Stay Active During Retirement While Still Having Fun

by: Jordan Fuller

Why It’s Never Too Late to Pick Up Golf

For many people, golf and retirement go hand in hand. The goal of retirement is to move to a sunny climate like Florida, Arizona, or in Austin CCRC, live on a golf course and play every single day. Golf-centric retirement communities cater to these desires all over the South and Southwest: anywhere that it’s warm enough to  play year-round has houses filled with retirees lining the fairways of beautiful golf courses.

But if you’ve never played golf, is it too late to pick up the sport later in life? Not at all! In fact, many golfers who play every day in retirement never picked up a club until their 50s or 60s. The golf world has begun to cater specifically to these older beginners, with schools and equipment geared towards making the entry into the game smooth and entertaining. 

Health Benefits

While the stereotype of an overweight golfer riding around in a cart with a beer in one hand and hot dog in the other persists, golf is actually a great way to workout and stay healthy in your later years. Even if you ride in a cart, golf helps your heart health and sleep, keeps your brain stimulated to help prevent Alzheimer’s, and reduces stress all while being a fun activity with relatively low injury risk. 

Golf is the best kind of addiction: one that drives you to improve by workouts. Playing better golf is just plain more fun, so once you start playing and finding out how good it feels to hit good shots, you’ll be driven to get better. And that means more playing and practicing, which is more exercise. You’ll discover thatactivities like yoga and pilates help your golf swing and your mental game, as well as your general fitness and blood pressure. 

This snowball effect of golf is one that can transform your whole life. Spending a day outside easily getting 10,000+ steps and practicing yoga or pilates on your off days will enhance your physical fitness, sleep quality and overall mindset.

Healthy Competition

Science has demonstrated that competition is the best motivator for exercise. So whether you and your spouse play a friendly game or if you find a league of golfers to compete with, the competition will drive you to play and exercise more. 

Some couples love to compete against one another, and golf’s handicap system is a way to make it possible for spouses to compete on a level playing field. I’d suggest keeping it to a friendly skins game, but you know what’s best for your relationship. 

Bob J, a retiree in Bradenton, FL, taught his wife to play golf and they now play frequently together. “Rule number one is that no one cares how well or how badly you’re playing as long as you’re playing fast.  As a result, we could go out to the course in the afternoons and play in under three hours, especially on hot summer days when no one was on the course.”

But it’s also a great option to join a Mens or Womens golf group and play with them once a week (or more), if you can find the right group. It’s excellent camaraderie and can really help fuel your competitive fire. A seemingly easy two-foot-putt carries a lot more weight when it’s the deciding factor in a hard-fought skins game!

While Bob and his wife Nancy tried playing in a men’s and women’s group, he found he didn’t like the men’s group’s 8:30am tee times – “In retirement, who wants to get up that early?” – and she found the women’s group’s slow play and lack of golf etiquette maddening: “they would jabber when other players were about to hit, they walked on people’s putting line, they often failed to recognize whose turn it was to play.” So now Bob says “I’ve become known as the ‘guy who always golfs with his wife’ or the ‘guy who sleeps with his best golfing buddy.’”

Vacations are more harmonious when couples can find activities to do together, and playing golf on a beautiful oceanfront course is a perfect way to spend a day as a couple enjoying the scenery and exercising. 

Can you afford it?

There are many different options for golf in retirement with many different financial requirements. Some communities are built around the golf lifestyle, and simply buying a house in the community automatically comes with golf course privileges. Many places offer multiple golf courses to choose from, and even offer reciprocity with other courses so you can keep things fresh.

However, this may not be affordable to everyone. Even membership to a golf club carries additional costs: cart fees, food minimums at the clubhouse, guest fees for the grandkids, and monthly dues on top of initiation fees. Not to mention equipment: balls, shoes, clubs — it adds up! 

A lot of retirees find that getting a part time job at a golf course is the best way to make golf affordable in retirement. If you’re a people-person, a job in the pro shop or as a starter could be right up your alley. If you’re an early riser and don’t mind a bit of hard work, mowing greens and fairways might work too. 

You’ll not only earn a small hourly wage, but you’ll get as much free golf as you can play! Many courses offer 7-day-a-week access to employees, and some even offer discounted rates to the other members of your group. Tom D, 72, a starter at a municipal course in Bensenville, IL, took an interesting route to employment as a retiree at a golf course. “My nest egg wasn’t big enough for me to retire until I won a $600,000 jackpot in the Lucky Day Lotto. That extra cash allowed me to retire, but my fixed income didn’t provide enough for me to play as much golf as I wanted. Working as a starter for 15 hours a week gives me a little extra income, but more importantly allows me to play free golf 5 days a week at any of the munis in the county. And I’ve met some new golf buddies while I’m at it.”

So whether you’re a sometimes golfer looking to play more in retirement, the spouse of a golfer who’s considering picking up the game yourself, or just someone looking for a fun way to get outside and get some exercise, golf might be your perfect new obsession.