I live in a golf and tennis community in Estero, Florida half of the year; golf is a major activity as well as a major topic of conversation. If asked how long they want to be able to play golf, most who play would answer, “Forever.” One friend said not long ago that his ideal passing would be immediately following making a birdie on a challenging hole at age 95.
How long will most of the members be able to play and enjoy golf? The answer, as to many questions, is “It depends.”
Many have selected golf as their principal or sole activity, some playing as frequently as five times a week. As they reach their late 70s or early 80s, too many have developed health problems that significantly reduce or eliminate their ability to continue playing. The number of golf carts displaying a handicap flag has increased every year.
Beginning around age 40 we lose about 10% of our muscle mass each decade. By the time we reach our 70s, that loss is a big number. We also face reduction in our range of motion as well as balance. Some of this loss is inevitable, but we can take action to reduce it.
One of my friends who prefers anonymity celebrated his 90th birthday in February. He was a member of his college tennis team and continued to play competitive tennis and other racket sports for many decades. He took up golf in his 40s and continues to play three times a week; he’s shot his age many times. I regularly see him cycling in our community. His lifelong love of athletics, along with good genes, has kept him active.
Following is the action plan one friend Jim, age 61, told me he’s following to extend his years of active, healthy golf.
“My typical week is as follows:
1. Four rounds of golf;
2. Three sessions of training, two with my fitness trainer, Jeremiah Towery, and one on my own;
3. One session of yoga;
4. One or two session of Pilates on the reformer, depending on my golf schedule.
“I also stretch daily for about 30 minutes using a different combination of foam roller, tennis ball, Theracane and ‘The Stick’ every day. It’s very important to do this before golf, but when it’s an early tee time I do a quick version and then do more after the round. My stretching routine always incorporates some core work with either planks or yoga poses.
“As my trainer would tell you, the objective of our training sessions is to allow me to feel better and stronger on the golf course, which of course translates to feeling better in all daily activities. I have found since starting to work with him that my energy level is much better on the golf course, especially at the end of a round. On days that I don’t golf, I usually spend an hour or so practicing light stuff – putting, chipping, pitching and wedge shots. Since retiring, I don’t understand how I had time to work.”
Will Jim be able to play golf into his 80s and perhaps his 90s? What do you think?