Greg Norman and mature workers

I ran seven miles this morning. I’m 60. Well, so what? Actually, that’s a great response. And correct. So what? Thousands of people my age and older will be out today running, biking, walking, swimming, climbing Mt. Everest. You get the idea.

Then I read both the Akron Beacon Journal and The Plain Dealer. Lead sports story in both: Greg Norman who leads the British Open as I write this. (Final round is most likely just getting started in England.) Here’s The Plain Dealer story — with the subhead, “Norman on verge of rewriting history.”

And an update this morning from the Associated Press, “Norman tries to win an Open for the ages.”

SOUTHPORT, England (AP) — On another blustery day alongside the Irish Sea, Greg Norman tried to clinch a win for the ages.

The 53-year-old Aussie took a two-stroke lead into the final round Sunday of the British Open, seeking to become the oldest major champion in golf history.

The Shark, who married tennis great Chris Evert last month, was at 2-over 212 and going off in the final group of the day with defending champion Padraig Harrington. Now a part-time player, Norman hasn’t taken a lead into the last round of a major since the 1996 Masters, where his epic collapse cleared the way for Nick Faldo to claim the green jacket.

Interesting story here on a number of levels. First, Norman apparently doesn’t play much golf anymore — tennis mostly. And he decided to play in the British Open as part of an extended honeymoon. He was in the country with Chris Evert anyway. Why not give it a shot? Sweet. And maybe he’ll win the championship. If so, good. If not, well, OK. I don’t play golf and rarely watch it on TV.

What’s most interesting to me about this story is what it still says about how we view older (mature?) people in this country. Greg Norman is 53. He’s not 83. And something tells me that walking around a golf course while someone else hauls your bag is not the equivalent of running the Olympic marathon. Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open a month ago essentially playing five rounds on one leg.

Golf really is a difficult sport. When I played I spent so much time in the woods that people thought I had taken up a new career as a lumberjack. And the mental strain of competing in the British Open — forget the physical demands — must be incredible. Ever try to make a three-foot putt at the Country Club with $5 on the line?

Still, it’s not unreasonable for me to think that Norman — or anyone else at his age or older — could win the British Open. And maybe if I does — or someone does — it won’t be big news.

And that’s good. One of the big emerging issues in this country involves mature workers. How can we as a nation continue to take advantage of their (my?) skills and experience? What will companies, school systems, nonprofits, government agencies need to do to accommodate mature workers who both need and want to remain employed — although most likely have no desire to keep at it full time? There are some very thoughtful people throughout this nation considering these questions — even as Greg Norman is teeing off today.

Hope he wins. If nothing else, it would be a nice way to end the honeymoon.

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