Golf and power: young golfers want it, but older golfers NEED it! I recently saw this chart on Golf Digest comparing driver club head speed and handicap. Pretty good correlation.
And I bet, if you are a golfer over 50, you could plot your handicap change right along with your loss of club head speed and driver distance.
I have also reviewed several articles over the past couple of years that claim that how far you hit your driver is a much higher predictor of your golf score than how good your short game is. I am not necessarily interested it which is more important, but I want you to get a picture of how critical power is to your golf game.
What Happened to Your “bang?”
As you pass the age of 50, your driving distance declines much more quickly than it should when compared to your loss of strength. So what is the deal?
I believe that the rapid decline in distance is due to changing golf mechanics. Not on purpose of course! But over time, golfers (all people really) tend to lose their posture, stoop over more, round the shoulders and more. The culmination of these issues limit the golfers ability to turn. Golfers over 50 quit turning!
We all know that you need to turn to generate power. But the problems really compound when you consider what the golfer does instead of turning.
1. Golfers Over 50 and Senior Golfers Need to Turn in the Backswing
One commonality in golfers as we get older is that we quit turning the body in the backswing. And the less the upper body turns, the more the hands and arms go vertical. The elbows fold and the golfers loses not only the turn but also swing width as well.
A lot of older golfers swing this way, maybe you do too. The difficult part of changing a swing like this is that you can still hit a golf ball pretty well with these mechanics….just not very far. Your swing speed will be much slower and as you can see from the chart above, swing speed and distance matter!
2. Golfers Over 50 and Senior Golfers Need to Maintain Their Swing Width
Another huge problem that golfers over 50 face when they stop turning, is the loss of swing width. You can try this for yourself, but if you take a backswing and stop turning, it is nearly impossible to keep your swing width and still have a playable backswing. It’s a double whammy!
When golfers lose their flexibility and stop turning, the first move back in the backswing is the arms. The arms can only rotate so far back without a shoulder turn so the golfers compensate by folding the elbows and/or cocking the wrists too early.
Here is a great video illustrating these issues:
1. Golf Specific Exercises and Stretches
Golf specific exercise is the best overall solution. These problems occur due to the breakdown of your ‘golf body,” and the solution is to fix the problem…your body! It is a lot easier than you may realize. You can get the Top 5 Golf Specific Exercises for Golfers Over 50(videos) by entering your email list below. We do not spam and by entering your email, you will receive a few weeks of exclusive Age Defying Golf Tips and lessons for free.
Golf Shoulder Turn Exercise
Hold a golf club across your chest with the grip facing the target and the head of the club facing away from the target. From here, turn as if you are taking your backswing and try and rotate far enough that the grip side of the club turns behind the golf ball.
This simple exercise takes the arms out of the equation so you can feel your body during the turn.
- Spend a few minutes with this exercise and then progress to practice swings with the same feel.
- When this begins to feel normal, work on this exercise while focusing on keeping your width by keeping your left elbow nearly straight but not locked!
- Next, you can progress your practice by hitting golf balls. This is usually the tough part because when you are learning to turn your body in your backswing instead of your arms, your timing will be off. I suggest hitting balls off of a tee with a short iron until you can improve your rhythm and coordination. Be patient, it takes time.
Swing Tips to Help Improve Your Shoulder Turn
There are 2 common swing faults common in golfers over 50 that will work against your efforts to improve your shoulder turn and they both relate to posture. Posture is very important for golfers over 50. The typical posture of a golfer that will struggle with their backswing is the slumped forward, “C” shaped posture. The 2 swing faults that this produces are:
1. Head Down Posture
Golfers with poor posture typically have their head tucked down in their address position. However, when the head and chin are tucked down, they will physically stop your shoulders from rotating in the backswing. Your shoulder will literally bump into your chin.
So the first tip is to keep your chin up!
2. Rounded Back With Shoulders Forward
When you assume a hunched over posture in your golf swing, you are putting your back into a position where the individual bones in your back will not be able to rotate. You are essentially locking them into position!
So the second tip is to stand tall, with good posture!
These two tips will make an instant impact and improve your turn in your backswing. But I know that if your posture is poor, you may not be physically able to stand tall anymore. If this is the case, again, you will need golf specific exercises to correct this. The exercises are not difficult or time consuming but your success depends on consistency and persistence. It just takes time.
To improve your golf posture you can review this article: How Important is Posture in Golf
You can also review these additional tips: Longer Drives for Older Golf Guys (and gals too)
Just because you are over 50, does not mean that you have to settle for short drives leaving you impossibly long approach shots into the greens. You have a lot of options! Work on your turn and maintaining your width to start banging it right down the middle!
Thanks for reading,
Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist
Age Defying Golf