The #1 Golf Swing Fault Golfers Over 50 Make

Golf swing compensations
In this article we are going to tackle the #1 mistake that golfers over 50 make. By far and away the biggest mistake is taking too long of a golf backswing in relation to what the over 50 golf body is able to do. When we initially see clients, their golf flexibility is very poor because they have not engaged in golf flexibility training.

Typically, young golfers are able to take full backswings without mistakes because they are naturally flexible. Once a golfer passes 50 they can still get a full golf swing but they have to work for it a little by stretching.

However, until golfers can regain their flexibility, they need to adjust their swing to optimize power and accuracy.

The #1 Mistake
Even as golfers lose their flexibility, the #1 mistake they make is that they continue to try and take the same long backswing that they did when they were younger.

Here is the problem: when trying to take a full backswing, the body hits its flexibility limits early and since it cannot keep moving the body looks for “escape routes.” Also known as swing compensations. These can be disastrous!

Here is a sample list of some of the “escape routes” or swing compensations that occur:

1. Left elbow collapses
2. Right elbow collapses
3. Right elbow chicken wings
4. Head moves too much
5. Body sways instead of turns
6. Right knee straightens losing its power
7. Spine extends (golfers straightens up in the backswing instead of maintaining spine angle)

And this list only includes the top of the backswing position!

Here is what the position looks like:

Swing breakdown due to stiffness

Swing breakdown due to stiffness

Any one of these escape routes can cause lose of power, poor ball contact, inconsistency, hooks, slicing, etc.

Thus, when clients first come to Age Defying Golf, we not only set up a program to improve the bodies ability to make a fluid backswing correctly, but we also change the swing now, to maximize your golf swing without swing compensations that can get you into trouble.

The solution is very simple: shorten up your backswing. Intuitively, golfers feel that this new position will cause them to lose power. But as a recent commenter posted “What I thought would result in a shortening of my shots actually gives me more distance.”

Turns out that when you preserve the correct mechanics in your backswing, you will develop more power into the impact position than if you take a super big backswing with all sorts of compensations.


Determine Your Maximum Backswing
To determine how long your backswing should be in relation to the amount of flexibility you have, you need to have a partner or spouse help you.

Have your partner kneel down behind your right leg. Ask the partner to put their hands on your right knee and to hold it still, don’t let it straighten or rotate.

With your partner holding your knee, take your normal backswing and focus on keeping your left elbow perfectly straight. If flexibility is affecting your backswing, you will notice the difference. The position you are able to get into is the the limit of your backswing – any more than this and you will be using an escape route that will cause swing faults.

Cautionary Note:

When taking a shorter backswing than you are used to, you may initially have some difficulty with your rhythm and timing.

It is key that you make a smooth, athletic swing and not try to force it with a lot of power. One training tool that I have found to be extremely useful (and frankly believe that all golfers over 50 need to be using) is the SKLZ Gold Flex Swing Trainer.

golf training aid for senior golfers 50 and over


Thanks for Reading!

QUESTION: Did you feel a difference in your backswing when you tired our solution? Can you identify what escape routes you were using? Feel free to comment below!

Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf performance Specialist
Age Defying Golf

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3 Responses to The #1 Golf Swing Fault Golfers Over 50 Make

  1. Darrell May 20, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    Great Advice on the #1 Swing Fault for 50 plus Golfers. Having played decent golf up to about age 35. Then put the sticks away for about 20 years. Having Spinal cord surgery to remove a syrnx at L1 3 years ago, now retired with 30 plus years as a Tennis coach, I now have time to get on the course again. Lots of frustration to be sure. With a competitive background/nature and an understanding of sport shared mechanics,(swing planes,spine angles, impact positions etc.) I have found your Tips and swing/flexability info to be extremely helpful and relevant to myself. By shorting my backswing to a more stable position, this allows me to maintain a much better spine angle through impact and release the club properly. Having been a fairly connected iron player, the transition was fairly easy. Working on the long clubs takes a bit of patience while learning to trust that the shorter, but correct length of backswing with hinge/lag has given me more Solid speed.. in and through the impact zone. Thus more consistency and distance = more enjoyment.
    I look forward to your excellent Tips & advice,

    Best Regards,


  2. charlie January 27, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

    Yes a fantastic article. It is funny to see all the things you are doing wrong when they are put on paper right in front of you. I know this article will help me with a lot of practice thank, thank you, thank you


  3. Leo Hazell Jr. March 16, 2018 at 6:03 pm #

    The SKLZ trainer works for me. I even carry it in my bag. When the course gets backed up I use it to stay warm and in the groove. Great invention and so simple and easy to use.

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