Bruce Sims from McKinney, Texas, were in the 50-and-over division and Jerry Moore from Raritan, New Jersey, was in the 60-and-over division. All showed that there’s a little life left in the Geritol generation.
These “old dogs” are, in fact, one segment of the golf teaching crowd that I’ve always respected. They impress and intrigue me. In fact, you know the type: they are not members of the tour, nor have they ever played on the tour. They are not usually people that have ever been famous, nor have they won any major tournaments. They are not the people that should be beating you in tournaments if you are playing a lot, although obviously sometimes they do.
While the term “old dog” definitely suggests athletes who are advanced in years, you do not qualify as one simply by virtue of age. You have to be smart and you have to be cunning. You would qualify as an old dog, for instance, if you are over 50, still teaching full-time, and yet can still finish in the top 10 in the Open division of the United States Golf Teachers Cup or World Cup event.
There is no strict old dog qualification standard, but it would be fair to say that old dogs have to be at least occasionally competitive with the “full-time, young bucks.” In fact, I think old dogs deserve more credit than they receive. They provide a good example of what years of playing and teaching can create, and an example for all those younger flat-bellied people to look up to.
Most of us know the feeling of being pursued in a tournament by an old dog. You hate the feeling, but you know it is good for you. You know you have to play well and stay competitive to preserve your dignity.
If you are fortunate enough to have one or more old dogs on your side in a team event, you know they are terrific people to learn things from. In fact, most old dogs are pretty willing to share their teaching knowledge. And we all know that, according to the Dalai Lama, sharing your knowledge allows you to achieve immortality.
Finally, old dogs are excellent examples of people who are deeply passionate about our sport and many of the things that really matter about it; they love to teach, they love to compete and challenge themselves and they love to challenge others.
So, to all those Old Dogs out there, I say “Go Fetch!”