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Fifty Sense: Common Sense Ideas for Thriving after 50
Fifty Sense: Common Sense Ideas for Thriving after 50

Outdoor Activities: Golf

Dale Christenson plays golf

Most people realize that Golf is a great sport for someone over fifty, but there is very little about how this sport may be different for over fifty. This area will cover not only getting started in golfing, but also tips for enjoying it more and staying fit.

The Age Advantaged Golfer

The reality is we all get older. Some of you may already know what I am talking about, and others may have yet to experience the phenomenon of aging. The biggest thing that we all dislike when we creep into our thirties and forties is the extra poundage (i.e. weight) we tend to put on. (It is also a lot harder to take off when we get older.)

The second most noticeable difference as we age, especially for the more active individual, is it becomes a little more difficult to get out of bed. The back is a little sore, the knees are a little creaky, and, if you workout, the soreness does not go away as quickly. This is a result of a few things that happen to our bodies when we get older, we lose a percentage of our muscle mass on a yearly basis

As you get older you become less flexible. Less flexibility predisposes you to experience more difficulty with certain movements: touching your toes, rotating during golf swing, or even reaching down to pick something up off the ground. Why does this occur? Our bodies, as a result of wear and tear, become more "tight" and "wound up" as we get older.

Quite simply, extra pounds decrease your stamina (and may affect your swing plane). Less muscle equals less distance off the tee, and decreased flexibility tends to make the turn in the golf swing much harder to perform. An unfortunate situation, but the good news is that we can slow down the aging process and limit the effects of aging on your golf game. If these activities are resistance-training activities (i.e. weights, tubing, light dumbbells, body weight), then over time you will build some muscle.

We actually LOSE muscle as we age. Essentially, in the golf swing you create club head speed. That club head speed is the result of creating rotational power, which we define as torque. To create torque, the muscles of the body have to be flexible, strong, and powerful. It can be done if you implement a golf-specific strength-training program. You can get back that lost muscle mass, get back that power, and improve your driving distance. This is what we call the development of "golf strength," and it can be done with a program that takes a total of 15 minutes a day!

Our bodies lose flexibility as we age. A loss of flexibility in the golf swing limits the ability of the body to perform the correct actions to create the proper swing. Essentially, your body won't allow you to take the club back and through on the correct swing path. This leads to miss hits, slices, hooks, and a whole bunch of other shots that are very unpleasant.

If we take a little time every day and perform the proper exercises and activities, we can reduce the effects of aging and have a great swing for as long as we like. That's the only magic pill we know of.

Greatness Improves With Age

You're not getting older, you're getting better. It may be one of the hoariest clichés on the planet but on the planet Golf, its often true. That's why there's so much to learn from older golfers.

Trust your swing
Any golfer who has played the game for any length of time knows even the best players have different swings. But appearances can be deceiving. All good swings resemble one another where it counts - on impact.

What counts is Impact
If you freeze-frame the swings of better players near and at impact, you'll find they all look alike. Backswing, follow-through -the rest is personal. But impact - well, that's the business end of the swing. Try to picture this position and to emulate it at impact. It'll feel as if you squeezed the ball with the clubface if you do.

Most higher-handicapped players add loft to the clubface at impact. Lower-handicap golfers take loft OFF the clubface. That is, they have their hands a head of the ball at impact rather than behind it. That's a true golfing position. Senior pros still hit the ball a long way because they compress the golf ball.

Check your shafts
Senior tour pros also teach by example that equipment counts. Golf clubs are so technically advanced today, there's no excuse to not have a set that fits you. Many older golfers haven't changed their equipment in years and use shafts that are too stiff for them. Or they haven't been fitted for clubs.

Most club manufacturers today provide a dynamic fitting program. The golfer is fitted for clubs while hitting balls. It used to be the case - and still often is - that the golfer buys clubs off the rack because they look good. But that's like buying a pair of shoes that don't fit. Get the right equipment, and you'll be on your way to better golf.

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