Learning to play golf at 50, 60 and 70 – it’s never too late!
Being one of few golfers at high school, I was often faced with the phrase “golf is an old person sport”. So what if you are approaching the autumn years and are yet to play? You’re letting down the stereotype of our sport and we need you on the course.
Seriously though, there really is no time like the present and if you are thinking of taking it up, just do it! Get yourself to a driving, text or call a friend that plays and just give it a shot. You won’t regret it, it is never too late to start playing golf.
The wish of many
I’ve been lucky to have played golf from the age of 7 thanks, I assume, to a dad who had recently taken it up and knew the only way he’d get the freedom to play was to take me with him. One thing I have often noticed when I play golf with people is that when you ask them when they took up the sport, they often wish they had taken it up sooner.
You see, golf is addicting. The game frustrates and delights whilst you meet some great people who can become friends for life. Golf is more than a sport or a hobby, it really does become part of your identity.
Why golf is such a great sport for the elderly
Quality time with friends is hard to come by these days, golf is a way of protecting it. Imagine having hours of time out there with your friends to play a game and shoot the breeze. That is what golf can bring you.
All the while you get to have a little bit of exercise and challenge yourself at a sport. It really is a great sport for anyone but in particular it is a safe way to burn some serious calories and all whilst having a laugh.
1. The social sport
It is worth digging into the social aspect of golf a little further. A round of golf with friends is one of life’s great pleasures, especially if you are able to detach yourself from your scorecard and just enjoy the company and the course. Too many take it way too seriously.
It’s more than the round too, you can have a coffee or lunch before you tee off and get the patter going. Then after the round you can grab a pint and rip into whoever hasn’t played so well or who messed up or had a rough day.
2. High aerobic activity with low intensity
Many people struggle to believe this but a round of golf burns well over 1000 calories. Yes, Mark Twain may wrongly have called it “a good walk spoiled”, but it does get the heart going and burning some calories to make space for dinner. The best part is that you don’t even really realise that you are exercising.
Even if you have an electric trolley and the weight of your clubs is being taken for you, you still burn over 1000 calories. A round of golf tends to mean that you are cover a good few miles on foot, you will easily surpass your 10,000 steps when you’re out on the links.
3. Courses are quiet during the week
As a kid on summer holidays, I used to play golf with my grandad which was the perfect way for him to babysit me. What I noticed was that weekdays at a golf club is like a ghost town and it means that you can just take your time and have little pressure from other groups on the course.
You can take your time in the clubhouse catching up and going over the round you just finished too. A golf club on a weekday afternoon is one of the most serene places on earth and you get to enjoy it whenever you want now that you are retired.
4. Play different courses
Reciprocation is an unwritten rule in golf and it is a great thing, it means that when you take a friend on to your course, it is on them to take you to their course. This gives you a great chance to challenge your game on a new course.
Playing your home course and getting better at working your way around is great, but there is something even more special about seeing how your skills translate onto a new course. You have a blank-slate of 18 holes without the worry of things like bunkers that you can never seem to miss.
5. Golf is progressive, your goals can keep changing
It is a fairly simple equation when it comes to golf, the more time and effort you put in the more you get back. This means that as you learn and improve you will see your abilities growing and you can start setting goals for your game. The first big one is to regularly break 100 shots in a round.
As you improve further you can start taking aim at 90, 80 and then even 70. Golf has a great way of keeping you honest and it has a great way of reminding you of your skill. However, you will see improvements and you can make your goals move with your game.
6. Courses are used to seeing beginners
Standing on the first tee can get to the nerves of any golfer regardless of how long they have been playing or how good they are, it’s natural. This gets harder when you are new and you don’t want to look foolish by hitting a bad shot. Again this is natural but you have to remember that everyone in golf has been there before.
We all had to learn at some point and courses are used to people playing for the first time. It is best to go early one more or later one evening so it is quiet and you have time to make your own way round with your friends. Try to relax and enjoy.
7. Relax in the clubhouse after your round
Golf clubhouses are great places to be, they are relaxed and usually have a nice friendly atmosphere. After a round of golf, which can be more mentally draining than it is physical, it is the perfect place to relax and discuss your round. Maybe have a bite to eat and drink whilst discussing the good and bad of your last 18.
This is where conversation from the round is extended and where friendships can be extended. Spending time in the clubhouse allows you to meet your fellow members and expand the group of people you play with.
8. Golf is a lifestyle, not just a sport – watch on TV and practice often
One of the most special things about golf is that you can play the courses that the best players in the world play. It is great to watch golf on TV or online and you should watch to try and learn from the players and how they navigate the course. It can also be very helpful to watch women’s golf as they play a game that is far more realistic to the club golfer.
I often nip to the golf club and work on my putting or short game for half an hour or so, practice doesn’t have to take hours. Little and often can be very effective, consistency is key.
How to get involved in golf
Almost everyone knows a golfer, speak to them and ask if they can take you to the driving range or to the course some time. You can also get beginners group lessons at many driving ranges and you should find a friend to go along to something like that with.
Golf is a social sport so play on that as you are starting, go with friends or ask friends to take you. If you can’t, or don’t want to do these things, then head to your local club or driving range and speak to the pro, they will help you get your golfing journey started.
Safety first – get a health-check if necessary
Whilst golf isn’t the most physically intense sport in the world, hilly courses can out a strain on the body and people with heart or other pre-existing medical conditions should consider seeing a doctor before they start playing golf. It is definitely better to be safe than sorry.
Golf is a fantastic way of staying fit and healthy into your golden years, however you may need to make sure that it is medically advisable.
Get your swing right before you hit the course
Spending some time on the driving range and gaining proficiency in swinging the club can give you a great platform to play from before you hit the course. Whilst you don’t want to spend years being able to hit it perfectly, a few trips to the range can set you up to enjoy the course more.
Having the confidence in your swing that you can stand up and hit it will allow you to relax more when you get to the course. The more relaxed and confident you are on the course, the more you will enjoy golf. This rule is as true for beginners as it is for elite amateurs.
Take your time and enjoy the process
Learning to play golf takes time and getting good takes consistent effort. As you start to play more you will start hitting better shots more often, you will still get that buzz you feel when you watch the ball sail through the air.
That is a feeling that doesn’t disappear no matter how good you get. Just enjoy the process and the journey. You will have good days and bad days, it is all part of becoming a golfer.
What do you need to get started?
Starting on the driving range requires as little as a 7-iron. It can be the perfect club to get you started as it is a mid-iron and it sits in the middle of the bag so is a perfect club to learn with. When you get to the course you will need a few more clubs to get going.
A half-set will be plenty and you should include a driver or 3-wood, a half-set of irons, some wedges and a putter. It would be worth asking around friends and family to see if anyone has any suitable spares sitting about, many many people do.
1. Dress code
This is one of the more controversial and infamous sides of golf and it is changing. Many courses have seriously relaxed their dress code so to make the sport more accepting. Some courses still take dress code very seriously though.
You should call ahead or ask whoever has invited you what the appropriate clothing is. If you are still unsure then it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.
2. Starter set for seniors
So you have been to the range, you’ve been on the course and you’ve got the bug, it’s time to buy clubs. Callaway Strata is a great and lightweight set to get you up and running in golf. This package has everything you need from clubs to bag and it is perfect for seniors as it is light and easy to get around.
Another thing to think about is golf balls. It is very hard to see past the Wilson Duo Soft, a great value and low compression ball that will help maximise your distance whilst feeling great at impact.
Golf will give you some of the most fun and rewarding experiences of your life. The sooner you take up the sport the faster you can have these moments. The very best thing about golf is that it is absolutely never too late to start but it is definitely better to get started sooner so you can enjoy it for longer.
Ego can hold a lot of people back from taking up golf and people don’t want to look silly. Get over this, no-one cares as much as you think they do so just go for it and give golf a shot. Ask friends and family to take you and enjoy the ride.