I started playing golf relatively recently and I already have crazy aches and pains after I play, I can only imagine what I will be like in 20 or 30 years. Advancement in age limits what senior golfers can or cannot do, so should senior golfers open their stance?
An open stance lets you clear your hips, let the arms fall freely from your swing’s high point, and deliver a potentially more powerful shot. The open stance also gives seniors a bit of flexibility that has been lost to age.
As we age, the open stance can be helpful.
So please pay attention because you will learn the advantage of an open stance and why it is among the best swings for senior golfers.
What Is the Best Golf Stance for Seniors?
There are two candidates for this position, depending on your preference. The open and the closed golf stances are the most suitable for seniors. We will look at the open stance in a bit but let’s first look at the closed golf stance.
In a closed stance, your toe line crosses the target line; therefore, the two lines are not parallel. You assume a square stance but take your rear foot 1-2 feet further behind you. This position places the rear hip behind the golfer, putting you in position for the backswing.
Your toes and your general directions point to the right, although the club is still in line for the target. Whatever I do, I usually ensure my club face is still aligned with the target when assuming the closed stance for seniors.
The closed stance for seniors allows hip clearance, helps maintain balance, and positions you to make a clean draw shot.
Advantages of the Open Stance for Seniors
The open stance is the best overall stance for seniors. If you’re just a beginner, the open stance ironically means more alignment to the left. You start with a square stance and pull your left leg a few steps back so that your toes are pointing to the left.
Here are some reasons I love using this stance:
Allows Clearing of the Hips
The swing of the hips determines how far your shot reaches. However, seniors don’t have the advantage of flexibility and often fall short. Instead of struggling to open them enough, the open stance keeps the hips somewhat out of the way.
In case you are lost, hip clearance means the act of swinging your waist from left to right and vice versa to make way for the downswing. You keep the hips already open by moving your body a little to the left. This allows senior golfers to cheat their way into great shots.
This stance keeps the head behind the ball, allowing you to swing the driver and properly set it to hit a fade or a draw.
Drops the Club into the Slot
Dropping the club into a slot without standing too steeply is one of the most critical parts of any swing. Senior citizens often pull down to compensate for the lack of flexibility, creating a steep swing that sometimes even misses the ball.
The open stance makes you patient during the downswing, allowing your arms to keep within the intended target line. This creates discipline, eradicating the need to prematurely open up, knowing that your arms will eventually fall into their correct place.
Some senior golfers struggle with excessive pull down to create more power or open up the hips, interfering with proper club slotting.
Let’s face it. Age erodes some balance from our swings, and hand reliance to keep the body open becomes a lifeline for many senior golfers. The open stance provides this much-needed balance as you swing away. It allows you to keep the body open and perfectly swing the club into position, potentially creating more swing speed.
Most golfers have a pretty open stance at the point of impact between the golf club and the golf ball. This allows you to swing the arms pretty quickly, achieving just the right amount of speed.
How to Play Golf from an Open Stance
After all the advantages and perks you have read above, you must have been waiting for this section!
In a typical golf stance, your toes and the target line make a parallel line, making something similar to actual railroad tracks. To make an open stance, simply move your feet so that the toes are pointing much to the left for right-handed golfers.
Simply put, from an ordinary stance, push your front foot several inches to the back. Don’t worry about the way it feels. Just make sure you maintain the target line, and with time, everything will fall into place.
The technique has been tested and proven in actual competitions. Two great golf stars, Bubba Watson and Lee Trevino, used it in the 2010 PGA Championship. Please note that the stance is more suited to certain shots than others.
Let me show you how to go about it step by step;
Start with a normal posture, with both feet parallel to the target line. Now slowly shift your front foot a few inches behind you. 1 to 2 feet is usually enough, although not everyone feels comfortable.
I would advise you to adjust the distance depending on swing mechanics and your comfort level. This calls for vigorous experimentation at a driver’s range until you determine what is comfortable.
Move as close as it is convenient when practicing wedge shots using an open stance. The reasoning behind this is that wedges are very short. Unlike the normal stance, the open stance will give you time to clear your left hip out of the way when you take a short backswing.
You should stand upright, and your right elbow should be slightly digging into your right side. The advantage is that the open stance gives seniors proper control of the clubhead when hitting the golf ball.
You should bend your front knee more if you’re downhill and hitting the ball uphill. The gradient is against you, so the shot should be hard enough to reach the target.
Should I stop a Closed Stance Altogether?
No, there are plenty of places on the course where using a closed stance will be more advantageous.
The most obvious one would be when putting. It would look quite weird if our stance is open when trying to nail a 6 footer.
Since opening your stance helps increase the power of your shot, shorter approach shots are usually best struck with a more closed stance. The focus then is more contact with the ball. Especially if we are trying to get it into the air over a bunker or some other trash on the course.
As we age as golfers, our body will inevitably get in the way of us enjoying the game like we used to. (Thank the golf gods for handicaps and senior tees!)
Regardless, a little diligence can keep us ahead of where our body is and use it to the best of its ability without feeling like we were run over by a truck the next day.