Golfing legend Thomas Sturges Watson proves that age is just a number even when it comes to skydiving!
Late in April this year, Tom Watson did something amazing for himself. He unleashed another side of his sportsman persona by going skydiving for the very first time, adding a new facet of himself to his already impressive golfing career at age 67. Ageism aside, most people would be thinking of retiring or would have already retired during their 60s, but not Watson and his kind.
Watson recounted his experience to baseball Hall of Famer George Brett and ALS Director Greg Steinberg when the Kansas City sports icons came together on May 15th to show their support for the Joe McGuff ALS Golf Tournament at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate. Just like many other people, Watson felt a sense of trepidation even while he was already on the plane set to make his first jump up in the sky. But the thrill and excitement of skydiving is what Watson remembered fondly as he continued talking about his experience.
“Chute opens at 5,000 feet and it takes about seven minutes to do that. It was a rush!”
Watson had always wanted to experience skydiving—jumping off a plane, parachuting and landing, and when he mentioned his wishful thinking to friends in the Wounded Warriors Project, they got Watson in touch with the 82nd Airborne, an infantry division of the US Army specializing in parachute assault operations, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. They then arranged for Watson’s jump with the Golden Knights, the US Army Parachute Team, late in April. When the highly anticipated day finally came and after the plane reached an altitude of 14,000 feet, Watson was ready to let go of all his fears and just make the jump.
“You’re tethered to a guy who supposedly knows what he’s doing. His name is Joe Jones and he has made 8,000 jumps so I kind of felt a little comfortable with this guy who knew what he’s doing,” said Watson as Brett and Steinberg listened to his animated narration. “And it was fun and I actually showed my wife… we had a video of the guy. First guy, he gets out and there’s a rail outside the plane, and he’s got a GoPro camera right there, he’s got a wing suit… and he gets out and he climbs over there and tells you, you get out there. And Joe says ‘alright’ we push once and the second time, we’re out.”
“So he goes like this, and then whoosh! We’re out like this, and this guy, he jumps off the plane and he starts the video as we’re going down…”
The entire sequence of events was faithfully captured on a GoPro video, something Watson and his family can play over and over again to enjoy in retrospect. Going down at a speed of 120mph, Watson said the parachute opened at 5,000 feet, and he had a full seven minutes to experience his dramatic airborne experience while enjoying his view of Fort Bragg from the top. “Just to see that base there, that Fort Bragg, it’s something very special. It was a blast! It’s something you ought to do!” Watson said. Tom Watson’s been the kind of guy who sends golf balls flying off into the air.
This time, however, he got his first real taste of literally being up in the air, and he loved it.