As we age, our bodies change and we aren't physically capable of doing the same things we were able to do 20 or 30 years ago. But, what we give up in power we can gain in accuracy. It all starts with a good setup. David Marks is a 78 year old who sent in a question asking how he could have correct posture and avoid topping the ball. It's simple when you use the accordion effect to "sink" into the right position.
Can you please show me the correct posture for the golf swing? I am 78 years old and was a 10 handicapper but I had a pacemaker put in 3 months ago and now I am topping the ball with my 5, 7, and 9 irons. I'm not driving the ball any more than I did before. I hope that you can help me.
This is basically a three part question. Posture, topping the ball, and loss of power are all things David addressed. Let's first talk about posture because that could be leading to the other two issues. Posture is athletically readiness, dynamic balance. I call it the ready position like a tennis player waiting for a serve or a baseball player waiting to scoop up a grounder. The simplest way to think about correct posture is by using the accordion effect.
After you walk in to the ball and align yourself, the next step is to have the right posture. I like using the accordion effect because it's a very natural movement instead of multiple steps. It came to me one day when I was watching tennis. When the opposing player threw the ball up to serve, the other player got down and ready by bending the knees slightly and bringing the shoulders down. The same thing happens when a baseball player awaits a hit.
If you stand up and then have your knees and shoulders go down together, it's a perfect counter balance between the shoulders moving down and the knees flexing and moving forward a little bit. This combination allows the hips to get pushed backwards for an equal counter balance. As I discussed in yesterday's daily, ball position is also important in your setup so don't forget where the ball needs to be.
David, I'm not sure how much they cut you to implant your pacemaker but I can speak to surgery in the chest area. I had open heart surgery and to this day I still don't think I'm anywhere near the strength I had in my body as compared to before the surgery. I stretch and work out with weights in order to get this strength back, but I still have a clubhead speed that's about 5-7 mph slower than before the surgery. I've come to terms with the fact that it's entirely possible I'll never get the power back because of a little thing called aging.
At some point as we get older, we have to put our ego in our back pocket and realize that we're not the same physical specimen we were 20 or 30 years ago. The sooner you accept that reality, the sooner you can get better and work on different aspects of your game that can still improve. You will most likely lose power as you age, but that doesn't mean you can't have better accuracy. Chipping, bunker play, and putting are three things we can improve regardless if we're getting older. On the other hand, hitting 300 yard drives is not something you should expect as you approach your golden years.
The key to why you're topping the ball is that your spine is most likely moving. It's probably moving upward, either because you're aimed too far right or standing too close to the ball. But, you're not picking your head up because there's really no such thing. Instead, you're picking your whole body up.
Ultimately, I see this with a lot of seniors and ladies. You're just not putting enough energy into the swing. You've got to try and swing the club faster. We have to be energenized and hit the ball while accelerating. We've also got to change our attitude from distance to accuracy and control. Your secret weapon as an older golfer should be your short game. It's all about becoming better in the areas that you are capable of improving. Become a short game wizard and I guarantee you won't even worry about giving up a few yards off the tee.
Make sure you've got good muscle tone and use the accordion effect to settle into a good setup position. An energized, athletically ready setup and swing is the key to controlling your body which, in turn, controls your ball flight.
Keep it vertical!
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