One of the biggest misconceptions about golf fitness is that’s its only for young players and that senior golfers are “too old” to benefit. Whilst I understand the doubts and fears of starting a fitness programme in your later years, the truth is there are huge benefits to be gained. In fact, some of my best results with clients have been with senior golfers and I find it very rewarding helping these golfers play pain free golf and hit the ball longer and straighter, as well as improving their everyday lives.
“I’m not sure Id still be here if it wasn’t for the fitness” – Bernhard Langer, 10 times Senior major championship winner
Many club golfers start to see a decline in swing speed, and as a result distance, as they get into their 50s and 60s. As Mark Broadie states in his excellent book “Every Shot Counts” there is a very strong correlation between distance and average score and so as distance declines, scores begin to rise. This can be frustrating and lower your enjoyment levels on the golf course. As you get older, muscle size and strength decreases and muscle activity is lower, amongst varies other physical adaptations. This corresponds to a decrease in strength and power, and is the major reason why club head speed drops. If nothing is done about this, your speeds will continue to drop and scores will likely continue to rise but through proper fitness this process can be greatly slowed down and even reversed, no matter your age. That’s why strength training needs to be a staple of any golf fitness programme for seniors, yet it is often avoided. A great example is Nick Hunter (62), a player I have trained for 9 months now, who has had huge success, both in strength gains in the gym and on the golf course itself with longer drives and lower scores!
“Through my work with Jamie over the last 9 months I have been able to improve my balance, stability, mobility, and strength to a great extent. This has resulted in vast improvement to my tee to green shots with greater distance and consistency. This has translated into shooting scores in the mid 80’s rather than the mid to high 90’s.” Nick Hunter, 62
As you get older you typically lose mobility and this can potentially adversely affect your golf swing. TPI have coined this “the body-swing connection” and whilst research into this is still somewhat limited, there can be no doubt that issues such as poor shoulder, t-spine or hip mobility are making it harder for you to swing the golf club well. As well as positively influencing your swing, improving mobility, stability and movement patterns can also have a positive impact on your everyday life, as well as allowing for strength and power work to be performed in the gym environment.
An average club golfer hits around 50 full shots a round. When you add in 1 or 2 practice swings before each of these and the fact this player plays 2 or 3 times a week, you can soon see how this golfer accumulates hundreds of swings a week. The golf swing is an explosive rotational motion that is asymmetrical in nature and performing this movement a few hundred times a week takes its toll on the body. Research has shown that without a doubt the most common cause of injury to golfers is “overuse”. A proper strength and conditioning programme can help to keep the body strong and functioning better, allowing it to cope with the demands placed on it and thus lower injury risk. This means more golf!
As already stated above, each round of golf can consist of more than a hundred full swings when you include practice swings, and so endurance is vital. That’s before you even take the fact that 18 holes is typically a 4 or 5 mile walk each time into account. All too often, senior golfers throw shots away in the last 6 holes or so as tiredness sets in both aerobically and muscularly. Muscular tiredness makes it hard to swing the club the same mechanically and with the same intensity towards the end of the round compared to the start. Proper fitness training will improve both muscular and cardio endurance meaning you can keep playing your best golf right to the end! This was brilliantly illustrated earlier this year by client Mike Thomas (73) who won a 36-hole event played in near 30-degree sunshine. As many others faltered, especially during the 2nd round, Mike continued to play at an excellent level due to the fitness work he has put in.
To sum up, there are numerous benefits of proper fitness to seniors, both in everyday life and particularly for golf. A proper fitness programme is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. Every golfer I train, regardless of age, goes through a structured programme staring with mobility, stability and movement patterns and progressing onto strength, speed and power. This process is proven and is a safe way of progressing. If you are a senior golfer and you are interested in seeing how fitness can improve your golf game please don’t hesitate to get in contact. Remember, age is just a number! Thanks for reading.