ENCINITAS — It’s no secret seniors love golf, but as aches and pains kick in playing the game gets more difficult. It’s also costly to play a round and be under the constant scrutiny from other younger golfers about how fast you’re moving.
Enter Geezers Golf for those who can still hold a club and who want to hit the greens as often as possible without the hassles.
Founding Geezer Chet Allen, 87, of Escondido, said he had the idea brewing for at least six or seven years prior to making it a real group in July.
“It started when I got tired of herding my aging playing companions around, holding up play, taking nines or tens on holes and looking for lost balls,” said Allen, who is also a builder. “That’s when I created the ‘Rules of Geezers Golf,’ and play speeded up and everyone had more fun.”
Allen tinkered with introducing it to the mainstream, contemplating if it would be accepted and asking himself if it would fly.
“Years went by, the drives got shorter and the pars less plentiful, and then, the companions gone. Giving up golf was a valid option, but could another be created?,” he recalled. “With golf courses struggling, could a partnership be developed that would benefit both seniors and the courses?”
The answers to all of the above was apparently ‘yes,’ and Geezers Golf was born.
Allen wasn’t alone in his assessment of the golf scene.
Ron Nolf, past president of the San Diego Course Superintendents Association, also knew of area courses’ problems; and he too was becoming a geezer whose game was deteriorating. Taking Allen’s rules and adapting them to what selected courses offered was a start.
“Seniors play golf during non-peak periods,” Nolf said.” The selected courses’ managers wanted to fill up vacant tee times, but didn’t like seniors holding up play, so the ‘Geezers Golf Rules’ appealed to them. They were willing to offer discounted rates to Geezers Golf members.”
As a result, by playing from the forward tees on selected courses, nearly all greens are reachable in the strokes needed to make pars and birdies, and with a few minor adjustments to the rules, keep play moving, and golf within a senior’s reach again.
Today Geezers’ Golf membership is growing so much so that Allen is hoping to take Geezers Golf to the national level soon. To date, Geezers recently signed up its 10th San Diego County course and the list of courses is expanding.
“Geezers’ modified rules have been created for seniors, and the golf courses’ management loves them, as the rules speed up seniors’ play,” Allen said. “We’re hoping to have a membership of 300,000 eventually.”
More than golf
And while golf is the focus of Geezers Golf, it can also be a new social venue to meet fellow golfers and perhaps find new golfing companions.
Allen said he’s excited about how the group is progressing but keeping golf fun isn’t just about the rules and scoring. Golf has created skins games and team events that the television and Ryder Cup has made very popular. Scrambles allow players of all abilities to have fun together. Seniors who have time to volunteer can make that happen, and Geezers Golf is working with its member courses to produce fun events, Allen said.
For example, on Dec. 11, Geezers will host a kickoff tournament/event co-sponsored by The Coast News at St. Mark Golf Club in San Marcos. The cost for seniors is $75, and for Geezers golf members it’s $65. Fees include green fees, food, entertainment and prizes. The event features a meet-and-greet scramble format for senior golfers of all skill levels, played with Geezers Golfs’ senior rules. Tournament enrollment is online at: https://geezersgolf.eventbrite.com
Membership has rewards
Interested yet? The yearly membership fee is $95 and members are privy to discounted green fees at partner courses during Geezers’ hours, too. Most tee times are in the mid-afternoon, but vary.
The timing for Geezers couldn’t be better “since golf nationally has been losing play, and the USGA will be amending the rules in 2019 to make play easier,” Allen said.
Allen, who has been playing golf for 60-plus years said thanks to Geezers “he’s never had so much fun.”
Geezers Golf also works to pair up golfers who are looking for new people to play with. A portion of the Geezers Golf website, geezersgolf.com, is devoted to players in search of appropriate playing companions.
On a side note, Nolf is a musician and Allen wrote some words for him to perform. When you see him, ask him to sing:
The Geezers Golf Song
Once, when I was young and strong
I’d hit the ball, straight and long
Passing years have had their toll
The balls get topped and fail to roll
And as my skills began to fade
With seldom par or birdie made
And when my eyes refused to see
Where that damned ball was meant to be
Possible; a Geezer golfer is me?
Yes, a geezers golfer I must be.
Resignedly I am forced I say,
Golf is still the game I love to play
Now as I hit it crocked or short
Sometimes to starboard; often to port
My fairway woods have lost their loft
And my iron shots make partners scoff
But damn it all, this game is fun
Whenever I hit that perfect one
Once a round is all it takes,
To bring me back; no clubs in lakes
One great shot is all I need
To keep me hooked, to plant the seed
Maybe today; my age I’ll shoot
Now that be a real hoot
Yes, a geezer golfer, I
About my game, no longer shy
It’s the game I want to play
especially on my dying day