You've seen them many times out on the golf course, looking like they'd be more at home at Walgreen's searching for the best deals on prescription medications.
Knee-length black socks and clip-on sunglasses. One hand on their yardage book, the other subconsciously caressing their pace-maker, struggling to hit it 100 yards off the tee.
They are the old farts, and you and I will be among them soon enough, if we're not already.
Golf is one of the few sports you can play 'til you're nearly dead, and there are those who seem to take it right up to the last rites. We enjoy seeing them out there, as long as they don't hold us up or bore us too much with their rambling stories of how far they used to hit it.
They may not remember your name or where they parked their car, but they always seem to remember those golf courses they enjoyed playing, where they weren't beaten up by length or other demands on failing strength.
Island Green Golf Club is only 6,272 from the back tees with a slope rating of 118, so even the old-timers can say they played it from the tips. From the whites it's only 5,847 yards with a slope of 111. It's a 27-hole layout with some island and peninsula greens, but you can still get around pretty easily.
Sandpiper Bay Golf Club is a little longer than Island Green. The Sand and Piper nines have less water than the Bay on this 27-hole Dan Maples layout in Sunset Beach, N.C., an area that's quiet as a graveyard at night. Oh, sorry.
The Surf Golf and Beach Club sports a 119 slope for the men, and it's short at 6,360 yards. It's a traditional layout with big greens that are usually in good shape; the fairways are flat with few serious hazards.
The Maples course at Sea Trail Plantation, one of three tracks at the Sunset Beach resort, is 6,332 yards from the whites, almost always in good shape and very scenic as it winds along Calabash Creek. Emergency rooms are nearby.
The forward tees at Hilton Head National take the forced carries out of play. There are run-up opportunities on almost every hole, eliminating the need for our older golfers to land high, soft shots to the greens.
This 27-hole facility, the first public course to move away from Hilton Head Island, is known for its friendly service and good conditioning. Trees and wetlands border fairways and greens instead of houses and condos. The original 18 holes were designed by Gary Player; Bobby Weed's third nine was added in 1998. The greens are large and only mildly undulating.
Robbers Row is the shortest of Port Royal Golf Club's three courses, and a fun, not-too-difficult track to play. Both fairways and greens are kept in trim, and there's little rough to slow you down.
The only way you'll get in trouble here is to knock it into the trees or get into one of the many bunkers. There is water, but not a lot, and most of it is lateral, so the oldsters won't be facing many challenging forced carries.
Golden Bear Golf Club at Indigo Run has both hole diagrams and descriptions on the tee markers, and even more detailed graphics on the GPS. On this course you definitely know where you're going, even if you can't get there.
September 4, 2006