August 23, 2009

My Advice For Playing Young

These 4 tips will help you beat back the years

1. STRETCH THE 'STRINGS
These warm-up exercises will keep you loose and your swing supple. First, bend over with flexed knees and try to touch your toes. Then slowly straighten your knees to stretch your hamstrings. Second, put a club behind your shoulders, and get into your address posture. Now turn your upper body back and forth a few times, mimicking your swing. Turn back as far as you comfortably can, hold for a second, and release.

2. CLOSE YOUR STANCE
As you get older, you lose flexibility in your hips, so sliding the right foot back a few inches at address will make it easier to complete your backswing. This stance helps give the right hip a head start when you turn and puts you in better position to swing down from inside the target line, turning a weak slice into a powerful draw. Do this, and your distance should improve. Sam Snead was a great model for an enduring turn.

3. LET YOUR HIPS TURN
When the guys on the regular tour start the club back, their hips hardly move because they want to create a lot of torque for power. But you lose that flexibility as you get older, so your hips need to turn as soon as you start your takeaway. Start the backswing with your shoulders and hips turning together, and then start the downswing with your left hip rotating a split second sooner than your shoulders.

4. ALLOW FOR VISION LOSS
As you get older and your eyes begin to fail, it gets harder to see the putting line. And that makes you lose confidence in your stroke. My dad said to pick your best line, and understand that if it isn't perfect, you could push or pull the putt and it still might go in. The hole is plenty big enough to take any of these five balls (above) depending on the critical issue of speed. Your read doesn't have to be spot-on to hole a putt.

Tom Watson is the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.


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