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'I enjoy life every day': 100-year-old golfer shares secret to living longer

At 100, Joyce Caffee plays golf, swims, takes daily walks, drives and lives on her own. Her friends call her amazing. How does she do it?
/ Source: TODAY

If you're looking for Joyce Caffee, try the golf course. That's where she is twice a week, playing the sport she has loved for more than 80 years.

Caffee just turned 100, which doesn’t stop her from swinging her favorite golf club, going for a daily walk or heading to the pool for a swim.

“I try to exercise every day. I don’t believe in doing a lot of sitting. I think that ruins a good many women’s health,” Caffee told TODAY.

Joyce Caffee, who was born in 1916, enjoys playing golf twice a week in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Joyce Caffee, who was born in 1916, enjoys playing golf twice a week in Scottsdale, Arizona.Courtesy Carol Lory

Ask her why she likes golf, a sport she took up when she was 17, and she’s quick to answer.

“The exercise and the feeling of being outdoors and doing something, trying to improve yourself… It’s disappointing not to be able to play as well as I used to, but I still enjoy it very much.”

Related: How to live to 100: This town may hold the secrets of longevity

The centenarian lives by herself in her own home in Scottsdale, Ariz., still has a driver’s license so she can drive to get groceries and enjoys the simple life, she said.

Caffee has been playing golf for more than 80 years. She took up the sport when she was 17.
Caffee has been playing golf for more than 80 years. She took up the sport when she was 17.Courtesy Charlene Reznek

She belongs to two golf leagues, where her golf friends use words like “amazing,” “feisty” and “darling” to describe her. Carol Lory still remembers the first time she played with Caffee.

“I asked her how she stays so young. She was using a push cart and I was in a riding cart. She looked at me and said, ‘I certainly don’t ride in a cart.’ Since then, I walk all the time,” Lory said.

“She’s an awesome lady. She’s so sharp.”

Caffee remains as active as many younger women, Charlene Reznek wrote in a tribute to her friend.

The avid golfer was born on Jan. 27, 1916, in Haugen, Wisc. She spent much of her life working as a court reporter before retiring at 70. Widowed twice, she is the mom of three daughters and a step daughter. She’s also a grandmother and a great-grandmother.

Related: 104-year-old credits knitting for her longevity

Caffee smiles at her 100th birthday party last month.
Caffee smiles at her 100th birthday party last month.Courtesy Charlene Reznek

There have been health problems along the way, but today, Caffee is doing very well, she said.

What are her longevity secrets? We asked Caffee about her lifestyle and life philosophy:

What’s the key to living so long?

“Probably being born to the right parents,” she said matter-of-factly. “I was fortunate enough to have parents who understood nutrition and exercise… I’ve always lived a healthy lifestyle.”

What’s her diet like?

Caffee primarily eats chicken and fish, and occasionally red meat. She’s definitely not “a heavy meat eater” and tends toward vegetables.

She rarely eats sweets.

“From an early age, I knew that sugar was really a poison and not a good food. Consequently, I never had much sugar in my diet and I still don’t,” she said.

The centenarian occasionally enjoys a glass of wine with dinner. She also likes a sip of brandy now and then.

What’s her exercise routine?

Caffee has always been active, enjoying walking, hiking, swimming and, of course, golf throughout her life.

These days, she plays golf twice a week, walks every day and, if it’s warm, heads to the pool for water exercises.

Up until a couple of years ago, she used to walk the golf course when she played, but today, she uses a cart at her daughters’ urging.

On staying mentally sharp:

Caffee loves crossword puzzles and works on two a day, she said. She enjoys reading and finishes a book or two a week.

What’s her outlook on life?

“I’m probably very much an optimist. I enjoy life. I enjoy it every day. I expect the best and usually that’s what I get,” Caffee said.

On the importance of friends:

“That’s one thing about aging. You outlive your family and your friends. That’s the sad part of it,” she said. “But you make new friends and I have many very, very good friends, mostly through my golfing community and through my church.”

How old does she feel?

“I don’t know how to describe it… the shell looks a little different,” Caffee said. “(But) I’m still me.”

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