August is National Golf Month! What better way to stay active, socialize with friends and get some fresh air and sunshine than playing a round of golf?
Today, golf is ingrained in our culture. Some see it purely as recreation and exercise while others play golf for social or business reasons. Golf’s popularity defies age; many golfers don’t even start swinging a club until they’re well into adulthood, which is why it is no surprise that golf is among the most popular sports for the active senior. A “handicap” system provides the opportunity for less experienced and longtime players as well as younger and older players to play together on a “level” playing field and still have lots of fun.
No matter what drives you out onto the lush green for 18 holes (or 9…or 36), golfers are always aiming to improve their game. Here are some tips to help you reach your own golf goals:
Learning or Improving Your Game as a Senior
You are never too old to start playing golf. If you have never played, or you haven’t played in years, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with golf terms. The PGA (Professional Golfers Association) website has a detailed glossary of golf terms to get you started. And when you are ready to play, the site also offers a search for courses throughout the world. You can search by location, price, public or private course, and even whether or not there is a PGA instructor on staff.
A great place for learning proper golf techniques, improving specific parts of your game, and even tweaking your game as you age, is the Golf Channel’s “The Golf Fix,” presented by Michael Breed, 2012 PGA National Teacher of the Year. You can watch his weekly programs on television or view previously aired videos of The Golf Fix, online.
Proper Play Prevents Injuries
As we age, our bodies become less flexible, which can slow our swing, reduce the power with which we hit the ball, or even make us more prone to injuries.
Stan Geer, head golf professional at Vi at Bentley Village in North Naples, Fla., recommends that aging golfers make modifications such as shifting their emphasis from hitting the long shots down the fairway to improving their short game, honing chip shot skills. He also says that since the mechanics of a senior’s game has changed, it’s important to reexamine golf equipment and accessories as well. (Here are more senior golf tips from Geer.) Vi is a competitor to LCS – I think we should not use a quote from one of their communities.
Dr. Larry Foster, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon whose enthusiasm for golf has earned him the title “Dr. Divot,” shares that older golfers are not only more prone to injury, they also tend to heal more slowly once injured.
So, in order to ensure that you’ll be fit to play golf well into your golden years, Dr. Divot suggests that if you haven’t been participating in regular physical activity for a while, prior to your first outing to the practice range or your first round of golf you need to:
- Consult your physician about a basic fitness program that will prepare your body for the game.
- Avoid the temptation to overdo it – both on the golf course and at the practice range.
- When you practice or play, make sure to stretch and warm up thoroughly. A proper warm-up and head to toe stretching routine is outlined in his book “ Divot’s Guide to Golf Injuries.”
- Consult your local golf pro for lessons and to identify swing imperfections that may increase risk of injuries.
For Seasoned Golfers
Seniors who regularly golf know that with continued play and age comes a greater understanding of the game. However, aging golfers may also start to recognize – and become frustrated with – the natural decrease in physical strength and endurance. One of the most difficult issues that golfers over age 50 struggle with more than younger golfers is consistency, according to this Golf WRX article.
Consistent ball contact is really about executing the right mechanics, which become more difficult when our bodies are limited by age-related factors. And excessive practice will not necessarily improve your game. However, getting to the root cause of the swing problem, changing the swing, and being better able to strike the sweet spot more regularly will directly affect the power and distance, thus improving your score.
So grab some friends, set a tee time and go get your golf game on!