For most folks, turning 50 usually isn't a glorious occasion. It's the dreaded milestone that you're officially old and on your way to the downhill side of life.
However, for Dan Forsman, his 50th birthday later this month can't come fast enough.
Forsman has been looking forward to it for at least four years, since he lost his exempt status on the PGA Tour and got weary of chasing the flatbellies on the PGA Tour. He's excited to join the Champions Tour, an exclusive club for golfers age 50 and older.
"For a while it seemed like 50 would never come," Forsman said this week from his home in Provo. "It's kind of like when the announcement was made about the Olympics coming to Utah and we had to wait all that time. But here I am at the doorstep."
Forsman turns 50 on July 15 and plans to get right after it, playing in the 3M Championship in Minnesota that week (July 18-20). Then he has a decision to make whether to fly to Great Britain to play in the Senior British Open at Troon the following week or to stay home and play at the Canadian Open on the regular tour, a tournament he's always enjoyed.
Then there's the possibility of playing in the U.S. Senior Open the week after that, something he'll try to qualify for Monday at the Ogden Country Club. However, once August hits, Forsman plans to start playing Champions Tour events on a regular basis, thanks to his exempt status on that tour for at least two years.
"I'm thrilled to have access to the Champions Tour," he said. "The Champions Tour is going to be a challenge. There are a lot of great players out there and the level of play is very challenging. I want to win, obviously, but hopefully my results will be good."
It's not as easy as it once was to be exempt for the Champions Tour, which has tightened things up in recent years in an effort to keep more name players on its tour. Even Utah's Mike Reid, who'd won two PGA tournaments and more than $4.6 million, was on the borderline for exempt status.
However, Forsman has been assured he's in good shape thanks to his $8,646,002 earnings on the PGA Tour, which puts him high enough on the all-time money list to be exempt.
Forsman won five times on the PGA Tour, starting with a win at the Quad Cities Open in 1985 and winning again 17 years later at the SEI Pennsylvania Classic. In between, he won the Bay Hill Classic in 1986, the Shearson-Lehman Hutton Open in San Diego in 1990 and the Buick Open in 1992.
Although his best money season was 2002, when he pocketed $1.3 million, his best overall season was 1992, when he finished 10th on the money list with a win and three second-place finishes. The following year he came close to winning the Masters, done in by a quadruple-bogey 7 at No. 12 in the final round.
From his rookie year in 1983 until 2003, Forsman finished among the top 125 money-winners every year except one. After losing his exempt status in 2004, Forsman has continued to play well enough to earn close to $1 million.
But unlike many senior players who have a gap between their regular and Champions Tour days, Forsman kept playing and did pretty well most of the time.
"I felt like I needed to keep playing and, if I didn't, it would be difficult to play well and keep producing," he said. "If I could keep playing regularly, I could keep my nerves in check."
After missing his first three cuts this year, Forsman has made four straight. Just last week, Forsman made the cut at the Buick Open in Michigan and earlier in the month he tied for 18th at Memphis and banked $75,000. He said his recent good play has been a result of improved putting.
"My putting is starting to come back; I'm more confident with the blade," he said. "We all get caught up in theory, but I just got back to the basics, like keeping my head still."
At 6-foot-4, Forsman is one of the tallest players on the PGA Tour. Anyone who's been around him at all will also tell you he's one of the nicest as well. He's always friendly and, unlike some players who clam up when they're not playing well, Forsman has always been accessible and easy to talk to.
A native of Wisconsin, Forsman grew up in northern California and played for Arizona State. While he was in college, he played at Provo's Riverside Country Club in the Pacific Coast Amateur and met his future wife, Trudy, who was working as a hostess at the tournament.
The Forsmans eventually settled in Provo and have lived there for more than 20 years, raising two children.
After playing on the PGA Tour on nearly a full-time basis since 1983, Forsman is looking forward to the Champions Tour's less grinding format, where the fields are smaller and most tournaments don't require a cut.
Forsman says he plans to take Trudy with him as much as possible. They don't have to worry about leaving young children at home, as their oldest son, Ricky, attends BYU, and Tommy will start this fall at Utah Valley, where he will play for the golf team.
"Tour life is hard on spouses; it's a tough lifestyle," he said. "I'll take Trudy as much as she feels comfortable. She's kind of excited about it. It's going to be fun."
Although he's been seriously preparing for his new career on the Champions Tour, Forsman isn't all about golf 24/7. He finds time to fish, hike, go to the theater and enjoys traveling to places besides golf tournaments.
Forsman is looking forward to meeting up again with good friends on the Champions Tour. He's calls himself "blessed" to have been able to play with the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer at the start of his career and players such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in recent years.
Looking back, Forsman recalls the thrills of first making it on the PGA Tour, winning his first event just two years later and then adding four more wins, contending at majors and playing consistently right up until the age of 49.
"I'm very grateful I've had a lengthy career," Forsman said.
Years on PGA Tour: 26
Career earnings: $8,645,990
Top 10s: 64
Top 25s: 161
Cuts made: 401 of 541
E-mail: [email protected]