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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Golf Digest: Is Jim Kaat the first golfer to shoot his age as a switch-hitter?

Give that man a FootJoy SciFlex Glove…or 16.

Kaat, who turned 75 on Nov. 7, shot his age on Dec. 7 at McArthur Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla., a Tom Fazio-Nick Price work. That alone makes him one of just thousands who have shot their age. But Kaat’s 75 was as a righthander, and together with three other age-shooting rounds he’s had from the left side, the feat makes Kaat the first golfer we’ve chronicled who has shot their age from both sides of the ball.

More proficient as a lefthander, the lefty hurler had shot his age from that side at age 70, 74 and on Nov. 24 at age 75. Because of his two-sided ability, he often found it enjoyable to grab a caddie and play a round from both sides of the ball, in essence playing a match of Righty vs. Lefty. It was in such a match on Dec. 7 that Kaat, with caddie Mike Adamson, shot a 78 lefthanded and had a 12-footer on 18 to shoot 75 righty. Knowing exactly where he stood, Kaat drained the putt, turned to Adamson and said, “Do you know what that meant? I just shot my age.”

...As time went on, and Kaat developed the yips with short-game shots while playing around 1994 at Sailfish Point in Stuart, Fla., member Gerald Barnett suggested he try hitting shots from around the green lefty. “I was humbled for awhile, whiffing and topping,” Kaat said. But he soon became better lefthanded, and now hits the ball about a club and a half longer from that side. When he shot his righthanded 75, Kaat played McArthur from 6,000 yards righty and 6,400 lefty. (Kaat is diligent with his scorekeeping, maintaining two GHIN numbers, and yes, he knows his right from his left.)

Kaat, who plays mainly at McArthur and at the classic Walter Travis Ekwanok Country Club in Manchester, Vt., has longevity in his athletic pursuits. He played MLB until age 44, and now is playing well on the golf course in his 70s. Working both sides of the body is something more trainers are promoting, and the physical act of swinging from both sides is something Kaat advocates. He believes it has kept his body flexible and in good alignment. Kaat has a case of scoliosis, so after playing lefthanded a few rounds in a row, it is physically helpful that he play from the other side to keep his spine aligned. He’ also does Pete Egoscue’s training and flexibility exercises, made famous by Jack Nicklaus’ use of them.

Repoz Posted: December 19, 2013 at 06:55 PM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: golf

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   1. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 19, 2013 at 07:35 PM (#4621321)
Jim Kaat in 1974 had one of the greatest months in the history of MLB.

In Sept. he went 7-0 6 CG 2 SHO 60.2 IP 2 ER! 36 H 11 BB

Anybody remember what led to his second run of success after coming over to the White Sox?


   2. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: December 19, 2013 at 07:51 PM (#4621330)
Nice month, but he only did it from the left side.
   3. BDC Posted: December 19, 2013 at 08:29 PM (#4621349)
Anybody remember what led to his second run of success after coming over to the White Sox?

Kaat, in his youth, had a fairly typical big wind-up and follow-through. (Search for 1965 WS videos to see it.) Starting when he went to Chicago and joined Johnny Sain, he went to a remarkable no-windup delivery, and started working very, very fast. I didn't follow AL ball in those days, but Kaat came to Philadelphia when I was a Phillies fan. I can't find video of Kaat pitching for the Phillies, but I swear he never lifted his leg much higher than this :) He'd kind of fling the ball easily while standing almost straight up, as I remember it; my memory is surely exaggerated, but that was the effect.
   4. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 19, 2013 at 08:37 PM (#4621355)
Kaat, who turned 75 on Nov. 7, shot his age on Dec. 7 at McArthur Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla., a Tom Fazio-Nick Price work. That alone makes him one of just thousands who have shot their age. But Kaat’s 75 was as a righthander, and together with three other age-shooting rounds he’s had from the left side, the feat makes Kaat the first golfer we’ve chronicled who has shot their age from both sides of the ball.


First of all, anyone who has ever played golf knows that shooting a 75 is just awesomely good. To do it as a septuagenarian is an unreal feat. To do it both lefty and righty is, well, I'm at a loss for words. There probably isn't more then 5 other people in the world that could pull of something like this.
   5. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 19, 2013 at 08:47 PM (#4621357)
I like the way golf scoring works to make "shooting your age" a thing that's impressive at any age.
   6. BDC Posted: December 19, 2013 at 09:06 PM (#4621362)
"shooting your age" a thing that's impressive at any age

I think I finally managed it in Putt-Putt when I turned 45.
   7. puck Posted: December 19, 2013 at 10:19 PM (#4621394)
First of all, anyone who has ever played golf knows that shooting a 75 is just awesomely good. To do it as a septuagenarian is an unreal feat. To do it both lefty and righty is, well, I'm at a loss for words. There probably isn't more then 5 other people in the world that could pull of something like this.


I never imagined anyone was masochistic enough to play golf with their off hand.
   8. Lassus Posted: December 19, 2013 at 10:22 PM (#4621398)
First of all, anyone who has ever played golf knows that shooting a 75 is just awesomely good. To do it as a septuagenarian is an unreal feat. To do it both lefty and righty is, well, I'm at a loss for words.

That is basically insane, yes.
   9. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: December 19, 2013 at 11:00 PM (#4621418)
I never imagined anyone was masochistic enough to play golf with their off hand.


It's an odd thing. I am not ambidextrous, but with a little training and practice I can hit the ball reasonably well left handed. I also taught myself to throw left handed and can do that pretty well (it hurts when I throw with my right with any effort).

I have a chipper in my bag that is two sided, so if I find myself up against a tree or otherwise have a shot that can't be hit right handed, but can be hit lefty, I use it.

I have read that, like hitting baseball, there's no actual advantage to playing from your natural side. Hitting a golf ball lefty is just as easy regardless of what hand dominated you are. And I'm assuming most here know this, but that's also true in baseball.
   10. Tubbs Posted: December 19, 2013 at 11:09 PM (#4621424)
I'd really like to see the HOF put all non-players on their own separate ballot rather than include them with players on the Exp, Golden, & Pre-Int Era ballots (Al Reach, Danny Murtaugh, Sam Breadon, George Steinbrenner,etc could all share one ballot) and have a great pitching coach like Johnny Sain or Dave Duncan get on the ballot.

Also, I wouldn't mind seeing Kaat get in on the next Golden Era vote, although Minnie Minoso is the top priority
   11. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: December 20, 2013 at 12:21 AM (#4621442)
This is just amazing. It doesn't even seem possible.
   12. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 20, 2013 at 12:23 AM (#4621444)
It's an odd thing. I am not ambidextrous, but with a little training and practice I can hit the ball reasonably well left handed.

I'd give my right arm to be ambidexterous
   13. Shredder Posted: December 20, 2013 at 12:37 AM (#4621448)
I've busted 75 plenty of times, but I'm 40, and I couldn't imagine doing it left handed. That's awesome. My greatest golf feat is walking 126 holes (7 rounds) in one day and putting up my best number in round number six (-1, 70) at my club in Michigan. I couldn't break 120 left handed though.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: December 20, 2013 at 12:49 AM (#4621457)

Arnold Palmer always said he thought golfers were better off playing "the opposite hand" - Bob Charles, among the greatest lefty golfers, was right-handed. That said, doing it both ways at that age so well is insane.

I broke 80 once in my life on a full-length par-72 course, shooting a 78 when I was 16.
All downhill from there....

   15. boteman digs the circuit clout Posted: December 20, 2013 at 01:53 AM (#4621478)
I never imagined anyone was masochistic enough to play golf with their off hand.


FTFY!

"I shoulda yelled TWO!!"
   16. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: December 20, 2013 at 02:52 AM (#4621491)
Breaking 80 the first time , and then 75 is quite a feeling. Even if it is simply a casual round, you're still competing to break a number, and the pressure builds on that back nine, I'll never forget those rounds. 73 on a 71 is my best to par score, I do have a couple one under 9 hole rounds. A decade later, two kids and playing maybe 4 rounds, mostly scrambles, a year, I'd have a hard time breaking 85. I am relieved that I do have a hole in one. I'd hate to go through life without one. I really want to roll a 300 and retire from bowling forever, my good bowling days are long over with. Kaat's rounds….just, wow.
   17. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: December 20, 2013 at 04:59 AM (#4621509)
Golf is hard, but luckily, it's boring.
   18. Rafael Bellylard: A failure of the waist. Posted: December 20, 2013 at 05:23 AM (#4621511)
I really want to roll a 300 and retire from bowling forever, my good bowling days are long over with. Kaat's rounds….just, wow.


Don't give up on the 300. I've got two of them, and they were 22 years apart.

I've never broken 100 at golf. I've come within 6 inches of a hole in one:
1) I pulled the drive, hit a tree and it ricocheted to 6", and,
2) I missed the putt.
   19. Bug Selig Posted: December 20, 2013 at 09:37 AM (#4621541)
I have a chipper in my bag that is two sided,


That, Sir, is contrary to the rules.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 20, 2013 at 09:42 AM (#4621545)
I'm happy enough when I break 90 (4 times in my life).
   21. Astroenteritis (tom) Posted: December 20, 2013 at 10:20 AM (#4621556)
Yes, that's an amazing feat. I've only broken 75 once (I'm a garden variety 12 handicapper), but doing that from both sides is incredible. I've always heard that playing from your non-dominant side was a slight advantage in golf. I'm extremely left handed, but play golf righty, and I can barely hack recovery shots out left handed, when necessary. If I spent the next two years playing and practicing left-handed, I seriously doubt if I could break 90.

My greatest golf feat is walking 126 holes (7 rounds) in one day


OK, that is a feat. I've only managed 72 in one day, and 18 of those were in a cart. I did walk 54 holes on a day when the high temp was 103, but that's not uncommon in Texas.
   22. Lassus Posted: December 20, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4621566)
My greatest golf feat is walking 126 holes (7 rounds) in one day

That definitely seems like a feat, but... I love golf and have played all my life and can't really see myself enjoying that. But maybe. Never tried.

As long as we're listing golf feats, I've broken 80 twice, but that doesn't come close to what I consider my greatest feat, breaking 90 on Bethpage Black from the blues (or whatever one up from the Championship tees was that day), using only one ball for the entire round.
   23. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: December 20, 2013 at 11:01 AM (#4621578)
I can putt. I can use a wedge, but I never learned to drive so it has pretty much strictly been Par 3 for me.
   24. dlf Posted: December 20, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4621593)
I was never an athlete. But before kids, I played golf all the time, often enough to no longer be embarassingly bad. 5+ rounds every week nearly year 'round -- living in Alabama did have some advantages. Once, on a short, flat and wide open course (River Run in East Montgomery), I broke 80 with a closing birdie on 18. Now with kids and a more demanding job (not too demanding as I still have time to read BTF daily) I hope to get out more than half a dozen times in a year and dream about breaking 90.
   25. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 20, 2013 at 11:27 AM (#4621600)
I was never an athlete. But before kids, I played golf all the time, often enough to no longer be embarassingly bad. 5+ rounds every week nearly year 'round -- living in Alabama did have some advantages. Once, on a short, flat and wide open course (River Run in East Montgomery), I broke 80 with a closing birdie on 18. Now with kids and a more demanding job (not too demanding as I still have time to read BTF daily) I hope to get out more than half a dozen times in a year and dream about breaking 90.


Mostly similar story. Broke 80 once, back in my pre-kids days when I played frequently. Oddly, despite only playing about 6-9 times a year, I'm frequently in the mid to low 80s today.

My highlights were a couple of aces, recorded three weeks apart but almost 25 years ago.

Not only can't I imagine breaking 75 from both sides of the ball, I don't think I'd ever heard of a golfer who would play from both sides. Kaat's feat is remarkable.

   26. Lassus Posted: December 20, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4621609)
My highlights were a couple of aces, recorded three weeks apart but almost 25 years ago.

Never yet. Closest has been about a foot.
   27. puck Posted: December 20, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4621626)
I have read that, like hitting baseball, there's no actual advantage to playing from your natural side. Hitting a golf ball lefty is just as easy regardless of what hand dominated you are. And I'm assuming most here know this, but that's also true in baseball.

Well, aside from the fact you've probably been training your natural side for awhile.
   28. oscarmadisox Posted: December 20, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4621814)
14 - Phil Mickelson is right-handed. The only thing he does left-handed is play golf

Mickelson the Mudhen
   29. AT-AT at bat@AT&T Posted: December 20, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4621905)
I've never broken 100 at golf. I've come within 6 inches of a hole in one:
1) I pulled the drive, hit a tree and it ricocheted to 6", and,
2) I missed the putt.


Feel the pain !
   30. dlf Posted: December 20, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4621931)
My highlights were a couple of aces, recorded three weeks apart but almost 25 years ago.

Never yet. Closest has been about a foot.


My personal best round included a shot that hit the flag stick on a short (~115 yard) par 3 and stopped less than two inches from the hole. I do have one eagle in a different round. Chipped in from the fringe after going over a short-ish par 5 in two. I've never even seen a hole in one live; the closest was a friend who put his first ball into a pond fronting the hole, then teed up his third and drained it for the oddest par I've seen.

My last round started off birdie, bogey, birdie, double, birdie, triple. Unfortunately, the first, third, and fifth holes were the exceptions while the second, fourth, and sixth are the norm.
   31. Howie Menckel Posted: December 20, 2013 at 06:46 PM (#4621939)

"Phil Mickelson is right-handed. The only thing he does left-handed is play golf"

as far as you know

...........

"Breaking 80 the first time , and then 75 is quite a feeling. Even if it is simply a casual round, you're still competing to break a number, and the pressure builds on that back nine, I'll never forget those rounds."

yes, I had a bogey 6 on the 18th hole in shooting that 78. and when I first got started, I could NOT break 100 while coming close every single round.

"I am relieved that I do have a hole in one."

me too

"I'd hate to go through life without one."

really? #greedy :)
   32. Shredder Posted: December 21, 2013 at 03:17 PM (#4622213)
That definitely seems like a feat, but... I love golf and have played all my life and can't really see myself enjoying that. But maybe. Never tried.
Late response, but it was actually a lot of fun, though pretty physically grueling over the last 20-30 holes or so. I carried about 8 clubs, and four of the rounds were with caddies. It was a charity event, but my club is a pretty difficult walk. There were five of us who did that day. What people don't realize is that walking 18 holes in a four hour round is just as draining as walking 36 holes in four hours. That standing around takes more out of you than you realize. We were playing in about 1:50 pace. Some of us even faster than that. Though one of the rules is that you had to hole out on every hole.

My friend Jim, who started the whole thing a few years ago, did it four times in a couple weeks this year. 155 at Ballyneal in Colorado, then 100+ rounds at Pinehurst, Cabot Links in Nova Scotia, and the Old Course in St. Andrews. What was weird about the end of that day was that the most comfortable position to stand in was over the ball. Walking hurt like hell, but my swing was fine. My drive on the 125th hole may have been my best drive of the day.

As for breaking thresholds, I've discovered that it's really hard to get over the hump, but the first time it happens, it happens pretty easily. Like the first time you break 80, it's rarely with a 79. It's with a 75 or something, where you just obliterate it. I finally broke 70 a couple years ago, and I did it with a 66 (on a par 70 course). But I don't think I've broken 70 since.
   33. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 21, 2013 at 04:43 PM (#4622247)
As for breaking thresholds, I've discovered that it's really hard to get over the hump, but the first time it happens, it happens pretty easily.


The first time I broke 90, I shot an 80. And it was an easy 80.
   34. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: December 21, 2013 at 05:33 PM (#4622259)
The reason I'm glad I got a hole in one, is just the large volume of rounds I played, and then you see or hear about people getting them who suck balls at golf, and rarely play. You like to think that being a good ball striker, that you'd be rewarded at least once, that's all I'm saying about being happy about getting one. I have come oh so close many other times, just pin seeking shots, short hopping stick and other close calls. I will say, I've had a bony of chip ins and sand shot hole outs.
   35. Shoebo Posted: December 22, 2013 at 12:03 AM (#4622365)
I Skyped with my Dad this morning. He told me he just shot his age last week. He's 81.



   36. Shoebo Posted: December 22, 2013 at 12:06 AM (#4622366)
The first time I broke 90, I shot an 80. And it was an easy 80.


Yeah, first time I broke 80 I shot a 76, and I lipped out 3 times from less than 5 feet.

I haven't broken 80 in 10 years.

I've only broken 90 about 3 or 4 times this year. I suck at golf now. But I did have a hole in one in October, so that was cool.
   37. Rafael Bellylard: A failure of the waist. Posted: December 22, 2013 at 01:48 AM (#4622395)
As for breaking thresholds, I've discovered that it's really hard to get over the hump, but the first time it happens, it happens pretty easily.


I never had that at golf, but had two moments like that at bowling.

When I was 12, and had been bowling for about a year, my high series was 398, and I couldn't seem to get over the hump for 400. Then, on consecutive weeks, I shot 532 and 541, the latter including my first 200+ game (212). I don't believe I've ever shot under 400 since.

About 20 years later, I'd had a dozen series' between 690 and 699 without ever breaking 700. All of a sudden, out pops a 209-288-279=776.

I'd give it all back if I could once shoot 80 at golf.

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