Becoming older doesn’t mean you become a bad golfer – just look at Tom Watson and Gary Player. However, if you’re a senior golfer, you need to make minor adjustments to maintain a good distance and strong overall game. Here are Bernard Gallacher’s top tips for senior golfers to help increase their distance.
Use technology to your advantage
There’s some brilliant technology out there that can help golfers play for longer. You can use a buggy if you have problems walking around the course or an electric trolley if you want to preserve your energy for swinging.
A buggy is especially handy if you’re playing on a hilly course, and a trolley is ideal if you’re playing in wet weather and need somewhere to store your waterproofs and towels. You can carry as much equipment as you want around with you. This technology has existed since I was playing and it’s improving all the time.
Choose your clubs carefully
Nowadays, the pros score highly because the shafts are tailored to their game. Senior golfers can also take advantage of this development by customising their clubs. They can get their clubs fitted by a professional, who’ll find the weight and shaft to suit their game.
The advent of titanium shaft clubs has been a massive development in golf. Titanium shaft clubs allow you to make a big head, which helps you tee it up higher.
You couldn’t make a head that size in my day because the clubs were made of wood, and you could barely lift it. Now, when you drive, the ball’s up in the air to start with. You don’t have to get it up in the air anymore and that’s a big bonus for senior golfers.
Find the ball to suit your game
Once you have the right club for your game, you can start experimenting with different golf balls. You won’t use the same ball Dustin Johnson or Rory McIlroy would use, but your game will benefit from this.
You’ve got to use a ball that you can compress – avoid high compression balls with a rating of 100 or higher. Senior golfers should use a low compression ball with a rating of between 70 and 80. It’ll make a big difference to their distance.
Work on your grip
You should never underestimate the importance of a grip in improving your distance. The pros concentrate a lot on their grip, and they take it very seriously. By contrast, I’ve often felt that amateur golfers take their grip for granted, and their distances suffer as a result.
Your grip should be in the roots of your fingers of both hands as much as possible. It should never spread to the palm of your hands, otherwise, you’ll lose the flexibility in your wrists.
Practise your aim and alignment
This is another area that I don’t feel enough golfers pay attention to, but your aim and alignment are vital in increasing your distance off the tee.
I’d advise all senior golfers to take an alignment stick with them to optimise their aim. This will help them find the all-important angle of attack.
Put down the alignment sticks and align your feet slightly to the left of your target. Try to mirror the spine angle in the ground as you address the ball.
Your posture is also important. Remember the basics – stand as tall as you can to the ball and bend over from the waist. Think about the turn as well – the turn should be clear on the right side and the backswing.
Warm up properly
People rush to the course, having not played for two or three weeks, and think they can hit a 240-yard drive down the middle. You can only do that now and again – it doesn’t happen very often!
The only way you’re going to prolong your playing career and maintain a strong distance is by conducting a proper warm-up routine.
There are plenty of stretches and exercises you can do before each round. Then there are the playing drills – I like to arrive at the course in plenty of time to hit some balls.
I’d advise all senior golfers to start with a short iron, hit a few balls with a medium iron and then hit a couple of drives.
Don’t take out a driver and try and kill the ball 300 yards. You wouldn’t try and go straight into top gear if you were in a car, and it’s the same when you’re playing golf.
Don’t overdo it
I’ve seen so many senior golfers make this mistake, and it’s an easy mistake to make.
When people retire, and they’ve suddenly got nothing on their mind, they’ll go to the golf course. If you’re a retiree, don’t make the mistake of playing EVERY day. Have a day off to re-charge the batteries and give your body a rest.
If you want to play as often as possible, maybe play nine holes instead of 18 sometimes. Whatever it is, you need to give your swing a break. Your distance will be all the better for it.