Today in Golf History: Arnold Palmer Wins 60th PGA Tour Event in 1971

Never underestimate the older folks. In 1971, Arnold Palmer, at the ripe young age of forty-one, shot an eighteen under par 270 to win his 60th PGA Tour event, the Westchester Classic. The result was never in doubt. After an opening round 64, even Lee Trevino, that year’s US and British Open winner, had no prayer of catching him. Trevino was ten strokes back after 36 holes.

Palmer would go on to notch two more victories on the tour to finish with 62 for his career. He also won seven majors, including four Masters wins during a six-year stretch when he was considered by many to be the best player in the game. The final major win came in 1964 at the age of thirty-four. At the time, it was the most Masters tournaments ever won by a professional golfer.

That overall wins record was broken by Tiger Woods when he won his fifth Masters in 2019. He was forty-three at the time and yet not the oldest player to ever emerge victorious in the esteemed tournament. Jack Nicklaus, arguably the best golfer ever, won it in 1986 at 46 years, 82 days old. Tiger was ten. Justin Thomas, the current PGA tour leader, hadn’t been born yet.

Age is Only a Number

They say you can’t drive the ball as far in your fifties as you did in your twenties. That’s crap. The driver I use in 2020 is light years ahead of the big stick I had in my bag back in 1990. Of course, if I handed that young man my Callaway Epic Flash Driver today he’d probably net about 350 with it. I have to settle for a hundred yards less. I’m okay with that. My ball usually lands in the fairway.

You don’t have to be a big hitter to do well on the golf course. Take what you can get, don’t pine over yesteryear, and work on your short game. I’m also looking into more flexible shafts for my clubs. The club head speed on my swing is definitely slower now, so I don’t need stiff shafts anymore. You don’t either. Go with senior shafts and invest your money into better wedges and a good putter.

If golf is a game for the young, why do older folks always win club tournaments? The answer is simple. The game is more than just long drives and winning a few skins from your buddies. Great golfers learn to use the skills they have and work around limitations. Just look at Dennis Walters. He can’t even walk, yet I’d bet he could beat most of the young loud mouths I see out there every weekend.

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