That One Hurt

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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Early in our lives we never gave much if any thought to getting injured. Through the middle years, we may have given injuries a passing thought but we were still encased in Kevlar and wondered why the older people we played with would seem to lose control of their golf swings. In older age we look where we step, judge the heights of stairs and rocks with a surveyors eye for detail. The heights we would jump from are now cliffs that promise broken bones. Now the holy trinity is Advil, Tylenol and Aspirin. 

Your golf swing is a part of you that will forever be unique to only you. While so many teaching theorem and methodology exist, your golf swing is yours and yours alone. Let me give you my thoughts on keeping that swing a little more youthful.

First, don’t try to swing like Rory or Jordan or even Dustin. While they have great golf swings, they have a very youthful swing that is built around bodies that are able to respond and move quickly. Look at tour pros swings on the PGA and LPGA as examples of very athletic graceful motions that are products of thousands of hours of reputations. 

Do a You Tube search of a Don January or even a Gene Littler, Mickey Wright and Carol Mann. These are motions that have withstood the test of time and functioned well into life for these players. We can see a Tom Watson or even Phil Mickelson as examples of those long fluid motions that to this day prove to be so very effective.

Next time you are on the range, try to make every third or fourth swing so abnormally long in the backswing you may feel like John Daly. Do not get focused on results of distance or ball flight on those swings. All you’re trying to do is make the swing a longer motion. While there are many practice aids that will help, nothing will replace the reality of swinging at a golf ball. I have found that my students make faster progress on this particular point only by swinging at a ball. When you’re on the course you may find that later in the round the ball does not slice as much. Or possibly on 17 you find yourself over that bunker or lake. 

Check your equipment if you’re still playing with equipment you had when your swing speed was over 100 mph and you’re now swinging at 80 mph…could be time to change shafts and lofts. Work to keep your ego in check on club selection and do the amazing transformation allowing your mind to circumnavigate actual ability from fond memories. 

Do not underestimate the exercises that keep you limber, Tathata is a good example of passive exercises that are golf specific and help with range of motion. While I am not the shining example of Yoga, I wish I had stared it years ago. My fondest wish is for you to play well into life, enjoying the day and loving the game as something that keeps us all forever young. 

Tom Velarde is the Manager at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email