Graduating to Senior Golf – The Experience of a Senior Golfer

For a golfer, as we age, we lose flexibility, which is possibly the most important and noticeable factor. (Do your stretching exercises regularly.)

Added to this, the power muscles tend to shrink.

Another contributing factor is the old sports injuries we suffered in our younger days when we played rugby or football or other robust activities.

Knees, Shoulders, Back, Neck, and Hips, just to name a few…I suppose we can refer to it as father time catchup!!!

BUTAll is not doom and gloom, and I speak from experience, that the same golf courses you have played for 20-30-40 years or longer become a new challenge from the senior tees.

The No.1 change is the loss of length off the tee and our iron shots. (Remember Length off the tee is only great provided it is accurate.)

Chipping and Putting remain the same.

We have to accept this fact MENTALLY and move on.

Forward Tees

Forward (senior) tees change the entire dynamics of every hole you play on your course. If you rotate where you play regularly, new challenges present themselves.

Bunkers that were previously out of reach off the tee, now present a new strategy. Water hazards, narrow landing areas, and out of bounds will change the way you play.

There are a few ways you can help yourself adapt to the length issue:

  • Splash out and buy that new set of clubs you have wanted, but with softer senior graphite shafts.
  • Lightweight shafts increase the clubhead speed and still allow you to get the ball out there!
  • Play a more affordable, lower compression golf ball and maintain that feel and distance we all love off the ProV.
  • Motorized ride-on golf carts have extended the playing life of many, many golfers today.

I like to walk and take in all the surrounding beauty and welcome the exercise.

We do not lose our competitiveness, and the same bragging rights we seek after the game, are still very much part of our social fun.

We can get onto the course more often and not have to take that important business call to seal the deal that inevitably destroys our afternoon of pleasure.

We get time to practice and sharpen all aspects of our game more often and show our prowess to all our younger mates.

We do not miss as many fairways as we used to and the penal rough we leave to our younger counterparts, to look for golf balls.

We can spend an hour or two on the putting green with our golfing mates, before heading to the clubhouse for a cup of tea or maybe something slightly stronger.

We can choose our weather conditions and the days we wish to play, not only on the weekends and public holidays when the courses are crowded.

Many social schools are formed and play together on any day of the week. Pitch and Play have become very popular these days, so if the wind is howling and /or raining, we park off and play another day…Go to lunch together..No sweat.

The social groups will also allow you to make new friends, if you possibly retired out of the big city life, to a smaller town.

A few society names that I play in spring to mind:

  • The Divots
  • Friars (Fridays and really social),
  • Monks (Monday Kartel School)
  • Pitch and Play
  • ADG (Any Day Golf).

Becoming a Senior does not stop you from improving your game. Tinker with your new shortened swing, open up your stance to alleviate the pressure on those old rugby knees and hips. Your limited shoulder turn will allow you to play all your shots with that controlled fade.

We laugh at ourselves more easily and maybe even invite criticism from our golfing mates.

Clint Eastwood has a song Don’t let the old man in”…..Mine is:

Age is just a number.

In Summary

I still play off the club tees and am fairly comfortable with the length I hit the ball. Most of my golf is played with guys many years younger than myself, and I can still compete, even though they hit a long ball. (I am 71 years young and my Handicap Index is 4,5)

One of my favorite chirps to my younger golfing mates is “you still have to reach my age, and then hope you can still play golf”. I find it keeps them quiet for a few seconds!

A suggestion to those of you who are approaching the senior ranks:

  • Play a round or two off the senior/forward tees and see what a difference it makes to all the holes on your home course. Calculate how much yardage/meters you gain on each hole…

On some, it is a few yards/meters, but on others, it can be as much as 40!

  • With the new handicap system, you can decide to forfeit strokes for playing off the forward tee or maintain your handicap and play normally.

You have a choice: Yardage/Meters or strokes.

  • New Targets – When in your playing career have you had the challenge to break your age with your gross or net score?

I know a senior member who breaks his age regularly (gross), at the ripe old age of 92!

Probably 50 times plus!!

Keep a record.

On the Lighter Side:

As we get older, we sometimes lose concentration on the course. We call them Senior Moments and they create great laughter with many players.

One of the favorites is the shotgun start: Some players start on the 3rd hole, for instance, get to the 18th, and walk off to the showers!!! They only play 16 holes….This happens often.

Another is when one member has played first and when we are about to leave the tee, he politely asks us, if we mind if he can also play the hole and proceeds to peg up a second ball!


If you have read this article to the end, you will be encouraged to know that growing older within the golfing fraternity is not all doom and gloom, as I stated in the beginning.

We laugh a lot and have great fun.

A group of us tour more often than we did when we were younger. We play 3 different courses in small towns and communities, within 3 days. The locals treat us like royalty, and our contribution helps keep their clubs afloat.

Our National Senior Golf Society holds an annual championship, which is played at various courses around South Africa. Other than being very competitive, it has age group divisions:

  • 55 to 60
  • 61 to 70
  • 71 to 75
  • 76 and over.

Other than golf, we meet old friends from sporting codes of our youth. Priceless.

I can guarantee you, the positives within this article are much greater than a loss of distance on the golf course.

You be the Judge.

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Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.

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