What you can learn from 82-year-old JoAnne Carner's swing
FAIRFIELD, CT—JoAnne Carner earned her parade lap, but she isn't taking it. The 82-year-old legend came to Brooklawn Country Club and the U.S. Senior Women's Open and proceeded to beat her age by two shots in the second round—a day after equalling it in round one. The 43-time LPGA winner and World Golf Hall of Famer was a bomber in her day, and still has a swing that average players can learn from.
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"If everybody could model that takeaway she has, they'd be getting things started the right way," says Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher Cheryl Anderson, who is also competing this week in the Senior Women's U.S. Open. "She keeps the clubhead right in line with her hands halfway back, and look at her posture! Her back is nice and straight even at 82, and that helps you make a good turn."
Carner has added more wrist hinge at the top to produce more leverage, and she routinely hit 200-yard drives on a course where third-round leader Annika Sorenstam was averaging 241 and second place Liselotte Neumann was at 223. "She doesn't get to the top like she used to with a lot of rotation, but she has good arm speed and hits the ball from the inside," says Anderson. "She's actually a great model for players who are losing a little flexibility as they get older. It's OK to let the club travel a little longer with the arms after the turn is done, and add another lever with the wrists."
Carner missed the cut, but Anderson not only made it to the weekend but shot one of only seven under-par rounds all day Saturday to get inside the top 20. The entire week has been a thrill for the 52-year-old instructor who works alongside top PGA Tour coach Mike Bender in Lake Mary, Florida. "I grew up in Trumbull (CT), the next town over, and we're staying with my parents in the house I grew up in," says Anderson, who has husband Lorin on the bag. "I've had this tournament circled on my calendar. Going through qualifying was actually more nerve-wracking than this has been, because I wanted to get into the field so badly."
Before moving to Florida, Anderson was based just outside New York City, at Wykagyl Country Club, where she taught and built a formidable playing record. In 2002, she became the first woman to win all three of the Metropolitan PGA Section's major tournaments—the Met Open, Stroke Play and Match Play titles. "I'm playing as well now as I ever have. Coaching all these years has given me a high golf IQ—if I see a lie up on top of the rough, that's something I've been telling students about for a long time and I know how to handle that," says Anderson, who shot 74-76 before her third-round 71. "I also haven't lost any distance. COVID took away a lot of opportunities to practice and play, but I was able to work on my fitness—and especially a stretching routine. And for the last month, I've really been able to ramp up my practice time. This week has just been a joy."