Distance and the Senior Golfer
__The > December cover story about Anthony Kim illustrates how he grips down at least 2 inches on a 44 1/2-inch driver that he usually plays at about 42 inches. The demonstration mentions that he has a lengthy torso, which would indicate longer arms, and shorter legs. Inasmuch as I am the same height as Kim with torso/legs balance my arms are not lengthy, say, like those of Gary Player. Wouldn't gripping down on my 44-inch Hogan driver seriously affect club-head speed not affected by Kim's longer arms? Maybe I should try gripping down on my 46-inch driver that actually outdistances my 44-inch driver, but with less control. What do you think? James Oliver Campbell, age 81>
Sun Prairie, WI >
Please, Lord, let me be worried about whether I should hit my 44- or 46-inch driver when I'm 81. James, I think you've hit the nail on the head. Shorten the circumference of your swing (by gripping down, in this case) and you will tend to lower your swing speed. In Kim's case, he believes it makes sense because: "The driver is made for someone 6 feet tall, and I'm a lot shorter than that, so I grip down to compensate." In your case, if you can swing that 46"-driver with just as much control as the 44-inch driver, go for it. Personally, I've always believed in the Bob Toski mantra, "It's a game of how near, not how far." Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
__My question is about a problem that is likely common to most senior golfers--losing distance with age. I am 74, still have a pretty good swing but have lost a lot of distance off the tee and with irons in the last 15 years. Do we lose distance simply because of muscle strength or is it because muscles don't fire when told so the club can accelerate into the ball and provide the strong impact we used to get. Can anything be done to regain distance or is this a problem we simply have to live with? The answer--to play from the forward senior tees adds enjoyment but not the same satisfaction. Ron Barkley>
Balderson, Ontario Canada__
Ron, Butch Harmon has just the thing for you. It's a new video on the very subject that just went up on golfdigest.com. Among other things, Butch says: "Golfers who have lost some flexibility can get the pop back in their swings by making a better wrist hinge. At 65, I don't have a long swing, but I can still get pretty good distance by making a full hinge going back and releasing it through impact..." But there's a lot more to Butch's advice...check it out.
(Photo: Stephen Szurlej)