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Golf Retirement Casey Study: Playing it smart

Photo: Jeff Newton

Among the fruits of Walker's retirement: his own golf cart.

Age: 66 Residence: Phoenix, Ariz.

CASE STUDY

Long before Jim Walker became a single-digit handicap, his target number was 1.5. According to his calculations, $1.5 million was what a man would need to retire in comfort in Arizona, with a home in a gated neighborhood and membership in a well-groomed country club.

"You've got to have a number," Walker says. "My number started out at a million dollars, but that number can change with inflation and as you reassess your needs and goals."

A native of Ohio, Walker, 66, spent eight years in the Air Force after college. When he launched a new career as a marketing and telecommunications specialist, he mapped out his financial future like a general drawing up a battle plan.

He put that plan to action more than 20 years ago, meeting once a quarter with a financial adviser and micromanaging his money. He didn't chase trends, instead committing 90 percent of his portfolio to bonds and low-yield mutual funds.

His goal was to retire at 65, but he beat that by two years. He'd eliminated debts, zeroing out his credit cards and paying off his car. Today most of his driving is done in a golf cart, which he parks in his garage and rides to his private club, Encanterra, where initiation fees top out at $40,000. Including post-round cocktails and monthly dues, Walker estimates his golf-related expenses at around $12,000 a year, roughly 20 percent of his monthly outlay.

That's all covered in his plan of course, which has freed him up to work on another number: his 8.8 index.

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