If you were going to advise a youngster to model their approach to golf on one player, who would it be? Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Charley Hull, Inbee Park, Georgia Hall, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Annika Sorenstam, Laura Davies?
How about Bernhard Langer?
Bet very few reading this chose the German.
That’s not surprising: Langer’s name isn’t often conjured up when it comes to the true greats of the game. With his two Masters titles – 1985 and 1993 – he sits in joint 47th place in the list of multiple major winners. That means there are 46 others many would see as more worthy of a role model than the man from Anhausen, Germany.
Langer has one thing rest can’t match: longevity. Few players in the history of the game have competed at the highest level for as long as Langer.
The 64 year old won his 42nd second Champions Tour title last weekend when he triumphed in the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in a playoff over Doug Barron. He is now just three wins shy of Hale Irwin’s record tally of 45 victories. However, as Ron Green Jr points out in Global Golf Post, Irwin teed it up 481 times on the American over-50s circuit. Langer’s Dominion win came in his 292nd appearance.
His victory made him the oldest player Champions Tour winner at 64 years, one month and 27 days of age. He’s on course to win the Champions Tour points race, the Charles Schwab Cup, which he’s already won five times.
“I think it’s just encouraging to everybody that’s over 50 or 60, we can still perform at a very high level and you should never give up,” Langer said. “There’s always room for improvement. And of course physical conditioning is one thing. You’ve got to be mentally tough, you’ve got to have good technique and nerves and all the rest of it.”
On a circuit that is more round belly than flat belly, to use Lee Trevino’s phrase below, Langer looks like he could still compete on the PGA Tour. Indeed, the 42-time European Tour winner, second only to the late, great Seve Ballesteros’ 50 wins, could probably still win on the European Tour circuit.
Langer’s enthusiasm for the game is as keen now as it was when he was going head to head against Seve on the European Tour.
“He works harder than about anyone I’ve ever seen,” Green Jr quotes Champions Tour competitor Scott McCarron. “He will win on Sunday then on Monday be at the next course, walking it, chipping and putting it even if he’s played it for 10 or 15 years.”
Langer holds the record for most senior major victories with 11, four of them coming in the Senior Open Championship. He finished fourth in that event at Sunningdale this year behind Welshman Stephen Dodd. After an opening 66 to tie for the lead with Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez, Langer shared his secrets to success.
"Eating lots of sauerkraut and sausages,” he joked before adding. "No, obviously I have pretty good genes I would think. My mother is going to be 98 in a couple of weeks. But I do work on it: I enjoy working out, I love playing golf, I love to walk, not sitting in a cart and all of that helps.
"Obviously to be successful you need more than fitness. You need good technique and have to be mentally tough and strong, and a good caddie and coach and hopefully a good private life and all that stuff. It's a puzzle and the pieces need to fit most of the time if you want to have longevity and success in this game."
Langer’s found most of the puzzle pieces to this auld game of gowf.
We can all learn from Langer’s longevity, especially aspiring tour professionals.
#JustSaying: “Why would I want to be out there with all those young guns? No sense playing the flat bellies when I can play the round bellies.” Lee Trevino
Photograph by Getty Images courtesy of the Legends Tour