Golf is one of the world’s most popular sports because it challenges mind and body and can be played at any age. But to some, golf is more than just a game, it’s a burning passion.
Bill Longmuir, a professional on the European Senior Tour, is one such perfectionist. A Scotsman now aged 61, Mr Longmuir was bitten by the golfing bug 49 years ago, and hasn’t looked back since: “Whenever I walk onto a golf course, I learn something – either about the game or about myself,” he says. “No two days are ever the same on a golf course. In golf, you strive constantly to better your previous performance. And if you succeed, then you find something else that isn’t working. There is never going to be a day on which you can say you have mastered the game of golf.” Golf is a game that rewards hard work.
Golf as a school for life
Golf demands endurance, will-power, technique and strategy. Thus golf is a school for life and a good reason for working on your fitness. “I always have been keen on sport,” Mr Longmuir notes. The tall, slim Scotsman celebrates his 61st birthday this year. On the European Senior Tour, he competes for victory and prize money against players up to a decade his junior.
Hence the importance of physical fitness: “When I hit the age of 50, I started to pay more attention to my physical condition,” explains Bill. “Since then, I’ve practised yoga, to improve my muscle power and flexibility. I also follow a golf-specific programme to develop extra power in the musculature I need to swing a golf club.”
He is careful to eat a balanced diet and burns off his daily calorie allowance on the driving range and putting green.
Tips on technique
Physical and mental fitness combined with slick technique are key factors for success in golf. Mario Caligari, Head Pro at the Golf Club Bad Ragaz in Switzerland, is convinced that there is an ideal swing for every golfer. “A good outcome depends on getting the swing right for the player’s body. A golfer only does well and has a good time when using a technique matched to his or her physique,” Mr Caligari stresses. There is no single textbook golf swing to suit all, he points out. The equipment should not be underestimated: “Golf clubs should be adapted to the player’s height and posture, and not vice versa.”
Mr Caligari helps his pupils to find the right swing for themselves as individuals. He works with them on their swing technique. “To achieve a more efficient swing, many golfers have to improve their physical fitness. If someone is willing to do this, I advise them to work with a sports physiotherapist,” adds Mr Caligari.
Bad Ragaz: A golfing paradise
Honed muscles and fitted clubs are only part of the story. Playing golf can only be real fun on a well designed, well maintained golf course. The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, in the picturesque Heidiland region, eastern Switzerland, has two such courses, which cater for the full range of golfing requirements. “Our 9-hole Executive Course at the Golf Club Heidiland is ideal for beginners,” suggests Ralph Polligkeit, Director of Golf & Sports at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz.
The par-62 course was designed by Peter Harradine. Its length of 3,638 metres offers perfect practice conditions and enjoyable play for beginners and more experienced players alike. It also boasts a good sized practice area and a superb layout. But the jewel in the crown is the Championship Course. “The Golf Club Bad Ragaz is one of Switzerland’s oldest, and the 18-hole Championship Course is numbered among the most traditional and beautiful in the country, with the finest facilities,” says Mr Polligkeit.
Golf legends wax lyrical
There is justifiable pride in Mr Polligkeit’s voice as he discusses the Bad Ragaz Golf Club’s membership of the Leading Golf Courses and mentions the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open, which is being held for the 18th time in July 2014. “Our Championship Course nestles in magnificent rolling parkland between two mountain ranges. Many pros on the European Senior Tour – including the golf legends Gary Player and Sir Bob Charles – wax lyrical about the spectacular view,” says Mr Polligkeit.
Senior Tour player Mr Longmuir agrees: “The landscape is breathtaking and the course is always in outstanding condition. The narrow fairways are very tricky. Every stroke must be carefully thought through and executed.”
The professional confesses to a love of old, high-altitude golf courses with small greens and confined landing areas.
Mr Polligkeit sounds a note of caution: “This is quite a short course, at 5,707 metres, but that doesn’t make it easy, even for long hitters.”
The 18th Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open
The 18th Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open will be contested on the Championship Course at Golf Club Bad Ragaz from 4–6 July 2014, with the tee-off featuring 72 of the world’s best professional golfers over the age of 50. The tournament has a prize fund of 280,000 euros, of which the winner will receive 42,000 euros. The Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open is the longest-running event on the European Senior Tour, which is held at the same courses every year. Among those vying for this year’s top honour will be defending champion Paul Wesselingh (England), 2012 champion Tim Thelen (USA) and 2011 champion Peter Fowler (Australia).
To find out more about the 18th Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open please visit: www.resortragaz.ch or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: +41 (0)81 303 30 30