By watching professionals of similar age and build swing the club, senior golfers can imitate certain characteristics and build them into their own swing.
A senior golfer similar in age to Tom Watson, for example, will learn more watching Tom than Tiger Woods in the quest to hit the ball longer. This isn’t because Tiger has a poor technique because he obviously doesn’t, but a 65 year old senior will have more in common with Watson physically than Tiger. For example, take the way Watson lifts up the left heel during the backswing to increase body turn and plants the heel down during the downswing to help hip rotation towards the target.
This same move is present in the swings of many senior players looking to add distance to their drives. Younger and fitter superstars like Tiger Woods have more athletic swings within which the left heel stays glued to the ground. The reason Tiger and other younger professionals don’t lift the left heel is because they can complete a full turn in the backswing without it. However, if as a senior golfer you can’t complete a full turn with the left heel planted on the ground, allowing it to rise like Tom Watson could help with hitting longer drives.
If you cannot complete a full backswing (the left shoulder turning underneath the chin so your back faces the target) whilst the left heel is planted on the ground, you could have a lack of flexibility in your hips and lower back.
1. When taking the driver away from the ball, allow the left heel to rise off the ground until the shoulders are fully turned underneath the chin.
2. Too much lifting of the heel can result in an over rotation and a loss of coil so make sure there is still some flex in the right knee.
3. The amount of lifting in the left heel will depend on the senior golfer’s flexibility.
Using the heel to trigger the downswing
Lifting the left heel off the ground during the backswing could enable a bigger turn but it can’t stay off the ground during the downswing. You can, however, use it to your advantage.
By planting the left heel into the ground to trigger the downswing like Watson, you can help the lower body become active and turn the hips through impact. To quote Watson directly: “It's critical you replant the heel in its original position during the transition to the downswing. That's a function of the hip turn reversing its rotation. At the finish, the heel should be back where it started.”
The left heel is only one small tip the senior golfer can learn from the old masters.