U.S. SENIOR OPEN
Elway Gains New Appreciation for the Games of Senior Stars
June 30, 2018 | COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.
By Dave Shedloski
John Smoltz was sent to the showers after two rounds of the 39th U.S. Senior Open, but another celebrity athlete added glitz to the proceedings at The Broadmoor – albeit from the sidelines.
Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway took in the third round on Saturday, hanging out in the practice area and greeting some of the competitors on the first tee of the East Course. Now general manager of the Denver Broncos, Elway had hoped to join Smoltz in the field, but he had to settle for the role of honorary chairman of the championship.
Sporting a 2.5 handicap, Elway tried to qualify right here at The Broadmoor. "My goal was to break 80. I did not break 80. I shot 80. But it was a thrill for me to play in that situation," said the nine-time Pro Bowl player, who won two Super Bowls with the Broncos.
Elway, who celebrated his 58th birthday two days ago, didn't start playing golf until after his stellar college career at Stanford, so he has made a lot of progress to become a good amateur player. Being a talented athlete no doubt helped. He was a right fielder and pitcher at Stanford and was selected 52nd overall by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 1981 Major League Baseball draft.
"I was always involved in football and baseball, so I never had much time for golf," he said. "Then when I got to the NFL I had time in the spring and I got addicted to golf – and I have been ever since."
Elway, who wore a blue dress shirt, untucked and cream shorts as he roamed The Broadmoor, plays primarily at Cherry Hills in Denver and Castle Pines in Castle Rock. Trying to qualify at The Broadmoor gave him a better insight to this iconic championship venue.
"It was tough," he admitted. "I will tell you this, if I had to play golf in those conditions every day, I probably wouldn't play golf, that's how hard it is. That's why you look at what these guys are doing and how impressive it is and the way that they play. So it is fun to watch them play.
"You don't realize how well these guys play until you watch them up close," he said.
Like Smoltz and a lot of other retired athletes, Elway approaches golf as more than a source of enjoyment.
"I think at our age when we don't have a chance to play and compete anymore, this is our chance to get the competitive juices going, because for me I haven't lost them," he said. "Anytime I get a chance to compete I always enjoy it.
"And the thing is the older you get you think you're going to get better," he added, "but the age we're at now it's over the hill and going the other direction. Competitive juices never leave. The only thing is I think I get madder now than I used to."
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.