Dear Savvy Senior: Do you know of any golfing gadgets or equipment that can help senior golfers? My 78-year-old dad loves to play golf, but arthritis in his hands makes griping the club difficult. He also has a hard time bending over to tee up or retrieve the ball. Is there anything out there that can help?
Dear Helpful: There are actually a number of golfing gadgets and accessories on the market today that can help older golfers who struggle with arthritis, injuries or loss of mobility. Here are some possible solutions that can help keep your dad on the golf course.
Gripping a golf club is a very common problem for seniors with arthritis or those who have hand or elbow injuries, or any condition that affects their hand strength. To help alleviate this problem there are specially designed golf gloves and grips that can make a big difference.
Depending on the severity of your dad's problem, an inexpensive option to check out is the Bionic Golf Gloves which are ergonomically designed to improve grip with less effort. Or the Power Glove that uses a Velcro strap to secure the club to your hand. These gloves run between $15 and $30.
Another option to consider is to get oversized grips installed on your dad's clubs. These can make gripping the club easier and more comfortable, and are also very good at absorbing shock. Oversized grips are usually either one-sixteenth-inch or one-eighth-inch larger in diameter than a standard grip, and cost around $5 to $10 per grip. Your local golf pro can help with this.
Or, for a grip-and-glove combination fix, check out the new Quantum Grip that incorporates hook Velcro golf grips and companion golf gloves that have mating loop Velcro material in the palm. This insures gripping power and prevents the club from slipping in your hand. The price: $30 per grip or $189 for a set of seven, plus $40 per glove.
If back, hip or knee problems or lack of flexibility is also hampering your dad on the golf course, there are a number of innovative gadgets that can eliminate the bending and stooping that comes with teeing up the ball, repairing divots, marking the ball on the green, retrieving a ball or tee on the ground, and picking a club, sand rake or flag stick up off the ground.
Ergonomic Golf Carts
There are also a number of great ergonomic golf carts that can help older golfers who still like to walk the course. These are three or four-wheeled, light-weight push carts that provide great stability, can be adjusted to fit your body size, and fold into a compact size in a matter of seconds for easy transport. Sun Mountain Sports, Bag Boy and Caddytek are three companies that make these type of carts at prices ranging anywhere from $130 to around $200.
Or, for seniors with severe mobility loss or who are disabled, there's the SoloRider golf cart that provides the ability to play from a seated position. Retailing for $9,450, this cart is lightweight and precisely balanced so it can be driven on tee boxes and greens without causing any damage. And federal ADA laws require that all publically owned golf courses allow them.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of "The Savvy Senior" book.