“The major concern from these golfers is how they struggle with the loss of power and distance,” says Matt Kilgariff, Director of Player Development at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe (Calif.). “Focus on how to help them hit the ball farther. What will it take to increase or maintain their swing speed?”
When designing your golf performance center and creating programs for it, be careful not to overlook a very important demographic—the actively aging adult golfer.
Create programs designed especially for this group that focus on mobility, flexibility, and speed. Be sure to consult and collaborate with your fitness professional to create frequent and ongoing clinics, classes, and workshops that will help keep them safe and injury-free.
Do your best to schedule programs that would be offered during times that fit the majority of this group’s availability. Some in this group may have more free time than others. And as always, you need to find the best ways to maximize your time. So be flexible, and learn through trial and error what works and what doesn’t.
Create programs with the same philosophy and techniques you would for most any golfing group. Make it your mission to discover what these golfers are looking for. Some may be looking for just a low-key, fun or social atmosphere. For them, make it enjoyable by being creative and doing things such as playing music on the range or having a “9 & Wine” early-afternoon event.
Keep in mind that others in this group may be looking for technique refinement or competition opportunities. The major concern I hear from these golfers is how they struggle with the loss of power and distance. If your golfers are expressing this to you, focus on how to help them hit the ball farther. What will it take to increase or maintain their swing speed?
The two major sources of power in the golf swing are proper wrist-hinge, and pressure-loading on the takeaway. With proper hinge and loading, they will be able to unload while maintaining lag (the angle between the forearm and shaft) with the wrists and hands.
When starting their takeaway, make sure that the student is properly setting the club. Setting the wrists on the takeaway is very important, as it provides a lever that can be released into impact, creating a whip effect.
The best training aids when working on wrist-hinge are Swingyde and Total Golf Trainer. These aids allow a player to feel and understand how much wrist-hinge is needed to maintain lag into impact.
Golfers need to coil on the takeaway, turning pressure into the instep of the trail foot. What I often see with this group is strictly a “lifting” of the club, with no real turn. They typically sway to the outside of their back foot and then throw the club back “at” the ball. No coil leads to no speed and no power.
The best tools to measure this are Swing Catalyst and BodiTrak. Both devices measure foot pressure and show you where the foot is being loaded. You want to see the heel and big toe of the trail foot loading on the backswing, and not let the pressure shift to the outside of this foot. This will allow the player to properly sequence back through the ball, using ground force to help create power.
Bottom line, make these members a priority. A considerable part of your role is to do all you can to keep these individuals engaged in all areas of the game. Offer them creative opportunities to play as much golf as they can, by doing your part to help them stay happy, healthy, and safely enjoying this amazing sport for as long as they can.
Matt Kilgariff is a PGA professional who spent much of his career working for Butch Harmon and the Harmon Family. He is currently the Director of Player Development at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Prior to joining The Bridges, Kilgariff was Director of Player Development at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Matt has also been part of TaylorMade’s National Advisory Staff since 2012.