Is Age a Barrier?
Wed Jul 24, 2013 by Dave Phillips
You seldom see a Major League Baseball player, NFL football player or any athlete from another sport competing at the highest level into their 40’s and beyond. But with golf, we routinely see players deep into their 40’s playing better than ever.
Phil Mickelson’s win at the Open Championship marks the third straight year that the event has been won by a player over 40. Ernie Els did at 42 in 2012 and Darren Clarke was 43 in 2011 when he won. Other 40-somethings that were in the hunt were Lee Westwood, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Angel Cabrera and Justin Leonard. While these guys were playing well in Scotland, Woody Austin, at 49 years young, won the PGA Tour event in the USA. You can rightly attribute their success to experience but another factor that is keeping these golfers competitive, is their health.
In 2009, Tom Watson almost won the Open Championship at 60 years of age. In 2011, Tom was interviewed for an article in Golf Digest and stated that a decline in physical fitness is inevitable for all of us as we age. But to make the decline as gradual as possible, particularly as it relates to the golf swing, Watson said a daily exercise regimen is vital.
"You have to do it," he said. "And not just stretching. You need cardio, strength training, the works. I believe it's a big reason I'm still hitting the ball as well as I am hitting it now." Watson went on to say that he feels the most important area to focus on as you get older is your hips. "The first thing you lose is the ability to fire your hips," he said. "You have to really train that area hard."
I could not agree more with Tom and I know that Phil Mickelson’s trainer, Sean Cochran, focuses hard on this area with Phil. As we get older, we spend more time sitting at work, in the car and in front of the TV. This shortens the hip flexor and can cause the hamstrings to get tight and the glutes to stop firing. In the golf swing, it’s essential to have mobility in the hips. Not only does it take the stress off your lower back but it enables you to load your weight effectively in the backswing and initiate your downswing with the lower body first. When the hips get tight, we can create faults like a sway, slide, reverse spine angle, early extension, casting and more. If you suspect you have any of the above-mentioned faults, take a look at the Swing Characteristics section of MyTPI.com for detailed explanations.
If you want to get your hips working better, visit one of our TPI Certified experts and go through an assessment. They can build specific workouts for your hips to ensure they are functioning properly. To the right are some of our favorite exercises for the hip that will help your golf swing.