The best kept Tour secret for longevity on the course (and beyond)

Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship at 50.

Phil Mickelson is living proof that being fit at 50 can lead to amazing things.

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This article was published in partnership with GolfForever.

Father Time takes no prisoners. Eventually, we all feel the effects of aging on our bodies, and as a result, our scorecards.

That is, unless you’re Phil Mickelson, in which case winning majors at 50 isn’t out of the question.

Given that longevity in professional sports is more the exception than the rule, it’s crazy to think that a 50-year-old Mickelson won the PGA Championship just weeks ago. It’s even crazier to consider the trend of older players (no offense, Phil and company) not only winning, but also playing some of the best golf of their careers.

Take Lee Westwood for example, who earlier this year gave Justin Thomas a run for his money at the Players Championship and the very next week nearly beat Bryson DeChambeau at Bay Hill … at 48 years old.

Stewart Cink, also 48, has added 20 yards off the tee and won twice during the 2021 Tour season so far. And then there’s Bernhard Langer, who’s still crushing it on the Champions Tour and at the Masters at 63 years old.

With all that success, it’s hard not to wonder about the secret to such a long career on the course.

The secret to being fit at 50:

If you look at Mickelson, Westwood, Cink, Langer and any number of Tour players between the ages of 40 and 50, there’s one common thread: they’ve figured out the ideal fitness and nutrition routines to keep their bodies in peak physical condition.

It’s not the sexiest solution, and you likely won’t ever see the work these guys put in at the gym on a broadcast, which is precisely why a proper fitness routine one of the best secrets to longevity on the course.

While staying fit at 50 is important for these veteran Tour players, it’s arguably even more important for you, the average golfer. 

Why fitness at 50 is so important:

Mainly because after age 40, our bodies begin to break down, according to Dr. Jeremy James, founder of GolfForever, a custom digital fitness program and app that can help you get and stay fit at 50. We lose muscle mass, flexibility and range of motion. Unless we do something to combat it, we will eventually lose our ability to swing a golf club well enough to make it around 18 holes pain-free.

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That breakdown leads to aches and pains that can significantly impact our ability to play the game we love. In fact, 84% of GolfForever members reported that pain had significantly impacted their golf swing.

How to beat Father Time

The good news is you have a choice in how aging impacts your body, and by proxy your golf game.

“About 80% of the aches and pains associated with aging are mostly preventable based on your lifestyle and choices you make,” Dr. James told GOLF.com.

Everything from leading a sedentary lifestyle (looking at you, 9-5 crowd) to poor diet to failing to exercise regularly can hurt your body as you age. That’s why Mickelson is the perfect example of how a consistent diet and exercise routine are so important at this later stage of his career.

“Yes, you can make all these changes for your body after 50 and dramatically improve your life,” he said. “But fitness programs for 50-year-olds are not the same as they are for 20 and 30-year-olds.” 

That last part is incredibly important because it’s not enough to just jump back into the gym and start lifting heavy weights willy nilly. You need an age-appropriate fitness routine that addresses your flexibility and mobility and then progressively builds your strength.

That’s why GolfForever’s approach to fitness is unique — they customize a plan specifically for you based on where your problem areas are and help you safely build up the flexibility and strength necessary to play your best golf, age be damned.

In the coming weeks, we’re teaming up with the experts at GolfForever to cover a broad range of topics and share expert advice on how to get fit and stay fit at 50.

So here’s to beating back Father Time, and staying on the course longer than ever.

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