Whether a fast swing tempo is the correct swing tempo for a senior golfer really depends upon the individual.
If you look at all of the leading golf professionals competing on today's US and European Tours, you will notice that they all have different swing tempos. If you watch players such as Tiger Woods or Sergio Garcia, you will see that they play shots with a very fast swing tempo. However, watching players such as Ernie Els or Fred Couples you will see a much slower swing tempo. There is no one correct tempo to swing your golf club with. It really depends upon you as an individual and the tempo that you are comfortable with.
A good way to notice what tempo you are comfortable with is to notice the pace that you walk at. Are you someone who likes to stride out ahead at a very fast marching pace. Or are you someone who takes it easier, sauntering along? This will help you notice you own natural rhythm for doing things. If you like to 'march', then try a faster swing tempo. If you prefer to walk slowly then a slower swing tempo will work well for your golf swing.
Whether you try a fast or slower swing tempo though, the key is to keep it constant. Consider two pieces of music, one with a really fast beat and the other with a slow beat. They both have rhythm but a different rhythm. The key though is that rhythm remains constant and this is true during your golf swing.
To help you with this, try the following. Work on counting as you swing. To keep a constant tempo, make sure you keep the pace that you say the numbers constant. You should be able to say 1, 2, 3 on your backswing, with 1 starting your swing, 2 being said when you are half way back and 3 being said at the top of your backswing. Then say 4 and this should be said as you connect with the ball.
But remember work on saying the numbers with a good constant pace and get your swing positions to fit the numbers as they are said – not the other way round!
Should Seniors Create a Fast Swing Tempo?
Millions of seniors love to play the game of golf. Of course, it is easy to understand the appeal of this game for the senior set. While the game affords you the opportunity to spend time outdoors with your friends, it does not include the physical demands of other sports like basketball, tennis, soccer, etc. Given reasonable health, many people are able to continue playing golf well into their 70's, 80's, and even beyond. If you are looking for a game that you can play for a lifetime, look no farther than the green fairways of your local golf course.
If you are a senior golfer, or you quickly find yourself approaching that category, you may be trying to figure out how you can perform at the highest possible level. After all, you don't have to give up on shooting low scores just because you have quite a few years in your rear view mirror. Plenty of people continue to play good golf as they age, and there is no reason you can't do the same. To do so, however, you are going to have to focus on the fundamentals of your technique, and you are going to need to consistently look for ways to improve.
One of the ways in which most amateur golfers can improve is by fine-tuning their tempo. The tempo that you use in your swing is one of the most important aspects of your technique, yet this is an area that is largely ignored by the average player. Tempo is something that varies from player to player, meaning it is difficult for golf teachers to instruct their students on this point. Finding the right tempo for your swing can be a challenge, but it will be worth it when you are rewarded with consistently solid ball striking round after round.
In this article, we are going to consider whether or not senior golfers should use a fast swing tempo. On the one hand, it might seem like a fast tempo would not be ideal for players who are likely to be dealing with various aches and pains on a daily basis. However, you may also be thinking that a fast tempo could help you maintain your distance, which is one of the main challenges faced by senior players. So which is it? Is a fast tempo going to be good or bad for the typical senior? We will look for an answer to that question in the content below.
All of the instruction contained below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Benefits of a Fast Tempo
Before we discuss the way a fast tempo will specifically affect a senior golfer, we need to first review the pros and cons of a fast tempo in general. Why do golfers decide to use a fast tempo, and what kind of improvements can be made when this type of tempo is used? It is possible to play good golf using just about any kind of swing tempo, as long as that tempo is consistent from swing to swing. However, a fast tempo does offer some unique advantages, a few of which are listed below.
- Performance under pressure. One of the biggest difficulties that most golfers face when playing under pressure is trying to maintain their tempo. When you get nervous on the golf course, you will tend to speed up in order to get your shot 'over with' as quickly as possible. Of course, this can cause trouble in your swing, as speeding up will take you out of the tempo that you have worked so hard to build on the range. However, that isn't necessarily the case if you already use a fast tempo. You can only swing the club so quickly, meaning a player with a fast tempo may not be affected by pressure or nerves. Rather than trying to maintain your slow tempo even when the heat is on, you can simply start with a fast tempo and keep it that way throughout the day.
- Decisive movements. You need to be committed and confident when you swing the golf club. If there is any doubt in the back of your mind as to the kind of swing you are going to make, or the kind of shot you are going to hit, that doubt will affect your performance. Players with slow swing tempos have time to think about the things that could go wrong in the swing, meaning they have more time to make mistakes. Speeding up your tempo takes away that time, and that could be a good thing. With less time to think, you will simply have to set the swing in motion and let it go from there. For better or worse, you will be committed to your swing and your movements will be decisive.
- Match your personality. This point is only going to be a benefit to those who have a quick talking, fast moving personality both on and off the golf course. If you are someone who is constantly in motion and never likes to sit still, a fast tempo is likely to work perfectly with your overall personality. It would be awkward, and maybe impossible, to force yourself into a slow and steady tempo when that style runs counter to the way you are in 'real life'. It is always a good idea to match up your tempo to your personality as much as possible, so think about how you behave and then work on taking your tempo in that direction.
- A sharp transition. Many amateur golfers see their swing go wrong when they transition from backswing to downswing, but a quick tempo can help to correct that issue. You need to change directions quickly during the transition, and those with a slow tempo tend to become sloppy at the top rather than sharp with their actions. In the end, the transition never really performs as it should, and your ball flight suffers as a result. To make a correction on this point, consider speeding up your overall tempo. With the club moving quickly through the swing, the transition should become cleaner and your ball striking should improve.
Make no mistake – a fast tempo is not for everyone. However, there are clearly some benefits to be found when swinging the club in this manner, such as the points listed above. For a senior golfer, or any other golfer, who could benefit from some of the advantages we have included in this list, going with a fast tempo is an idea worth considering.
Drawbacks of a Fast Tempo
As you might expect, there needs to be a section on the downsides of using a fast tempo in order to create a complete picture of this topic. Everything is a give and take in golf, as you are never going to find a 'perfect' technique which offers all positives and no negatives. The key to building a successful swing is to pick out the mechanics that are going to offer you the greatest benefits with the least number of drawbacks. Since that equation is going to vary from player to player, only you can determine what it looks like in your own game.
The following list contains some of the biggest drawbacks that are seen when players use a fast tempo to create a golf swing.
- Difficulty finding rhythm. One of the best things about swinging with a slow tempo is the fact that you can more easily settle into a rhythm that will help you achieve solid, consistent ball striking. Players who move slowly from the start of the swing down through impact usually have a nice even rhythm – and you can't say the same thing for those with a fast tempo. Everything seems rushed in a fast golf swing, meaning the body is always trying to keep up with the club as it swings. It is certainly possible to play good golf this way, but many players will find a slower tempo to be easier overall.
- Lack of lower body involvement. It is important to involve your lower body if you would like to create a powerful, consistent golf swing. However, when swinging the club quickly from start to finish, you might find it hard to incorporate your lower body correctly. That is not to say that it's impossible to use your lower body with a fast tempo, but it can be more difficult than using a slower pace. Specifically, you might not be able to fire your hips in time from the top of the swing. All of the best players in the world do a great job of using their lower body, so make sure you have the opportunity to do the same.
- Transition to the short game. While the techniques that you use in the long game and the short game are completely different, you do want to carry your tempo over from one area to the other. This is harder for players with a fast tempo, as using a fast tempo in the short game is usually a recipe for disaster. There are some players who successfully use a quick pace in the short game, but those golfers are few and far between. Slow and steady usually wins the race in the short game, meaning you are going to have to make a significant change from your full swing if you would like to succeed on and around the greens.
- A rushed takeaway. The takeaway phase of the golf swing needs to be smooth and steady no matter what kind of tempo you are going to use. If you rush the takeaway, it will always be difficult to get back on track, as your arms will have pulled away from the rest of your body. Again, this is a problem that affects many players who try to swing quickly, even though it is possible to combine a good takeaway with a fast tempo. If you do decide to stick with the idea of a fast tempo, be sure to keep your arms in front of your chest early in the swing to set yourself up for success later on.
The list above should not rule out the idea of using a fast tempo in your swing. It should, however, cause you to think carefully about this idea from both sides. Do you think the positives will outweigh the negatives in your case? Are there any of these negatives that you think will be a particular problem for your game? Take a few minutes to think about both sides of this issue before you decide whether or not to work on a faster tempo during your next range session.
The Senior Game
So far, we have just been covering the pros and cons of using a fast tempo for any golfer, young or old. In this section, we are going to discuss how using a fast tempo is likely to affect the senior player. When thinking about this topic, it is easy to see a problem right from the start – a fast tempo is going to require more from the body than will a slow tempo. If you swing the club quickly, there will be more effort required from your muscles, and more pressure put on your joints. Generally speaking, that isn't going to be a positive thing for the senior player. You want to make the game as easy on your body as possible as you age, and playing with a fast tempo really isn't going to move your swing in that direction.
Another drawback which is specific to senior golfers is the amount of work that it takes to master a fast tempo. If you have been playing for years with a 'regular' tempo, it is going to take some time and practice to get comfortable with moving at a faster speed. While you might have the time available to practice, you don't want to beat up your body hitting range balls by the hundreds. The number of practice shots that it will take to learn how to play with a fast tempo may be beyond what you should be willing to do to your body at this point. After all, would you rather be standing on the range all day working on your tempo, or out on the course playing an actual round of golf with your friends? That is a pretty easy choice for most people.
So far, there hasn't been much positive to say with regard to seniors thinking about using a fast tempo. It doesn't have to all be negative, however, as there are some plusses to mention. For one thing, golfers tend to have more and more trouble handling nerves as they get older – and the fast tempo can help with that problem. A slow swing may break down under pressure if you play in a club tournament or other event, but your faster swing will have a great chance to hold up nicely. Also, the fast tempo is going to encourage you to be aggressive with your swing, which could in turn lead to added yardage. All senior players need to do what they can to maintain distance as the years go by, so using a quick pace may be able to help you hold on to your yardage well into the future.
When you think about the type of golf usually played by a senior, it is a game that is all about control and consistency. Most seniors no longer have the ability to launch the ball high and long into the distance, so instead they focus on hitting fairways, hitting greens, and avoiding big mistakes. This is a great way to play, and this style of play would actually benefit plenty of younger golfers if they were willing to accept it. So, does a fast tempo fit in with this steady, plodding style of golf? No, not really. If you are aiming to play as consistently as possible around your favorite courses, it is going to be a slow tempo that will serve you best.
With a slow tempo, you should find that you have no trouble putting the club on the back of the ball in the same manner each and every time. Players who use a fast tempo – both young and old – usually struggle with consistency, and consistency is the name of the game as you age. By mastering a smooth rhythm with all of your clubs, you can play great golf simply by avoiding mistakes and staying on the short grass.
In all, it is hard to recommend a fast tempo for senior golfers. In fact, it is hard to recommend a fast tempo for any player. Yes, there are a few benefits that can potentially be enjoyed by players who go fast, but those are usually outweighed by the negative points. Think about the golfers you watch on TV each weekend – how do they swing the club? By and large, they are using a slow to medium tempo. There are a few top players with a quick tempo, but they are always going to be the exception rather than the rule.
Finding Your Pace
During your practice sessions, make it a goal to find a tempo that is natural to you and your swing. Rather than specifically trying to swing 'fast' or 'slow', you want to swing in a way that comes naturally to you. To work toward that goal, follow the steps below during an upcoming visit to the range.
- Take your driver from the bag and have a few practice balls ready to hit. You will want to have a target in mind for all of these shots, and you will obviously need a tee ready to set up for the drives.
- For the first shot, swing with the fastest tempo you can manage. Don't worry about hitting a great shot – just take your stance, look out at the target, and swing away with an extremely quick tempo. Most likely, this swing is not going to be very comfortable, and the outcome will likely be poor.
- Next, hit a drive with an extremely slow tempo. Again, this is likely to be uncomfortable, and your shot may not come out well at all.
- After those first two shots, you are going to go back and forth between fast and slow tempos. However, you are going to move a little bit closer to the middle with each swing that you make. The tempo you use should get less and less exaggerated on each side, until you land on a comfortable, reasonable tempo that produces great shots. This is the ideal swing tempo for your game.
The process listed above should only take a few minutes to complete, but it can quickly lead you to a great tempo. As you work through this drill, don't think consciously too much about what kind of tempo you would like to find. Let your tempo find itself by experimenting with both slow and fast speeds. This method is extremely effective, and you can use it during each visit to the range just to confirm that you are staying on the right track.
The idea of a fast swing tempo appeals to a lot of golfers, but it really isn't practical in the end for the senior player. Is it possible that you could use a fast tempo and find success? Sure, it is absolutely possible. However, you are less likely to play well swinging fast than you are swinging slower. Feel free to experiment on the driving range until you land on the swing technique that gives you the best results. Whatever tempo you find works for you, be consistent with it and don't make a change just because you hit a few poor shots. Golf is a hard game, and there will always be bumps along the way – trust your path and keep working toward improvement for as long as you play the game.