In this article we will address specific things that senior golfers can do to improve golf power, add golf distance, and play golf pain free. This article is more specifically geared towards 3 types of golfers.
- Golfers with Pain
- Golfers with physical limitations but are not interested or able to correct the core issues
- Golfers over 65
There are several adjustments that you can make to your golf swing and golf game that can reduce the stress and strain on your back and joints.
Golf Setup Adjustments
In your golf setup, make sure that you stand tall with your back flat. Try not to hunch or bend over too much. To help with this you can try longer golf clubs and you should absolutely look into long putter.
You should already have your left foot toed out about 20-30 degrees at address, but you can reduce the strain on your right hip and back by turning your right foot outward as well. This position may make it more difficult to be still, so make sure that your right knee does not straighten or slide as you take your backswing.
If you have pain on your backswing or follow through, you can try to alter your stance slightly. Remember to keep your adjustments minimal.
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Closed vs Open Golf Stance
You might also want to try a more closed or open stance at address. Generally, a closed stance will help reduce strain during your backswing and an open stance my reduce strain through impact and to follow through.
Golf Swing Adjustments
Go ahead and allow your left heel to come off of the ground during your backswing. It is not as important as many people think to keep your left heel down.
You will see lots of senior professionals on the PGA lift the left heel. It is much more important that your right knee is stable during your back swing than what you do with your left heel.
In some instances, lifting your left heel can really improve your timing. If you lift your left heel in your back swing, make sure that your first move back to the ball is to put your left heel back down. This will help get your lower body rotating towards the ball before your upper body.
You may also need to shorten your back swing and follow through swing. As golfers get older with more joint pain, it becomes more important to concentrate on the width of your swing than the length of your swing. So shorten up your swing and focus on width for power. If you want to read more about width, you can view this article: Swing Width.
Finally, as you follow through to the finish of your swing, allow the right foot to be dragged forward instead of being planted. This will reduce the strain on your left hip.
In severe cases of left hip osteoarthritis, we have successfully taught players to step through with their right foot after they hit the golf ball. You can try the walk through drill as seen below. Make sure to allow your right foot to be pulled forward by your swings momentum and NOT forcefully lift it through.
Adjustments Around the Green
As mentioned earlier, you should definitely try a long putter to reduce stress on your back. Also, make a conscious effort to lean on your putter when reading putts or retrieving your ball out of the cup. There are rubber ball retrievers that you can stick on the end of your putter so that you do not have to bend over to pick up your ball.
Additional Golf Tips
However, remember that the bigger your grips are, the greater your tendency to block the ball to the right because it is more difficult to rotate the club face to square at the impact position.
If you have a lot of pain in your wrists, hands, or fingers you should also consider hitting the ball off of a tee with all shots. Light graphite shafts can also help. And remember; never, ever carry your golf bag on your shoulder or back!!!
Using a good TENS unit for home use as an older golfer suffering from pain is a very effective solution. Many people swear by the devices for rapid pain relief.
Ditch Those Pull Carts Please!
Pull carts lead to shoulder instability, impingement, and a lot of pain. My father is currently dealing with a lot of shoulder pain from years of using rolling luggage at the airport that he pulled behind him.
Most Common Swing Fault in Golfers Over 65
Then number 1 swing fault we find in golfers over 65 is the loss of rotation causing the golfer to acquire the “merry-go-round” swing fault.
The Merry-go-round swing is what happens when the golfers loses their ability to rotate. As a result, the golfers swings the arms straight up in the backswing and finishes high up in the follow through.
Here is a Merry-Go Round Swing and Correction
Here is the key for the senior golfer: you need to find a way to improve your rotation.
If you do not have the range of motion in your hips or back, rotate your back foot outwards 20-30 degrees. this is a tip ONLY for those that are unable to rotate in their back swings.
QUESTION: IF YOU ARE A SENIOR GOLFER, WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE OR TECHNIQUES THAT YOU HAVE USED TO PLAY BETTER GOLF?
For more quick tips for seniors, try this article: Longer Drives for Older Guys (and Gals too)!
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist