A True Story from the Golf Course

by Jeff C. Johnson

Jeff at the golf course

I was playing a North Scottsdale, Arizona golf course a few years ago when the course “ranger,” the person in charge of policing the speed of play, etc., approached our foursome. We were standing in the fairway waiting for the group in front of us on a perfect spring day when he pulled up in his golf cart.

“How’s it going?” he asked.

We replied that things were moving a little slowly, but that was to be expected on a crowded golf course on a beautiful day.

Waiting with us, he made small talk. I learned that he was from Wisconsin, the former president of a private company that had been sold to new owners, and he had moved to a vacation home that he and his wife owned in Arizona.

I said to the ranger, “This looks like a pretty good job for a retired guy. Sunny days, and I bet you play a lot of golf for free.”

He agreed, but didn’t seem as happy or as enthusiastic as I had imagined he might be.

When I asked him about his lack of enthusiasm, he said, “Well, I’m still coming to work five or six days a week, and I still have to be here at a certain time, usually pretty early in the day. It is usually great weather and the golfers are nice, but some days when I am out here working, I realize I could just as well be back home running my company and making $500,000 a year.”

The way he said it led me to believe he had thought about this a lot. Although he’s not a store greeter or flipping burgers, he didn’t seem terribly happy. And he might as well have still been in his career, where he had many specialized skills and knowledge.

I tell this story to prospective retirees, especially men, and ask, “Are you going back to work soon after you retire?”

In chapter two of my book The Extreme Retirement Planning Workbook, I ask the question “Are you really ready to retire?” and offer a couple of exercises that anyone can use to gauge their readiness for retirement.