KEEP FIT, LIMBER AND LOOSE
Dale Abraham, Bighorn Golf Club, Palm Desert, California: Our sedentary lifestyle leads to less muscle mass and weaker and tighter muscles. Continuing to focus on moving each day can help with heart strength, muscle mass and coordination. Flexibility training will help seniors play better golf, suffer less injuries and help them in the general, overall health as they age.
Alison Curdt, Wood Ranch Golf Club, Simi Valley, California: I think its important to maintain fitness levels in aging golfers and there are simple exercises that activate the legs and glutes that can help maintain the distance for this population.
It a nutshell: Long term sitting and commuting in a car creates a passive lower body. Golfers become frustrated because they start hitting it shorter, due to lower body not rotating, flexing, and pushing off the ground. These exercises/drill can include jump twists, one legged (lead leg) swings, and med ball throws. These directly translate to using glutes for more clubhead speed.
Mike Diffley, Pelham Country Club, Pelham, New York: Walk!
Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, Buckhorn Springs Golf & Country Club, Valrico, Florida: Flexibility is key to the golf swing, preventing injury, and minimizes soreness.
Krista Dunton, Berkeley Hall, Okatie, South Carolina: As players age, tendencies in their swing become more engrained and they are less likely to be able to change physical things they have been doing for 20 to 40 years.
The biggest issue I find in this age group is tension. We store tension in 4 areas — jaw, shoulders, forearms and hands. I work a lot on identifying where the tension is stored, creating awareness of how they need to manage that and being able to recognize on the golf course when the tension creeps up. For example, hitting shots with a soft jaw or with a grip pressure of 4 instead of 8 on a scale of 1-10.
The other issue is balance. We lose balance everyday if it’s not worked on. Every day you should be hitting balls with feet together, left foot only, right foot only. This not only helps your balance but the club swings more on plane as the arms work around the body correctly...if the arm swing path is off the balance will be off as well, so it not only works balance but also path.
In addition when balance isn’t compromised, the arms tend to soften. This softening in arm tension creates much more speed in your swing. Last I checked players over 30 never complain about swinging too fast!
Let’s eliminate the tension, free you up, increase arm speed and balance and get you hitting the ball longer and more consistent!
Barry Goldstein, Inverrary Country Club, Lauderhill, Florida: Stretch, stretch and stretch. Stay limber. Walk, walk and walk...keep moving. Watch your diet as well. Golf will keep us young and I have taught 95-year-olds that prove it.
Bob Grissett, Osprey Point Golf Course and Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course, Florida: “Playing golf forever should be the goal of every golfer. But sadly, many leave the game or play less often due to injuries and the inability to play at a level they wish to play.
As we age we become less limber or flexible. I often hear, “I can’t turn.” I would suggest the cure to improving their technique lies in a couple of very simple tasks.
To create more shoulder turn we need more hip turn. Since we play golf from a bent forward position we must turn on an inclined plane. To achieve this, we need to perform the simple task of changing flex in our knees. Allowing the rear knee to lengthen and the front knee to flex forward creates exactly that.
I would work on that first, then secondly I would work on squeezing your elbows together. This doesn’t have to be a tight sensation but it’s very important for the elbows to stay as close together as possible throughout the entire swing.
Try those two tips. Your game will thank you!
Tom Patri, TP Golf Schools, The Esplanade, Naples, Florida: The ego is a very fragile thing. All of my longtime students are educated from day one as to the importance of their physical welling being both on the strength as well as flexibility side.
Jeff Ritter, Make the Turn, Pronghorn Golf Club, Bend, Oregon: Eastern philosophy suggests the very key to happiness lies in both mental and physical “flexibility.” It describes how at the “birth” side of our life continuum we’re the most flexible in mind and body as we’ll ever be, whereas at the “death” side of the continuum we tend to be more rigid in thought and movement.
A mindset lacking openness and curiosity for learning stifles enjoyment for the challenge of personal development. A body that lacks suppleness moves slowly and is often accompanied by pain within movement. Lose the desire to grow emotionally, accompanied by persistent physical pain, and you lose the joy for life on or off the golf course.
Practices such as yoga are great for freeing mind and body of restriction, keeping us closer to the birth side of the continuum related to performance even later in life. You’re at your best when you feel your best. Exercise is medicine. Movement is LIFE. Seek practices that keep you physically and emotionally free and you’ll remain enthusiastic about the pursuit of playing a better game.
Jim Roy, Bellevue Country Club, Syracuse, New York: Walk as much as you can. It’s great for your cardio, legs and mind. This is the game of a lifetime! Staying as limber as possible is also important. As we age we lose strength, but with reasonable flexibility we can still move that ball out there.
Tom Stickney, Punta Mita Resort, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico: The biggest thing I see in amateur golfers who struggle as they get older is a backswing that continues to get shorter and shorter as the years go by. It’s imperative to keep your backswing as long as possible to keep the club in the air as long as possible so you actually have time to develop speed, the movement of the weight, a proper sequenced pivot, and distance. There are many things you can do in just a few minutes at home to make sure you “retain your length” such as yoga, gyrotonics, pilates, simple stretching, swinging a weighted club, and just basically staying in golf shape by hitting balls. I’m not asking for an hour or two in the gym each day, just a few minutes a day. Five to 10 minutes could change your life!
Deb Vangellow, Riverbend Country Club, Houston, Texas: “Move it or lose it…there is truth to this. We lose strength and flexibility as we age, without a doubt. Strength training is critical as we age to help maintain what we have to be able to not only play better golf, but be better with living your life too. Does not mean you must join a gym…find activity that you enjoy so that you can commit to doing it! Work on balance in whatever activity you enjoy will transfer to your golf game and also general well-being.