The 54-year-old Jeremy Ellwood highlights five ways that could help you keep on playing good golf in your 50s and beyond…
5 ways to keep playing good golf in your 50s and beyond
While it’s true that none of us can stop the years from ticking by and our bodies from getting older, there is actually plenty that we can do to help ensure that Old Father Time doesn’t impact too much on our golf swings and games as we head on into our 50s and beyond.
Some lucky souls even play their best golf as they get older, and it’s a fair bet that most of them will have taken one or more of these five steps to ensure that the passing years don’t have to automatically trigger a disappointingly marked decline in their golfing prowess…
Warm-ups and stretching
We all know we should do it, but it’s so easy to overlook or neglect in our busy, bustling lives. The reality is we are all fighting the effects of sarcopenia, in which skeletal muscle mass and strength begin to decline from the age of 30, almost imperceptibly at first, but then typically to the tune of 30 or 40 per cent by 70 years of age.
As our muscles decline in strength naturally, specific strengthening and flexibility exercises become more important. That means warming up not just your golf swing pre-round, but your body too in order to get the blood flowing and your heart rate up a bit.
Beyond that, simple things like getting up from a chair without using your arms, or walking upstairs two at a time can help, and it’s also important to cool down properly after golf with some stretching when your muscles are warm.
Health supplements abound in the 21st century, but Benecta, a new natural health product from Iceland is generating strong anecdotal evidence that regular use can have a significant effect of the typical aches and pains of the over-50s golfer.
The brand’s strapline is ‘Defy your Age’, with the product, based on short-chain chitosan extracted from crustaceans, seeking to “alleviate everyday symptoms often associated with ‘just getting older’ such as stiffness, aches and lethargy”.
In a recent survey of 465 UK golfers aged 50+ undertaken by Sports Marketing Surveys Inc, more than four in five claimed they had fewer aches and pains, plus more energy and stamina after using Benecta every day for two months. Some 81 per cent of participants reported fewer aches and pains, while two-thirds thought Benecta had helped them perform better on the course. Find out more at benecta.co.uk
GM’s Jezz Ellwood reflects on his recent ten-day Scottish road-trip for Golf Monthly…
Sometimes you may just need to be honest with yourself about the gear you’re playing. It’s likely that your clubhead speed will decrease as you hit your 50s, and that can mean the clubs that suited your game when you were a younger powerhouse are no longer helping you get the most out of your 50+ swing.
Pride and stubbornness can, no doubt, get in the way (“I’ve always played stiff shafts”), but if you want to continue enjoying your golf, 50+ could be the time to set pride aside and see what’s out there that could help you. A custom-fitting is a great idea to ensure that inappropriate shaft flexes, for example, aren’t holding you back.
A change of equipment
Beyond a custom-fitting to find out the best spec for your post-50 swing, it’s also worth thinking about the actual equipment and club line-up in your bag.
It may be that you’d be better off considering: a more lofted driver; more fairway woods or hybrids instead of long irons; irons with a little more forgiveness built in; a different style of putter; or perhaps even a different kind of putter grip – maybe one of those new thick styles in case those short putts are filling you with a greater sense of foreboding than they once did!
There are lots of options out there, so make sure you investigate them all.
Tee it forward – even if only a little
Back tee machismo can be a hard battle to overcome for some (“If you’re not playing from the backs, you’re not playing the proper course”). But the reality is that most of us – regardless of age – would probably enjoy it all a little more if we ventured forward by a tee or two more often.
It may just mean playing all your social golf from the yellow rather than white tees, or perhaps being slightly less ambitious in your choice of tees on visits to other courses where there are sometimes countless options. If courses allow, it could even be something you decide as you go along – perhaps choosing to head a little forward when you come to a 220-yard par 3, or 450-yard par 4 into the wind off the tees you’ve been playing.
We’re here to enjoy it, after all, and who really wants to tee it up on a hole they know they can’t possibly reach? For that reason, why not add a few shorter courses to your annual rota too? No-one ever said overall course yardage had to start with a ‘6’ or ‘7’!