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Senior Golfer - On The Green


Facing the aging problem

The Putting Green

As we get older, our bodies change, and usually not for the better. It seems that those little hurts we experienced and usually ignored when we were younger now turn into nagging injuries. Moreover, it seems that the time needed to recover from those minor injuries drags on for much longer than when we were young. And most of all, it seems that as we age, we lose our flexibility. I call this the golfer’s aging problem, and it reveals itself in this simple question: “What happened to me between 60-65 that caused me to lose 10-20 yards on my drives and one club on my irons?”

Let me put it this way: if you had bad knees when you were young, they are now major areas of chronic soreness. If you suffered torn ligaments in your youth, you now are experiencing arthritis or worse. If you had sore hips, a bad back or nagging neck injuries, chances are they have all gotten worse. Every one of these is a reason to listen to your body and take care of the problems. Each one of them should also prompt you to ponder the question: “Should I play when I’m hurt?”

We are actually dealing with two problems here. One is that we’re getting older and our bodies are gradually slowing down. The second is whether to play golf while we’re hurting. Let’s deal with each problem separately.

Aging is not a bad thing. It means that we’re getting up each day, facing a world of endless choices, seeing the Lord’s wonders in our daily lives, and looking forward to experiencing all that life brings us. When it comes to our golf games, it means that, while we can show the same enthusiasm for the game that we had when we were in our 20s, 30s, and 40s, the reality is that this passion for golf is fading quickly. It’s the reality that we’re not able to swing the clubs as long and/or as fast as when we were younger.

We should face these limitations of aging and deal with them in a positive manner. Who cares if I can hit my drives 230 yards, instead of the 260 I could in my prime? What difference does it make if I hit an eight iron from 140 yards or a seven iron? The only thing we write down on the scorecard is a number, and our goal is to get it into the hole in the lowest number. It’s a four on the scorecard no matter if you hit a 250-yard drive, a 120-yard nine iron, and two putt, or hit a 230-yard drive, a 140-yard six iron that missed the green, chipped to within five feet, and made the putt.

One of the great things about being human is that we have the potential to adapt to many different things in life, and shorter swings and slower swing speeds are just a couple of them. In my own golf game, I am learning to adapt my game to the aging process—and this is something everyone needs to do because the aging process never stops.

Playing golf when we hurt is a common question for all seniors because we all have some hurts. Two of the guys I play with in our regular Saturday foursome have sore knees. They take pain pills to deal with the soreness, but sometimes it becomes almost unbearable. For those people with sore knees, the new rubber-soled golf shoes will help.

The sore shoulder I live with is a common problem among golfers. I have a partially torn labrum from falling down the stairs when taking out the garbage one wintry morn; so, I take a pain pill to manage the soreness prior to my round and ice it after the round. I also do exercises during the week to strengthen the area, and keep swinging clubs during the round so as to minimize any tightness.

Probably the most common ailment among aging golfers is bad backs. My chiropractor tells me that one of the best ways to reduce back strain is by learning how to properly take the ball out of the cup. Golfers need to reduce the strain by bending from the knees, instead of reaching from the waist.

Two other simple things will help in this area. The first is to put one leg over the other to tie the golf shoes instead of bending over from the waist. The second is to do daily stretching and strengthening exercises. The list of golfers who were well-known professional golfers and who suffered from bad backs is endless, but they persevered because they did hours of daily exercises and stretching.

As we grow older, we are subject to a variety of aches and pains. This is part of the aging process; but, it is not something that should prompt us to give up this great game or use as an excuse for poor play.

Check with me next month, as I describe an exercise program for our golf games.


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