Never mind the stress and agony over the missed putt, the sliced drive, the slow foursome ahead of you. Not to mention the mosquito bites and sunburn. Golf can prolong your life.

So says a new study from the Swedish medical university, Karolinska Institutet. Based on data from 300,000 Swedish golfers (about half of the country's golfing population), the researchers found that the death rate among golfers is 40 percent lower than for other people of the same sex, age and socioeconomic status. It corresponded to a five-year increase in life expectancy - which naturally provides more time for golf lessons.

Lead researcher Anders Alhbom was not surprised, considering that playing a round of golf means walking several miles (golf carts are rarely used in Sweden) and spending four or five hours out in the fresh air with friends.

The study was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.

And as if duffers needed an excuse to spend yet another day out on the links: They also found that golfers with low handicaps live longest.

Contact staff writer Sandy Bauers at 215-854-5147 or sbauers@phillynews.com.