Golf is one of the few sports that you can play regardless of age. Some golfers don’t learn how to play the game until they are 50 or 60 years old while others have been playing for decades. This is just one of the reasons that golf is, in my opinion, the best sport ever.
While you can play golf forever, it doesn’t always mean that it is an easy sport on your body. There is a lot happening in the golf swing that just isn’t a natural movement for the body. From swinging, walking, and constant movement, golf can get harder on your body as you age.
But, golf is also a great form of exercise and an amazing way to spend time with family and friends. You can enjoy the game with your kids, grandkids, friends, and even strangers.
But things will change in your swing and game as you age. It’s about how you can adapt to make it enjoyable, safe, and play it for the long term.
I want to help you combat father time and give you the ultimate golf guide for seniors. That way you can enjoy the game regardless of age. Plus, you can learn some ways to adjust your swing and pre-round routine to reduce the risk of injury.
The Top 3 Ways Golf Changes As You Get Older
I want to be preface this section and the rest of the article that this advice will depend on your personal health, overall fitness, and any prior injuries. Hopefully, using these drills and advice you can keep playing the game you love for a long time.
Here are the three main ways that golf will probably change as you get older.
1. Less Strength
As you get older your strength does deteriorate even with great diet and exercise. That will affect your golf game by not hitting the ball quite as far. According to MyGolfSpy you lose four yards to your 7-iron ever 10 years once you turn 30.
But, the study also found that as you lose distance you will hit more fairways as there is a clear correlation between age and accuracy off the tee. Plus, there’s no shame in clubbing up and not over exerting yourself while you’re playing.
Most amateurs miss greens short, as you get older you might use that wisdom to club up, swing easy and end up hitting more greens!
2. Less Flexibility
When you watch the young guys on the PGA Tour it’s amazing to see how truly flexible they are. Justin Thomas is a great example. At 5’10’’ and only weighing less than 160 pounds, he’s one of the longest drivers on tour thanks to an incredible amount of flexibility.
Then you look at players on the Senior tour and can see that flexibility isn’t quite the same. As you get older your joints lose flexibility. For your golf game this can result in less shoulder turn and for most golfers, an abbreviated follow through.
The main thing you’ll want to do with less flexibility is spend more time warming up. That way it doesn’t take until the back nine to finally feel loose (more on that coming up).
3. Worse Vision
Another big way golf changes with age is a weakening vision. Golf is already hard enough and bad eyes can make reading greens a challenge. Make sure to wear glasses or contacts and keep up to date with your regular optical exams.
While those are some of the changes you can expect there is plenty you can do to help offset these factors.
Golf Exercises for Seniors: How to Adapt to Swing Changes
Swings change over time. I’m sure you don’t have the same swing you do now as you did when you first started playing this great game. And that’s ok.
Don’t think that you get older your game and swing will inevitably get worse. Some of the guys on the Senior PGA tour are better than they were on the PGA Tour. The key to success is all about managing your swing changes and pre-round routines to be ready on the first tee.
Here’s how to set yourself up for success:
1. Own Your Pre-Round Warm Up Before The Course
Regardless of age, it’s never a great feeling to walk up stiff on the first tee box without hitting the range or stretching beforehand. As you get older, your pre-round warm-up is crucial to making sure you play your best and avoid injuries on the course.
Try these three things to get loose:
Go For a Light Walk
If you plan on riding in a cart during the round go for a light walk around the block or on a treadmill at your home or gym. Try to get the blood flowing and start loosening your body up for the round.
Create a Stretching Routine
Before or after taking a walk, make sure you spend time stretching. Usually, after a walk or jog makes it easier to stretch for longer periods as your body is loose and getting warmed up.
Hopefully you can look as cool as Miguel Angel Jimenez with this epic pre-round warm up.
Warm Up in a Hot-Tub
If you have a hot tub at your house, gym or golf club, try to get in before the round. This is an especially good idea if it’s an early tee time as the fall weather is approaching quickly. Use the jets to target some of the spots you tend to feel most when playing a round of golf.
2. How to Warm Up at the Course
While you might have gotten away with not warming up in the past, now you should always get to the course early to get loose. I always recommend getting to the course about an hour before your tee time. This allows you to check in, grab a snack, warm up, and hit putts before heading out.
What’s the point of showing up close to your tee time, rushing to the first tee and not being warmed up until the back nine? Get there early so you can make the most of your round and set yourself up for success.
If you stretched at home don’t be afraid to stretch some more on the range. I recommend carrying the Golfer’s Toolbox All in One Swing Trainer and use it before hitting balls.
Once you start hitting range balls, make sure to warm up slowly. Don’t transition from hitting sand wedges to the driver. Work your way from wedges to irons then fairway woods, and ending your range session with drivers.
Also, always try to hit your last shot on the range with the club you will use on the first tee to help increase your confidence!
Mid-Round & Post Round Maintenance
One of the downfalls to a lot of public golf is the slow play that comes with it. That can make it hard to get into a rhythm and stay loose throughout the round. Make sure you staying loose and limber during the round.
After the round when you get back home do a few more as well with this video.
If you can hit the hot tub, take a few anti-inflammatory pills, and ice any areas that might feel sore. Set yourself up so you don’t feel your round the entire next day.
3. Keep Exercising
While you might not be able to lift the weights you once did, consistent exercise is a key to leading a long and healthy life. Not only does it do wonders for your body but also in keeping your mind sharp.
Don’t neglect exercise as you age. You don’t get old and stop exercising, you get old because you stop exercising! Don’t be afraid to mix up your routines to match your health, golf and fitness goals.
Utilize Resistance Training
Tiger introduced the golf world to lifting weights and it seems that trend isn’t going anywhere. And there’s a reason more golfers are doing resistance training, just ask 3-time major winner Brooks Koepka.
You can get a lot of the same benefits of weight training by checking out some of these drills.
If you don't feel confident doing some of them on your own, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a personal trainer to show you the moves and keep you motivated.
Do Low Impact Cardio Training
While running is great for your endurance it can be hard on your body as you get older. But don't use this as an excuse to stop exercising. Start walking with an incline, using the elliptical, spin bike or take up swimming as alternatives to running.
4. Practice Yoga
Not only is Yoga one of the best golf flexibility exercises for seniors, Yoga is one of the best exercises for your mind and body. Some of the best athletes of all ages and sports use yoga to increase flexibility, control breathing and increase performance.
Try these during the week or even before your round
While these are all great ways to get loose here are some of the swing change you’ll have to make as well.
Types of Swings for Seniors
As you age you might need to change your swing to make it easier on your body. You want to have a swing that works for you and your body.
Don’t be set in your ways as you age. Listen to your body and make the necessary changes to play your best golf. Although you are not trying to play old man golf, you are looking for a Golf Swing for the older man. Keep that in mind.
Here are some of my favorite senior golf swing tips:
1. Change Your Setup
When it comes to your setup there are a few tweaks most seniors will want to make. The first is a slightly wider stance, even with irons and wedges. You also want to flare your right foot out so you can make it easier to turn. This will give you more ability to make a full shoulder turn and complete range of motion. Plus it will ensure you don’t sway on the way back.
The other big change is to strengthen your grip. For a right-handed player, this means moving your left hand more to the right of the club. This move will help allow seniors to get hands rolling over sooner and producing more overspin.
Here’s a quick video to show you how to do it:
2. Shorten Your Swing
Now that you’ve adjusted your setup, see if one of these types of swings can make golf easier for your body.
Use a ¾ or Compact Swing
As you lose flexibility it can get harder to take a full-length backswing. Try to shorten your backswing so it’s less than parallel. Plus a more abbreviated finish will make it easier on your low back instead of a high, around the head finish.
The “No” Backswing
While I can’t say I’ve tried this method but the results seem promising. Golf.com did a study on having a “no backswing” swing. Essentially, you place yourself in the correct position at the top, pump the club up and swing down.
Here’s a video of it:
Remember, you are looking for a simple golf swing for seniors. Might as well try it, no harm right?
3. Change Your Equipment
Add More Woods and Hybrids
As you get older take advantage of all the amazing equipment out there. Don’t try to hit clubs that are making the game harder. Add more woods like a 7-wood, 9-wood or hybrids. Find ones that more forgiving and easier to hit than those pesky long irons.
Go With Graphite Everything
If you’ve played with steel clubs forever this might feel weird at first but it can make a huge difference. Switch from steel to graphite as it will be lighter and have more flex. This will make it easier to square the club at impact and keep your swing speed up.
Switch to a Long Putter
If you suffer from lower back pains a long putter can help. Not to mention it can help cure the dreaded yips that some players suffer at the latter part of their golf careers. While it might feel awkward at first there is no harm in trying it out.
How to Enjoy The Game as a Senior
Aside from exercises and equipment changes, don’t forget the number one reason you are playing golf -- to have fun! Here are some ways to continually enjoy the game as you get older.
1. Play The Forward Tees
While you might’ve have tipped out every course in your younger days, don’t make the game harder by making it too long to enjoy.
Enjoy the game by teeing it forward. Find a tee that will give you plenty of realistic shots into the green and not forcing you to hit hybrids and fairway woods into greens all day. Another idea is to make your own, hybrid set of tees so you can play back on certain holes and up on the shorter ones.
2. Tee it Up in the Fairway
Remember when you first learned the game by teeing the ball up even in the fairway? Don’t be afraid to do that now if you are just out on the course having fun. I would not recommend doing this if you are playing in a competition of some sort, that is unless you just love penalty strokes!
Make the game as fun as possible. Don’t torture yourself by hitting from a hard lie in the deep rough or a tight fairway lie, especially if you are using more woods and hybrids.
3. Spend More Time Warming Up
In the past you might have gotten away with walking on the first tee without swinging a club but this a recipe for disaster. Remember, start warming up before you get to the course!
4. Remember to Have Fun
While I’m sure you still want to shoot your age, remember that golf is all about having fun.
Enjoy your time with family, friends, and golfing buddies to enjoy your time. It doesn’t make sense to get mad or frustrated. Have fun, worry less, and you’ll probably play better than ever.
Not everyone will play their best golf like Bernhard Langer or have the insane flexibility of Miguel Angel Jimenez. But with these tips I am confident that you can make positive changes to keep playing for years to come.
Remember, some of the easiest ways to keep playing the game at a high level are to focus on your pre-round warm up. The more loose and free you are on the first tee the better you’ll play.
And as you get older remember that it’s okay for your swing to change. Try different versions of the methods out on the range and find what works best. Ultimately, you want a swing that is as consistent as possible with the least amount of pain.
I hope this golf guide for seniors will inspire you to keep playing the game you love. Also, if you found this helpful please share with others so they can benefit as well.
If you're partner isn't already into golf, I encourage you to check out my article on getting your partner into golf.