Remedy for The Seniors

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Admit it, you've had trouble even finding the Senior PGA Tour on the radar screen this year. Your mind's simply not programmed to seek out Sammy Rachels and Walter Hall, and that's no fault of theirs either. But this past week the U.S. Senior Open felt for a stretch like Baltusrol in '80. Jack makes a charge. And now here comes Isao. In fact, the leaderboard through four days at times looked like any major in the late '70s to early '80s. And it was riveting, as good a tournament as I've seen this year on any circuit. So what can the Senior PGA Tour learn from the experience in hopes of reviving a lagging product?
 
Let's begin by changing the name to Classic Golf. Scrap the cookie cutter TPCs, then shrink the fields as well as the number of events. Jack Nicklaus has begged Tim Finchem to make the course setups on the Senior Tour harder, arguing that he would likely play more and that the cream would rise the more difficult the layout. And while they're at it, how about staging more events on the legendary venues, ones considered obsolete for Tiger and the young power hitters. Those tracks, like Salem Country Club this past weekend, would be perfect for the over 50 gang as well as for the legions of fans who recall the Merions of the world with great fondness.
 
For the viewer, each stop in the 'Classic' series would be an opportunity to not only see strong competition, but to relive the great moments which transpired at that particular venue, like, for example, Hogan's 1 iron to the last in 1950 at Merion. So, give me a tour which stops at Merion, Pinehurst, Baltusrol and 15 or so other fabled layouts. Set them up like U.S. Opens of past vintage and I'm betting Jack and Raymond and Tom and Lee would welcome the challenge. It might rekindle some spectator interest as well. Will it happen? No. But it doesn't hurt to dream, does it?
 
By the way, Bruce Fleisher delivered the rejoinder of the year in his interview with our own Senior Tour legend, Tom Nettles. Tom asked Bruce's wife, Wendy, what she thought of her man. She said something to the effect, 'He's great, even better than yesterday.' Flash couldn't resist and said, 'Hopefully I'll be even better tonight!' Is Viagra a Senior Tour sponsor?
 
Speaking of revivals, Jack makes any tournament in which he's contending thoroughly enjoyable to watch. I lived and died with every single shot he hit on Sunday. And if the pitch shot he hit at 14 drops, Salem Country Club would still be picking up the remnants of the grandstands, which would have come down in the ensuing bedlam. Most amazing of all, but given the Bear's nature probably not surprising, is that at the long par three 15th, the hardest hole on the course, Jack tried to draw a one iron. 61 year olds do not hit one irons. No, if you're 61 you try to feather a five wood towards the green. Jack made bogey there, and another at 16. It looked as though the dream had vanished, but then you remember this is Jack. Needing a birdie-birdie finish to catch Fleisher, Jack hit a long birdie putt at 17 dead in the jar. But with too much juice, it spilled out, and the crowd let out an ear-piercing moan. Fully aware that we may not see many more charges from Jack, the gallery was fiercely clinging to the hope that we might live through one more glorious moment.
 
And that's the only tinge of sadness left over from a stirring weekend for the seniors. Golf's so damn good when Jack's stalking, but realistically how much longer will it last?