Learning to play golf at 50, 60 and 70. Tips to get you started
What would I do if I retired early? Can I really learn to play golf at 50, 60 or 70 years of age? The honest answer is, as long as you’re reasonably fit and can swing a golf club, there is no real upper age limit stopping you picking up the sport.
In the past we’ve given you some great advice on how you can retire at 55, but some people have genuine concerns about how they’d fill their time. Going from working for the past 40 odd years to suddenly not working anymore, can be daunting.
With work being such a large part of our lives, and defining who we are, it’s important that the transition from work to retirement is properly managed so you can ease into your new lifestyle comfortably. Golf is a perfect mechanism for that.
You may or may not be surprised to learn that 3% of UK golf clubs members are aged under 30. With the vast majority, 68% of members, being over 50. Now importantly this bodes well for meeting like minded people of similar age.
The social side of the game is so important. Think about this, when we’re at work, we spend decades building up our knowledge and skill in whatever it is we do, we get implicit respect from our work colleagues and are recognised for our contribution to the workplace.
At home, It’s no secret that we men have a pecking order to observe… It goes something like, the wife’s in charge, then come the kids (if they haven’t flown the nest yet), then the pets and maybe if we’re lucky, we come in 4th place. Getting out on the golf course to chew the fat with your friends, well, it can be nice to be back on equal terms, even if it is just for a bit.
And on a serious note, we spend so much time putting the needs of our family above our own, that it’s important to have that time for ourselves to help maintain that home-life balance.
If you couple that with the implied physical and mental health benefits of swinging a club and going for a good walk in the fresh air on a regular basis… Well, it seems silly not to really…
We’ve spoken to some of the leading golf authorities to get their advice and find out what they have to say to people like yourself, thinking of starting out their golfing careers in later life.
How do I get started playing golf?
Everyone has a different point of view on how and where you should start, you can rent clubs relatively cheap, borrow a friends or even pick up a used set online or at a car boot sale.
Once you’re equipped, where you first choose to hit a ball is entirely up to you, be it the driving range, the putting green or simply getting yourself out there and starting with the front 9 holes.
Sean from Breaking Eighty has this to say:
Start on the Green
“If you’re a beginning golfer, start from the hole and work out. 1 foot putts. Then 2 feet, 3 feet. Work your way back to chips. Then wedges”
“If you start out just trying to bang balls with driver you can find yourself getting frustrated really quickly and giving up the sport before you even have a chance to get into it.”
“By starting at the green you can build confidence, and ratchet up the difficulty in shots as you go.” – Sean from Breaking Eighty
Jack from Halcyon Golf Travel also has these tips for people starting out
Some tips for those starting their golfing journey.
- Learn how to hit the ball a long way first, and then how to hit it straight afterwards.
- Keep practise fun; play games, make bets with friends and have a laugh.
- Spend twice as much time on your short game as you do your long game.
- Play with people better than you
- Your money is much better spent on lessons than on new clubs. Consider getting custom fit for a set once you can shoot in the 90’s consistently.
- Don’t give up! Golf will give you back more than what you put into it, so stick at it!
Jack from Halcyon Golf Travel
Do I need lessons to learn how to play
Jack Nicklaus famously said:
“A golfer who learns to swing hard initially can usually acquire accuracy later, whereas a golfer who gets too accuracy-conscious at the outset will rarely be able to make himself hit the ball harder later on.”
The point being, go and enjoy hitting the ball for the sake of hitting the ball. Work on your accuracy afterwards…
Now I’m not saying don’t get lessons in fact, like Jack advised above, lessons are a sound investment and will likely make a better golfer of you in a shorter space of time… But the key is to enjoy what you’re doing.
Here’s what Ben has to say on the matter:
Golf is an amazing game but it is infinitely complex.
Relying on videos and other golfing buddies to steer your game will inevitably lead to some confusion, missing links, and some information that isn’t entirely accurate or relevant to your game.
Many of my students have been playing the game for a long time and every day we have to retrain something that they’ve been doing incorrectly for the last 20 years.
When you get started get some guidance so you can avoid that.
They’ll teach you the fundamentals, fit you for equipment, show you strategy, and be a sounding board for any and all questions that’ll inevitably come up.
The game is so much more fun when you’re progressing and getting better and the best way to progress is to be constantly learning and growing!
Ben Nelson – NC State University
Here’s what Audrey Ferguson has to say on the matter:
It’s a wonderful thing to note: anyone can play golf, and anyone can learn at any time!
“The best way to get started as a golfer is to prioritize time to get to a golf facility. It could be a green-grass, traditional facility, or even a non-green-grass facility, such as Top Golf.”
“It’s really all about having the confidence to give it a go! A beginner simply needs a ball and a club of choice. It’s most fun when joining with friends.”
“A pro-tip: pair up with a friend who is familiar with the game, so that they can assist with tips and tricks along the way.”
“The PGA Section in one’s area is a great resource to connect with nearby instructors. Introductory lessons are always helpful, to ensure you take steps toward preventing injury and develop technique early on.”
“Practice tip: go slowly. Don’t rush through a bucket of balls on the range. Move through your swing and setup slowly, and take it to the course. The best practice happens on the course, testing your skills on the real landscape of competition.”
“The Golf Channel has amazing shows to further discuss technique and practice tips altogether. Tuning into their station is super helpful for any golfer!”
“Golf is a lifetime sport, promoting positive sportsmanship and aiding in lifelong relationships. It truly is the game of life.”
Audrey Ferguson – Alabama Golf Association
As well as Ted Williams:
Welcome to the chance to experience the thrill of watching your shot seek its intended target!
“That said, it is no secret that it can be a frustrating game as well; below we’ll explore the source of the frustrations that many experience and how to avoid them so golf is fun.”
“Whether brand new or struggling to improve [no matter how hard you try], let’s heed the insightful words of legendary ball striker Ben Hogan [paraphrased];
‘Reverse every natural instinct and do the [exact] opposite of what you are inclined to do…and you’ll end up with a near perfect golf swing.’
“That is to say, the golf swing is loaded with illusions which need to be uncovered in order to align your physical intentions with the realities of the golf swing versus aligning your intentions with the illusions of the golf swing. Note that no mortal is immune to being tricked by these illusions.”
“Once my mind grasped these counterintuitive realities, I began to make the physical changes needed to improve and ultimately become a Certified Golf Instructor with the Croker Golf System which takes a head-on approach to dispelling the swing’s illusions.”
“Doing the opposite of what you are innately inclined to do requires a proven training system to drill in the movements that align with the realities of the golf swing.”
“After playing golf pretty well for decades, but not up to my standards, I dropped everything I thought I knew and followed an “Inch by inch, golf is a cinch” approach to breaking the golf swing down into bite size digestible skills that can be fairly easily mastered and blended together as you gain additional skills.”
“If you are interested in doing as I did, here is a video from Peter Croker, PGA-Australia [who’s System was featured on a 1995 Golf Digest Cover] to tell you more about his System.”
Is playing golf going to be good for my health
The short answer is yes. Derek Clemmens at golf shack advises that walking, and playing 18 holes will burn around 1400 calories and even if you use a buggy, still around 800 calories which is not to be sniffed at.
Now for the more athletically conscious Kristen McAuliffe has this to say about golf specific, mobility exercises:
Maximise your golf swing
The rotational stresses of the swing can place considerable pressure on the spine and muscles. Compounding that with the fact that golfers spend four to five hours in a bent-over stance, repeating the same motion hundreds of times, it is no wonder that playing golf can easily lead to injuries. To keep your back healthy for golf, add exercises that increase hip and mid back (thoracic spine) mobility and improve core strength.
Golf-specific exercise is the speciality of It’s Working Out. We have four Titleist Performance Institute Certified Trainers on staff. Here’s a little taste of what we do to help you prevent and decrease lower back pain while improving distance off the tee. Thoracic Mobility Exercise from our You Tube channel. Or over 100 golf specific workouts from It’s Working Out’s On Demand Library
Kristen McAuliffe – It’s working out
Perfecting your stance
Golf may seem quite tricky and challenging to learn through the eyes of a beginner. Still, the truth is that it is pretty easy to learn to play golf on a level at which you’re able to enjoy a fun and perfectly safe golf vacation with your friends, even during these crazy pandemic times. One of the most important tips I think every beginner golfer should receive is to first and foremost learn to maintain the proper stance. Your stance is critical when taking a shot, and it may make the difference between a great shot and a trip to the woods. You may be eager to learn everything there is to know as your interest in playing golf increases but trust me when I tell you that a bit of patience can go a long way and make it much easier for you to become a good golfer. So try to take your time and take it step by step, and I’m sure you will be satisfied with the results.
Sean – GolfTripJunkie
Make it fun
Jon Adler – Golf is a mind game
The 4 stages of short game
No matter what age you find yourself at, it’s never too late to start playing golf or brush up on your golf swing technique. The golf swing -for either your long or short game- can be broken down into 4 stages; The Set-Up, The Backswing, The Downswing, and The Follow-Through.
Mastering these 4 stages separately then bringing them all together cohesively will help you to develop a consistent golf swing technique as an individual. Your golf swing technique may be unorthodox, but remember, one of my top golf swing tips is that; ‘Any Swing That Brings The Club Face Squarely In Contact With The Golf Ball, Can Be Effective No Matter What The Swing Looks Like.’ My favourite golf clubs for beginners are those that offer forgiveness or a high ‘Moment of Inertia’ and are, ‘Easy-to-Hit.’ Simply put, you don’t always have to make perfect contact with the golf ball, and the result will still be acceptable. I love the Callaway, TaylorMade, and Cobra Golf ranges of clubs for this specific feature, but my recommendation is for the beginner golfer to do their due diligence and research the golf clubs offering these features within their budget. Additionally, it is also important to warm up before your round of golf to avoid injury out on the course. Everyone is different, so be mindful of any pre-existing injuries that may be aggravated by playing golf. You can watch the video below for a good golf warm-up routine and hopefully, it will help you to play the most rounds of golf for the season unaffected by the limitations of injury. Happy golfing!
Beginner Golf Swing Tips – Beginner Golf Swing Tips
Technology in the modern game
There’s no doubt that technology can assist your game, whether it’s in practice or play the use of technology can help you make better informed decisions. But it’s not absolute must by any stretch of the imagination, for a lot of people simply developing an intuitive feel is far more satisfying than knowing exactly how many yards it is to the pin.
Craig a professional at Fun Golf has this to say on technology:
Embrace Modern Technology
My advice to anyone getting started in golf would be to embrace modern technology and use a golf measurement device. By this I mean is using a golf rangefinder, a GPS watch or download a golf distance measuring app on your phone.
However, the use of this type of technology in golf is something which still divides opinion. There are those who are passionately against any tech being used in the modern game. Whereas there are others who are strong supporters of using anything which will help improve your enjoyment of the game.
What is clear though is that the use of GPS technology (Global Positioning System) will improve your golf. They can accurately tell you the distance you have left to the flag, help with club selection, and can even tell you how far you hit each club.
I remember when I started playing golf and you simply had to rely on the 150-yard markers at different positions on the course, and if you were lucky a course planner with yardages. However today there are so many tools available to use, where do you start?
At Fun Golf we recommend GPS watches as a great way to start to use technology to improve your golf. Not only will they help you on the course with assisting you in your shot selection, but in some of the more expensive models they can also be used as fitness devices and everyday watches.
We’ve written a helpful article on the Best GPS Watches to improve your golf, and these watches start at a reasonable price, so perfect for the beginner golfer. Why not take some time to have a look and start improving your golf today!
Craig is a golf enthusiast. Having played the game for over 30 years he has always been passionate about the game. Today Craig offers golf advice and golf tips to beginner golfers through his popular website, social media and best selling Golf Instruction book.
Craig spent many years working at Woburn Golf Club in his younger years. Seeing how the team of PGA professionals helped so many golfers improve and get so much enjoyment from the game from golf instruction, he was inspired to see how he could do the same. Fun Golf came from, a desire to help golfers have fun and improve their game.
Craig – Fun Golf
Combine your love of golfing with travel
Golfing trips and holidays are a great way to keep active and social in retirement. At My Baggage, we help people all over the world ship their golf clubs to destinations around the world, combining people’s love of the sport with a desire to travel in retirement.
Stuart – My Baggage
Some of the hidden benefits of playing golf
Because of its low athletic requirement, Golf’s a terrific sport for people of all shapes and sizes and you don’t have to be in peak physical shape to start out. In fact what you’ll likely find is the more and more you play, the fitter you’ll become as your core muscles become stronger and you build up your aerobic fitness.
Golf’s also a great way to meet like minded people and make new friends because it’s highly unlikely you’ll be trying to win any world championships, it’s a great way to relax and have a laugh… With the handicap system you’re also able to play competitively against friends that have been swinging clubs for years.
Bonus Tip – Technical Gold
Last but by no means least, we’ve got a bonus tip here for you.
A fundamental understanding of why you do what you do will help shape and guide your golf game and save you years of frustrations
Understand the technicalities of hitting a golf ball
At the top of my list of things to get right in the early days is to develop a clear understanding of how a ball is struck from the ground. It is all too intuitive to try and get the club under the ball to lift it but as you will see in the video article linked here and below, that is not what happens and any misconception in this area can hold a golfer back for years to come.
From a more general standpoint be mindful that golf is a tough game to learn so be patient, exercise self-compassion and keep it playful. High expectations and over trying can really taint what is an amazing experience.
Noel Rousseau – How to strike a golf ball from the ground
How we can help you retire early
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You tell us what you want to do, you tell us your goals and aspirations, and then we start your journey to retirement.
✓ Retirement Savings – how much you need to save for retirement
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