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Bernhard Langer

‘Golf is unique – players can still get better at 40, 50, 60’

Bernhard Langer offers an insight into how he has remained competitive in his 60s and what you can learn from the German
 

By the time Tiger Woods was born Bernhard Langer had already won his first professional event. Forty-four years on the German continues to compete and win at an extremely high level. Here he explains the secrets of playing to the highest standard despite his advancing age…

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At my age you’ve got to be healthy to do it so you need to have the drive and discipline to put the work in. You need a good team around you: manager, caddie, family, coach, etc.

You’ve got to figure out what’s good for you and what’s not good for you, in terms of how many tournaments I play, where I play, all that kind of stuff.

For example, I figured out I don’t like to play more than two weeks in a row because after the second or third or fourth week, I start to get very impatient with myself and I don’t play as well.

So it’s beneficial for me to take a week or two off in-between and get away or work out. I’ll put the clubs away for a few days and then when I come back I’m more eager to play again and to put in the work.

But I still love competing, I still love the game and those are major factors in being successful.

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My game has evolved very well. I think I’ve still improved over the last 10, 15 years.

Something I strongly believe is that people can still get better at age 40, 50 and even 60 because golf is such a unique sport where technique is so important.

I can still get better at putting and chipping and even improve my long game so I hit more fairways and greens. I don’t need to be 20 or 30 years younger to do that.

As I get older I’m going to lose distance and strength so I won’t hit the ball as far but I can be more precise, make better decisions and understand my game better and produce better results because of that.

Bernhard Langer

But due to the changes in equipment like the new balls I haven’t lost any length yet. I still hit it about the same distance as I did 30 years ago but I’ve improved my technique.

My driving is better, I hit more greens, I’ve just became an all-round more solid player. I don’t have a real weakness.

I generally have a good short game.

The question is often the putter – do I putt very well or do I putt average? I think that is the difference.

But overall I think I’m one of the guys that doesn’t have a real weakness and that allows me to play very consistently throughout the year on just about any golf course.

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There are certain courses where I feel it’s difficult for me to compete with the young guys but then I feel there are other courses where distance is less important.

It’s more about strategy and precision and the way you think your way around the golf course. I can still compete on those, even golf courses like Augusta, which is very long nowadays, and we played Carnoustie [at the 2018 Open] and I finished tied-24th.

Golf is very unique in that regard, it’s not like soccer or tennis or athletics where it’s all about speed and young age.

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I take more time off now and spend more time stretching and on fitness than I did in my 20s and 30s.

Then, I had to practice every day to improve my swing and technique, but I feel like my technique is pretty much settled so I’m spending more time away from the game and recuperating and giving my body a little bit of a rest.

When I practice I’m very focused. At my age, 62, I can’t hit a thousand balls a day anymore. My body would be sore.

But I don’t need to. I feel I’m very competitive hitting a hundred balls a day or whatever it may be.

The amount doesn’t matter, it’s more about feeling good and understanding what you’re trying to achieve.

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It’s encouraging to a lot of people that play golf at my age.

Many say ‘I’m getting too old’ or ‘I’m getting too short’ or ‘too stiff’ or whatever, but there’s also many ways you can improve.

I’ve proven that over the last 15 years or so that you can still play at a very high level and even get better.

Bernhard Langer is a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz and was speaking ahead of the 2019 Mercedes Trophy World Final. The MercedesTrophy is the world’s largest amateur golf tournament with 60,000 amateur golfers participating across 60 countries. Celebrating its 30th edition, this year’s final saw 29 teams from 5 continents come together to compete for the global title at the Bernhard Langer designed Schloss Nippenburg course in Stuttgart, Germany. For more information on the event, visit the Mercedes-Benz website

Andrew Wright

NCG's instruction editor. Terrible student so trying my hand at passing on some of the best advice I've never listened to. Member of Royal Troon. Favourite golfer is two-time major winner and hall of famer, Retief Goosen.

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