Recently, I played in a foursome with a golfer who is 81 years old. He’s been playing golf for more than 50 years and has no plans on stopping. He doesn’t drive the ball as well as he once did, but he still has a mean short game. He plays golf two or three times a week, walks much of the course, and still reads magazines for golf tips. Occasionally, he takes a golf lesson. His golf handicap is 9, but he wants to lower it. For him, golf remains a pastime and a fun activity.
This senior golfer plays golf several times a week because he takes good care of himself. He eats the right foods. He gets plenty of rest between rounds. And he exercises. Exercising helps him maintain strength and flexibility as he ages—two weaknesses that develop as we age. Many of his exercises support movements in the golf swing. But thanks to these exercises, he can still drive a ball 150 yards from the tee or hit a long iron well. Below are some of his favorite exercises.
As we age, posture at address tends to slip. The muscles in our hips and buttocks weaken and lose their flexibility. This causes golfers to hunch over at address and rounds out the lower back. A rounded back causes us to shift our body weight from the balls of our feet to our toes. Balance and posture problems ensue. Below is an easy exercise than can eliminate rounded back.
While standing, place your hands on your lower back with your fingers pointing down. Arch your lower back and pull your elbows together. Look ahead and lean forward, keeping your weight balance from heel to toe. Repeat this exercise several times.
In The Slot
Lack of strength and flexibility in the middle and upper back can cause a golfer’s hips to sway away from the target at the top of the swing. This limits shoulder turn because of muscle tightness. Instead of making a full shoulder turn, the golfer dips, causing him to lose his spine angle. A loss of spine angle can generate a reverse pivot, along with all its attendant problems.
Kneel on the floor on all fours, with your shoulders over your hands and your hips over your knees. Point your toes down. Arch your back up, like a cat, and tuck your chin forward toward your chest. Then arch your back toward the floor, like a dog, and pick your head up, brining your shoulder blades together.
Transition To Downswing
If you’ve read my golf tips you know how important the transition to the downswing is. But a lack of strength and flexibility can cause a golfer to start the downswing with his or her upper body instead of making a lateral hip shift toward the target. The hips feel stuck. As a result, the golfer compensates with his shoulder muscles, pulling the club down on steep angle across the body. This throws the golfer’s swing off.
Stand two feet from a bench or stable hair. Put one foot on the bench and keep the other flat on the floor, toes pointing straight ahead. Place your hands on the thigh of your bent leg and keep your shoulders down and back (don’t lean forward). Move your hips forward so you leg is bent 90 degrees at the knee. Switch legs and repeat several times.
As we age, we are also prone to “standing up” at impact. Tightness in the middle and upper back as well as a lack of hip strength can cause a golfer’s legs to lose their flexibility, forcing the body to rise at impact. Standing up changes your spine angle and results in making poor contact with the ball.
Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Push up with your arms, lifting your hips while keeping your back straight. Your feet should stay flat on the ground. This one is a tough exercise, so go slowly at first. Then, repeat several times.
If you’re like most golfers, you want to play as long as you can. The exercises described above will help you do that. Do them as often as you can. Regular exercise will enable you to play at least two to three times a week and maintain your golf handicap, as you get older. Exercising is as good for your game as taking a golf lesson or ingraining a golf tip, if not better. Start now and golf will remain both a pastime and a fun activity.