Don’t try to go directly from your car to the golf cart, particularly if you’re a senior golfer. That's the opinion of PGA Professional Don Berry, who won the Minnesota Senior PGA Championship this summer and recently qualified for the 2016 Senior PGA Championship.
Older golfers need more time to get loose, including doing stretching exercises and then hitting a few balls on the range. The last thing you want to do is pull a muscle or injure yourself and spoil a great day on the links.
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"The days for me, of jumping out of the shop and teeing it up on the first tee, are over," said the 53-year-old Berry, who has won back-to-back Senior PGA Section titles and also earned his ninth Minnesota PGA Championship.
So what can you learn to help get ready for your own round? Berry has three warm-up tips to prepare you to play healthier -- and hopefully better.
STRENGTHEN AND STRETCH: Older golfers need more time to loosen their muscles, particularly the core area and back. Make sure to take time to do some stretching exercises.
"I do a fair amount of stretching, and anybody should do that, but particuarly after you reach 50," Berry said. "Stretch a lot before you play. I’ll go in the locker room, lay on a bench and do some back stretches."
If you can run or jog to stay in shape, Berry said that's great. In his case, his knees won't allow that. Instead, he jumps rope for cardiovascular exercise.
HOME ON THE RANGE: Just taking a few practice swings in the air at the first hole isn't enough as you get older. You need to loosen the neck, shoulders, midsection and hips by warming up correctly. It also provides some positive reinforcement -- and muscle memory -- when you then step up to the ball for real.
"At bare minimum, I need to hit at least five eight-irons off the practice range before I try to rip a driver," Berry said.
WALK, DON'T RIDE: Pass on the golf cart, if your course allows it. It provides more exercise and works your heart and lungs. And it helps your core muscles to stay loose and warm.
You don't have to carry the clubs. Get a push cart instead -- there are battery-controlled motorized ones on the market -- but get up and move around for the time it takes to play 18. Your body will thank you for it.
"I still walk the course when I play, and try to walk as much as I can," Berry said. "I think that keeps you stronger and fitter, especially for later in the round. I try to encourage people to walk when they play."