I’ve been asked several times this week what the average golfer can take away from Watson’s play at Turnberry, and there are several things that come to mind. First and foremost for you seniors out there, take care of yourself. As Watson showed, if you pay attention to what you eat, stay in reasonably good shape and, most importantly, stretch before and after your rounds, you can compete at this game at a very high level for a long time. Even at 59, Watson showed good flexibility and range of motion in his swing; he’s still swinging the club past parallel! He also hasn’t added much bulk from his earlier days, when he won five Open Championships (the last in 1983). If you want to enjoy your golf game for years to come, you have to take care of your body first.
Secondly, Watson managed his game very well. He proved that you don’t have to hit mammoth drives to score well. Power helps, but it isn’t everything. I still think he should have taken one less club (a 9-iron) on the 72nd hole because of all the adrenaline he was feeling, but he played very smart golf for most of the week.
The last lesson is watch your adrenaline. If you’re in the midst of shooting an all-time low round, or you’re coming down the stretch of your club championship and are swinging great, take one less club than normal. Sure, Watson’s 8-iron approach on the 18th hole Sunday traveled 175 yards, but given the significance of the moment, the adrenaline he was feeling and the fact that the hole was playing hard downwind, he should have hit less club there. Had he done so, we might be talking about the oldest major champion ever today.