Everyone has heard the expression, “the best things in life are free.” Strangely, the reality of that statement has a great deal to do with where you are in your life.
When I was young and full of invincibility, confidence and quickness I thought to myself, “Free? Nothing that I want or need is free.”
I wanted to play better golf and I knew the only way to do that was to practice and/or play a lot and that didn’t come free. I had a junky, old, 1955 Buick. If I bought a newer one, it would cost me money, making it “not free.” I was strong, healthy, ambitious and determined so where is all the “free” stuff that is the best in life?
Ambition turned into effort, effort turned into work, work turned into a job/career, but none of it was free. Determination turned into marriage, marriage turned into a family, a family eroded the thoughts of invincibility and none of that was free either.
As time marched forward, the quickness became tolerance, the strength became accomplishment and the young became old, but still nothing was free.
I don’t know exactly when it happened because it came over time, but at some point, I became a senior. Of course that was only by virtue of age. I was still healthy, strong and in spite of what some might tell you, I have all of my faculties, but one thing changed without me even being aware.
I suddenly began to appreciate fresh air, fairly good health, spare time, friendships, peace and quiet, trees, wind and sunsets and, lo and behold, they are all “free.”
Aging isn’t for everyone. Lots of people I went to high school with have passed away. Many have suffered poor health, misfortune and difficult times. They are getting old, but I’m sure it isn’t easy.
In fact, as I look around I realize getting old is an honour, a reward of sorts and depending on your circumstance and, of course, your attitude/outlook, it is a lot of fun. One of the reasons it’s fun is because most of the things I thought cost so much when I was younger, I either own, have owned or have no interest in owning.
This leaves the things that are free for me to enjoy, share and appreciate and I do.
Getting old is a perspective that comes from two different vantage points. The one you see reflecting back at yourself in a mirror and the one you see when you observe other people. Both provide warm feelings of knowing you and your friend survived the journey.
You also examine each of you for signs of the battle – the injuries, the wounds mental/physical and the general level of success and accomplishment. Very quickly, a sobering thought hits you – unless it’s free, none of it matters.
All the overtime, the seminars, the dedication, the effort, the want, the desire, the striving, the endless tribulations, the material things don’t matter.
Yet, take a drive in the country on a fall day under a blue sky and come upon a stand of sugar maple trees ablaze in a million colours stroked by a setting sun and ask yourself does it look better through the window of a luxurious car or does it matter more that my eyesight is well enough to see it?
Another sign of age occurs on the professional golf tours. Believe it or not but Retief Goosen is using his one-time top 50 all-time money winners exemption to play on the PGA Tour, while Ernie Els is using his top 25 all-time status to play.
This means both of them have advanced their careers to the extent that neither one has earned enough money in 2016-17, won a tournament within the last two years, a major in the last five years or has at least 20 lifetime victories.
In short, they are out of options. They are wonderful players but age is catching up to both of them and in a nutshell, they don’t play well enough to earn a spot on the top 125 in FedEx Cup standings.
Both are incredibly accomplished with majors and wealth to show for their long careers. They have been competing against each other since they were kids in South Africa. Both have a golf swing that dreams are made of and both have made miles of putts.
These guys aren’t old men by any means at age 48, but they do need a little help to extend their careers. Mind you, they have earned the help through a lifetime of outstanding performances and with it, they position themselves very nicely for a stint on the PGA Tour Champions at age 50, of they should want it.
Given their levels of play at this point, there is every reason to expect them to continue to produce well into their 50s or even further. They aren’t old, but one can’t help but think where did the time go?
Didn’t Goosen and Els tee off on the PGA Tour as rookies just a few short years ago? Granted, they are not finished by any means as international, globe-hopping players, but the sun is setting on their careers.
Ernie Els and Retief Goosen have been a couple of the finest examples of gentlemanly conduct, classy in victory and defeat. They have lived their lives in an exemplary manner and are wonderful roles models.
They stand for what is good in the world and play golf at a level much higher than most. We are the true benefactors of these two fine careers and two fine men.