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Nov 06

Fred Couples – Still Swinging, Still Winning

 

Fred Couples Wins the Charles Schwab Cup

 
 
When I was young, I thought about what it must be like to be much older, and what sort of condition that must be. What would it feel like? What sensations? I assumed in those young years that by the time I reached 50, I would be a weak, quivering, uncoordinated blind and deaf hacker who couldn’t stretch without dropping an arm on the ground, or put a golf ball past the hundred yard mark. As it turns out, I was right about the hacker part, although my game isn’t appreciably different than it was, but as for the rest, I was shocked – it isn’t all that bad, outside of a few aches and pains here and there. I hit it pretty much as far, a little straighter, and I putt a little better, because I leave my anxiety at home.

fred 1 Fred Couples confirmed my findings this week by leaving his at home as well, winning the Charles Schwab Cup. The other winner of the week, Kenny Perry, backed him up admirably by winning the season’s points, and a million dollar annuity. It was getting frustrating for Couples for a while. He hadn’t won in sixteen events, not since the Senior British Open in 2012, and he likes to win a lot more often than that, even though he says “I’m not a fierce competitor, but I love the competition.”
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That’s an interesting statement by the smooth-swinger from Seattle. There’s a type of competitor who has his eye at all times on the opponent, and there’s another type whose entire concentration is directed at one’s own technique and feel. I haven’t asked him, and probably won’t get a chance to, but I suspect that Couples is a zone golfer, maybe a little more zen than cutthroat. That being said, though, he suggests that winning is the same rush in all situations, whether it’s playing marbles or the Masters.
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This week’s victory seems to have uplifted Couples, and perhaps reminded him that he, too, outside of a few aches and pains here and there (and maybe some chronic back pain) isn’t doing too badly, either. Maybe it generated some enthusiasm for him to come out next year and play more often, to win the whole shooting match next year. Along with winning the Schwab Cup came a $300,000 annuity, great for most, but not good enough for Fred. Remember that this a guy who was appearing on leaderboards in major PGA tour events, including majors, just a year or two back.

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So, why shouldn’t someone who can play for four days at minus 17 come back and go for it? Between that occasional ache and pain, he’s still strong, coordinated, smart and playing well, as a lot of the seniors are. It would be a terrible mistake to think that these are a bunch of old guys that get together for the nostalgia of it all. I couldn’t put together shots, rounds and weeks like that when I was twenty-five or thirty.

fred 2Couples seemed a little disheartened that this event he chose to win came at the very end of the season, and he quipped that he now has sixty days in which to lose his momentum. But, with his new goal of doing what Perry did, playing more and winning more, he might keep his groove this winter. Nevertheless, I can’t express my gratitude enough for his note of encouragement by winning this thing in such fine fashion. I guess that now I can keep swinging as well, aside from the occasional ache and pain…here and there.
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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.