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Golf tips: Seniors should adjust their game

Golf tips: Seniors should adjust their game

Senior golfers don’t stop being competitive, but their game begins to change at age 50 or so.
Golf tips: Seniors should adjust their game
John Souza, golf pro at Stadium Golf Club in Schenectady, said equipment changes are one way seniors can combat the affects of age on their game.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson

Senior golfers don’t stop being competitive, but their game begins to change at age 50 or so.

Many “seasoned players” can’t hit the ball as long as they used to, but their scores don’t have to soar. Don’t let the game frustrate you to the point where you give it up just because your skill set has changed.

Stadium Golf Club head pro John Souza has some tips to help the senior players stay in the game:

EQUIPMENT

Don’t be afraid to use specialized golf balls for slower swing speeds. Some of the best are the Titliest Velocity and NXT or the new Bridgestone golf balls for seniors. They will help you keep your distance.

Speaking of distance, as you get older make sure you avail yourself of the newer clubs, especially drivers with graphite shafts that are more flexible for the senior player. Many of the new clubheads have the maximum trampoline effect allowed. “Get current,” Souza said.

It’s harder to get the ball up in the air with slower swings, especially with your irons. Switch to hybrid clubs. They will get the ball airborne from almost any lie with minimum effort.

If you have arthritis or other physical ailments that affect your swing, there are new grips that make it easier to hold your clubs, including putters.

SHORT GAME

Seniors know they gradually will hit the ball shorter and shorter, especially off the tee, but one thing they can do as well as anyone is chip and putt. Work on that part of your game to make up for the fact that you won’t hit as many greens as you used to.

STAY FLEXIBLE, ACTIVE

In order to keep playing the game successfully well into your 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond, try to stay active and flexible. Souza suggests going to the gym at least occassionally, walk while playing whenever possible, ride a bike or swim. The more flexible you are, the better senior golfer you will be.

PLAY APPROPRIATE TEES

Don’t let pride spoil your game. Every golf course has forward tees for seniors and ladies. Play where you feel comfortable and where you can score. “The game is meant to be fun. Most courses don’t label their tees ladies or senior tees any more. Tee it forward and have more fun, especially if you are a senior,” Souza said.

BONUS TIPS

Chuck Connolly, who turns 70 this summer, is the king of the Eastern New York Golf Association, with literally hundreds of victories in that weekly event dominated by senior players. He also has three New York State Golf Association senior or super senior titles to his credit.

“As you get older, you lose strength, of course, but intuitively, people feel they have to swing harder and make a bigger effort, especially with their drivers,” Connolly said. “It’s extremely important to stay calm. Don’t let anxiety run your life. Settle yourself, take a breath, relax your grip and your entire being. Then, don’t jump at it. Take the club back and let it do the work.”

Dan Russo, 57, has been one of the top two or three players in the Capital Region for more than 35 years. Here’s two of his favorite senior tips:

Stretching is very important, especially when you get a little older. It’s vital to stay as flexible as you can. It’s probably the No. 1 thing you can do to stay competitive.

Stay focused on the game. It gets harder and harder for seniors to remain focused for more than four hours on the golf course, but try to stay involved with what you are doing and don’t drift off.

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