Last week I played in the Colorado state Mid Amateur Championship. It’s the championship for the best amateur players in the state aged 25 and older. I’ve played in this event most years since I moved to Colorado, and in the past I have almost always finished in the Top 10, and even contended for the title a few times.
But that was in my 30s. I’m 40 now, with two young kids and a busy job. I don’t practice and play golf nearly as often as I used to, and I hit it shorter now than I ever have. This year’s event was held at a golf course that is universally considered to be a “bomber’s paradise”, meaning it’s wide open and very long. Simply put, that’s the worst kind of golf course for me. I hit it short and (usually) straight. I need shorter, tighter golf courses to level the playing field.
This year I made a 30 foot putt on the 18th hole in my second round to make the cut right on the number. In the past, I never even considered the cut line, as I was usually around the Top 10 after the second round. But this year, after a tough first day, I knew I had a lot of work to do to make it to the final round. I played well in round 2, and was happy to make the cut, but it reinforced something I’ve been thinking about for the last year or so. Should I really be trying to play golf at this level anymore?
I read the post-round article and compared the clubs I was hitting into greens to that of the winner. The 15th hole is a 510 yard uphill par 4, and it was cold the last round. I hit a good drive and had a 3 wood into the green. The winner hit a gap wedge. The 18th hole is a 590 yard uphill par 5. I hit a good drive, a solid hybrid to lay up, and a little 8 iron into the green. The winner was pin-high in two shots. It was the same way with most of the other holes that day. So what does all this mean? It means that I don’t hit the golf ball nearly far enough to keep up with today’s modern mid-amateur golfer. My lack of distance, especially at a wide-open and long course, puts me at a huge disadvantage. The same can be said for my lack of practice and lack of tournament golf throughout the year. It’s become too difficult to compete at this level when you’re spotting the field 50 yards off the tee and playing one quarter as much as they do.
As much as I hate to admit it, the time has probably come for me to consider gracefully bowing-out of competitive golf. Sure I’ll still play a select tournament or two each year. Maybe my club championship and a two-man team event, where I have a partner to help carry the load. But competing for individual state and national championships is likely behind me now, and somehow I’ll have to come to grips with that. Every athlete has his heyday, and eventually the game passes all of us by. Time to embrace casual golf with friends…