South Fayette man chasing 5th Senior Amateur golfing title
At 64, Paul Schlachter admits his age is affecting his golf game — but not enough to stop him from going for his fifth Pennsylvania Golf Association Senior Amateur championship in August.
“You have to pace yourself, get rest and stretch,” Schlachter said of his preparation. “It's a very interesting thing, getting older.”
The South Fayette resident is eighth in Golfweek's senior amateur rankings, and in May won the Pennsylvania Senior Match Play Championship for the fourth time, adding to an impressive resume.
Schlachter modestly attributes his success to hard work and some luck, but his peers see it differently.
“Paul's a very smart player, a very gifted player,” said Jim Antkiewicz, the pro at the Club at Nevillewood. “It is evident by all his success.”
Schlachter is one of two players to have four or more PAGA Senior Amateur victories. He holds 13 state senior amateur championship titles; has won four Pennsylvania Senior Amateur Player of the Year awards; competed in two United States Golf Association Senior Amateur Championships; received Golfweek National Senior Player of the Year honors in 2007; and holds course records at several golf clubs across the nation — including a 59 at Nevillewood, where he's been a member since its 1992 inception.
“It's been really good for a lot of different reasons,” Schlachter said of his time playing golf.
Although age and a sore back sometimes limit his time on the links, Schlachter still enjoys every minute he's out there — even if it means playing four rounds in 32 hours like he did to take the senior match play title or an astounding 14 rounds in 15 days.
“Things like that are harder, but what are you going to do?” Schlachter said with a laugh. “That's just the way the schedule is.”
In October, Schlachter and partner Rick George won the Trans-Mississippi Senior Four-Ball at Bandon Dunes in Oregon. At the beginning of the calender year, Schlachter claimed the Kingsway Senior Invitational in Lake Suzy, Fla., with a three-round final score of 218. All events are preparation for the 54th PAGA Senior Championship in August. Schlachter could become the second player to ever secure five titles, a record he hopes to one day claim solely for himself.
“I would be very proud of that,” Schlachter said.
Whether it's getting to the range to practice his drives or familiarizing himself with a certain course, Schlachter takes pride in fine-tuning the little things in his game, which has helped him become consistent over the years.
“I've never seen anybody devote himself more to his golf swing improvement than Paul. He works relentlessly and tirelessly on trying to become a better golfer from the standpoint of practice and instruction,” said Antkiewicz, the 2008 PGA Golf Professional of the Year.
Schlachter, a retired Upper St. Clair history teacher, never looked to pursue golf seriously when he was younger and only started playing more when rec sports such as baseball and softball became too physically demanding. He joined his first golf club in his mid-30s and has been playing almost daily ever since.
“I've always been a competitor in whatever I played,” Schlachter said. “Golf has become the latest sport.”
With the big 6-5 looming, Schlachter will be eligible to compete in super-senior events, but that's something he doesn't want to think about anytime soon.
“I don't know if I'm going to do that. I think I'm starting to notice (my age),” Schlachter said.
Like many successful players, Schlachter vividly remembers the ones he left on the course, and he downplays his many accomplishments.
“Looking back, I've done fine. I probably could have had a couple more,” Schlachter said.
“I'm not the best player around, but I've been a pretty good player.”
Justin Criado is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.