Club-fitting series: Johnny Miller on senior golfers
In the mid 1970s, Johnny Miller often was called the best ballstriker in the world. He won the 1973 U.S. Open and 1976 British Open.
At the time, Miller had strong opinions about golf equipment. He still does. Most golfers, especially seniors, will find his observations interesting if not insightful.
“When you get older, get a club with a lower kickpoint,” he said. “That will help you get the ball up in the air. You want to keep your height (trajectory) as much as you can. That’s very important.
“Most senior golfers shouldn’t carry anything lower than a 5-iron. That’s what I’ve seen. Fairway woods and hybrids are a senior’s delight.
“The other thing I do, I go with a little heavier club. I’ve lost a little bit of my explosiveness, and I make up for with a little heavier head. A little lead tape (on the head) will help you load the shaft and release the club through impact.”
Then Miller attacked the general theory that lighter clubs are always better.
“I hear it all the time: Everybody needs lighter clubs. I don’t believe it,” Miller said. “When it’s cold, when you’re not warmed up – there’s nothing worse than feeling there’s nothing down there (in the clubhead). Lighter is fine when you hit it dead in the middle of the face, but how many golfers do that all the time?”
Miller also recommends a softer tour-quality ball for most golfers.
“We start missing more greens when we get older,” he said, “so we want a ball we can spin around the greens. We want a ball that’s good for scrambling. Nobody can scramble with a rock ball.”
And, a Miller swing tip:
“The first lesson I ever got . . . on the backswing, turn your hips so that the rivet (on his left pants pocket) is over the ball . . . then turn back so that the other (right side) rivet is over the ball.
“Senior golfers lose their backswings, and the big thing is that they don’t turn their hips. Probably only one in 1,000 seniors does that.
“Unless you turn your hips, you never have a backswing. . . . Young people think you lose a lot of body strength when you get older. I have found that’s not true. Your arms are darn near as strong. You lose body speed, and that’s another reason why turning the hips is absolutely necessary.”
That’s Johnny Miller, never at a loss for golf insight.