Written by Aaron Ainbinder - bio on our Editorial Team.
I have often wonder whether professional baseball players would have a higher batting average if they slowed down their swing. They all appear to be trying to rip a home run with each swing of the bat. Slowing down would, in my humble opinion, allow for more accuracy in hitting. I hold the same thinking with regard to swinging a golf club.
“But I have always swung my golf club as hard as I could!” It takes some inner work to come to creative thinking, dismissing reflexive defensive posturing. I remember playing a round of golf with a relative of mine some many years ago. An older gentleman, probably in his 70’s, joined us. His swing was relaxed and thoughtful. His shots worked their way up the fairway. My relative and I were often looking around, just trying to find our errantly-hit balls. Guess which golfer had the slower and more productive swing.
|10-16 years old||93||83|
|17-29 years old||113||93|
|30-50 years old||103||88|
|50-60 years old||98||73|
|60+ years old||93||72|
There are four factors which combine to produce the speed at which we swing a golf club. Efficient Technique – Proper Equipment – Flexibility – Physical Strength. All four combined create for a huge impact in reducing or increasing your swing speed, while also being able to connect the club face with the ball accurately.
Be aware of your stance, grip and timing of club head velocity. A wider stance provides us with stability, allowing for the transfer of weight from the inside leg/hip to the driving outside leg/hip. But also remember, if your stance is too wide, you won’t have the mobility to rotate your hips.
Gripping the club firmly but not in a choke hold will let us follow through with appropriate rotation of shoulders, torso and hips. Time your highest club head speed for the moment of impact (MOI), keeping an ear open for the “whoosh” sound. Remember, of course, to keep your head down. Whether we waggle your tush before creating the whoosh is a personal choice of style. I find that it relaxes me. A bit of appropriate levity always does.
Get your hands on clubs that fit your height, strength and golfing ability. As we get older and lose some club head speed, it is worth having a driver with a few more degrees of angle on the club face. Such a club will provide a shot which launches higher, thereby giving us more distance. Drivers are also designed to be more forgiving of slices and hooks. Here is our list of the best drivers for senior golfers. Also, be sure to take your clubs into a professional golf fitting shop near you, in order to get properly sized. You can also buy specific golf balls that are designed for your age group. Here is a list of the best golf balls for seniors.
Flexibility and strength are always related. The broader range of motion our body exhibits, the greater we can access more muscles, and ultimately create more torque. The same is true in golf when trying to increase swing speed. By increasing flexibility, we are able to rotate at a higher degree. Balance is equally as important as flexibility, if, for no other reason, to keep your bodies proportionally stable throughout the entirety of the swing.
Here is a video by Personal Trainer David Jacobs, at Level 3 Fitness, on driving range flexibility exercises.
Increasing physical strength will directly correlate in the ability to swing at high speeds. Too often, people stereotype golf as a leisure sport. The reality is that professional golfers take weight training very seriously in order to increase their swing speed.
As we travel into and through the later decades of our lives, keeping up with physical mobility and strength is important in all areas of our lives. On the golf course, as age naturally slows down swing speed, keeping up with your physical fitness will pay off in high speeds and longer distances.
Through our 40’s or into our 50’s, many of us have a history of clobbering each shot until we get on or around the green. Youth, ego, pride, talent and aggressive desire to win are all drivers of that ship. When we get older, either wisdom, experience or physical changes can provide the Captain of the H.M.S. Golfer with a different mindset.
I have mentioned slowing down our swing, and the benefits of doing so. Even with a slower swing, we can do something to add distance to our drives. From the fairway, with an iron shot as we are approaching the green, we often hit down on the ball. This gives the ball a lot of back spin which will, we hope, stop the ball on the green.
Too often, however, we hit down on the ball when using our drivers. When we do this, the ball gets too much back spin, too much floating height, and no forward roll on the fairway. Adjust your stance and tee the ball up higher so that you hit the ball on the upswing. This will increase the launch angle, and without the excessive back spin your ball will fly further, even with a slower swing. The professionals swing a driver at speeds from 110 to 125mph. Their high level of talent, strength and experience delivers drives upwards and beyond 300 yards.
Most important to me, when I play the game, is my mindset. Crushing every shot is not ever my intension. This does not mean that I swing like a butterfly, hoping to sting like a bee. It means that I play the ball where it lies, so to speak, dealing with the reality of how my body functions at this stage of my life. I am not dead yet, but I am not in my 30’s or 40’s either. My swing speeds are what they are capable of being, and I go from there.
In closing, I’ll share this thought with you. I am a bassist, having played bass guitar and the string bass since I was a kid. When I have played in bands, I have had the experience of sharing a stage and rehearsal rooms with some folks that know only one volume setting on their amplifiers. That setting is LOUD! My personal philosophy is that I only need to play as loud as the song and the scene calls for.
It is not necessary for me to turn my amplifier up to 11. NOTE: That is an inside joke among musicians, since the volume controls on amplifiers only go up to 10. We only need to swing a golf club as hard as we need to swing it. Leave the crushing of shots to the professionals. Work on stance, equipment, mobility and strength and let the club do the work it was designed to do. Now go out and enjoy your next round, chasing the little white ball towards the cup.