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My story originally appears on PGA.com on 5/23/22
Remember that time when a 59-year-old Tom Watson nearly won the Open Championship in 2009? Golf is undoubtedly a sport that allows for success deep into one’s later years. Is there any other sport where you can find such a wide range of ages showing success at the highest level as you find in golf? I would say no, there is not.
This week, the PGA of America, coming off the heels of an epic PGA Championship, will play host to the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
For many golfers that have long had dreams of playing at the highest level, age 50 can mean a new beginning. I even hate to call it “Senior Golf” anymore as 50 no longer seems to be a marker of one’s game getting over the hill…quite the contrary in many cases.
I would, however, be naive to think that with age, things don’t change. They do indeed. Those changes, however, do not mean that your game has to suffer… they just need to be understood and managed.
One of the most fundamental things to know about golf is that we move our bodies in a much different way than we do from almost every other aspect our daily lives. With that said, and a counterpoint to this article, you can indeed get hurt or create lasting injury if you do not prep and maintain a flexible body as a golfer. Making sure that you practice a daily stretching routine is not only necessary for your longevity as a golfer but also as a healthy and mobile person in general. Ask the great Gary Player about his thoughts on that.
Keeping a “Healthy” Short Game
Maintaining a solid short game through regular practice is key to keeping longevity and enjoyment when playing the game. Over time, even for those that maintain flexibility and strength, we will lose speed and with that, distance. Having to hit one or even two more clubs into a green absolutely does not mean having to sacrifice your ability to score. That is if you continue to keep your 100 yard and in play, as well as your putting sharp. Committing to regular and relatively short practice sessions in these areas will undoubtedly help.
Experience and a Sharp Mind
One of the biggest benefits that come with a lifetime of playing the game is your ability to know from experience. If you’ve played a course 100’s or even 1000’s of times, or hit a particular shot countless times, you can indeed lean in on the repetitiveness for continued success. From the mental standpoint, you need to let yourself understand that while you may have certain deficiencies over time due to age, your mind and experience can certainly find a way to overcome those and play at the same level you did 20, 30 or more years prior…or in some cases, find yourself playing even better!
Golf is the ultimate lifetime sport. If you keep some of these thoughts in mind, you can continue to enjoy the game for decades to come.