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Have you been losing distance with your irons? If you answered yes , it’s time for a tune-up with the help of a PGA Professional.
Just like we maintain our vehicles, sometimes your body deserves an overhaul. From the obvious broken taillight to the low-hanging exhaust, our body can fall into a self-destructive deterioration mode over years of use, just like our beloved hotrods.
Why am I Losing Distance with Irons?
⛳️ Short Answer: Losing distance with your irons is a common issue especially for seasoned golfers. It can often be attributed to a few key factors like tension in the golf swing, leading to reduced flexibility and clubhead speed.
Over the years, I have witnessed senior golfers try to buy their distance back by spending thousands of dollars on the latest golf equipment. Don’t get me wrong, new lightweight clubs with lighter shafts with thin faces may increase your swing speed, but the long-term issue is not being addressed.
According to the scholarly article “The Intensity and Effects of Strength Training in the Elderly”, maintaining muscle mass and bone density can be increased through physical exercise for older adults.
Your physique and stamina will dictate your reaction time as well as your balance especially as we age. Let’s take some time to cover key concepts that will help you unlock your hidden potential.
Importance of Strength & Flexibility in Golf as We Age
First, your leg strength and your overall flexibility limitations should be monitored and recorded by your physician and/or physical therapist. Set up a time and consult with your primary care physician so they can understand your goals. Without understanding your limitations, it’s probable that an injury could occur.
Helpful exercises to gain more power in your swing:
- Chair squats
- Resistance band bicep & tricep curls
- Low-impact cardio
- Glute bridges
- Overhead arm extensions
- Light kettlebell thrusts
Now I am going to demonstrate important tips that I’ve used with my seasoned golf students to help with losing distance with irons.
Don’t Skip the Importance of Health Living
If your doctor permits you to proceed with physical training, I recommend performing your exercise routine at least three times a week. Muscle mass can be increased with proper exercise and diet regardless of age. Since many factors contribute to your diet, be sure to ask your doctor to run labs so a licensed dietician can provide you with a proper meal plan. If these precautions are followed, you will most likely experience an increase in natural strength.
Now that we have covered the physical side of understanding distance loss, I would like to share a personal story from one of my golf students. In a moment of desperation, he came to me because he couldn’t hit his 7 iron more than 80 yards. Furthermore, most of his irons went the same distance…. not very far.
As a firm believer in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, I asked him one simple question. “Do you want a long-term solution that will increase your abilities while extending your time here on Earth?” Fortunately, he knew that my intentions were in good faith. He knew where I was going with my statement because he was aware of his weight issue and lack of strength.
Whether you are a young senior or super senior in your 90s, improving your abilities on and off the golf course is always an option. It’s easy to let things slip in our health as we get older but to slow the rate of muscle deterioration, exercise is a must.
Given my student’s current situation, I suggested visiting his primary care physician to get him back to a healthy weight. Knowing that his body composition would change, we decided to focus only on short game practice until he met his goal. I offered to be his accountability partner for the next few months.
Roughly four months later, he called me to schedule a lesson, and I was ready to work on some short game techniques until the moment he arrived. Standing before me was a 62-year-old man who looked like he had the physique of a 45-year-old athlete. Not only did he look more muscular, but he could be taken off several medications due to his transformation.
As a result of his dedication to improving his physical condition, he could hit the ball almost twice as far, approximately 150 yards. Attacking your issues from a healthy perspective will not only help with distance loss but add years to your life!
⛳️ Related: The Best Exercises for Senior Golfers
Golf Swing Mechanics that Contribute to More Power
Opt for an Inside Out Swing Path
If you struggle with your iron distances, evaluating your golf swing mechanics may produce significant power. One of the most common swing mechanics that drains power is your path. Your swing path affects your attack angle, which allows you to compress the ball at impact. If you tend to hit a fade or slice, you most likely have an out-to-in swing path. The most powerful hitters in golf possess an inside out swing path that keeps your hands forward of the ball at impact.
An inside out path generates lag in the downswing transition just before impact. Lag is the angle that is formed between your lead arm and the golf club shaft.
This angle produces your release through impact. If the angle between your lead arm and the golf club shaft become wider then, the chances of losing power will drastically increase. In the below video, I will demonstrate how losing distance with irons can occur and how to create lag in your swing.
Clubs That Help Gain Power Back
Over the past 20+ years, golfers who have struggled with long irons have gravitated to hybrid or utility clubs because they are more forgiving due to their design. There’s a reason – because they work.
Next, if we examine what the pros use on the PGA Champions Tour, three significant characteristics contribute to reducing losing distance with irons:
- Shaft Mater or Flex
- Club Head Loft
- Club Head Mass
We have articles on irons best suited for seasoned players, if your iron grooves are dull and worn out. Or, if you haven’t considered replacing some of your long irons for hybrids – it might be time to try them out.
Golf Shafts Can Affect Your Distance Too
Golf technology has come a long way regarding shaft design in the last 15 years. For example, the average weight for a steel shaft is over 100g+ per shaft, while some companies have reduced the weight of graphite iron shafts to 40g.
The lighter shafts permit companies to soften the flex of the shaft to assist slower swing speeds in activating how the shaft reacts at impact. An easy way to understand the general rule of shaft flex is to understand what shaft kick point is.
Shaft Kick Point
By definition, the kick point of a shaft is the point at which the shaft bends. In most cases, the firmer the flex, the higher the kick point is located. While the softer the flex, the lower the kick point is located. A mid to high kick point shaft will produce more of a penetrating ball flight while a lower kick point will flex the shaft closer to the ball, yielding a higher launching shot.
The second factor that affects club head design for older golfers is loft. The loft is the angle from which the club face points upwards when addressed to the ball. There have been several occasions where students of mine have inquired about adjusting the lofts of their irons to help increase distance.
Fortunately, manipulating loft is a relatively easy fix in most cases. In fact, most golf club brands will offer the consumer an option to lessen the lofts during production to maximize distances. You could also visit a club fitter if you’re using older golf clubs. One thing to remember when decreasing loft is that the shaft flex should be softened to ensure proper backspin ratios.
Club Head Mass
These three designs typically separate low handicappers (blades), mid handicap golfers (CB), and high handicappers (hybrids) from each other with one caveat.
The longer irons with lower lofts are not forgiving, so low & mid handicappers tend to elect to put a 3 or 4 hybrid in the bag for long par 3s and approach shots.
If you were to examine a 3 iron blade from a 3 hybrid, you would notice that the loft should look similar, but the width from face to back of the club is distinctly longer. This increase in club head mass helps increase club face stability for off-center strikes while the additional weight promotes a lower center of gravity (CG) that produces higher launching ball flights.
Key Factors of Club Design to Avoid Losing Distance with Irons
If you have eliminated the physical aspects listed above, you many want to consider the best golf clubs for senior players. Here are three basic takeaways to remember especially if your’re losing distance with irons.
- Metal material (titanium produces faster ball speeds)
- Lighter shafts with more flexible shafts reduce tension in the upper body.
- Face loft reduction increases total yardage
When it comes to losing distance with irons, it’s now time for you to decide if an overhaul is necessary. Rather than start first with investing in new golf equipment, consider dedicating time and resources to improving your technique and physical condition in consultation with a healthcare professional.
Here are three swing adjustments that can significantly enhance your iron play:
- Reduce tension in your swing.
- Opt for an inside-out swing path.
- Work on your flexibility with golf exercises designed for seniors.
Implementing these changes will likely lead to a smoother swing, improved rotation, increased power, and greater clubhead speed, allowing you to achieve longer distances with your irons than before. Save the money on buying all the latest golf equipment and spend it on playing the golf courses of your dreams!