Lydia Ko had visions of retiring at 30. Here’s her thinking now 

Lydia Ko is going to retire. That’s inevitable. In some form or another, we all will one day. 

Ko’s finish line, though, is just maybe being readjusted. 

Her initial endgame had been both surprising and understandable — Ko was going to hang up her golf shoes at 30. Immensely talented, you think she could play forever. But in 2015, when she was 17, she also had dreams of being a psychologist, and her golf would end.

Silver medalist, Lydia Ko of New Zealand, gold medalist, Inbee Park of Korea and bronze medalist Shanshan Feng of China pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for Women's Golf on Day 15 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Golf Course on August 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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“I say my plan is to retire when I’m 30 so I’m not just going to go to the beach and hang out for the rest of my life,” Ko told the Associated Press at the time.

“There’s always a second career that comes along with it and I’m trying to build up towards it and, because I’m playing a sport, psychology links well with it.”

But now just about nine years have elapsed. 

And her golf is still great. Last year was a bit of a letdown following a player of the year showing in 2022, but she’s already won once this year, at the Tournament of Champions, putting her on the doorstep of the LPGA Hall of Fame. 

And age brings different thoughts. What once was a thing as a teen feels different when you’re 26. Would Ko really still retire at 30, less than four years from now? (She turns 27 in April.) It was a topic she talked about on the most recent episode of GOLF’S Subpar podcast, which you can listen to in full here.  

In short, Ko said maybe she would. 

Or maybe she would retire — in a year. 

Or maybe she would retire — beyond 30. 

Lydia Ko of New Zealand looks at her ball on the fourth hole during the first round of the LPGA Drive On Championship at Bradenton Country Club
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Here is the complete exchange, started by Subpar co-host Drew Stoltz. 

“Lydia, I got one more serious question for you. I want to get to ask you some personal stuff as well. This also feels kind of weird to ask somebody given your age right now. But given all that you’ve accomplished, you could still have 20-plus more years of world-class golf ahead of you, if you choose. Do you have ambitions to do that and to play that long?”

“To be honest, no,” Ko started. “I think when I was younger, I said I want to retire when I’m 30, and now that I’m inching closer to 30, I’m like, four years is still a long time from now. I’m honestly taking it by the day and taking it by the week. When that happens, you’re almost, like, in the middle of the year and then you’re done with the majors and all that. So I don’t really have a certain, I think, date when I want to retire. 

“And I think for every single player, I think that until that moment comes, you really don’t know. Like, I could say 30, or, like, 28, but who knows, I could play until like 35. That’s the beauty of golf, is that as long as we’re healthy and fit, we can really do this for a long time and age is maybe not as relevant as in sports like swimming or other sports. 

“I don’t really know when, but I do feel like I’m definitely past the halfway point in my career.”

Editor’s note: To listen to the entire Subpar podcast with Ko, please click here. Or to watch the entire episode, please scroll down.  

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at