Senior Golf: Making the Transition

Dan Gold
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The Top 3 Ways Golf Changes As You Get Older

Taking the time to invest in improving your golf game is both a rewarding experience and a necessity for anyone who wants to be competitive. Whether you’re just taking your first steps, or you’re looking to expand your game, following along with a professional trainer can make all the difference.

With that said, it’s also important to recognize that there are many changes to your game that are out of your control as you get older. Consider these three ways things change as you get older that may be offset by some great advantages.

Getting old isn’t just about the number of candles on your birthday cake. The human body responds to the aging process at a much slower rate than time. As you get older, you begin to lose muscle mass, which affects your abilities to swing the club as powerfully or as consistently as you once did. Your flexibility decreases, making it tougher to maintain a proper posture during your swing. Worse yet, balance issues may make it difficult to move quickly from one position to another during the swing without losing your balance.

Less Strength

If you are a senior, you can expect reduced speed and endurance.

Golf is one sport where age plays a very important role. For this reason, it is very important to consider your level of strength and endurance in relation to how fast you want to play.

The reality is that there is a direct correlation between age-related strength and endurance and how fast you play golf.

If you are a senior who wants to play faster, you should work on your strength and endurance. You can clear this hurdle with the following two steps:

Work on your strength by doing strength training in the gym and/or by using resistance bands.

Work on your endurance by doing endurance exercises.

If you don’t want to be completely dependent on strength and endurance and still want to play the game as fast as you can, you will need to practice to build your speed.

Less Flexibility

Some people make the mistake of the assuming that as you age your body will make the transition to golf naturally. In reality, an older body is a very different body. That is why it is so important to design an exercise program that will allow you to become a good golfer. Let’s go over some of the more common changes that take place as you age.

The first thing that happens is a slow down in flexibility. It is a fact of approaching age that as we get older, our flexibility will begin to suffer. Flexibility limits the range of motion we have in our arms, legs, and core. So, instead of being able to swing your golf club easily, you may have to strain to get the club fully through the downswing, and ultimately develop a bad back. If your flexibility is limited, then try to strengthen your muscles to compensate for the lack of flexibility.

Worse Vision

The ability to see and then to visually process what you see are the first steps to swinging a golf club proficiently.

The success of these first two steps are dependent on an individual’s physical ability to open and achieve a defined rhythm. Not everyone is the same. Some golfers are more dependent than others on this physical prowess to compete without compensating for poor physical ability.

In the geriatric population, a large number of golfers have diminished physical ability, which leads to compensatory motions. Consequently, the need to identify the compensatory techniques that a specific individual is using and then use the best corrective technique becomes an important part of their physical training.

Decreased Vision and Motion

The need for physical, mental, and technical consistency.

Contrasted with younger players, the geriatric and senior golfer will benefit from a corrective exercise program. More often than not, this program will include a exercise program of strength and flexibility.

Golf Exercises for Seniors: How to Adapt to Swing Changes

To maintain muscle endurance, you need to do specific exercises. Walk around the golf course as much as possible. This is a very simple workout but it can contribute a lot to the health of your golf game. You can also bring along some golfing gloves if you feel the need to strengthen your grip. When using a golf bag, the pull cord is a great exercise for your muscle endurance.You can find more good muscle endurance golf exercises at Golf Fitness and Training, a site run by Major Jason Ressler.

Your goal should be to play for several hours a week.

You need to get consistent practice if you want to keep your muscle endurance. You will start losing it as soon as you stop playing golf.

Your swing will also deteriorate if you stop playing golf on a regular basis. So make sure that you play regularly.

As you get older, you will have to make changes to your golf swing to adjust to your reduced flexibility, muscle strength, and posture. Although you may be less flexible than before, increase the resistance in your muscles by adding light weights on your ankles. Increase the resistance every week. This will challenge your muscles and make them stronger.

Using lighter clubs should also be part of the game. There is no need to have extra weight on your shoulders.

Own Your Pre-Round Warm Up Before The Course

Going to the golf range to prepare for your game may seem like a no-brainer, but there’s a good chance that you are doing it wrong, especially if you are a senior golfer. Some of the things you’ve been doing for years may not be in sync with your training and your golf fitness levels.

So, what exactly is a good warm-up for a senior golfer?

That is what we’ll focus on here, by providing you with the details of a senior golfer’s ideal warm-up routine.

While it’s not something your instructor will likely mention in their lessons, it’s important that you understand the workout that’s getting your body to its peak performance levels for your game.

Interestingly, a physiotherapist at Golf Federation Victoria has developed a routine that focuses on getting your body prepared in the best possible way for your golf game. The program is aimed at beginners all the way up to the best PGA players.

Let’s take a look at the routine.

How to Warm Up at the Course

Warming up before you tee off is an essential aspect of golf. It is imperative that you are physically prepared to hit your best shots, get the most out of your day, and enjoy the experience. A good warmup will improve your play with simple adjustments to your swing.

A warmup should not be time-consuming. Although it may be tempting to spend an additional five minutes on the driving range, research has proven that golfers who take less time warming up give higher scores. The warmup period should last for ten to fifteen minutes. The most important aspect is to move briskly so that you get the blood flowing to your muscles.

Some good ways to warm up before you tee off include:

  • Wrist rotations
  • Arm rotations
  • Upper body stretches
  • Jog around the green
  • Putt
  • Hitting balls
  • Jump Rope

These are all excellent tools to help you warm up your body and mind and loosen up your muscles before you take your shot.

Keep Exercising

Keeping up with an exercise regime will prove to be harder than you think. It is easy to get complacent with the sedentary routine of everyday life. Remembering to exercise on a regular basis will be easier if you include certain habits into your daily routine. For example, a good way to start the day will be to exercise first thing when you wake up. You can either wake up half an hour earlier or exercise before doing your normal morning routine.

If you are retired, then chances are you spend a lot more time at home and therefore have time to exercise. You won’t want to settle for the daily walk around the block. You should find an exercise program that is suited to you. It could be yoga or a dance class. Whatever it is, it should be something new and exciting that will keep you motivated.

Having helped many senior golfers, I know that they love to play, and as long as they can, they will also continue to play. But when they do choose to retire, being comfortable with the transition and having options to keep themselves in the game will keep them motivated.

Practice Yoga

Types of Swings for Seniors

The game of golf offers a lot of challenges and choices for the more experienced player. It is true that the beginning of the game is faster paced than the more advanced levels, but with age, the pace does slow down.

This is when golfers reach a crossroad in the game and have to decide which type of swings they will use to play.

The different types of senior swings will be discussed in this post. I will take a look at the different golf styles that the older crowd is known to play.

There are three types of golf swings usually used by senior players that I will discuss:

Full Swing … A traditional swing that is mostly used by novices

Change Your Setup

Although the physical changes occur at different times for every golfer, we can assume that the forced changes in physical abilities will occur much sooner than the psychological changes. However, these in turn also are affected by the physical changes.

The physiological changes in your body include reduced flexibility, increased muscular stiffness, lower range of motion, weaker muscles, and all of those wonderful aches and pains that go along with the aging.

Add to these the inevitable wear and tear on your joints and all of the limitations that go along with that and it’s easy to see why your body’s ability to move is diminished.

As a result, your mental perception of the game will change as well.

When your mental perceptions are different, your routine changes because the game is different.

Gaining the knowledge, experience, and skill to play your best golf is up to you. To be a successful golfer, you must learn the skills necessary to successfully adjust to change.

Shorten Your Swing

In golf, as in many aspects of life, there is a give and take between length and control. The longer you swing the club, the more distance you get. However, with greater distance comes less control. With greater control and precision, your distance is more limited.

In your later years of playing golf, you may find your swing slowing down and you are losing control. If you want to make sure you get the maximum distance you can, and still maintain control, the answer is to shorten your swing.

Take the club back a little less far and a little slower than you normally would. Then bring the club head through at the same speed. This will cause the club head to speed up and have more impact with the ball. This acts in a similar way to hitting the ball with weighted balls while practicing your swing at the driving range.

This works to gain distance because you are hitting the ball harder. However, it also means that you need to focus more on the power of the hit than the precision in which you strike the ball.

So, if you are an older golfer who would like to get the most out of their distance, but not give up control, you should shorten your swing.

Change Your Equipment

We’ve all heard stories of 80-year-old men winning the Masters golf tournament at a surprising clip, especially when they beat younger players who have more years of golf experience.

Part of that can be attributed to the fact that many pro golfers have retired from competition in their 50’s and 60’s and slowed down a bit, allowing the older players to make up the difference in physicality. But true golfers know that it’s not just about taking the shot, it’s about controlling the ball into the hole.

For that reason, most golfers in their 60’s and 70’s find they have a lot more success if they make a few key adjustments to their equipment, and one of the easiest is swinging slower.

This is not only important for the physical aspect of the game, but also for the mental aspect. What we beat into our heads during the beginning stages of golf is that we’re always supposed to swing faster when we get older.

How to Enjoy The Game as a Senior

Senior Golf is a very personal thing, and this is true in so many ways. Some seniors just want to get in and out of a course as soon as possible while other seniors will relish every moment of the experience. Some seniors will only play in a cart while some will only play walk-ups. Some seniors still want to challenge themselves with every shot in the bag while others will look to play just a few clubs and score a low round.

It is always a smart move to play to your strengths as a senior, but it is also important to find ways to challenge yourself and keep the game fresh and exciting.

Here are some helpful tips to help you find fun in the game throughout your life:

  • Experiment with equipment that is lighter or more forgiving for seniors like a senior disc golf set with recommend clubs and right shafts from the experts at Disc Golf Mart.
  • Look for local discount and senior citizen groups that offer rates and organizations that have a facility that might be more affordable for you to play at.
  • Find your local walking or riding path and use a local course as a target par course for the day. If you forget your score, you don’t care.
  • Find courses in your area that might be easier to walk and find teeny weeny woods that you might be able to beat.

Play The Forward Tees

For years, many clubs have found opportunities to squeeze more money out of their members. But the most common “find” has most often been the older golfer. For many years older golfers have subsisted playing from their age-appropriate tees.

This was quite a long walk. And maybe the older golfer was aware that rolling the ball a little bit further was the only thing that kind of justified his playing from the tips.

But when he got to the 90-100-year-old age range, his activities started to fall to the wayside. Why? It’s because in the great game of golf, there are no throw-in-the-towel ages.

Therefore, we suggest that the slightly younger set of active players take up the challenge of playing the forward tees at the club they have previously played.

After all, golf was a game designed for older players to enjoy the game while they are still active, with the skills that they have developed, rather than sitting around in the clubhouse with a flattering color portrait in the center of the table.

When you play from the forward tees, you will be more active and more involved in the game. Plus, socializing on the course will happen much more often than before.

Tee it Up in the Fairway

If there is one change recommended most often for older adults, it is for them to play more golf. The reason is simple: Regular golf requires stretching your muscles, exercising your joints, and establishing cardiovascular fitness. Plus, it’s fun. Given the choice, most senior golfers will pick golf over stretching and exercising at the gym.

Playing golf as you age is also safer than many of the other activities you might be tempted to try. There’s no running, jumping, or twisting involved, at least not in the way most people play golf. Some seniors may take up a faster paced game, but that comes at a cost in terms of risk and damage to their joints.

However, golf does have its risks, and its learning curve can prove to be steep. Learning to play golf requires not just the requisite golf clubs, but also practice and time to do it right. Even the best golfers never stop polishing their game, and it’s never too late to start.

Spend More Time Warming Up

One of the most common mistakes in physical training is to have a very intense workout with no warm up and no cool down. It’s exactly the same story with golf.

Right at the start of the round a golfer might decide that it’s time to try and play it like a serious round of golf. The only problem is that their muscles are stiff, their flexibility is lacking, and their hands are cold. Really, this is a recipe for disaster.

Unfortunately, many beginners don’t realize that spending a little extra fifteen minutes warming up before you start hitting balls is actually a good thing. A bit of stretching of the back, shoulders, arms, and legs is also a good idea before you start warming up on the range.

In addition to this, you can also hit some longer balls, but make sure you don’t hit the ball too far. On the latter case, with more relaxed muscles, you will have an easier time controlling the distance of your shots.

If all of this seems too tedious and time consuming, keep in mind that any time spent warming up and stretching will save you more time on the course. This is because you will hit the ball straighter every time, which means that if you feel like taking a while before every hole, you will not be fazed by the need to hurry.

Remember to Have Fun

Once you have been involved in golf for as long as you can remember you are not a beginner, you are an experienced golfer. That means you know all about the lingo, you know how the game is played and you can use all of your clubs with reasonable accuracy. When you learn to play golf, you know how to drive the ball, how to use your clubs, and how to use the rules to your advantage, and you are sufficiently familiar with the rules that you can play to the best of your ability without worrying that you will be caught on a rule infraction; this is what you do when you are a beginner. If you notice it seems to be a while since you have been out on the course you are probably over the beginner stage and are ready to be a recognized player. When this happens to you stop thinking about the rules of the game and start thinking about strategy.

How to play better golf? It really is very simple. Your strategy should be to have fun and play with the fewest rules violations as possible. I have a better idea for you—just have fun and enjoy playing and leave the rule book at home.