Roger Marolt: The young at heart never putt for dough
They say 60 is the new 40, so it’s no big deal to reach that milestone anymore. But, I don’t give a dang what “they” say. I’m turning 60 in March and making it a big deal. I’ve gone so far as to set goals to celebrate my diamond year: I want to …
— Ski S-1 in under 60 seconds. Powder days don’t count. And I have to go top dead center to bottom dead center, no cutting in from the sides. The first 50 yards defines S-1 like gray hairs and wrinkles mark me now. I may have to sacrifice a pair of skis to get through it’s rocky face, but that is what this iconic run is all about.
— Sprint 200 meters in under 30 seconds.
— Hit a baseball over the fence at the Snowmass ball field. That’s about 310 feet, if I pull it right down the left field line.
— Smash two 300-yard drives in the same round of golf. I don’t care if it is at altitude. This is all for show.
— Throw an NFL regulation football 50 yards.
— Dunk a basketball on a 10-foot rim. I know I can’t do this one, but it adds a little “wow” factor to the list. It’s here for aesthetics only. Nobody will ever know if I accomplish any of this, nor care, so I am going big.
You will notice there are no endurance events. That’s because making it to 60 is enough of an endurance event. I am on pace to make 60 in world record time, tied with everyone else that old. That’s good enough.
These are simple aspirations for a simple man. All I have to prove is that I am still young, that it is indeed possible to live comfortably in the past, and that enduring denial is more charming than chronic complaining.
If I had to cite inspiration for attempting these youthful things as an aging man, I would say it probably came from a famous Austrian-born Aspen local, Aderl Molterer. I tuned skis in his shop as a teenager. He always dressed in athletic wear, not because this was a fashion thing 40 years ago, but because he was constantly heading out to compete at something — skiing, tennis, golf, probably handball or squash, who knows what else.
My dad’s stories cemented him as an idol. Anderl was the Austrian national ski champion eight years straight. He won multiple gold medals in all the fabled ski races — the Kandahar, Hahnenkamm and Lauberhorn. He collected Olympic and World Championship hardware like Fred Sanford accumulated junk. He was known as “The Blitz from Kitz,” but local kids admiringly labeled him “The White Rat.” That was the coolest thing we could think of. In hindsight, we probably should have checked with him first.
I was a seriously late bloomer; so skinny that older kids dubbed me “The Scurvy Poster Child.” My father was not oblivious to this and he reminded me that his friend, Aderl, did not start ski racing until he was 16. This actually worked to bolster my confidence. Gangly was only a state of mind. I played big from that inspiration.
Anderl also aged like sourdough starter: always rising to the occasion. As a teenager, I tried to keep up with the White Rat on the slopes, practically every time I saw him. He was in his 50s then, when 50 wasn’t the “new” anything. It didn’t matter. I could not catch him. He was never intense about this. Beating a punk like me was not his accomplishment. He was simply happy to be able to do it.
Last I heard, Anderl was living in Florida playing a lot of golf, another sport he took up later in life than most. I feel sorry for his group of regulars. I don’t know if he ever made a list of things he wanted to still be able to do when he turned some milestone age, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
It’s not a vanity thing. In my mid-30s a spark of realization came. I wasn’t sprinting anymore. I hadn’t thrown a ball in years. I stopped jumping somewhere along the way. I didn’t balance anything but my checkbook. I was no longer hitting my drives for show. I craved acting like a kid again. I didn’t care if it made me live longer or look better, and still don’t. I yearn for the fun. Sixty is going to be great!
Roger Marolt thinks “putt for dough” is the worst advice you can give a middle-age man playing golf for dollar skins. email@example.com
On a recent September Saturday morning, I awoke with an intense yearning to lose myself in the mountains, disconnect from cell service, and rediscover why I decided to call Aspen home in the first place. Standing there, at the Cathedral Lake trailhead, I knew I was right where I needed to be.