2007-05-30 / Seniors

Adaptive Equipment For Aging Golfers

Dear Savvy Senior,

Do you know of any good golfing gadgets or equipment that can help a stiff, old, less mobile golfer? I love to play golf, but at age 74, I struggle with arthritis and a few other health conditions. What can you tell me?

Aging Golfer

Dear Aging:

No matter what your handicap or physical limitations are, there are a variety of golfing gadgets, gizmos and equipment on the market that can help with almost every problem.

Adaptive Golf

As we age, changes in strength, flexibility, range of motion and vision make most things in life more difficult, including golf. Here are some of the key areas that can cause older golfers problems, and some adaptive products that can help keep them playing longer and maybe even improve their game.

Gripping Being able to grip a golf club can be challenging for seniors who struggle with arthritis or have limited hand strength. To help alleviate this problem, there are specially designed golf gloves and jumbo grip golf clubs that can make a big difference. Here's what's available:

+ Power or Sure Grip Gloves: These use a Velcro strap to secure the club to your hand which increase grip power and prevents the club from slipping in your hand. Visit www.powerglove. com and www.suregripsportsglove. com.

+ Bionic Golf Gloves: Ergonomically designed to improve grip with less effort. Visit www.bionicgloves.com or call 877-524-6642.

+ Jumbo golf grips: Oversized cushion grips (sizes vary) can make gripping the club much easier and more comfortable. To get jumbo grips installed on your clubs, a good resource is the Professional Club Makers' Society which provides a nationwide list of club makers on their Web site at www.proclubmakers. org or call 800-548-6094. The cost per grip is $5 to $10.

Bending and Stooping

Golf is a game that requires a lot of repetitive bending and stooping, which can create problems if you have a bad back or limited flexibility. To address this problem, the Uprightgolf Company (www.uprightgolf.com or 319-268-0939) offers a variety of affordable products (most are under $40) that eliminate the bending and stooping that comes with teeing the ball up, repairing divots, marking the ball while on the green, retrieving the ball, picking a club up off the ground and more.

Adaptive Clubs

To help golfers with limited mobility, custom-made adaptive golf clubs are a great option to consider. Two types you should know about include:

+ Flexible shaft clubs: Ideal for golfers who have lost some of their strength and range of motion. The flexible shafts increase club head speed for greater lift and more distance on your shots, making for a more enjoyable round of golf. The cost range is $50 to $85 per club.

+ Flat lie clubs: For handicapped golfers, these clubs are angled outward at the club head, which makes for better ball contact from a seated position. Cost is around $75 per club. Again, the best resource to get these custom clubs is the Professional Club Makers' Society (www.proclubmakers. org).

Riding Carts

For golfers with mobility loss or who have problems with balance or stamina, there are several ergonomically designed (single riding) golf carts that offer the ability to play from a seated position (see www.usagpi.com or www.solorider.com). Golfers just swing the seat out to the side of the cart to take their shot, and turn the seat back to the forward position to drive to the next shot. These carts are lightweight and precisely balanced, so they can be driven on tee boxes and greens without causing any damage. By law, they must be allowed on public golf courses nationwide. Price ranges from $7,000 to $8,500.

Extra Golfing Goodies

For golfers who like to walk, a terrific ergonomic walking golf cart is the three-wheeled Kaddy Stroller ($180, www.kaddystroller. com). And if you could use some help finding your golf ball from time to time, take a look at www.radargolf.com for $200.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to "The NBC Today Show" and author of The Savvy Senior books.

The Gazette does not endorse the contents of The Savvy Senior. Check with professionals about the contents of this column.

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