Thursday, May 27

Calling in Sick to the Senior PGA Championship

THEY’RE PLAYING THE SENIOR PGA Championship this week near Denver and I was just noticing all the fellas who won’t be teeing it up for mostly health and injury reasons. At the risk of picking on the old guys (because I realize younger players also drop out each week at PGA Tour events), here’s the list of no-shows for the year’s first Champions Tour major:

Paul Azinger - flu
Hal Sutton – hip
Peter Jacobsen – illness
Jerry Pate – knees
Scott Hoch – wrist
Craig Stadler – medical reasons
Mark McCumber – back
Tom Pernice, Jr. – playing on PGA Tour this week

(Photo: Paul Azinger withdrew from Senior PGA / supergolfdude via Flickr)

So, Pernice is the only one playing elsewhere. Everyone else would need a note from their mother if they were skipping school. If you consider how much tournament golf those 50-something guys have played through the years, you can imagine the buildup of nagging aches, pains and injuries and why their bodies are wearing out. It’s not like the golf swing is a natural motion. It puts ridiculous stress on the back. Hands, wrists, shoulders, knees and hips are also vulnerable.

Years of travel, tossing around clubs and luggage, riding long hours in wheeled and winged vehicles, and sleeping on strange mattresses take a toll. Playing the tour looks glamorous, right? I guess it can be. It can also be drudgery—tough on bodies and relationships.

“Don’t ever get old,” muttered an aching Ben Hogan as he withdrew from the 1971 Houston Open, his final tour appearance. Fine, but that was before there was a Champions Tour with generous purses and a high-tech fitness trailer at every stop. Still, I can see Ben’s point.

−The Armchair Golfer

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