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Golf Retirement Case Study: Learning to let go

Photo: John Lee

"Try not to focus on what you used to do and who you used to be."

Age: 72 Residence: Santa Rosa, Calif.


Bruce Nevins took two failed stabs at retirement. The third time, he got it right. The move landed him in the vineyard-latticed foothills of Sonoma County, an hour north of San Francisco, in a large home overlooking the course at Mayacama, an acclaimed Nicklaus design where Nevins plays several rounds a week.

To see him here, rested and relaxed, you'd never know that Nevins, 72, is a man who had a hard time letting go. "The key to retirement is challenging yourself not to look back," Nevins says. "You've got to find a new life and try not to focus on what you used to do and who you used to be."

In his old life, Nevins held top management positions at Reebok and Levi's, and he co-founded Perrier North America. He tried retiring twice—first at 43, then at 62—but the allure of business always drew him back. He was financially prepared for retirement, but not mentally.

In 2000, Nevins tried again. This time retirement took. It helped to have access to Mayacama, an esteemed vintners' golf club where Nevins can challenge himself with a game that he'd given up for decades while pursuing his career.

"Golf happens to be an excellent outlet for me," Nevins says. "Mostly because I'm competitive with myself."

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