Find Your Lifelong Sport: Teeing Off at the Golf Course

Here's why you should pick up golf, no matter your age.

Players on hole five at Walnut Lane Golf Club. / Photograph by Steve Boyle

Golf has a reputation for being loved by retirees and generous to geriatrics. That’s because it’s played at a leisurely zero-cares pace; it promotes cardiorespiratory endurance (especially when players walk — rather than cart — the course); and it can help lower the risk of early death for folks 65 and older.

But there are a ton of benefits to getting on the green sooner rather than later. Sure, players of all ages can reap health benefits like strengthened muscles, improved balance, and more time with friends, but more and more millennials are finding that golf is actually, well, cool. It’s the perfect excuse to stop scrolling Instagram, hang with your pals IRL, and partake in friendly competition — all while giving your body and mind some extra TLC. What’s more enticing to young, active people than a full-body workout under the guise of socialization?

Rebecca Caimano, ​​assistant executive director for First Tee of Greater Philadelphia, says another reason younger people are being drawn to golf is that the sport requires discipline: “You don’t really have the opportunity to just pick up and leave the golf course. You have to continue your 18 holes, so you have to work through a bad game. There are no refs, no umpire, so you’re your own penalty-shot caller” — a kind of autonomy that teens and young adults often crave.

Though golf is a low-impact sport, sometimes muscle fatigue or tendonitis can manifest in the low back, elbow, wrist, knee and shoulder, especially if your form is off. No matter your age or ability, you can help avoid injury by warming up before a round, not locking your lead elbow as you get into position, and turning your whole upper body (rather than just your shoulders) while rotating your hips as you swing, as Golf Digest recommends.

Ready to get started? You’ll need gear. Caimano recommends getting a complete set of clubs, which can be purchased according to your height and dominant hand. You’ll also need balls and tees — which you can buy used to save money — plus gloves, cleats and a towel. Bonus: The Philly-area boasts some budget-friendly courses.

Five places to learn golf near Philadelphia

First Tee Greater Philadelphia, Wissahickon
Best for: No-frills, low-cost instruction
You don’t need your own clubs to learn how to play with First Tee, whether you’re a newbie, a seasoned player, or a coach who just wants some extra mentoring.

Five Iron Golf, Center City
Best for: All-weather lessons
Five Iron is an indoor facility, so it’s great for year-round practice. If you prefer to work on your swing on your own, you can rent one of the super-cool simulator areas.

Golf Science Center, Market East
Best for: Tech lovers
The indoor center offers 3-D swing analysis that will help you make par every time.

GOLFTEC, multiple suburban locations
Best for: Custom club-fitting
GOLFTEC has built club-fitting into its packages and offers easy booking and tracking progress through its app.

RiverWinds Golf & Tennis Club, West Deptford
Best for: Family outings
While you’re working on your game, your spouse or kids can either join you for a group lesson or hit the on-site tennis court, restaurant or indoor waterpark.

Player spotlights

Yende Mangum: golf enthusiast; Mount Airy, 19 

Yende Mangum. / Photograph by Steve Boyle

“Golf is a sport you can play across generations. It doesn’t favor youth, size, strength or speed. Golf isn’t as taxing as a full-contact sport, which allows people to play and improve at the sport well into old age.”

Lori Lancaster: golfer at Walnut Lane Golf Club; Chestnut Hill, 60 

Lori Lancaster. / Photograph by Steve Boyle

“Sometimes when I hit that golf ball, it flies, and sometimes it goes nowhere or it goes awry. But it’s comforting at times. You’re on the course, enjoying the camaraderie among the people you play with.”

Published as part of the “Find Your Lifelong Sport” package in the Be Well Philly 2022 print issue.