Aging and golf
Jack Nicklaus won a major when he was more than 46 years old. Golfers tend to have a longer life at the top than most other sports. For example, the oldest grand slam winner in Tennis was 36 and the oldest winner Olympics 100-meter sprint was 32 when he achieved the deed.
This is when we talk about people at the top. But almost similar statistics hold true for semi-professionals and amateurs too. Golfers can play even longer if they adapt to new playing styles and equipment.
So why exactly does that happen? Why must one adapt his game and his equipment? There are a few reasons for that. As we age, our strength tends to diminish a little so do our vision and agility. It also impacts hand-eye coordination which is very important for golfers.
Driving with age
With a change in so many physical attributes, some aspects of your game are bound to get hit. Aging impacts all aspects of your game including putting but the change is perhaps most visible in the distance carried by your drive. If you were used to driving 250 yards or more in your 30s, it might come down to as low as 200 in your 60s.
Like we discussed earlier, slight adjustments can be made to make this decrease in yardage less pronounced. Equipment-wise, we should know what constitutes a great driver and how to go about choosing an appropriate one.
Tips for Seniors When Choosing a Great Driver
A driver is most useful in those lengthy 4 or 5 par holes where the distance covered from the tee is perhaps the biggest difference between a good and a bad score. As that distance starts decreasing with age, the bogeys and double bogeys start creeping up in the 4 and 5 par holes taking your score far above what it used to be a few years earlier.
For a driver to qualify as the best driver for seniors, it must offset the handicaps discussed above. The biggest handicaps in getting a big drive are diminishing strength and slowing swing speed. To get around it, we must look into the science behind the drive and the driver. Here is a list of considerations that should be kept in mind while selecting the driver:
Length of the shaft
In other sports such as Cricket, people use something called the “long handle technique” to make the ball travel the farthest. The technique is what the name suggests – they hold the bat at the top so that its effective length is increased. The physics behind this is simple: you increase the length so that the downward arc becomes larger. This results in more power and longer the distance the ball travels on being hit.
Coming back to selecting the best driver for seniors in golf, we can utilize the same principle of physics, and chose drivers that are lengthier. The lengthiest drivers allowed are 48 inches and seniors should buy one as close to that depending on your game. I say depending on your game because while length and power have a happy relationship, length and accuracy don’t. Your accuracy suffers as you use longer handles and you must hit the ball much closer to the sweet spot for best results. It will require some practice to get used to longer shafts but it is something that is achievable with practice, unlike attaining power.
The material of the shaft
Another aspect that we need to look at closely is the distribution of weight in the driver. For attaining maximum distances, the driver should be ‘bottom heavy’. This is to say that the maximum weight of the driver should be in the head and the shaft should be as light as possible. This type of weight distribution results in a faster swing and hence more power. With the advancement in technology, we are fortunate to have drivers which have super light shafts and these are the ones that should be selected by seniors. The lightest shafts are made of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber drivers are the best drivers for seniors with respect to countering their distance handicap. However, just as the longer shafts, the lighter shafts also decrease accuracy and you might have to spend a few more hours at the greens to get used to it. With sufficient practice, you should be able to utilize the benefits of carbon fiber shafts without being bothered with the handicaps bought by it.
The material of the head
There are two things that are of paramount importance in the selection of driver heads. These are the size and material. Thankfully, you only have to worry about one and the other will take care of itself. We will come back to that later. First, let’s discuss what difference does the size of the head make? It is obvious that the larger the side of the head, the easier it is to hit the ball.
Larger heads with proper distribution of weight have a larger “sweet spot” – the area in the head that gives the ball the maximum distance when hit – which goes a long way in improving the accuracy handicap that comes due to longer and lighter shafts. What it means in simple words is that you have a larger margin for error when using bigger heads. However, you don’t want your head to be so heavy that the lift and swing lose their accuracy even more. Thus the head should not be too heavy, very strong, and large. All these criteria are satisfied by the Titanium head. Titanium is incredibly strong but lighter than steel. The downside? Titanium is significantly more expensive than steel.
Based on everything discussed above we can conclude that the best golf drivers for seniors are those with a longer, carbon fiber shaft and Titanium head.
As the final word, it is perhaps pertinent to mention that no type of equipment is the best for everyone. The guidelines above are the ones that should suit most. Having said that, you have your own physical attributes and playing style which will have an impact on the type of driver you chose for yourself.