How old is too old?

    Seniors are a great untapped source of revenue for PGA pros, writes Karl Morris.

    Karl MorrisI read a quote recently from renowned Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer that got me really thinking. She said, ‘what if aging was nothing but a mindset?’ As I fast approach the point myself whereby I need to raise my bat and acknowledge the muted applause from the crowd on reaching that somewhat unwanted milestone of a half century of years I began to ponder two questions: ‘How old is old?’ and ‘What could be possible?’

    Obviously the answer to both of the questions is incredibly subjective, yet when you start to dig a little deeper you do realise that, as Langer points out, so much of the aging process could be a conditioned response.

    What kind of activity would you expect someone who is 77 years old to take up for the first time? Flower arranging? Bridge? Not Olga Kotelko. This remarkable woman took up middle-distance running in her late seventies. Not content with just running she decided to get competitive and, before she died in her late nineties, she had broken 30 world records for her age and won over 750 gold medals. How old is old? What could be possible?

    In many ways in the golf industry I think we are missing a great opportunity with senior golfers and the potential with both good coaching and technological advances. What could still be achieved by the fifty plusses if they were given a little more encouragement and a sense of what could be possible on the back nine of their golfing lives?

    A lot of focus – quite rightly – is given to developing the game and getting new golfers involved, but there is a huge potential opportunity to get some of our senior players back playing with enthusiasm and aiming to improve their game. The great thing with many seniors is they actually have two of the most precious resources many of the younger generation don’t have in abundance: time and money. However, they still need to be encouraged and included to see what could still be possible with their game in the future.

    A great coach can paint a vivid picture of what a future golf game could look like.

    I have hosted a number of successful workshops aimed at senior players called ‘The best is yet to come’ and there is definitely a thirst for improvement. Not everyone is going to end up on the Champions Tour but some wonderful times can be had in the days ahead if the fire of desire is relit and the competitive juices start to flow again. Time and time again I have heard the phrase ‘It’s ok for younger players but I am not going to change at my age!’ No! This is not the way to think. Science now tells us that the brain can respond extraordinarily well to new challenges if the right environment is created, regardless of age. An environment that, as a club professional, you have a unique opportunity to shape, create and influence.

    I have a wonderful video provided to me by Mike Malone from TrackMan of a senior player with what can only be described as his own unique golf swing. Text book it definitely isn’t but this player gets the ball out there a good 270 yards, hitting it much further than many younger golfers. This was after he was given a very clear understanding that distance wasn’t just about clubhead speed and how the path of the club, the angle of attack and the centeredness of strike could be utilised to get the very best out of what he currently has. His clubhead speed with a driver was only a relatively modest 95mph but the knowledge he had gained from his professional allowed him to absolutely maximise his ability.

    We have, as an industry, the technology available to help senior players to get the most out of what they have and many of the myths about inevitable decline can be challenged. I personally have worked with many seniors who felt that the yips in their putting or chipping had put their best golfing years behind them but, with the knowledge we now have about how the mind works, we can give people the hope of a brighter golfing future. We play one of the very few sports where it is theoretically possible to play the best golf of your life well into your fifties and sixties.

    The social aspect of the game can, for many people, be an absolute life saver and a real purpose to get up in a morning and get out onto the course to spend time outdoors with friends.

    The book about Olga Kotelko is called ‘What makes Olga run? The mystery of the 90 something track star and what she can teach us about living longer, happier lives’ and it is written by Bruce Grierson. At the conclusion of this very moving book Grierson lists ‘9 rules for living’ based on his study of the life of Olga Kotelko.

    Rule Number one is to ‘keep moving’ – is there any better or more beautiful way to keep moving than playing golf regularly?

    Why not host at YOUR club ‘The best is YET to come’ a workshop with Karl Morris designed specifically for senior golfers. To find out more ring 01925 764053 or go to for details

    Previous articleBack from the brink
    Next article10 MINUTES WITH… Richard Fryer, FootJoy
    Miles is the Owner and Managing Director of Robel Media, and the award winning GOLF RETAILING Magazine. With over 25 years in the media business, Miles has a wealth of experience in magazine publishing, digital media and live events. HANDICAP - 7.2