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:
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.
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.
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