Want to play good golf as you get older? This 58-year-old pro has a plan

Kirk Triplett

Kirk Triplett hits a shot during last October's SAS Championship.

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Kirk Triplett watched last weekend’s Genesis Invitational on TV. Riviera Country Club is one of his favorite courses — he finished 13th there at the ’95 PGA Championship. He watched, too, as winner Max Homa averaged just under 300 yards off the tee. As runner-up Tony Finau averaged just over 300. As Dustin Johnson averaged just under 310. 

As a 58-year-old player on the Champions Tour, Triplett hit his drives a little over 270 yards last year. 

“I see where guys are playing from and I just — even though I watch the young kids do it, like my son’s an aspiring professional so I play with he and his friends, even though you watch guys hit the ball 300 yards in the air, 315 in the air, when I turn it on and see it happen at a Tour event or at a course where I’m familiar with where I know exactly where my ball would have gone, it’s like wow,” Triplett said this week. 

“The skill level that these guys have is just incredible. I’m in awe of the regular Tour players, absolutely in awe.”

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This week, Triplett is playing the Cologuard Open on the 50-and-over Champions circuit, where even there, players are popping drives nearly 300 yards. Phil Mickelson, newly 50, was hitting drives around 350 yards during Friday’s first round. And yet, Triplett is not just playing, he’s winning. He’s won four tournaments since 2016, including two events two years ago. 

Has he hit into the Fountain of Youth? Not quite. About a decade ago, in the twilight of his PGA Tour run, Triplett said, he was taking a lesson from his regular instructor at Pebble Beach, and the conversation turned to how “these kids are swinging.” “And I said, ‘Look, I do not want to get better. I just want to get not so bad so fast, right?’” Triplett said. 

“I think that’s the thing as you’re an older player, that you recognize that, hey, there’s some physical stuff that’s getting away from me so how do I combat that.” 

What did he come up with? He has a ratio. 

“Well, I’ve got to make sure my short game stays sharp. I’ve got to think my way around the golf course better, maybe take a few less chances, have a few easier pars and wait for the birdies to come,” Triplett said. “I’ve got to be able to continue to practice and I’ve got to enjoy practicing. I think most of us, the reason we’re still out here, we don’t mind putting the time in.

“But to be able to practice is one super important thing. You’ve got to be healthy, so that’s the number one thing. Can you maintain your mobility, can you maintain your physical skills through practice?

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“I think my focus, instead of being 20 percent physical and 80 percent technique and golf practice, is rapidly approaching the other aspect. It’s more important for me to get a stretch, see the chiropractor, have the massage, continue to do the exercises that allow me to swing if not as full as I used to, then pretty close.”

But if that doesn’t work … 

“I always stand face-on in a press conference and I never get to the side so I don’t see how bad I look,” Triplett said.

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.