In this article, we are going to briefly address 3 critical reasons why golfers over the age of 50, need to work on golf flexibility to continue to have fun playing good golf.
Golf flexibility is not just important for a full, fluid golf swing for power, but poor flexibility can also result in inconsistent contact with the golf ball and poor accuracy.
Neglecting your golf flexibility, results in poor golf mechanics because the body is too stiff to get into the correct positions required for a sound, fundamental golf swing.
Swing faults such as a flying elbow, excessive head movement, swaying, coming over the top, etc. are often the result of stiffness and can not be corrected without improving flexibility.
1. Consistency in Golf
The #1 reason to work on your flexibility is to improve your consistency. Not many golfers relate flexibility to consistency but it is incredibly important for several reasons.
First, golfers over 50 tend to lose flexibility and their ability to rotate their heads to the side due to stiffness in the neck. For the right handed golfer, it is vital that you can rotate your head 70 degrees to the left. How well can you turn your head to the left and look over your left shoulder.
How does this relate to consistency? When a golfer is taking his/her backswing, the shoulders are rotating to the right while the head needs to be relatively still so the golfer can keep their eyes focused on the ball. If the golfer has neck stiffness, the head will be forced to rotate with the shoulders, moving the head and the eyes along with it.
To get an understanding of how difficult it is to consistently hit the golf ball well when your head is moving, trying chipping a golf ball while turning your head side to side…then send me the video because I could use a good laugh!
In this case, flexibility will help you keep your head stable so you can keep a steady eye on the ball for consistent ball striking
Swing Center Movement Factor
Second, you need good spinal flexibility to master the swing center movement factor. Basically, when golfers have poor posture and the spine is C-shaped or S-shaped, the spine is no longer able to purely rotate in the backswing without the body moving up and down. Trying to hit the ball when your spine is having to move up/down and to the side, is like trying to hit a golf ball that is bouncing up and down. It is nearly impossible to hit the ball consistently. Golf flexibility will help you keep and/or regain PURE spinal rotation.
Correct Weight Shifting
Finally, you need good hip flexibility for correct weight distribution which is critical for consistency. During the backswing, it is important that you can rotate your body to the right against a stable right leg. Ideally, the right knee should maintain its bend, the knee cap should rotate only minimally, and your body weight should stay over the inside of your right foot. In order for this to occur, your right hip needs to have at least 35 degrees of internal rotation.
If you lack this flexibility, you are more likely to lose accuracy due to a reverse pivot shift and/or excessive swaying in your backswing.
2. Golf Power
For golfers over 50, the loss of golf power is a major problem. Golf is a lot more fun when you are hitting the much easier short irons than the more difficult hybrids into greens. You hit a lot more greens, putt for more birdies, and your scores become very respectable!
Research has proven over and over again that until the golfer reaches the age of 75 (approximately) most of this power loss is preventable and directly related to flexibility.
Most research has pointed to the following key points that can be changed for substantial increase in golf power.
First, improving specific golf flexibility will improve your “x-factor.” The x-factor is the difference between your hip rotation and your spinal rotation. For instance, when the golfer is about to impact the golf ball, a player with a good x-factor will have their belt buckle already facing the target. This is the key to effortless power!
Without a good x-factor, you can swing as hard as you want to but you are not going to add much distance. Flexibility is the problem and working on your golf flexibility is the only solution. The more you neglect it, the worse it will become (ei. if you don’t use it, etc……).
Second, improving golf flexibility will improve your swing width. Swing width is how far your hands and club are away from your center of movement (a point just below the center of your chest). The farther away, the faster the club head will travel.
The best analogy that I have used to understand this is with the rotary sprinklers used to sprinkle your yard. If you stand right next to the sprinkler, you don’t have to walk around it very quickly to avoid getting sprayed with water. But if you are standing at a distance from the sprinkler (the farthest point the water reaches) you have to run very fast in the circle to avoid getting sprayed on.
Pro golfers have a lot of width in their golf swings and the easiest point to see it is at the top of the backswing. Because of flexibility, the flexible pro golfer can get a full backswing while keeping the left elbow straight. Golfers with poor flexibility tend to sacrifice their power in two ways. They either allow their elbows to collapse in order to get a full backswing, or they keep their width with a straight left elbow but have to significantly shorten their backswings.
3. Golf Accuracy
The reason that golfers with poor flexibility lose accuracy is related back to the X-Factor. We have to back up a little to explain this one. Initially, when Jim McLean coined the term “x-factor”, it was the difference between the rotation of the hips and shoulders measured at the top of the backswing. This is now called the “old” x-factor. The “new” x-factor, which is much more critical for power, is the difference between hip and shoulder rotation at the point of impact with the golf ball.
The “New” X-Factor and the Transition Move
To maximize the new x-factor, you need to master the transition move. The transition move is the first move you make towards the golf ball from your position at the top of the backswing. Typically, the first move is the hips rotating forward, but it is easier to practice if you focus on the left knee sliding towards the target.
Most golfers that have neglected flexibility, are not able to rotate the hips separately from the upper body. This is where accuracy is sacrificed. Since the hips cannot rotate before the shoulders, the golfer will be unable to swing the club down from inside of the target line. The golfer will swing from the “outside to in” swing plane, AKA, the over the top swing. This results in pulls, slices, and makes it more difficult to make clean contact since the swing plane will be so much steeper.
So Get Going!!!
If you want to continue playing enjoyable and respectable golf after 50 and into retirement, flexibility is not really an option, it is required. Luckily, flexibility training is really easy.
You can work on your flexibility sitting in your lounger, standing in line for tacos, lying in bed watching Bonanza…wherever! The only difficult part is remembering to do it consistently. So punch in a reminder in your new fancy phone and get to stretching today!
Thanks for reading!