Brad Lardon knows his window for competing in big golf tournaments is closing, so he wants to enjoy every moment.
For the U.S. Senior Open, which begins Thursday at at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course in South Bend, Ind., Lardon decided it would be nice to bring his family — wife, Kim, and daughter, Lily — to watch him play. And he wants to meet a lot of old friends that the 54-year-old used to compete against when he was regularly playing professionally.
“It’s really nice to see old friends, and in this particular group, basically I’m playing the guys I did 25 years ago when I used to play the [PGA] Tour,” said Lardon, who is the director of golf at The Club at Las Campanas. “The difference is they never stopped playing, and I’ve been a working guy for most of the last 15 years.”
Lardon made the tournament by finishing as the runner-up at a qualifier at Las Campanas on May 28 with a 1-over 73. It’s not his first experience in a major. He competed in the PGA Championship — one of three times he’s done that — and the U.S. Senior Open in 2016. Lardon also was in three Senior PGA Championships and the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2004, playing through the weekend at Bethpage Black in 2002 to take 58th place.
Lardon’s goal is to make the cut, which he did four years ago at the U.S. Senior Open in 2015 and finished tied for 38th. Working at Las Campanas, Lardon said, makes it hard to find practice time to get ready for major tournaments since he’s coordinating events and schedules at the golf course. So, he tries to get an hour here and a couple of hours there to keep his skills sharp.
“I try sneaking in an hour after work, to hit a little bit here and there,” Lardon said. “I’m not like [golfer] Bernhard Langer, who is practicing eight hours a day getting ready for it.”
Lardon said that it’s hard to keep his game in top condition because of his position at Las Campanas. Add to that just the aches and pains that come with getting older, and Lardon knows he has only so many tournaments left before he has to call it a career. However, playing in such high-profile events helps Lardon keep up with the ever-evolving sport, and that benefits him with his day job.
“The game is still the most important to me, and I try to make all of my golf professionals keep up their game and learn how to teach,” Lardon said. “It’s just the business part of this. By playing at a high level, it helps keep me in touch with technology and serve my members better. They are the reason I get into these [tournaments]. Even if it takes me away for a couple of days or a week, I hope the members see the benefit in this.”
Lardon, who leaves Sunday for Indiana, said the goal is to get in as much time as he can on the course Monday and Tuesday before tapering his workload Wednesday so he is rested for Thursday’s opening round. However, he recognizes that practicing and walking the course for four or five hours straight is very difficult for someone not accustomed to that rigor. Doing it two days in a row is even more challenging.
“You’ve got to pace yourself and not get overtired,” Lardon said. “So, I’ll practice very hard on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday will be more of a nine-hole trip and a little practice. I’ve learned my lesson about overdoing it. My muscles aren’t used to hitting a lot of balls or walking 18 holes in a day on top of four hours of practice. I have to be mindful of that.”
While it might seem like all fun and games for a week, Lardon said he’d like to be able to make a little money. He said he typically spends about $5,000 for a trip to a major tournament, but this one will be a little more expensive because he’s bringing his family as well as caddie/secret weapon Ben Albin.
The Albuquerque Academy graduate, who lives in Las Campanas, played four years at Notre Dame from 2015-19 and brings a wealth of knowledge about the course for Lardon to use.
“It’s nice to have Ben, who has played the course over 500 times,” Lardon said. “That can help, no doubt about that. My job is to get myself prepared so I can execute the test in front of me.”
Hopefully, he can show his family that he’s still got it — for a few more years, at least.