Golf Begins After 50

By Mercer BaggsJune 23, 2009, 4:00 pm
Golf in America
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Jay Lamothe can’t remember if he made a five or a six on the previous hole. He doesn’t keep a scorecard, even with short-term memory loss.
“Every hole is kind of my game,” he says. “I just try and worry about making a par and having a good time.”
Lamothe can’t remember the day of his accident either. Linda knows, though. She’s Jay wife, and reminds him that it happened Feb. 6, 2003 in Fredricksburg, Va., on Interstate 95 South.
While that particular date often escapes him, the details never do.
Lamothe remembers clearly the snow-packed highway, the car entering from the on-ramp, the moment of collision, his truck turning over, his raw arm scraping the highway through the broken glass of his driver’s side window.
He remembers getting hit in head and gouged under the eye by cans of tuna fish he had just purchased at Wal-Mart, and the State Trooper kicking in his front winshield to pull he and his co-driver out of the vehicle.
Driving a double trailer for Watkins Freight Line, Lamothe was going about 40 miles per hour with “three or four inches of snow on the road.” He was leading the way, acting as a plow for those behind him, when a car raced onto the interstate at around 65 mph.
“He was so drunk, he didn’t realize there was a reason the traffic was going so slow,” says Lamothe, who was wearing his seat belt. “I was in the middle lane and he tried to sweep all the way to the far left lane. He hit my right, front steer tire which kind of knocked the truck off its axis.”
Lamothe looked in his rearview mirror, and when he saw his company logo on the side of his second trailer, at a right angle with the first trailer, he knew he had lost control.
The tail was wagging the dog – a 70-foot beast of an animal, weighing over 80,000 pounds.
No one was killed that day. The kid who caused the accident was arrested for a variety of offenses, including DUI.
“It’s funny,” Lamothe says, without a laugh. “I never thought I’d have to thank a drunk driver for saving my life.”
After an overnight stay in a Virginia hospital, Lamothe and his co-driver were cleared by doctors and took Amtrak back home to Massachusetts.
In the wake of the crash, Lamothe developed headaches, neck-aches and persistent dizziness. He went in for a routine CT scan and x-rays showed a mass in his brain. After a biopsy, doctors told him it was cancerous.
“Who knows how things would have played out had it not been for the accident?” Lamothe says.
As it was, Dr. Rees Cosgrove of Massachusetts General was able to successfully remove the tumor. Lamothe began chemotherapy a month later. Four months thereafter, he and Linda moved to Florida.
It has always been their dream to head south. The accident delayed their transfer but had it not been for the crash Lamothe could have been living in blissful ignorance until the tumor took his life.
Lamothe was alive. He was living in Florida. And he was miserable.
“Chemo,” he says. “It’s brutal. They figure out enough chemicals to kill you and then they back it off just a little bit. You take it for three, four or five days a month and then you take the rest of the month to recover. The following week after you take it you feel absolutely horrific. Then the following week you feel a little bit better. And then the week after that you start to feel almost normal. And then you’re at it again.”
After a few cycles, Lamothe was in a self-described “funk,” constantly dreading his next round. “I’d get so emotional just thinking about it,” he says. “I knew I had to pick up something to occupy my mind.”
A friend of Lamothe’s loaned him a set of golf clubs. He started to go out to the driving range near his house. There he fell in love – and experienced the frustration that always seems to come along with such attachment.
“You wouldn’t think that putting this little ball on this tee and standing still – how hard could it be? I couldn’t hit the firggin’ thing,” he says.
“I took a couple of lessons and this guy was, ‘Move your shoulder this way, move that this way, move your arm like this.’ After three lessons I thought golf was 10 times harder. Lessons weren’t the way to go for me.'
Lamothe never played golf as a kid in Milford, Mass. He played hockey instead. As he said, “If you wanted to play (golf), you had to have money. If you didn’t, you did what I did, which was go down to the pond.”
And so figured Lamothe, “If I could teach myself how to play hockey, I could teach myself how to play golf.”
He went to the driving range every day, smacking balls like a slap shot until they finally started going somewhat straight.
Eventually, he started actually playing the course. He does that about once a week nowadays, hits the range another three days, and practices his putting most every other day.
Linda financially supports the household, which also includes her mother, who does most of the cooking. Jay helps out where he can, like with yard work and grocery shopping, and he also volunteers at a local hospice.
He shares his experience and, more importantly, lends his ear. He spent one day talking with – and listening to – a man his age who was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
“He was 51, had a seizure and he has a GBM (Glioblastoma multiforme). If you get a GBM you are done. The doctor tells you to get your affairs in order,” Lamothe says, struggling to restrain his emotion.
“Why not me? Why do I have what I have and other people don’t?”
Lamothe doesn’t sleep well. He wakes up around 5:30 every morning and goes about his golf routine. He likes to be the first person on site. He enjoys the peace.
“I saw a Perigon Falcon the other day on the course. And I just stared at it. It was beautiful. Things like that I really enjoy. Once I got sick I developed a new appreciation for a whole lot of things,” he says.
“When someone tells you that you’re going to die, you’re whole perspective changes.”
A while back, Lamothe played with a guy from Michigan. The two finished the front nine and the visitor stuck out his hand and said, “Hey, I really enjoyed it.”
“Oh, you’re only playing nine?” replied Lamothe.
To which the man said, “I was going to play 18, but I’m playing so badly I can’t do it.”
“I go, ‘What does that have to do with anything? It’s a beautiful day, you’re playing golf, you’re from Michigan – it’s freezing up there and 75 (degrees) here.’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m really just not enjoying myself,’” tells Lamothe.
“I didn’t say it to him, because I didn’t want to make him feel worse, but I thought: How in the world can you not be enjoying yourself?”
For nearly 50 years Jay Lamothe only wondered what it was like to play golf. Now he can’t imagine his life without it. If he’s not playing a round, he’s practicing. If he’s not hitting a bucket of balls, he’s on the putting green. And if it’s raining … well, then he replays shots in his mind.
Golf started as mental therapy for Lamothe and has developed into an addiction. He reads everything about the game he can get his hands on, makes his own clubs and spends a little too much time shopping around for equipment.
“My wife said to me, ‘We need to have a little talk about you and eBay. If you order another club – you see those clubs you’ve been making in the garage? You’re going to be sleeping with them.’”
Lamothe has heeded her warning.
“She is a wonderful person, my wife,” Jay says. “She really has two jobs – one is her regular job and the other is taking care of me. I have thanked her on numerous occasions but she just says, ‘You would have done the same for me.’ I always say, ‘Yeah, but I don’t think could have done as good a job.’”
Lamothe is a person of good fortune. He's fortunate to have survived his highway accident, fortunate to have discovered his brain tumor in time and fortunate to have survived cancer.
He’s fortunate to be alive. One of the reasons he loves golf so much is that it constantly reminds him of that.
“You know,' he says, 'a lot of times I walk down the fairways – because I play a lot by myself – and I say, ‘Lord, thank you for letting me be out here. Just … thank you.’”
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    Monday Scramble: This is their jam

    By Nick MentaMay 21, 2018, 2:00 pm

    Aaron Wise asserts himself, Trinity Forest draws mixed reviews, Tiger Woods hangs out in Vegas, and somebody maybe (or maybe not!) punches somebody else. All that and more in this week's edition of Monday Scramble.

    Aaron Wise's learning curve lasted exactly 17 starts. That's how many events he had played as an official PGA Tour member before breaking through for his maiden win Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson. A kid plenty ready for the moment, the 2016 NCAA Division I individual champion entered the final round tied for the lead and ran away from Marc Leishman with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch. Once firmly in control, Wise made eight straight pars on his way into the clubhouse. Heady stuff for a 21-year-old.

    You need look back only a couple weeks for evidence that Wise was ready for something like this. Saturday at the Wells Fargo Championship, he could have melted down on the 18th hole. With his ball sitting on a steep bank inside the hazard line, Wise thought about taking a drop next to the green but ultimately chose after minutes of indecision to play it where it was. And he whiffed. He went right under it. He thinned his next shot over the green and looked as though he was going to throw away three days of fabulous play all at once. Instead, he steeled himself and chipped in to save his bogey-5.

    Although Wise couldn't run down Jason Day a day later, his tie for second played a vital role in propelling him to victory just two weeks later. Wise said he felt "oddly calm" in the final round and that his experience at Quail Hollow had filled him with the self-belief he needed to close out his first win.

    Mark down Wise as yet another young force to be reckoned with, as if there was somehow a shortage of those on Tour.

    1. Let's go to the golf course. The Nelson's move to Trinity Forest was met with plenty of skepticism from players, some of whom simply stayed away.

    The event's OWGR winner's points and strength of field dropped to 34 and 178, respectively, from 50 and 335 one year ago. The Nelson's strength of field was the lowest for a PGA Tour event in 2018 (excluding the opposite-field Coarles) and looked more in line with what you might expect during the wraparound portion of the schedule.

    It's certainly possible top players are taking a wait-and-see approach to the course, but if the Nelson does wind up sandwiched between the Wells Fargo and the PGA, Trinity Forest is not going to be any kind of warmup for a Bethpage Black or a Harding Park or an Oak Hill, not when Quail Hollow is a PGA Championship layout. 

    2. And if players are waiting on positive reviews to lure them to a venue that bares little resemblance to any other course on the PGA Tour schedule, they're not going to hear anything positive from Matt Kuchar. Asked on Thursday about the layout, Kuchar answered, "If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” before adding, "I really liked Las Colinas. That place was great. I really, really enjoyed Las Colinas.” After missing the cut, Kuchar admitted his distaste for the layout negatively affected his play, leaving architecture enthusiasts surely enraged.

    Objectively, Las Colinas was an immaculately conditioned TPC devoid of character, and Trinity Forest is a rugged, minimalist tract with so much character it could border on caricature under certain conditions. The two designs have nothing in common, and Tour types are generally resistant to change, a sentiment summed up well by Adam Scott: “Majorities just don’t like different, do they? This is just different than what we normally roll out and play." On the plus side, Jordan Spieth, a Trinity member, said that many of the guys who did show up enjoyed the course more and more after each round. Architect Ben Crenshaw is hoping good word will spread. 

    There's nothing wrong with Trinity Forest. It was actually nice to see something a little different on Tour. But the Nelson's place on the schedule may prove an obstacle to attracting the game's best regardless of where the event calls home.

    3. As for the top talent who did show up, Spieth - say it with me now - was once again let down by his putter. The club that played such a pivotal role in his three major victories has abandoned him this season. Spieth entered the week second on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green and 183rd in strokes gained: putting. When he walked off the final green Sunday at Trinity Forest he was third in the field in SG: off-the-tee, fourth in SG: tee-to-green, fourth in proximity to the hole and 72nd in SG: putting. Those numbers left him 12 shots behind young Mr. Wise.

    Remember when Spieth was a 21-year-old dusting the best in the world? Those were the days.

    In all seriousness, the putting will get better, and when he finally matches general competence on the greens with his elite ball-striking, he'll finally capture his first trophy of the season. Don't be surprised if it happens this week at Colonial in another hometown event, one he won in 2016.

    4.The aforementioned Scott remains - by the slimmest of margins - unqualified for the U.S. Open. Needing to crack the Official World Golf Ranking's top 60, Scott appeared to have done enough when he closed a final-round 65 with a birdie to pull into a four-way tie for sixth. Unfortunately, just moments later, he'd drop into a three-way tie for ninth, missing out by a single shot. 

    Scott has played the last 67 majors in a row, dating back to 2001. It's a streak bested by only Sergio Garcia. Having missed this week's cutoff, he'll need to either head to sectional qualifying on June 4 or be inside the top 60 on June 11.

    5. I understand golf is different than basketball and football, but the concern over how gambling might negatively impact the game feels a little like pearl-clutching. Yes, some idiot with money on the line could yell in somebody's backswing on the 72nd hole. That absolutely could happen. And yet, somehow we survive every Open Championship and every other tournament played in countries that allow gambling.

    Then again, fans outside the U.S. don't yell mashed potatoes or baba booey.

    I take it all back. We've made a huge mistake.

    6. You might not be familiar with the name Adrian Otaegui, but that could change in a hurry if he keeps up his current form. The 25-year-old Spaniard just backed up a runner-up at the Volvo China Open with a win at the Belgian Knockout.

    He's finished in the top 20 in each of his last six European Tour starts and he hasn't finished worse than T-40 in nine events. Both of his wins in the last year have come via match play (or something close enough in the case of the Knockout). With the victory, Otaegui is now up to 77th in the world, making him the fourth-highest Spaniard behind Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia, and Rafa Cabrera Bello. 

    7. While we're on the subject of the Belgian Knockout, two notes about the format. First, credit again goes to Keith Pelley and company for being unafraid to try something other than 72 holes of stroke play.

    The rechristened Belgian Open, which had been dormant since 2000, featured 36 holes of normal stroke play qualifying before giving way to nine-hole, head-to-head stroke play in the knockout rounds. Considering how divisive the WGC-Match Play's round-robin format has become, early-stage stroke play does seem like an easy enough solution when it comes to both cutting the field and protecting the game's biggest stars from a Day 1 exit.

    8. For the second time in as many events, the LPGA shortened an event due to weather.

    At least the circuit was able to finish three rounds this time. Two players actually got in 56 holes, with Ariya Jutanugarn defeating Nasa Kataoka in a playoff. The victory is Ariya's first of 2018, but the Jutanugarns' second, following Moriya's breakthrough last month in L.A.

    9. The Most Interesting Man in the World, Miguel Angel Jimenez, captured his first senior major at the Regions Tradition, but how about Steve Stricker's start to his PGA Tour Champions career? He's gone T5-1-1-T2-T2. Look out, Langer.

    Didn't mean to shortchange Jimenez there. Just figured this image summed up the moment.

    10. It never ceases to be amazing, by the way, the fine line between the wilderness and a PGA Tour card. Michael Arnaud had made just one start this year, and he shot an 81. He made only two of five cuts on the Web all last year. On Tuesday, he was in Oklahoma preparing to play an Adams Tour event when he was informed that he had been moved up to first alternate at the BMW Charity Pro-Am. So he took his chances and raced to South Carolina. He was the very last man into the field. And now he's a winner, inside the top 25 on the money list. All it takes is one great week to rejuvenate a career. 

    Our Ryan Lavner normally writes this column, but he's on NCAA duty the next couple weeks. That said, he is checking in with this story about a fist fight that might not have actually happened at the Florida Mid-Am! Here's a little taste:

    In a one-paragraph post on its website, the Florida State Golf Association declared Marc Dull the winner of the 37th Mid-Amateur Championship on May 13 after his opponent – in a tie match with two holes to go – was unable to return because of an “unfortunate injury” sustained during a lengthy weather delay.

    Left unreported was what allegedly happened.

    According to a police report (see below) obtained by, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office received a call that afternoon from Dull’s opponent, Jeff Golden, who claimed that he’d been assaulted in the parking lot at Coral Creek Club, the tournament host site in Placida. In a statement provided to police, Golden said that he was sucker-punched in the face by Dull’s caddie, Brandon Hibbs.

    You know you want more. Click here.

    This week's award winners ...

    A master class in big timing: Hosting his annual Tiger Jam event at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Tiger Woods "challenged" World Long Drive competitor Troy Mullins to a showdown, but rather than wait and see who won, Woods got up on the tee, unleashed a drive, and simply walked away, going full mic drop.

    This may have been a savvy play by Tiger, considering Mullins won a WLD event last summer with a drive of 374 yards.

    Life is just a party and parties weren't meant to last: We compiled a photo gallery of some of Woods' best celebrity interactions at Tiger Jam over the years, but this image tops them all:

    Who needs local knowledge? Tip of the cap to Hideki Matsuyama and his caddie for this read. "I think we start this a good 10 feet left, let it funnel right, and then it should take a hard left at the hole."

    Kuchar should have just done that.

    Belgian Wave: Is this the opposite of a Belgian Dip?

    New rule: Backstopping is absolutely fine as long as we stop marking balls altogether.

    And finally:

    I like to think we have a lot in common, as I randomly pick up this column, quickly put it back down, and then try to (not-so) casually slip away. Cheers, buddy.

    Getty Images

    What's in the bag: AT&T Byron Nelson winner Wise

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 1:52 pm

    Aaron Wise won the AT&T Byron Nelson for his first PGA Tour victory. Here's a look inside the winner's bag.

    Driver: Callaway Rogue (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Pro 75X shaft

    Fairway woods: Callaway Rogue (15 degrees), with Fujikura ATMOS Black 8 X shaft

    Irons: Callaway X Forged UT (2), with KBS Tour prototype Hybrid shaft; Apex 16 (4), Apex MB (5-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 Tour Issue shafts

    Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (50, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts

    Putter: Odyssey O-Works Red V-Line Fang CH

    Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X

    Getty Images

    2018 NCAA Golf Championships TV Schedule

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 12:29 pm

    Golf Channel will shine a spotlight on college golf across the next two weeks at the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf National Championships. With more than 60 hours of live tournament and news coverage on-site from Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater Oklahoma (Monday-Wednesday May 21-23 and May 28-30), Golf Channel’s coverage connects 18 straight days of live tournament golf.

    Watch live coverage of the NCAA Golf Championships beginning Monday, May 21 at 4pm ET on Golf Channel and streaming.

    Keep up with the social media conversation by following Golf Channel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Join in by using #NCAAGolf 

    Golf Channel NCAA Women’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

    Monday, May 21: Individual National Championship  4-8 p.m. (Live)

    Tuesday, May 22:Quarterfinals, Team Match Play 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

    Tuesday, May 22: Semifinals, Team Match Play 4-8 p.m. (Live)

    Wednesday, May 23:Team Match Play National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)


    Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

    Monday, May 28: Individual National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)

    Tuesday, May 29: Quarterfinals, Team Match Play 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

    Tuesday, May 29: Semifinals, Team Match Play 4-8 p.m. (Live)

    Wednesday, May 30: Team Match Play National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)

    Getty Images

    AT&T Byron Nelson purse payout: Wise a millionaire

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 12:05 pm

    PGA Tour rookie Aaron Wise earned his first Tour title on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Trinity Forest:

    1 Aaron Wise -23 $1,386,000
    2 Marc Leishman -20 $831,600
    T3 Branden Grace -19 $400,400
    T3 J.J. Spaun -19 $400,400
    T3 Keith Mitchell -19 $400,400
    T6 Ryan Blaum -16 $257,950
    T6 Kevin Na -16 $257,950
    T6 Jimmy Walker -16 $257,950
    T9 Adam Scott -15 $207,900
    T9 Charles Howell III -15 $207,900
    T9 Kevin Tway -15 $207,900
    12 Brian Gay -14 $177,100
    T13 Rory Sabbatini -13 $148,867
    T13 Ethan Tracy -13 $148,867
    T13 Matt Jones -13 $148,867
    T16 Russell Knox -12 $115,500
    T16 Hideki Matsuyama -12 $115,500
    T16 Bronson Burgoon -12 $115,500
    T16 Derek Fathauer -12 $115,500
    T16 Joel Dahmen -12 $115,500
    T21 Jordan Spieth -11 $80,080
    T21 Billy Horschel -11 $80,080
    T21 Robert Garrigus -11 $80,080
    T21 Peter Uihlein -11 $80,080
    T21 Martin Piller -11 $80,080
    T26 Tyler Duncan -10 $55,825
    T26 Anirban Lahiri -10 $55,825
    T26 Parker McLachlin -10 $55,825
    T26 Martin Flores -10 $55,825
    T26 J.T. Poston -10 $55,825
    T26 Shawn Stefani -10 $55,825
    T32 Cody Gribble -9 $39,116
    T32 Johnson Wagner -9 $39,116
    T32 Geoff Ogilvy -9 $39,116
    T32 Nick Taylor -9 $39,116
    T32 C.T. Pan -9 $39,116
    T32 Scott Piercy -9 $39,116
    T32 Nicholas Lindheim -9 $39,116
    T32 Fabian Gomez -9 $39,116
    T32 Beau Hossler -9 $39,116
    T32 Nate Lashley -9 $39,116
    T42 Zac Blair -8 $23,184
    T42 Abraham Ancer -8 $23,184
    T42 Maverick McNealy -8 $23,184
    T42 Denny McCarthy -8 $23,184
    T42 Jonathan Byrd -8 $23,184
    T42 Eric Axley -8 $23,184
    T42 Sam Ryder -8 $23,184
    T42 Brian Stuard -8 $23,184
    T42 J.B. Holmes -8 $23,184
    T42 Sung-hoon Kang -8 $23,184
    T42 Andrew Putnam -8 $23,184
    T53 Ben Crane -7 $17,659
    T53 Steve Wheatcroft -7 $17,659
    T53 Troy Merritt -7 $17,659
    T53 Patrick Rodgers -7 $17,659
    T53 Corey Conners -7 $17,659
    T53 Robert Streb -7 $17,659
    T59 Ryan Armour -6 $16,632
    T59 Peter Malnati -6 $16,632
    T59 Vaughn Taylor -6 $16,632
    T59 Dominic Bozzelli -6 $16,632
    T59 Adam Schenk -6 $16,632
    T59 Hudson Swafford -6 $16,632
    T59 Michael Thompson -6 $16,632
    T66 Matt Atkins -5 $15,862
    T66 Roberto Diaz -5 $15,862
    T66 T.J. Vogel -5 $15,862
    69 Sang-Moon Bae -4 $15,554
    T70 Tom Lovelady -3 $15,246
    T70 Cameron Percy -3 $15,246
    T70 Rod Pampling -3 $15,246
    73 Brian Davis -1 $14,938
    74 Mark Wilson 1 $14,784
    75 Robert Allenby 2 $14,630