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9 Retirement Lessons Learned on the Golf Course
May 11, 2022

RT Golf

Sometimes your favorite hobbies in life can teach and remind you of the greatest life lessons. We recently met up for a round of golf with some friends and enjoyed a long day filled with laughter and joy, along with some ups and downs on the course. Afterwards, we reflected upon how some of the most basic lessons on the golf course can truly apply to life after retirement.  Here’s our take on the lessons learned on the front nine:


There are 24 main rules by USGA, and they seemingly change all of the time. Golf is a self-regulated sport. Not many people can call you out on the rules (most often they are not even near you), there are no umpires, so it’s all on you to determine if you are following the rules of the game. 

Honesty in retirement is also self-regulating.  You must be honest about your health, your relationships, your truth and how you are feeling.  You need to be open and honest with yourself and with others.


In golf, you don’t have control over the weather, your shots, the people you may be paired up with, or a slow group ahead of you.  You must be adaptable.

Lots of things are also uncontrollable in retirement. You may experience an unexpected illness, even if you’ve been in control of your diet and fitness. You might lose a loved one, experience the loss of your identity, or simply not have complete control over your finances when it comes to the stock market and investing. Again you will need to come to a level of acceptance in order to maintain your happiness.


During a game of golf, you often need to maintain focus for 4-5 hours. Hitting balls takes focus, breathing takes focus, mindfulness takes focus – your mind can’t wander when you are standing over a shot. You have to hit the ball… you can’t be busy talking.

In retirement its easy to lose your focus, especially if you don’t have a plan. You may feel like a ship lost at sea or every day may feel like a Saturday. It’s important to have a plan for each and every day of the week, month and year to keep you on track to meeting your retirement goals whether they be health, relationships or community focused. 


A bad shot in golf happens all of the time, your ball may end up under a tree, in the water or in sand trap. What do you do?  Which club do you use? All problem solving. Throughout the game you need to think about which club to use, loft or distance, what is the pace of the group ahead? Should I swing harder, use a full swing, half swing? You need to be always solving and strategizing ahead.

Retirement problem solving happens all of the time, often daily. Whether you are considering downsizing, organizing your finances, working on your relationships, there is always some problem needing to be solved or resolved. We are working hard on our relationship during retirement, always seeking ways to improve on our communication and support of one another.


Golf can be one of the most frustrating sports. At times it may be bad shot after bad shot and you need to practice patience. If you are a poor player or a slow player, you have to have patience within yourself to persevere.  If you are playing with a less skilled player, you need to be patient with your fellow golfer. Maybe you are trying to improve your game. You need to be patient with yourself, to keep going, be disciplined and keep practicing.

During retirement, you need that same patience. It may be required for you to be patient with yourself as you learn a new hobby or focus on your fitness. You will likely need patience with your spouse as you learn to co-habitat with more time together, or maybe you will need patience with unexpected daily disruptions in your day, for instance when having work done in your home. Sometimes that patience is needed when communicating with your adult children or grandchildren. Practicing mindfulness can help you to build on your patience in all of these situations.


Golf is a sport of etiquette. There are times when voices need to be quieted, there are respectful ways of maneuvering your cart, being careful not to step on the line of someone else’s put, etc. Respect is also important when practicing good sportsmanship.

Respect comes into play during retirement in so many different ways. It all starts with you. It’s important that you respect yourself by committing to selfcare.  You must take care of yourself so that you can also be there for others. You want to have respect for your community, and for others and opinions of others. And in this time where ageism is becoming more and more apparent, it is important to be respectful of our elders, they hold much wisdom that we can learn from. 


In golf, you never stop learning. Even the most seasoned professionals spend hours on the course, read books on improvement in their game, shop for the latest and newest technology in shoes, spikes, clubs, etc. Most of all they practice, practice, practice!

We have long been committed to a path of long life learning. We apply same discipline we have in golf to our lives. We read as many books as we can, we look for ways to learn how to be better people, partners, mentors, friends, and learn and practice how to best to share our knowledge. As we’ve discussed, exercising your brain offers many health benefits.    


No matter your level of play in golf, you need to be respectful of other players. If you are the A player, there is no need to brag. Don’t pat yourself on the back after a good play, otherwise people may not want to play with you again.

It’s equally if important during retirement to be humble and grateful. You have a gift of time during retirement. Find ways of showing your gratitude of this gift by journaling, practicing mindfulness, and learning how you can put the needs of others in front of your own. Be humble, especially when you are wrong, as for forgiveness. And, lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.


Oh yes, golf can be fun too!!!  Sometimes balls go in the water, in the trees or off course. Embrace these moments with laughter. Laugh at yourself and enjoy the moments. None of us are pros and even the pros get a chuckle in from time to time. Enjoy the time you spend with your friends on the course, these moments make for good story telling!

Bring that same sense of fun into your retirement. Laughter is some of the best medicine you can have.  Life can be hard and stress can get in the way of enjoyment. Find those opportunities for laughter, whether it be getting together with friends, watching a favorite sitcom, or learning something new. Laughing boosts immune system, reduces stress, keeps you youthful and brings people together. You don’t have to take life so seriously in this phase. Go enjoy it!

 This post was adapted from one of our YouTube videos. You can view the full video here.