It's kind of ironic that I'm writing a blog about senior golfers on the week of my birthday. These days, birthdays don't seem to have quite the same excitement as they did when I was eight or nine years old. But getting older doesn't mean your golf game can't get a lot more exciting. Golf fitness isn't just for players on The Tour. These 3 simple golf exercises for seniors will not only help improve your game, but they'll also help prevent injury and have you feeling better both on and off the course.
One of the main issues that we see with older players has to do with posture. It's one thing to be staring at your screen all day and develop some slight neck or back pain; it's quite another to have spent the last 30 or 40 years as an accountant or jeweler and have reinforced that hunched over position to the point where it's become your default posture.
On the golf course, a rounded back will affect your accuracy, because you're generally going to have an inconsistent swing plane. One of the easiest ways to start to open the shoulders and chest and "unhunch" the back is this lunge variation. It'll start to address the muscle groups affected by a less than optimal posture, and it'll even give you a nice hip stretch.
1. Lunge with Overhead Raise
Stand with feet hip-width apart holding a golf club horizontally in front of you at shoulder height with arms fully extended. With your left leg, step forward into a lunge position. Your left knee should be directly over your left heel. (If you can't step into a full lunge, don't worry. Take a shorter stride. Any stride longer than your natural walking gait is going to give you a stretch through the hips.)
Find your balance in this position and then slowly raise the club over your head while keeping your arms straight. Initially, it might be tough to raise it fully without bending at the elbows, but over time, you'll find it easier to do. Lower the club back to shoulder height and then push back off the left leg to return to the starting position. Now, repeat stepping with the right leg. Try to do ten lunges and raises on each leg. This is a big, full-body movement, so it will also get your heart rate up and feel a bit like a cardiovascular exercise. Not a bad bonus!
Balance is something that every golfer should be working on, but it's even more crucial if you're a senior player. Lack of balance out on the course has a couple of predictable outcomes. You're going to sacrifice power because you're going to be tentative with your takeaway, downswing, and follow-through, for fear of losing your balance. You're also going to sacrifice accuracy because you're going to swing 100-percent, but it's anyone's guess where your club face will be at impact. Off the course, falls are one of the leading causes of fatal injuries among older adults. So, there's really no downside to working on your balance!
2. Single-Leg Putting
Set up with your club as if you were about to knock down a three-foot putt. Bend your back knee slightly so that your back foot lifts off the ground behind you. Standing only on your left foot (if you're a right-handed player), sink 3 imaginary putts in a row without putting your foot down. (Try to do it without grounding your club at any point.) Now, do the same thing standing only on your back foot. These will be slightly tougher.
Next, do the same with an imaginary 10-foot putt. If you nailed the balance at 10 feet, see if you can control your balance and nail 3 one-legged putts on each side from an imaginary 20 feet.
Lack of stability around the hips is another issue that we see with senior golfers. If you can't control the side-to-side sway of your hips during your golf swing, consistency is going to be an issue. Happily, this is one of the best training exercises for putting you back in control of your hips.
3. Sidestep with Looped Band
Place a looped band around your ankles and stand with feet close together, toes facing forward, and a slight bend in your knees and hips. Slowly, step out to the side with your left leg. Try to keep your toes facing forward; they're going to want to turn out to the side.
With the resistance from the band, you should feel this on the outside of your hip on your left side. Hold this position for a moment and then step your right leg close to your left to return to the starting position. Try to keep your feet flat on the ground when holding the position. There will be a tendency to want to ride the outer or inner edge of your foot. Do 10 sidesteps with your left leg and then do 10 sidesteps with your right leg. This is one of the better golf exercises you'll do!
To start training from the comfort of your own home, check out our online golf fitness programs and order a copy of Coach Joey D's new book, Hang the Banner, co-written with Coach Kolby "K-Wayne" Tullier. In the book, you'll find simple exercises used by Tour Pros that can be done at home, regardless of your age or skill level!