With water very much in play, the first shot at Vista Plantation provides a taste of many of the rest of the 18 holes. The green on the dogleg right hole is way in the back right.

The last time I played a so-called “executive” golf course before this past Sunday was about 45 years ago with my late father, Ed Gavrich. The course a few miles from his condo was named “Sabal” something or other in honor of Florida’s state (palm) tree, and it was typical of Florida courses built specifically for old codgers like my dad, who was around 65 at the time. (I am an even older codger as I write this.) Sabal Something was short – under 4,000 yards total – and scraggly. The bunkers, as I recall, were more like worn-out grass patches with sandy soil, the fairway turf was essentially broadleaf grass, what some would call “weeds,” and the greens were, generously put, “puttable.”
        A former stickball player in his native Bronx, NY, my dad’s swing path that day was as outside-in as the human body is capable of producing, almost like the swing cricket players make. He seemed to be aiming for the top of a Bronx apartment building.  Every shot – and I do mean virtually every shot – was a high slice or “dying quail.” He saluted all my good shots but I felt guilty watching him struggle. For that reason, and especially the condition of the golf course, I did not enjoy the round and formed an unfair bias against shorter “executive” courses.
        This past Sunday I thought about that day in Florida when my own son, Tim, suggested we compete in a local every-week event at Vista Plantation Golf Club 15 minutes from his home in Vero Beach. The pro at Vista sponsors the event in which you play as an individual against a “quota” you are assigned based on your handicap. A bogey is worth a point, a par two points, a birdie four and an eagle six. There are also four closest-to-the-pin awards. Based on all the scores and the size of the pot -- $45 per player covers green fees and buy-in – the pay off at the end on this day was $10 per point; the big winner passed his quota by 10 points and earned $100 in cash. My son, who plays to a scratch handicap, was just a point over his quota and earned $10.
Vista Plantation 5 approachEven short courses can provide some daunting short approaches, as at Vista Plantation's 277 yard par 4 5th hole.
        I won nothing, but the experience wiped away my bad feelings toward executive courses. (This one, by the way, played to just 3,448 yards at a par 62 – all par 3s and 4s.) The course was in fair shape and the greens were still showing aeration marks that affected roll. Forgetting the iffy conditions, any golf course you play for the first time is tricky, no matter how short it is. I was playing pretty well until #4, a modest 234-yard par 4 with trees on the left and water in driver range encroaching on the fairway on the right. All I needed was a 150-yard placement down the middle but when I slow down my swing to hit a “safe” shot, I tend to pull to the left…which I did, my ball coming to rest in sandy soil between trees, necessitating a punch out to the fairway. But then I overcooked my wedge beyond the green, pitched on and two-putted for a no-point six. That was pretty much the story of the rest of the round.
        I admit I disrespected the golf course before I even walked to the first tee, thinking the distances were in my wheelhouse. The next time I have occasion to play such a short course I will have an attitude adjustment, mindful that any time a clubhead meets a golf ball, anything can happen – and that even a short layout can be long on lessons.

Playing Through You Golden Years: A Senior's Golfing Guide

       When a pandemic gives you lemons, at least try to make lemonade. That is what Brad Chambers and I have done, the lemonade being a new book for senior golfers who want to play their best and have a lot of fun doing it. The book, published first in an Amazon Kindle version, is called “Playing Through Your Golden Years: A Senior’s Golfing Guide,” and it covers the wide range of topics uniquely relevant to golfers over the age of 60 (with some helpful hints as well for those not quite there yet).

        Brad is the author of “Think Better, Play Smarter and Manage Your Way to Better Golf Scores” and publisher of the blog site ShootingYourAge.com.  My first book, published in late 2020, is “Glorious Back Nine: How to Find Your Dream Golf Home.” Both are available for purchase at Amazon.com in paperback and ePub versions.
        Here is what senior golfers have said about “Playing Through Your Golden Years”:        
        You guys have nailed it! No heavy lifting, no sweaty gym sessions, no expensive training aids required. And, refreshingly, you understand and include women in your model. While you pitch to Boomers, your advice and guidance will work just as well for those of us in the Silent Generation who want to enjoy the game right up to our last breath, hopefully on the 18th hole -- with the ball in the cup! – Beth Bethel, former editor of Foregals website.
        Playing Through Your Golden Years provides all the options senior golfers need to play their best golf and have a helluva lot of fun doing it. -- Ken Green, former PGA Tour player and Ryder Cup participant.        
        This book…not only discusses golf courses, clubs, culture and climate but also the aspects of living, such as consideration of social interaction, future medical needs and to be mindful…that we must be prepared for the unexpected in order to enjoy our futures with confidence. – William Watson, MD, resident of Haig Point, Daufuskie Island, SC       
        “Playing Through Your Golden Years” is now available on pre-order at Amazon.com for just $3.99, about one-third the cost of a premium sleeve of golf balls (which you will eventually lose or wear out anyway). The book’s official publication date is May 15, and anyone who pre-orders it will receive the Amazon Kindle version on that date. (Note: The Kindle app can be downloaded for free and provides a few nice reader options on size of typeface and other extras.)
        Order your copy today at Amazon.com. Other electronic versions of the book will be available at BarnesandNoble.com and Apple Books online later this month.

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