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Zahringer Banking On Long Career

George Zahringer may be 59 years old, but that has done nothing to diminish his competitive zeal when it comes to elite amateur golf. Or his ability to keep playing at a very high level. Consider, for example, that he made it to match play at this year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur, shooting 73-72 on a tough Conway Farms Golf Club course outside Chicago for a total of 145, just four back of the medalist. At that point, he decided to withdraw from a championship for which he has been exempt the past decade, after winning the Mid-Am in 2002 at the ripe old age of 49, so he could try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Amateur, which was to start at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, N.J., a week later. He then proceeded to get into that championship on the number, and made it to match play before being ousted in the round of 32. That’s pretty good work for the tall, slender and slightly balding New York private banker who grew up at the Westchester County suburb of Rye and has long lived in Manhattan. And it demonstrates that the fellow who has won a remarkable nine Metropolitan Golf Association Player of the Year awards in his career, as long ago as 1979 and as recently as 2007, has still got it.
Still crazy good after all these years.
Zahringer put together an impressive playing record as a young man. He repeated as Player of the Year in 1980, and then in 1982 captured the first of 15 MGA championships he would win over his career, the Metropolitan Amateur. Three years later, he became the first golfer in MGA history to win its Amateur and Open championships in the same season. And at the end of that decade, there was no doubt as to who was the best amateur golfer in and around New York. Those early successes would have been enough to cement Zahringer’s place in the pantheon on MGA greats for all time. But what he did later on, after the turn of the 21st century, lifted him to an even higher level. In 2001, he earned yet another Player of the Year award. Then, the following season, he not only won the medal at the U.S. Mid-Amateur, which was contested in front of friends and family on his home course at the Stanwich Club, but then took the actual championship, becoming at age 49 the oldest Mid-Am winner in history.
The next spring, Zahringer became the oldest first-time competitor in The Masters, and that fall represented the U.S. team at the Walker Cup matches at the Ganton Golf Club in North Yorkshire, England. Four years later, in 2007, he snagged the Player of the Year award from the MGA
for the ninth time. The obvious question is how Zahringer manages to keep doing it. Part of the reason, he says, is his physical fitness. “I am lucky in that I have good genes,” explains Zahringer, who has been a managing director at Deutsche Bank in New York since leaving a similar position at Bear Stearns four years ago. “My father is still quite active at 90, and my mother at 87. I have also had the advantage of living and working in New York for so long, which means I have to put my clubs away for anywhere from three to six months a year. My golf age is a lot less than my chronological age as a result, and I cannot help but think of Raymond Floyd once saying that a body has only so many golf swings.” “That makes it a little tricky to get back into competitive shape each spring, but it has helped my longevity,” he adds. “So has doing very golf-specific work with a trainer.” Zahringer says his “forced hiatus” from golf each winter also helps keep him fresh – and from ever getting burned out.
“It has actually been a blessing because it gives me the energy and enthusiasm I need to when it is time to start competing again,” he says. And he expects to keep on competing. “I’m only 59 years old,” Zahringer says, “I see guys out there who are three, four and five years older than me doing just fine, so I hope I can do it myself. I’ll keep playing in the national invitationals like the Coleman at Seminole and the George C. Thomas at Los Angeles Country Club. Of course, I will try to qualify for the Senior Amateur next year, but also the Mid-Am, as my 10-year exemption from winning in 2002 is done.” “Maybe even the U.S. Amateur,” he adds after a quick pause. “I am even thinking about that.” Clearly, Zahringer will be back out there in 2013. And beyond.


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