The Mature Traveler

A Healthy Tone Means Being Active in Sports

September 27, 1987|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 25-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks

Though we mature travelers prefer not to be reminded of it, we all know that we have to endure certain losses with the (ugh) aging process. Vividly I recall when I could whomp my daughter on the tennis courts and my cannon-ball strike ball made people in the bowling alley sit up and take notice.

Today, however, if a young(er), muscled Adonis calls out on the tennis court that he's looking for a partner, I catch myself about to accept and then remember that though the spirit is willing, those slightly aching muscles won't slam those serves back the way they did 30 years ago.

Still, I enjoy sports. What I don't enjoy is looking feeble playing out of my league competing with far more agile youngsters.

Nonprofit Organization

That's where the National Senior Sports Assn. steps in with help for people like you and me. This nonprofit membership organization was created for people 50 and older who enjoy travel and sports and enjoy competing with those with similar handicaps brought on by an abundance of birthdays.

Founded by Lloyd Wright, a former senior communications executive with the American Assn. of Retired Persons, the sports association's mission is to encourage physical and emotional health through active sports participation.

"In the beginning," Wright says, "I felt that the physical benefit of NSSA's programming would be the most important contribution to members, keeping them actively involved in recreational and competitive sports activities.

"But now I'm convinced that the emotional benefit is of even greater value.

"Everybody," Wright says, "even President Reagan, jokes about certain losses that accompany the aging process--diminished vision, hearing, memory. But there's nothing funny about the most profound losses mature people experience: spouses, relatives, friends. Replacing new friends for these loved ones can be a difficult process for many people."

The sports association's outings are structured to achieve such goals, gaining a whole new circle of friends who share a common interest in golf, tennis and many common experiences.

At golf events, players are grouped by handicaps with pairings changed daily to enhance the development of friendships. Tennis tournaments use a "no-elimination" format, allowing all participants maximum court time for either competitive or recreational play.

Bowling events use a "no-tap" policy in which nine pins felled on the first ball count as a strike. Bowling and tennis tournaments offer a full schedule of singles, doubles and mixed-doubles games. And for non-playing spouses there are always special programs of tours, sightseeing or shopping excursions.

The events attract and accommodate people of all skill levels, even beginners.

"Our members tell us," says Wright, "that it's such a relief and pleasure to talk to someone who still remembers Glenn Miller, Dorothy Lamour and zoot suits.

"Though I founded NSSA some nine years ago to encourage physical health through active sports participation, I now believe the emotional rewards exceed the physical health benefit, although both are important goals."

The sports association organizes and conducts recreational and competitive tournaments in golf, tennis and bowling at resorts you've always wanted to visit.

Using group purchasing power and off-season scheduling, attractive package plans enable members to fulfill their dreams of sports-oriented travel and enjoy the fun of friendly competition or recreational play.

Among the trips being offered is a golf holiday in Acapulco, Dec. 10-16. Tour members will stay at the Pierre Marques Resort, which offers serene accommodations in 340 rooms including 132 casitas and six bungalows spread out along the longest stretch of beach in town.

Enjoy Both Properties

Just up the beach is the Acapulco Princess, with shuttle van transportation between the properties on a regular basis. Members enjoy all of the amenities of both properties.

In front of the Pierre Marques is one of two championship 18-hole golf courses where members will enjoy four rounds of golf during the outing, playing an opening round mixed-scramble format, followed by a 54-hole handicap tournament.

A city tour is scheduled for one day and non-players will have their own schedule of activities including an Acapulco Bay cruise. Package includes six nights' lodging, welcome cocktail, full American breakfasts daily, six dinners including an awards banquet, golf and cart fees for 72 holes, club handling and storage, prizes, taxes and gratuities related to package features.

The price is $775 per person for golfers based on double occupancy, $700 per person for non-players, $975 for golfers based on single occupancy and $900 for non-players based on single occupancy. Air fare is not included.

MICA Inc. of Farmington, Conn., is handling air travel and ground arrangements for the trip. Information: (800) 826-6011.

For details about the tours and information on becoming a member of the sports association, contact National Senior Sports Assn., 317 Cameron St., Alexandria, Va. 22314; (703) 549-6711.

Membership dues in the sports association are $25 a year with one payment covering member and spouse. The fee includes a monthly newsletter, discounts on auto rental, access to an association credit card and discounts on some sports equipment and apparel.

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We have clout! About 33 million Americans, ages 50 to 64, are approaching retirement years. This group will be one of the most affluent groups of retirees ever, with an after-tax income of more than $500 billion and with $60 billion in discretionary income. Its per-capita income is 25% above the national average.

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