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Opinion & Analysis

7 tips for senior golfers to play better and enjoy the game longer

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Have you ever played a golf course and remembered where you used to hit the ball on certain holes? Have you ever gotten to a 360-yard par-4 and recalled when you used to lick your chops because you knew a little flip wedge for your second was ahead? Ever made shooting your age your next big goal? If you have, welcome to golf’s back nine, the time when you keep seeking improvement knowing full well it will never be what it once was.

Aging is another vivid example of the paradoxical beast that lies at the heart of our game. If we’re totally honest, we admit we can’t do anything as well as we did 25-30 years ago. Yet a little voice never far from our golf ears keeps whispering, “If you just move the ball in your stance and adjust your grip, you will hit it solid again.” That’s when we need to be honest and ask, “What does solid mean at 65-70-75 years old?” It certainly isn’t solid like it was at 35 years old, but it may be more solid than the last shot, or yesterday. And as we’ll see, it just might be solid enough for the home stretch. So we keep playing and practicing in a search for golf’s version of a fountain of youth.

If you are, like this author, closer to the 18th green than the first tee, here are 7 golden nuggets for the golden years:

1. Forget how you used to play

Stay present and take what the game gives you now, here, today. If that’s 210 off the tee, get your fairway woods and hybrids out and do the best you can with your inevitably longer approach.

2. Work on your scoring game

If aging has robbed you of flexibility and strength, it does not have to affect your game from 100 yards in. Seniors need to chip and putt more than any other age group.

3. Yoga and Pilates

If you think we’re old, we are a babe in the woods compared to these ancient disciplines. The mind/body connection is vital for seniors. And… the results speak for themselves! Staying as flexible and as strong as you can for as long as you can is vital for senior golf. Oh, and walk and carry whenever possible!

4. Get properly fitted

Not only do we play senior golf dreaming of yesteryear, male seniors often let testosterone affect their game. I get sooo many seniors coming to see me who are ill-fitted for their equipment, or more accurately, using equipment that once fit their game85-90 mph clubhead speed does not likely require a stiff shaft, 9 degrees of loft or 75 grams of weight to achieve proper launch and landing conditions. Good senior golf demands brutal honesty with yourself.

5. Consider swing “adjustments,” not “new swings”

I don’t want to be a bearer of bad tidings here, but as a teacher of many years, I know this much: The swing you’ve had for oh so many years is not going to change. At least not very much. The does not mean it can’t be made more effective. I “tweak” seniors, not break them down.

6. Play forward tees

I’m a club professional, and I was a fairly decent player once. At 70 years young, I am proud to say that I play white tees measuring no more than 6300 yards. And in a few years, I’ll likely move up again. It’s just a fact of life and denying it is futile.

7. Check your fundamentals

Just because a certain grip, posture or ball position was effective once, as we age, all these may need adjustments from time to time. Swings get shorter, slower, narrow, etc. And as they do, we have to allow for these things and find new ways to complement the “senior swing.”

The alternative to all of the above is a garage sale. And as long I can swing a golf club, I will be doing so. If I want to enjoy the game, I’ll do so with lighter clubs, from shorter tees, chipping and putting my way into the hole. We’d all like to turn back the clock, but the last time that happened was, uh, never.

Enjoy the back nine. I know I am.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Dennis now teaches at Bobby Clampett's Impact Zone Golf Indoor Performance Center in Naples, FL. .

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Pingback: Best Golf Irons for Seniors Review 2020 (TOP 10 MODELS)

  2. Greta James

    Jun 2, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you so much for informing me that a golfer’s swing can change as they age, so be sure to check grip and posture to make adjustments as needed. My dad has loved watching golfing and is now trying to become a great golfer. However, he mentioned that he is having a hard time reading the green. I wonder if there is a technology that could help him with this skill to improve his amateur game.

  3. A. Commoner

    Sep 21, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    Dennis Clark deserves many accolades for his work. But if an experienced golfer with a functioning brain can’t come up with these “tips” on his own, then he needs to give it up.

  4. don Ho

    Sep 19, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    All great comments but to add to article, #8 understand the state of the art equipment thats coming out these days, quite remarkable. You have the correct swingweight, shaft weight and flex, a softer ball, stronger lofts on irons, it can literally take 10 years off your game. I play with all ages, and for the most part they are trying to keep up with me. I have nothing to prove, I was never a club pro etc. but quite consistent, I remember hitting the TM Burner Bubble, Stiff, 10.5, 90 gram shaft 300 yds at least twice a round. Golf is the most fun anyone over 50 can have without “killing themselves”, ie you not going to drown, get thrown down a mountain, take two weeks to recover (marathon running). Its always a good day when I’m golfing.

    • ogo

      Sep 20, 2018 at 5:47 pm

      You are exceptionally good, while the rest of us fear regressing into the 90’s and bogey-plus golf. I just carry fewer clubs and manage the course with shorter shots regardless of the course distances. Control is everything.

  5. steven

    Sep 19, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    Found a mint used PING G2 driver, 15.5º loft, 400cc with a stock PING TFC 100D Soft Regular shaft for a total length of 47 inches from sole to butt. Thank goodness I have a smooth 80mph swing and 200+yard drive. I can crank it faster but the shaft is too soft. I will keep this beauty in my bag until I stop. I’m 79 y.o., 6’4″, 170lbs strong and I still play singles tennis in the winter. Btw, the driver COR exceeds 0.83 because the loft was greater than 15º.

  6. Bob Jones

    Sep 19, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Ken Venturi said when being interviewed by David Feherty and looking at a picture of his young man’s swing, “I’d give anything to swing like that again. But I swung like that once, so I guess that’s enough.”

    My game is the same as it’s always been–very straight and good around the green. Except now that I’m 69 it’s somewhat shorter, but that’s OK. I move up to the next set of tees and score just as well and have just as much fun.

    • ShSh

      Sep 20, 2018 at 2:35 am

      You old folks shouldn’t even be on a website like this sheesh

  7. Tom

    Sep 19, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    I might suggest one additional tip, carry a flask of “swing oil” and take a nip every 3rd hole or so…..

    • shawn

      Sep 20, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      … to drown your swing sorrows??!!!

    • James

      Sep 22, 2018 at 12:59 pm

      I carry a canister of “Italian Sports Drink”. The golf course doesn’t know but my friends do. Pinot Grigio. Zero sips for a bogey or worse. 1 sip for a par. 2 sips for a birdie. Eagle? I empty the canister!

  8. Jorge Nigrete

    Sep 19, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    Awesome advice for senior golfers who want to stay involved and aware of their capabilities as they age.

    • shawn

      Sep 20, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      … but ‘golfers’ are living a delusion on the golf course!!!

  9. Scheiss

    Sep 19, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    I’m 2 years away from 50. I’m still playing the back tees with the kids, most of the courses we play are at or over 7000 yards. I still play to scratch and give the young ones a good game.
    As soon as I turn 50, I am moving up to the next tee, and yet I will not be giving any shots to those same kids. They can suck it lol
    So I will be playing from tees that are anywhere from 6500 to 6800 on the big courses. On the shorter courses, the kids are at the 6500 on the back tees and the next tees are at about 6000. Reasonable.
    That’s what makes this game so great.
    If you can’t deal with your ego being crushed, you picked the wrong game. Go fishing or something and leave us real gamers alone, because you clearly don’t appreciate this game for its nuances

    • Acemandrake

      Sep 19, 2018 at 4:17 pm

      The “ego crusher” comment was meant to be humorous.

      I appreciate the nuances of the game & will be sure to leave “real gamers alone”. 🙂

    • oppie

      Sep 21, 2018 at 7:03 pm

      …. and a good “scheiss” to you …. 🙁

  10. LD

    Sep 19, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    Really good article. Thanks for the great information.

  11. Jim K

    Sep 19, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    I fully agree that as golfers get older and shorter off the tee they should move up to forward tees. Unfortunately, too many golf courses fail to offer reasonable teeing options. I’ve seen way too many courses where the whites are 6300yds and the next tees up are 5500. One is too long and the other too short.

    • Acemandrake

      Sep 19, 2018 at 12:41 pm

      This is the truth.

      Given such a choice I will play the longer course but will adjust my expectations (ie: Bogey is the new par!).

      • ogo

        Sep 20, 2018 at 5:43 pm

        Then you needn’t carry a driver and be happy with 3-wood driving distances. In fact, you could prolly play the course in bogey golf with a 175 yard hybrid as your longest club. Try it.. you’ll be surprised… if you can manage properly.

    • Stan

      Sep 19, 2018 at 12:49 pm

      Can not agree more. It seems I’m too often kidded about no more senior tees for you from my younger playing partners or hitting nothing but 3 wood or 3 hybrid while they’re hitting medium or short irons to reach the green. Right for me (at age 70) seems to be 5800 to 6000 yards, not 5500 or 6300.

  12. Myron miller

    Sep 19, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    A lot of excellent suggestions. I’m in my 70s and most assuredly don’t hit it as far or play as well. but I still have a decent short game, can chip and putt exceptionally and that can keep my scores down. And i can’t emphasize the use of game management, woods and laying up in strategic distances and positions. makes the game a lot easier. Sometimes I wish I’d learned these much earlier.

    Adapted swing to body issues rather than new swing.

    Could easily overpower course when younger now i sneak up on them.

  13. Acemandrake

    Sep 19, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    All good points; especially playing forward tees (still an ego crusher). Also, there’s no excuse for not improving the short game.

    Tip #1 (“Forget how you use to play”) is easier said than done…I have a 20 year old mind & a 60 year old body 🙂

  14. joro

    Sep 19, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Good info, describes me to a tee. I used to ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, right says my buddy, used to. This is now, enjoy it while you still can. Would a Lobotomy help?

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Opinion & Analysis

To Mr. Whan: Make Walker Cup Trophy Club a one-and-done

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I’ll be brief: the United States Golf Association should make the $500 Trophy Club ticket a one-and-done for the Walker Cup. Using the COVID-19 pandemic as a lead-in to its limited-spectator policy, the May 2021 edition will eliminate free access to the event. In lieu of the open-arms policy of every other playing of this team competition, the USGA has announced that only those with $500 to spare will pass through the gates of Seminole Golf Club, in Juno Beach, Florida.

I attended the 2009 playing at Merion, and the 2013 matches at National Golf Links of America. I wanted to be at Los Angeles Country Club in 2019, but the odds were not in my favor. Even though I was granted press credentials for both 2009 and 2013, I was gratified to see hundreds, if not thousands, of my fellow golf aficionados in attendance. These were lasses and lads without connections, without memberships, without any other means of access than the largesse of the governing body of golf in this country.

In 2025, the Walker Cup will return to our country, and will be held at storied Cypress Point Club, in Carmel, California. You see the trend here? These are the most historic (and most private) clubs in America. Access to the common man is unavailable, except for events like the Walker and Curtis Cups.

Mr. Whan, you and your association have pledged to expand the game of golf, to welcome people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, ages, and identities. Here is one small but important opportunity to put your mouth where your money isn’t. The USGA makes a lot of money at its annual Open championship. Leave the other kids alone, especially the amateur events. Free and easy access ensures that the game outlives us all, just as our foremothers and forefathers envisioned.

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Opinion & Analysis

When Bryson lit up the Masters as an amateur (Masters 2016 WITB)

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When a young amateur named Bryson DeChambeau turned up at Augusta National Golf Club in 2016, there was a magnetism of curiosity attached to the 22-year-old.

After all, this was not your typical amateur golfer. 

He donned a Ben Hogan style cap, was known to test his golf balls in epsom salts to check whether their centre of gravity was off and played a unique set of clubs with every iron and wedge cut to the same length as his favoured 7 iron.

In a world with so much conformity, unusualness becomes a force of its own.

That was certainly the case with Bryson at the 2016 Masters, who even had notable names for his 37.5-inch wedges and irons, which were otherwise only distinguishable from their differing lofts.

  • 60-degree wedge – ‘King’ after Arnold Palmer’s 1960 Masters win
  • 55-degree wedge – ‘Mr. Ward’ after the Masters Low-Am 1995 winner
  • 50-degree wedge – ‘Jimmy’ after the 1950 Masters champ Jimmy Demaret
  • 46-degree wedge – ‘Keiser’ after the 1946 Masters winner Herman Keiser
  • 9 iron (42 degrees) – ‘Jackie’ after Jackie Robinson’s famous number 42 (same loft)
  • 8 iron (38 degrees) – ‘8 ball’
  • 7 iron (34 degrees) – ‘Tin Cup’ in honor of the film: 3+4=7
  • 6 iron – ‘Juniper’ after the 6th hole at Augusta
  • 5 iron – ‘Azalea’ after his favorite par 5 (13th hole)
  • 3 iron – ‘Gamma’, which is the third letter in the Greek alphabet

DeChambeau took the trip down Magnolia Lane having, just a year previously, become only the fifth man in history to win the US Amateur Championship and the NCAA Division 1 Championship in the same year.

He had joined Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Ryan Moore in doing so.

Inspired by Homer Kelly’s ‘The Golfing Machine’, DeChambeau also revealed on the week of the Masters in 2016 that he had a fascination with Bobby Jones. Jones, who had famously won the Grand Slam in 1930 and had, like Bryson, altered many of his clubs so that they were also the same length.

When DeChambeau spoke about Jones and his achievements in his pre-Masters press conference, the 22-year-old suggested the possibility of doing something special.

For the opening two rounds of the event, DeChambeau was grouped with defending champion Jordan Spieth and Paul Casey – and something special was certainly abound.

While Spieth stormed into the lead with a round of 66, DeChambeau held his own against the course, opening with a level par 72, which would keep him within sight of the lead. But it was in round two where Bryson showed not just his talent but how, even as an amateur, little could faze him.

On Friday, having flown the opening green at one, DeChambeau faced a delicate chip back down the green. He poured it into the back of the cup, and a magical day was underway.

A bogey at the third followed as the scoring became increasingly difficult in the windy conditions, but as his competitors stuttered, Bryson became inspired.

Using his one plane swing, the 22-year-old birdied the seventh before spinning a wedge back to a few feet on the ninth to move to 2-under par for the event.

He would give that birdie back on 10, but despite the poor weather conditions, he would tame Amen corner, beginning with an approach to 9-feet on 11 (which he later admitted to pulling) – a hole which saw just six birdies on that Friday.

At the 12th, DeChambeau fared even better, knocking his tee shot to 2-feet. He was one off the lead.

He stayed within one of the lead after 35 holes before it all came unstuck on the 18th hole. DeChambeau pulled his tee-shot on the last and found an unplayable lie off the tee – he ended up making a triple bogey 7.

It was a sour finish that left him T8 on the leaderboard, four strokes back.

Speaking on the drive on 18, and the subsequent one which followed, DeChambeau said

“No, I hit two pulled drives. I don’t like the left-to-right wind on that hole and ultimately with this closed gap, I thought seeing those flags out there on 1 right where the leaderboard is blowing to the right,

I thought it was going to move it right, and subconsciously I came a little bit over the top and had a closed clubface. It was only two degrees closed. That’s what does it.”

A third round 77 took DeChambeau out of contention, but the youngster showed his metal on Sunday, hitting back with a round of level par thanks to a birdie on the 72nd hole.

The T21 finish gave Bryson the low-amateur award that year as well as the best finish from an amateur at Augusta since Ryan Moore finished 15th back in 2005.

The 22-year-old was as candid back then as he is today and revealed following the tournament that he had “messed up” his preparation for the event by practicing too much earlier in the week.

“Again, going back to preparation, the only thing I would change is how I spent my time resting, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Unfortunately messed up and, you know what, I’m 22, I’m still young and learning how to manage my time. That’s the one thing that I think I’d change.

Ultimately my body took a toll this week and my hip. Really haven’t talked about it too much, but my hip gave out the second round, on 15, and ultimately led me to pull those two shots. I wouldn’t say that’s the full reason, but at the same time, it did affect me. It was unfortunate, but again, it’s a learning experience.”

It was the week Bryson introduced himself on the world stage and showed the massive amount of potential and determination he possessed, which would ultimately see him become a major champion.

In the next few days DeChambeau will return to Augusta National and will of course draw more attention than any other player in the field.

His introduction was one of intrigue and potential, but when he takes the trip down Magnolia Lane next week, the focus will be on whether Bryson can block out the noise, pressure and expectancy, and fulfil his destiny of becoming a Masters champion.

As a 22-year-old Bryson said after his first Masters experience:

“I think people talk about how every five years, you change as a human being, and that is absolutely true.  I mean, I’ve totally changed and what I would tell younger Bryson is, be patient and keep learning every day. Those are the two things that I would tell him.”

You probably don’t need reminding. It’s been 5 years since Bryson first stole the show at Augusta National.

Bryson DeChambeau 2016 Masters WITB

Driver: Cobra King F6+ Pro (7 degrees)
Shaft: Oban Kiyoshi Tour Limited 70X
Length: 45 inches (tipped 2.5 inches)
Weight Setting: Sliding weight removed

3 wood: Cobra King F6 (14.2 degrees actual loft)
Shaft: Oban Kiyoshi Tour Limited 70X
Length: 43 inches (tipped 2 inches)
Lie Angle: 61.5 degrees

Utility: Cobra King Utility (18.5D)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Black Hybrid 6.5X (105 grams)

Irons: Cobra Fly-Z+ (3, 5), Edel Forged Prototype (6-9)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper Lite 115X
Length, Lie: 37.5 inches, 73 degrees
Head weight: 280 grams
Lofts: 20 (3), 25 (4), 30 (5), 34 (6), 38 (7), 42 (8), 46 (9)

Wedges: Cobra King (46, 50, 55 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: KBS Hi-Rev 135X
Length, Lie: 37.5 inches, 73 degrees
Head weight: 280 grams

Putter: Edel “The Brick” prototype
Grip: SuperStroke Slim 3.0 (Blue/White)

Ball: Bridgestone B330-S

 

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Wilson Staff wedge and Bushnell Wingman review

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It’s a short one this week, but I’m reviewing the new-er Wilson Staff Model wedge and the Bushnell Wingman GPS and speaker. The Staff Model is a solid forged wedge that offers good feel, spin, and turf interaction for a slightly lower price. The Bushnell Wingman is a golf GPS and a bluetooth speaker in one. It has a TON of golf stuff built into it, but can also be used off the course to listen to your favorite tracks!

 

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