Welcome to Boomeon!! In this section, we will be adding instructional articles for golfers in the famous Baby Boom Generation. These articles will be all about you. So please interact, ask questions, and send suggestions on golf topics you want to read about. In this article, we will be focusing on the #1 mistake that we consistently find in Baby Boomer Golfers. And we will give you some resources to fix it so you can have more fun on the golf course.
Golfers of all ages make a range of mistakes. I'm sure the most common mistake for all golfers is the slice. After all, when have you ever picked up a copy of Golf Digest when it did not have a least one section dedicated to "curing your slice for good."
However, Baby Boomers like yourself have different issues. You have probably played golf many years and may not struggle with the slice at all.
Instead, you are likely dealing with a whole new set of issues affecting how much fun you have on the golf course. Maybe pain? Maybe stiffness?
In our practice we work exclusively with golfers over the age of 50. After years and years of instruction, research and analyzing swings, we have found a common thread that is the #1 mistake Baby Boom age golfers make.
Golfers over the age of 50 tend to have the same length of backswing as they did 10 years ago. I know that may not sound like a mistake but usually (and I emphasize 'usually') it is a mistake. A big one.
Golf Specific Flexibility
Around the age of 50, the body is going through some changes. You may have noticed! (: One of them is flexibility. Unless you are regularly stretching your body, you will not have the flexibility that you had 10 years ago. And if you do not have the same flexibility, you should not be swinging the golf club the same way!
If you take the same length of backswing without the necessary flexibility, your body is going to make "compensations." Compensations are like "escape routes," AKA golf swing faults.
The swing compensations that we see in golfers over 50 include: Allowing the elbows to bend too much, allowing the head to move too much, shifting their weight to the outside of their back foot, losing their spine angle, etc.
These are major swing flaws and we see them in well over half of the baby boomer golfers we evaluate. Heck, I see them on the golf course everyday!
The Quick Fix
The easiest way for a golfer over 50 to correct this, is to shorten up the backswing and focus on correct fundamentals. Here is an example of a compensated golf swing that is too long compared with a shortened backswing with good golf fundamentals.
It is easy to see from the pictures that the second swing will produce better results, even more power. But you cannot see your own swing, and if you are stiff, chances are you are likely making at least one of the mistakes shown in the first picture.
So the first step you need to make is to shorten up your backswing. Make sure that:
- You are keeping your weight on the inside of your back foot
- Your left elbow is relatively straight
- Your right elbow is at an approximate 90 deg angle and the elbow is pointing down to the ground
- You keep some flex in your back knee
- Your head stays relatively still.
If you are not able to keep these positions, your backswing is likely too long for your current state of flexibility.
The Right Fix
Of course, you would like to have a respectable length of backswing. One that generates enough power for you to play good golf and hit short irons into the greens.
To keep you in the game, you need to start addressing your golf flexibility needs. You can continue to have good power with an effortless swing if you work on your flexibility. And a side benefit is that you will lower your risk of injuries. If you are a baby boomer, you need to begin to take the risk of golf related injuries more seriously.
My father-in-law retired from a 32 year career as a teacher when he was 59. The week after he retired, we played in a golf tournament together. He started the day with respectable 75. However, we had to withdraw from the tournament because he went to the ER later that night with severe back pain.
After surgery, he had to miss the next 15 months of golf, skiing, hiking, and high mountain lake fishing. His first year of retirement was one of the worst years of his life. Don't let this happen to you. If you want your 'golden years' to truly be golden, you need to be proactive about your health.
You can start by incorporating these stretches into your daily routine:
Get into your golf stance with something to grab onto next to your right shoulder. Reach across with your left hand at shoulder height. Stretch option #1: rotate your neck and hips as far as you can to the left and hold for 30 seconds. Option Stretch #2: Keeping your left hand stable, squat down by bending your knees until stretch is felt in the shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds.
Hold a golf club with your hands on each side of the club. Take a lengthy step forward with one leg. Rotate your upper body and arms around the side of the leg that is forward. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 3x's per side.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, I am happy to address them.
Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS Doctor of Physical Therapy Certified Golf Performance Specialist Age Defying Golf
Dr. Ryan York is a physical therapist and since 2008 has been working exclusively with golfers between the ages of 50 and 75. He co-directs Age Defying Golf, which is dedicated to improving golf performance, reducing the effects of aging, and resolving golf-related pain in golfers .