18 Good Things About Golf: No. 12

12. Golf confers no necessary advantage on extreme youth. The average age of recent major tournament winners is thirty, a time of life by which professional football players are viewed either as has-beens or as medical anomalies. (The average retirement age in the N.F.L. is twenty-eight.) It’s not unusual for pros in their forties to compete successfully with players half their age. When Raymond Floyd turned fifty, in 1992, he seemed capable of dominating both the regular and the senior professional tours. Phil Mickelson didn’t win his first major until he was thirty-three, which is two years older than Roger Federer is now. Tom Watson nearly won a sixth British Open in 2009, when he was fifty-nine. Youth means less in golf than it does in other sports because golf is as much a mental game as a physical one. It rewards experience, poise, and strategic resourcefulness, just as life does, and it isn’t dominated by adolescent thugs.