8 Tips for Senior GolfersPublished on 06/16/2023 · 8 min readYour golf game might change as you get older, but that doesn't need to be a bad thing. Expert Tyler Monroe offers some tips to solve some common issues for senior golfers.
Congratulations! Well done! Your seasoned intellect has brought you to the golden age of golf. A world of rolling green fields, picturesque scenery, and sun-filled walks through nature’s splendor with just a bag of clubs by your side and the thought of birdies dancing in your head. Your path is well chosen and whether weathered from decades chasing par or new to its demands, the day is here to charge after your golfing goals.
Golf is not about one discipline. Putting together a great round is about stringing good shots in succession. A powerful drive on a par 4, followed by a short iron, a thinned shot over the green, a decent pitch up, and three putts, really does not make it worth the money. With so much room to capitalize on, concentrating on your strengths, playing your game, and having a good mindset is a successful approach to taking this game into your senior years.
Everyone’s golf swings are constantly evolving, improving, adapting, and increasing, or decreasing speed. They follow our growth, flexibility, age, temperament, rhythm, and experience. No golfer's swing is the same and as PGA Tour Players Dechambeau and Wolfe are showing, swings follow no preconceived absolutes. Each of us have our own take. Flawed and successful to variant degrees. Compounding the challenge is dealing with an aging body, less flexibility, and loss of distance. Changing some of our approaches to the setup, the golf swing, the golf equipment we use, how we prepare, and how we manage the course can have a significant positive impact on our experience as we golf into our later years.
1. The Setup
Using torque off your lead leg or squaring your feet to the ball and turning your shoulders against minimally-rotated hips may not be a position you can get in anymore. For those that have knee, lower back, or hip pain, the ability to turn the body and use the shoulders in the backswing is limited. But some of this limitation can be improved by small changes in the setup!
Positioning either the back foot out to the right or the front foot open depending on your range of motion can assist in making a better turn back, or through the ball, while still avoiding swaying outside of your right foot. Opening the feet and stance to keep the bigger muscles of the body moving, and the shoulders turning will maintain that necessary power source in your swing. Also, moving the ball position along with these changes can ensure hitting through the ball and squaring the clubface properly.
2. Closing the Grip
Regardless of whether you are fighting a slice or a right-side miss for right-handed golfers, a ball spinning the other direction or with hook spin will always go farther when it hits the ground. Closing the face in the grip and adopting a square or closed grip is a great way to make minute changes to your set-up that can increase distance.
Grip the club with both Vs pointed parallel at the back shoulder as shown below. The confusing term “strong” grip implies gripping tightly so ditch that tension producing, swing speed killer thought and lightly use a closed grip for more distance.
3. Small Adaptations to the Swing
Beyond the minor changes in posture and grip, a few swing changes can also help you gain distance and overcome losses in clubhead speed. Typically the use of only a few levers in the golf swing means turning the shoulders, hinging the wrists, and shifting your weight from one side of your body through the ball to the other. Keeping the lead arm straight with back issues can be difficult, often straining and building tension. Relaxing this approach and using the added lever of the left elbow bending, if timed well, can create more distance.
4. The Wedge Game
Golf stories are replete with younger golfers drilling long drives with glee only to be beaten by the elder with the sharp wedge game. Personally, I have been there many times as a junior golfer playing with my grandparents. Termed the short game, or scoring game, excellent wedge play is a major part of being successful at golf. The statistics for amateurs of missed greens is dumfounding, and the percentage of wedge shots played per round is second only to putting. Both represent exceptional ways to capitalize on low scores, that anyone, with any swing speed and ability, can learn to master. From distance bunker shots, to pitch shots, to the bump and run, having a reliable short game is a great way to keep scores low as the golden years shine in. Most shots require only limited movement and rotation and opening the front foot to the target offers even more open rotational movement of the hip that also benefits the shot.
Having a few loft options in different wedges and even using your shorter irons to get the ball up and rolling on the putting surface is a great way to minimize mistakes around the greens. It is easier to keep the same swing and change the club in your hands than manufacture a different swing for the same wedge from different locations. Chip shots or the bump and run in which the ball rolls farther than it flies can be a par saver when your tempo and rhythm aren’t reliable for a high arcing pitch shot, and you can better isolate your shoulder turn to give this shot power.
A game within the game. Exceptional putting takes little strength, power, or flexibility, but can shave a ton of strokes off your scorecard. With solid fundamentals, proper practice, and the right putter, this part of your game can help overcome lost distance off the tee or with the irons.
Control over speed and direction is what putting is all about, and a vast array of putters are produced to work with your stroke to get this done. Heavier weighted putters to increase speed, aim lines to assist with alignment, longer length shafts to fit your height, and other critical design aspects are available to accent your specific attributes.
Being relaxed, allowing the arms to hang naturally, standing in good posture, are all important to putting well and not straining the back or body, possibly preventing you from taking the time to practice or feel good standing over any putt.
6. Properly Fitted Golf Equipment
Having the right golf equipment is more important than ever if swing limitations slow clubhead speeds or cause off-center hits. There are many attributes to club designs that target the needs of the moderate swing speed golfer and work to maximize distance with less effort and demand on the body.
Senior shaft flexes and lighter-weight shafts, hollow-backed long iron designs, and hybrid models are all good options to assist with loss of physical strength. Using higher lofted drivers of 12 degrees can help get more carry distance off the tee, low-compression golf balls can also help get longer distance, and many other technical aspects of club designs are built specifically for senior golfers. Any of our Curated experts will discuss your fitness level, range of motion, physical ability, and ensure you're in the right equipment for your advancing game.
7. How We Prepare
Preparation is another key to a successful round, whether daily or a part of your pre-round routine. From the physical to the mental, it can take all you have to play a good round. Using low impact exercises like lap swimming to improve endurance, pilates to build core muscle strength, or yoga to calm the mind, what we do off the course has a profound effect on how we play on it.
Having a solid warmup routine is also helpful to get the mind and body ready to go for 18 holes. Let others rush to the tee, warm up on the first few holes, and struggle to get their mind in the game until it is too late. Show up early before your tee time, have a good breakfast, and give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the round. You may not be able to stretch like Randy Myers has Dustin Johnson do, but grab a stretch pole or painters pole and stretch out the back, hips, and body before you tee off.
8. How We Manage The Course
Playing golf well means playing your own game! If deep off the tee and reaching par 5s in two is your game, great. If not, why take a driver off the tee if it’s a low percentage shot for you?
Managing the golf course effectively, understanding what the course is asking you to do, and thinking your way around the course is a novel concept and worth exploring to shave strokes. Being long off the tee can be overcome by being smart, having a great short game, and knowing when to take risks and when not to. Take notes on the scorecard of your missed opportunities and mistakes, I guarantee a large percentage of them have nothing to do with being long off the tee.
The game of golf is many things to many different people. From lifelong players who started as younger golfers to those just looking for a way to have some fun with friends by just being out and social, finding your own path through the game is an amazing time. Men’s and Lady's Leagues, whether playing for fun or being competitive, are a great way to get more enjoyment from the game. Finding a local LPGA or PGA golf instructor to work with your specific golf swing and physical limitations is another way to get more enjoyment out on the course. Lastly, from my decades working in the golf business, and my last great tip, for men especially, buy a pull cart and walk! Golf is not a good walk spoiled, but surely worthy of walking!
Looking for more advice about equipment or your golf game? Don't hesitate to chat with me or one of my fellow Golf Experts here on Curated for free, personalized advice.