Why is golf perfect in retirement? We look at the social, physical and mental benefits offered by this great game.
Why Is Golf Perfect In Retirement?
Golf is a sport suitable for participants of all ages but it’s perfect for those in retirement. It’s not just because they have more time at their disposal, although that’s certainly a factor.
Whether they’re lifelong golfers or relatively new to the game, there are a number of reasons why retirees get the very most out of golf and here, below, we look at a selection of them.
Although golf is an individual sport, it’s a highly sociable one.
When you play in a group or just with one other person, you spend three or more hours in their company and have a great chance to catch up on their news, to discuss current affairs or just shoot the breeze and have a laugh.
Being out in the fresh air with like-minded people is great for mental well-being.
If you’re a member of a club, you’ll have a ready-built social scene to tap into. There are competitions to play in, probably senior matches against other clubs, possibly societies for older golfers within the membership that you can become involved with.
Off the course, there will likely be a social calendar with dinners, dances, quizzes, public speakers and the like.
Aside from those organised events, there’s simply the clubhouse itself where one will almost always bump into someone to have a coffee or a drink with. Perhaps just take a moment to have a seat and watch the comings and goings.
Many people find themselves lonely in retirement. Not those who are members of a golf club.
Studies have shown that people who play golf twice a week or more and walk the golf course live five to 10 years longer on average.
Golf keeps the engine room working without putting the body under too much stress.
And the golf swing is great for keeping the body limber and flexible.
Without making a specific effort to maintain an exercise routine, golfers retain strength and suppleness simply by playing the game.
Golf is one of the few sports in which players remain competitive into later life.
Many golfers find they actually play the best golf of their lives after they’ve retired.
They have time to practice and improve, they’ve more experience and a more defined golfing strategy and, without the stresses of work to consider, they can play in a more relaxed fashion.
Also, the handicap system allows all to compete on a level playing field.
Even if you’re losing a little distance as you get older, your handicap might rise to compensate, allowing you every chance to win some club competitions.
A great competitive bonus for senior golfers in this country are the senior open tournaments which are hosted by most clubs.
If you so wish, you could just about play a different senior open every day of every week throughout the playing season giving you a tremendous opportunity to play different courses for a dramatically reduced price, to meet new people and, perhaps, to win some prizes.
After retirement, many people feel at something of a loose end during what would have been the working week.
The novelty of not having to go into the office gives way to thumb twiddling pretty quickly for some.
Golfers have no such problem. What do you do on a nice day after a leisurely breakfast? Go and play golf of course.
Trying to get better, trying a new putter, trying to beat your age – there’s always something to focus on within the game.
The club also provides a great focus, and many choose to become more involved in retirement, perhaps joining the committee, volunteering to help with course or clubhouse maintenance, helping out as a starter or with the junior section.
A Support Network
If you’re a member of a golf club, you have an incredible support network at your disposal. If you’re ever in need of assistance or advice, there will be someone at your golf club who can help out.
It’s pretty clear then why golf is perfect in retirement. It provides an enjoyable and compelling activity that’s good for you both physically and mentally. It delivers a ready-made social scene both on course and off and it allows for competition as well as friendly interaction.
If you’re nearing retirement age and you don’t play golf, it’s never too late to start.
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Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly.
Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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