Q & A with Brad Schmierer – Minnesota Senior Match Play Champion and Head Golf Professional at Hastings Country Club
By Libby Mehaffey
Q. For older players, those over the 50 mark, what do you suggest they do physically to keep in the game?
Five things. One, walk the course when you can. The exercise is good. Get a caddy if you can (although they are hard to find these days) or take a push cart. Two, stretch out before you play and learn a real stretching routine. This will help prevent injury. Three, drink lots of water. Everyone is dehydrated. You need fluids. Four, work your hands. I have several hand strengthening aids in my office I play with throughout the day. For me, a lot of my game lies in my hands so it’s important that I keep them strong and flexible. And lastly, take lessons in the winter. This is the best time of year to improve your game. I still take lessons regularly.
Q. And, building on that question, what kind of golf-oriented therapy do you do to keep active as a “senior” player?
In terms of therapy, I’ve tried it all – some of it helps, well it helps me anyways (laughing). I’ve done everything from Rolfing (which really hurts) to podiatry to acupuncture to Prolotherapy. For me, the best therapy has been Prolotherapy, which I undergo about four times a year. I also go to the chiropractor several times a year – it helps me keep things inline. Let’s see, I’ve also worn the copper Sabonna bracelets, tried the Q-Ray Ionized bracelet, taken Vitaplex – the list goes on, seriously, I’ve tried it all.
Q. Currently you hold the title as Senior Match Play Champion in Minnesota – a position you’ve held several times over the years. What does it take to be good at Match Play golf?
Well Match Play is a little bit different than stroke play in that your game is hole by hole – which takes some pressure off you as a player – and what I mean by this is if you loose a hole, you can come back and win the next one without the stress of strokes. If you believe you can beat an opponent you probably will. Visualization is key.
Q. Looking back at all of the Match Play tourneys you’ve played in – win or lose – what match has been the most memorable?
Two contests come to mind…last year I played Mike Barge, Head Teaching Pro at Hazeltine National, for the Senior Match Play title at Wayzata Country Club. Mike and I went to high school together in Fargo and he was my college roommate in Texas – he’s one of the best players in the Section. He and I had a great match and I took the win on the last hole – it was very exciting.
The other memorable match was way back in October 1986 when I played George Shortridge in the cold at Mendakota Country Club. After 22 holes, George won that match, but it was hugely exciting.
Q. You turned pro in 1976 and have been active on the golf scene ever since. What kind of changes have you seen over the years in terms of players?
When I started playing golf it was more about finesse, hands and timing, today it’s about power. Younger players are more focused on core body strength and the physical side of golf. Additionally, young players have far more advanced training with visual learning using video and television. I remember reading Ben Hogan’s Five Fundamentals of Golf and Jack Nicklaus’s “Golf My Way.” They are both great books and I still refer to them today, but the younger generation has a much bigger tool kit in terms of training aids.
Q. And, in that same line of thought, what are the most major changes you have seen in equipment over the years?
Wow – equipment has come a long way. I love the new sand wedges which work great for bunkering, hybrid clubs are a must, drivers are bigger and easier to hit, and shaft technology has improved ten-fold and helps prevent injury. And, the other thing that has really changed is the golf ball. This is the key for driving distance. All of these improvements make it easier for the average golfer to play the game – which is great. The more people who enjoy playing golf, the better for the game.