Is Golf The Happiest Retirement Sport?

You know, I ask myself this very question, often, when I am out on the links with the grey beards and wrinklies. A golf course is like a microcosm of life, with exponents going about their business replete with clubs, buggies and uniform attire. The task on the golf course is a serious one and demanding of every iota of your attention. Have you tried concentrating on something for four to five hours, which challenges you to change gears constantly?

What do I mean by that? Well, you start out trying to hit a small white ball vast distances with a graphite stick with a huge half moon shaped head on the end of it. Next, depending on your level of success with the first task, you may be asked to hit that same dimpled sphere straight at a thin stick with a flag atop it, some one hundred to two hundred metres away. This flag and pole are sticking up out of a four and a quarter inch in diameter hole, that is at least four inches deep. This flag pole can be removed from the hole. The hole sits amidst a green, a finely mown expanse of grass of widely varying sizes and shapes. If by some combination of skill and good fortune you have managed to park your ball on this green, you get to putt. Putting, whilst appearing to be deceptively easy to the uninitiated, involves striking the golf ball with a flat faced club, called, appropriately, a putter, toward the previously mentioned hole. The ball is meant to roll across the green and tumble into the awaiting hole.

Now, all of this may sound theoretically feasible, but the practical reality is influenced by things like the weather, wind in particular, rain can dampen more than spirits, course conditions, the surface of the fairways, the length of the rough, the physical state of the golfer, in terms of size, skill and age. Age does eventually catch up with the golfer, reducing his or her ability to make a full shoulder turn, get through the ball at impact and have the strength to strike the ball those required vast distances. Here is the paradox of golf for the retiree, he finally has the time to play golf but no longer has the physical attributes necessary to excel at the game. Which means you do hear a good deal of moaning during rounds with the seasoned golfer, usually about the fact that when they were your age they could do extraordinary things on the golf course. Whether these bemoaning are accurate or, simply, romanticised wishful thinking, the reality of the moment remains and until time travel is invented, largely irrelevant to the state of play.

So, in answer to the question is golf the happiest retirement sport of all? I would say golf, like life, engages the golfer in a challenging exercise, which has its good days and bad days. Enjoyment, if it means being constantly in joy all the time, probably isn’t applicable to retiree golf; but the impossible challenge of excelling in every swing during a round of golf sure beats watching daytime television. All that fresh air, exercise and mental concentration, as you go from whacking a long shot to caressing a downhill left to right putt is totally engaging. Good luck and play well old son: you would rather be out here on a bad day than reading out-of-date magazines in God’s waiting room.

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