Golf is one of the most common sports played among retired Americans, especially in Florida! The number of golfers exponentially increases in Naples Florida where I was born, raised, and started my Physical Therapy practice Berman Physical Therapy. You literally cannot drive more than 3 minutes anywhere in Naples without passing a golf course. At the time of this writing, there are at least 90 18 hole golf courses in the “Greater Naples” area. That’s insane if you knew how “big” this town was when I grew up back in the 80’s and 90’s… But perfect for retirees who plan on golfing three to four times a week and enjoying the beautiful weather we have down here year-round.
I opened Berman Physical Therapy in October 2015 and over the next couple of years I unintentionally started to specialize in helping male golfers aged 65 to 75 relieve their back pain and stay on the golf course as this was the most common demographic calling my office. I say unintentionally because prior to this I already specialized in resolving back pain but never really had a significant population of golfers to work with when I was previously working up in the Panhandle and North Florida (after college and before returning back to Naples). To raise the stakes even higher, back pain is the number one reason why golfers stop golfing! Something to think about- is back pain while golfing inevitable or is it preventable? Most people think inevitable but hopefully by the end of this book you will be 100% convinced that back pain while golfing is preventable!
After working with countless male golfers over the age of 60 with back pain, I realized I was hearing the same story in slightly different words from the majority of the guys. Most of the guys I was working with “used to be able to drive it 250 yards minimum” and had competitive handicaps. But after the age of 55 or so, “my distance went to s*** (crap)” and now they were lucky to hit it 210 yards off the tee. Usually the average distance off the tee I hear from them on day one with me is 190 yards.
One major underlying concern that was a little harder to get out of these guys was just how much this loss was killing their egos. In general, males are competitive and either consciously or subconsciously are trying to be the alpha males of their groups. One of the ways that we males can demonstrate our “alpha-ness” is by out driving all of our buddies on the tee box! Again, this can be either conscious or subconscious but it is definitely happening. If it wasn’t happening I wouldn’t be writing this book and most likely wouldn’t be specializing in helping male golfers increase club head speed and gain more than 30 yards off the tee...
So after doing some research and asking my golfing patients more questions, I found that most male golfers lose the biggest percentage of distance off of there long clubs (particularly the driver) after the age of 55. I also found that male golfers lose a significantly larger percentage of distance off there long clubs compared to female golfers. This was very interesting to me because the number one “excuse” my patients were giving me for why they lost distance was “it’s because I’m getting old”. They were all using age as the main excuse of why they lost distance off their drives AND now have back pain while golfing. Initially I did not question this because on the surface it sounds legit- until I thought about it a little bit more. If you look at it objectively, males and females are both aging but why would the percentage of distance lost be so much greater in males?
I didn't find the answer to that question until down the road when my patients would randomly tell me that they are hitting the ball better and farther after working with me then they had in years previous to finding me. These statements would come after I resolved their back pain and they were able to golf without restriction again. This is when I started to see the correlation between back pain and distance off the tee. It turns out that back pain while golfing and distance off the tee are inversely related meaning as back pain while golfing goes up, distance off the tee goes down. This sounds obvious when you say it out loud but it also means the exact opposite is true- as back pain while golfing goes down then distance off the tee goes up. The only way I can explain this is the muscles required to golf without back pain are the same exact muscles responsible for generating power in the golf swing. I will go into great detail on this in a later chapter, but for now you should know that this is a HUGE deal!
Before we get too much farther into this book I want to be very clear, I am not going to change your golf swing per senor do I want to. I am not a golf professional and I know very little about the teachings of golf philosophy. I don't care if you have a beautiful swing, ugly swing, inside out swing, over the top swing, long or short swing; it really doesn’t matter. This book is going to be strictly from a biomechanical point of view. Simply put, biomechanics is how your body moves. It’s how your muscles physically move your bones. And muscles, my friends, are the MOST important thing required to increase distance off your tee shots! That’s right, muscles; not brand new drivers or spending $1000 on lessons or suffering countless hours sweating on the driving range frustrated whacking at balls. MUSCLES! And the best thing about muscles is that you can grow them until the day you die. Seriously, studies have proven that muscles have the capability of growing and getting stronger until the day you die so NO you cannot use age as an excuse to not increase your distance off the tee!
One fun thing that people like to read about is real life success stories of other people they can relate to. So in this book I’ll be using real examples that you can reference on my website Bermanpt.com/golf. When you visit that URL you can find written testimonials and video interviews of some amazing transformations. Nobody on that page will be younger than 60 years old or “better” than your average amature golfer (meaning no professional golfers just average Joe's). I want to show you in multiple different ways that improving your distance off the tee is very possible and very simple (not easy but simple). We just have to start working smarter, not harder.
One way we will do this is by going over in great detail the “4 pillars of golf success” (mental, strategy, technical, and physical). I want you to think about these 4 pillars as tires on a race car- in order to get the best performance out of the car you should have equal air pressure in all 4 tires. And I can honestly say that every single male golfer over the age of 50 that I’ve worked with, one of these pillars/tires is VASTLY under pressurized and it most likely isn’t the “tire” you’re thinking about... Then I will explain in more detail what causes back pain in general and how it relates to the demise of your golf game. I’ll paint a picture as clear as possible to explain your body’s biomechanics and how it directly affects how far the golf ball goes after the age of 50 and how/ why it differs before the age of 50.
I’ll then explain why over swinging or taking the club back too far is arguably the #1 cause of losing distance which is the exact opposite thought process of what literally every male golfer over the age of 50 that I’ve worked with tries to do. They’ll say “If I could get more shoulder turn then I could hit the ball farther” or “If I could just get the club head back farther I’d be able to generate more club head speed”. This thought process might be true if you’re under the age of 50 but over the age of 50 it just doesn’t work that way! The human body moves differently pre 50 vs post 50 so the swing you had in your 30’s and 40’s rarely works in your 60’s and 70’s. Said differently, yes more shoulder turn and getting the club head back farther could generate more club head speed and distance but not if you don’t use the correct muscles to produce that motion. Again, way more detail on this later...
Then it’ll be time for my favorite saying when working with my golf performance clients- “The slower you go, the farther it’ll go.” This is referencing your back swing and the ball and how momentum is NOT your friend in the golf game after the age of 50. I’ll be referencing Hideki Matsuyama’s swing from 2011-2020, specifically his pause at the top of the back swing. Since learning how important muscles are opposed to momentum in relation to longevity in the golf game, I’ve been predicting that Matsuyama will be the oldest competitive player on the PGA Tour. It should be fun to look back on this chapter in the year 2050 to see if I was right.
OK here’s the last thing I’ll say before we get into the good stuff: it is physically IMPOSSIBLE to not gain more distance off your tee shots if you use the techniques I describe in this book! Read that again! It is a law of physics that if you do exactly what I outline in this book, you will hit the ball farther off the tee. How much further is completely up to you. Jim was hitting his drives 210 yards when he started working with us in July 2020. By April 2021 he was hitting drives “285 yards effortlessly.” I’ll tell you all about Jim’s story later in this book and you can even watch his video interview at Bermanpt.com/golf
How to Transform Your Golf Game
...and hit the ball like a champion