Dare to Ask: If grandpa wants to talk golf, let
By Phillip J. Milano
Why do old people like to talk about their golf game so much?
Ben, 9, Clay County
Old people, like young people, middle-aged people and all the people in between,
like to talk about things they find interesting. I know lots of old people — my
grandkids think I am an old person — and none of us golf, so none of us ever
discusses it. It seems to me that you happen to know a lot of old people who are
avid golfers, that’s all.
Robin W., 55, Westland, Mich.
Seniors are not talking about golf, they’re really talking about conversations
on the golf course and off the course. So while some seniors may speak about
their “handicap,” they are really striking up a conversation with someone they
hope is on their same level. That same chat that starts out with golf will often
end up with their grandkids.
Steve C., Massachusetts
A back-nine’s worth of possible answers for this wee lad:
They’re remembering stuff. You know that thought you had about
nine seconds ago that you won’t think about again until you’re in your 50s
because you’ve moved on to thinking about uploading your 14th YouTube video of
your dog barking something that sounds like “I’m sorry”? Well, older people
re-think about their recent and long-ago thoughts more frequently than that. It
actually helps them. Tons of studies prove it. Gerontologists like Robert Butler
have shown that reminiscing leads to less sadness, improved family and social
relations, less chronic pain and better cognition (are you following this,
They aren’t tweeting or texting. A Pew Research Center
survey in 2009 found that only one in six people over 75 even use the Internet
daily. Only 11 percent of folks older than 65 bother to text. Oddly, they’re
Gotta justify. Golfers spend hazardous amounts of money and
time on their games. So there could be a need for talk-therapy to bring closure.
National Golf Foundation stats show golfers spend more than $17 billion a year
on equipment and rounds, play an average of about 60 times per year and spend
$311 each on golf clothes annually.
Ego. People like to talk about themselves and their
accomplishments. Especially when they’re overestimating their drives by at least
30 yards, which is what a 2005 report by golf think-tank Frankly Consulting
Running of the mouth. This may be a function of lack of
sobriety. Researchers Conor P. O’Brien and Frank Lyons of Ireland found in 2000
that of all sports, golf ranked fifth behind only cricket, Gaelic football,
rugby and hurling (naturally) in percentage of drinkers, as well as in the
percent of competitors who drank before playing.
Your generation is “X-treme,” not ours. “Emily Post and other
manners experts have trained us that extreme is vulgar; moderate is good,” says
golf comedian T.P. Mulrooney. “That’s why we’ve chosen a sport which allows us
to eat hot dogs, swig beer and make business calls while we play.”
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Phillip Milano, author of "I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee)," moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Keep the cross-cultural dialogue going at his
Jacksonville.com blog or at www.yforum.com. Send general
column comments to yforum (at) yforum.com. You can also hear his