Adaptation is the key to playing golf with arthritis and good golf equipment can go a long way to keeping you on the fairway. Grips, shoes, balls, clubs and more can be adjusted to fit your specific needs and abilities.
Whether you’re a veteran golfer or a beginner, consult your doctor or physical therapist before hitting the greens. An occupational therapist also can help advise you about any special aids or adaptive tools.
In addition to the tips on golf gear listed below, your local pro shop or golf specialty store also can help you keep up-to-date on the latest products to make golfing easier on your joints.
Clubs. Use clubs with lightweight graphite shafts and perimeter-weighted heads to help absorb shock. Take only the clubs you’ll use during the game to lighten the load of your golf bag.
Bag. Get a golf bag with a wheeled cart so you can push the bag instead of pulling or carrying it.
Balls. Use a lower compression golfball (for example, a 90 instead of a 100) so there is more “give” to the ball when you hit it.
Long tees. Use long tees whenever you hit the ball – even on the practice range. Long tees let you stand taller and help protect hand and wrist joints by reducing the chance of striking the ground with the club and jarring your joints. Tees can be used even on the fairway.
Shoes. Wear good-quality walking shoes or spikeless golf shoes to keep feet comfortable and reduce the chance of catching your foot and tripping. Extra cushioning or orthotics in shoes also will help decrease aches and pains as you walk the course.
Gloves. Wearing gloves on both hands provides extra grip without having to increase pressure. Bionic Golf Gloves ($25, www.bionicgloves.com) have special pads to help ease hand pain and fatigue while improving grip strength, and have earned the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease of Use commendation.
Grips. Build up the grip size on your clubs with athletic tape or a custom grip to help you hold them easier and to reduce stress and pain on your finger joints. If you have arthritis in your hands, try wearing wrist braces and gloves on both hands to stabilize your joints.